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January 2004: Carlyle

The airy upstairs dining room draws an enthusiastic dinner crowd, while the same food is offered in a cozier setting downstairs in the bar.

The airy upstairs dining room draws an enthusiastic dinner crowd, while the same food is offered in a cozier setting downstairs in the bar. The dishes are straightforward, the ingredients first-rate, the cooking competent, and the portions large. Prices are moderate, with most main courses under $20. Service is friendly and efficient. Think of it as a place for a fun night out.

Good appetizers are crispy salt-and-pepper calamari on a bed of roasted tomato and garlic butter; blue-crab fritter inside a tangle of phyllo threads; stewed lobster pot sticker with a ginger-garlic-butter sauce; and shrimp-and-shiitake spring rolls. For the main course, consider sautéed jumbo lump crabcakes with a rémoulade sauce and good, thin French-fried potatoes; a powerfully smoked, sauced, and grilled Black Angus rib-eye steak with rich Parmesan mashed potatoes; or chicken paillard with sun-dried tomatoes on angel-hair pasta. Good breads come from Best Buns Bread Company next door. Good house-made desserts include banana pudding with candied vanilla wafers, caramel, and chocolate sauce, and white-chocolate cheesecake with raspberry coulis.

The wine list is reasonably priced, offering a few choices for under $20.