Cuisine: Irish-born chef Cathal Armstrong extols the pleasures of nose-to-tail eating—nowhere else in town will you find a chicken-fried honeycomb of tripe and a delicate crepinette of pig’s feet. Zealous about lovely produce, he spends much of his time gathering the bounty of local farms.
Mood: Three distinct dining rooms make up this brick-enclosed Old Town jewel: a firelit, no-reservations bar where neighborhood regulars hover over bowls of mussels and chat with the wine-savvy bartenders; a mirrored bistro room where couples can celebrate an anniversary or show up in jeans with the kids; and the quieter tasting room, where the mood is more serious and diners settle in for a five- or nine-course tasting menu. Wherever you sit, the service is crisp—show up in the bistro in dark pants, and your white napkin will be whisked away and replaced with a black one.
Best for: Destination diners, farmers-market foodies, offal lovers.
Best dishes: In the bistro, a bacon-egg-and-Parmesan salad with cured pork belly, frisée, and smoked-bacon vinaigrette; creamy crab bisque; house-made charcuterie, especially the peppery Chinese-style pork sausage and airy chicken-liver mousse; bouillabaise loaded with clams, mussels, and fingerling potatoes; sablefish, its dark-gold crust set off by bits of pancetta and swipes of paprika cream. In the tasting room, duck foie gras paired with Molly Delicious apples and a snifter of South African Chenin Blanc; buttery lobster simmered with ginger and baby cilantro; a wilted-cabbage crepinette filled with braised pied de cochon; custardy clafoutis studded with tiny, tangy Duarte plums.
Insider tips: Armstrong is a technique-obsessed craftsman—the charcuterie board boasts 14 house-made sausages and cured meats, and he’s been known to make his own cheese. Same goes for sommelier/cocktail guru Todd Thrasher, whose specialty drinks are made with freshly pressed juices and house-made sodas. Desserts are a relative weak spot. Our favorite sweet: the Eve’s Temptation cocktail, the purest liquid expression of apple we’ve tasted.