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Mona Lisa

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The world's most recognized artist with a preference for boys has received a lot of scrutiny lately. Because of recent books and media exposure, everyone has an opinion about what he did, how, why, and with whom. Profiteers have even exploited his most famous companion, claiming knowledge of her closely guarded secrets. I can't believe anyone takes Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code seriously and I'm suspicious of anyone who dares evoke the "Mona Lisa" for personal gain.

Aided by my captivating companion, I put aside my biases as we ventured out for an evening of fondue. Warning: Do not take a date to Mona Lisa unless it actually happens to be a date. We were seated in "lover's lane," asked if we were there for a "special occasion" and reminded of what to do if bread is accidentally (wink) lost in the pot. Indeed, when I clumsily dumped my first piece of bread into the drink, I felt like Sylvester trying to convince Tweety that he was just playing tag. But nothing smooths ruffled feathers like good food and we had plenty.

We ordered the "fondue for two," which promised the greatest variety. Dinner began with a choice of salad, followed by cheese fondue and then an entrée, ending with a desert fondue. With each, we were confronted with a variety of confusing choices, as the uninitiated might feel with sushi. The signature cheese fondue we chose was their "old world" variety, and fruit, vegetables and bread were available for dunking. Our entrée included salmon, chicken, sausage and beef that we cooked tableside. We chose a chocolate fondue desert with cheesecake, bananas, apples and strawberries.

We both thought very highly of the food at Mona Lisa, but the experience was distracting. The staff's romantic parlance was callow, awkward and, yes, cheesy. Our delightful waitress unwittingly rushed us through dinner, but for a tab of well over $100, management should never let that happen. And as my companion pointed out, the cooking was a lot of work.

Leonardo's masterpiece has long been obscured by lacquer and debris that detract from its original beauty. If only it were possible to clean Mona Lisa up a little, we could then appreciate the full intent of her creator.

-Waj Nasser appreciates food dipped in other food.

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