Well in Hand

Such "natural sauces" provide the ground floor for many of Chiavari's well-designed culinary buildings. More complex than they are rich, the sauces are made from meat or chicken stock flavored with red and white wines, drops of pungent oils, and members of the onion family. On Ocean Drive, where diners often check their diets with their car keys, any chef who makes food that's both tasty and healthy should be lauded.

Herb-roasted rack of lamb, two incredibly tender double-cut riblets served medium-rare as requested, was coated with more buttery bread crumbs than flowery herbs and perched over a sumptuous, caramel-colored roast garlic "natural sauce." Spears of steamed asparagus and an eggplant ratatouille with strong garlic-and-tomato notes garnished the plate.

Butter sauces, Chiavari's closer-to-French alternative to "natural," are infused with vibrant fruits and vegetables; left behind are the infinitely more artery-thickening calories of heavy creams and cheeses. A pan-fried yellowtail fillet, curled like a plantain, took well to a powerful blood-orange butter sauce. A mound of "green mango apple sour couscous," sweet rather than tart, was underneath, decorated with dainty pieces of crisp rock shrimp; a brunoise of peppers and hearty asparagus freshened the plate and the palate.

Any dietary caution exhibited during dinner was extinguished by dessert. "Gone Bananas" was a combination plate A frozen bananas coated with dark chocolate, banana bread pudding bathed in caramel, and a wonderful banana ice cream. "Chocolate Lovers' Fantasy" was a high wedge of silky chocolate mousse cake intended to make you lose composure, which is just what we did. The existence of sweets like these should give pause to any diner thinking of heading elsewhere on the Drive. An entire meal deserves a full stop. Go ahead, wake that valet. Meanwhile, I'll be monitoring my voicemail.

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