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The Federal Food Drink & Provisions

Locals flock to this eatery for creative and distinctive food and drinks in a relaxed and rustic setting. The Federal's distinctiveness cannot be overstated: You won't see crispy omassum tripe with barbecue powder and maple-syrup dipping sauce; jar-o-duck with candied sweet potatoes and charred marshmallow fluff; or Buffalo-style pig wings just anywhere. The so-called wings are really cuts of pork from the shank -- dark, moist, and deeply flavorful meat. Another no-miss starter: biscuits and bite-size nuggets of fried sweetbreads in tandem with peas, pearl onions, sweet baby carrots, and beets in a creamy country gravy. Most main courses keep pace with the scintillating starters. Like, for instance, a sumptuous "little" chicken, or Cornish game hen, proffered Thanksgiving-style with cornbread-sausage stuffing and a mixed berry compote. "Fishermen's New Amsterdam chowder" is really more of a bouillabaisse (sans rouille), and a good one at that. Also tasty is the juicy lamb burger on a soft pretzel bun. Some half-dozen pints of draft brews and the same number of bottled beers ($7 to $9) will help wet your whistle; lots of rarely seen wine labels are on hand too. Finish with "s'mores in a jar," featuring rich dark-chocolate pudding, graham crackers, and bronzed marshmallow fluff. It is delicious and recommendable, as is so much of the food here. But order the s'mores and jar-o-duck on different visits; a good rule of thumb is to avoid indulging in more than one course containing marshmallow fluff per meal. Another rule of thumb: When a cool neighborhood joint with great food opens, eat there.

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