The wife and I stole away last Saturday for a night on the town. We were going to go see Drunk Pupppet Nite #6, and left early enough to catch dinner downtown.

We originally planned on going to The Melting Pot and having fondue. Unfortunately, I am rather dense about things like reservations, and by the time I called them, they were booked until 9:30. That just wouldn’t work for us. So, I figured we would try Southpark Seafood Grill & Wine Bar, which is near the theatre.

I was reluctant to go to Southpark. For one thing, I’m not a big seafood fan. For another, I had attended an office lunch there a few years ago and the service had been abysmal. They had not only brought my order well after everyone else was done eating (with no explanation) but one of the servers sprayed three (three!) of us with ketchup in one spectacular spill. I hadn’t been back since.

Which I now regret. I started with a roasted beet salad with cabrales cheese, toasted walnuts, and baby field greens tossed with sherry vinegar. It was really exquisite. The beets were not overly sweet, and had just enough texture to be substantial to the tooth. The cheese was funky, and provided a nice contrast with the sherry vinegar dressing. With the walnuts, it was a medley of flavors and textures that came together beautifully.

I chose a simple pasta entree, orecchiette pasta served with house-made Italian sausage, broccoli florets, small hot chilies and fontina cheese. This dish, too, was tossed with sherry . The sausage was wonderful, and the chilies provided a strong but not overly aggressive heat. But the star of the show was the pasta. We get too used to eating pasta that serves as nothing more than a vehicle for sauce. We forget that properly prepared pasta can be exquisite in its own right. These ‘little ears’ were deliciously chewy, with a flavor and texture that was almost nutty. Every bite was a treat.

The wife had a sausage-stuffed pork chop, served with gratin potatoes. Although the pork was a little rare for my taste (I know it’s a mental block, but it’s the way I was raised) it had an excellent flavor, and was very tender. The sausage stuffing was almost sweet, and although I thought the potatoes were a bit bland, Mrs. Agent said that once you got to the stuffing, everything went very well together.

The dessert menu looked very tempting, at least to me, but we were on a short timetable, and had to run along. Perhaps another time. Now that I know how good a meal I can get there, I will make an effort to get back.