Paradigm Restaurant wants to be the mecca for the hip, cool, and confident. Confidence is the thing you’ll need to approach the common restrooms, because the doors are purely glass. That’s right, folks, it’s cool to pee in public at Paradigm.
You could feel the servers trying not to laugh as each newbie examined the transparent glass bathroom doors. When you lock the door from the inside, it magically turns opaque. But it still made me feel nervous and incredibly un-hip.
Paradigm is located in the heart of the yuppie Old City bar scene, and boy does it show. Junior execs still in their suits chat up flocks of lovely husband-hunters clutching martinis in rainbow hues. The space is connected to Dolce, which is under the same ownership, and the neighbors share a kitchen. Dolce focuses on Italian food but Paradigm bills itself as “International” cuisine.
There is a creative martini menu but it is fairly expensive at $7 to $9 for a five-ounce drink. One that caught my eye was the Saketini, a chilled blend of sake and your choice of fresh fruit juice. I ordered a pear Saketini only to find that they were sold out, but the nimble bartender substituted Lillet, a French apertif. It was a good save and a tasty drink.
A standout on the Restaurant Week menu was a smoked mozzarella appetizer wrapped in salty proscuitto and grilled – a happy marriage of good flavors. A 12-ounce New York strip steak was tender and accented with a spicy Pinot Noir sauce, but the star of the plate was the light and perfect garlic mashed potatoes. Other selections were disappointing. The homemade lobster ravioli were heavy-handed, bland bombs. Though the chocolate-layered croissant bread pudding was comfortingly warm, it lacked any perceptible flavor. All of the dishes we tasted would have benefited from more aggressive seasoning – the kitchen seemed timid.
It is expensive for the quality of the menu, but can appeal to those who enjoy a more theatrical setting for going out. Just please remember to lock that bathroom door or Paradigm could end up being your most memorable dinner ever – and not for the duck spring rolls, either.
Felicia D’Ambrosio can be reached at email@example.com.