At the moment, the wooden telephone booth built into the back of the dining room is my favorite design element of Nine North Fourth. It reminds me of the one at Ray Milland's club in Dial M for Murder, the one from which he sets in motion the plan to murder his wife. But I digress.
Because Nine North Fourth is in nearby Monroe Ward, I was curious to check it out. I waited until after the lunch rush and ambled on over. Four or five tables were occupied and I was given my choice of the rest. I took a booth for two with a chair at the end, creating a three-top near the back.
The specials occupy a giant chalkboard that takes up the north-facing wall, so I read those before perusing the menu. It was about then that I noticed the goose bumps on my arm, caused by the gale-force air conditioning blowing directly on me and moved to the table behind me to escape it.
I couldn't have been the first to do so either, because my server came over and asked, "Too cold for you?" She pointed to the antiquated a/c unit on the ceiling and said they were working on addressing the problem.
In fact, she said that they sometimes have to leave the front door open to moderate the temperature, a practice I love. Please do let in some warm, un-conditioned air.
There are two sandwiches whose preparation changes daily, one chicken and one flatiron steak. Today's flatiron was being served medium rare with sauteed onions and tarragon aioli on grilled focaccia, which had my name all over it. Coleslaw was my side of choice.
While I waited for it to arrive, I enjoyed the cable radio station being played; it was 70s and 80s soul/funk along the lines of Cameo and KC & the Sunshine Band. I immediately presumed that it was the British-born chef's choice and he later told me that it was indeed.
My server asked me if it was my first time there and when I nodded, she said I was the 7th or 8th new customer today. But for lunch, not breakfast. Apparently breakfast is very slow and she said unless that changes, they may give it up, especially once they start doing dinner in two weeks.
I'm pleased to report that my sandwich was the perfect size, stuffed with pink-centered meat, loads of onions, fresh greens and a savory aioli. After all the fish and seafood the past few days. I tore into it just as Chef Phil Barradell came by my table.
When my server mentioned my newbie status, he grinned at me and said, "We love new customers!"
Mouth full, I mumbled that I love new neighborhood restaurants. Sounds like a recipe for everyone to be happy.
The desserts looked terribly tempting (gingerbread, peach ice cream), but I was too full. Sitting there reading my Post, the chef came out of the kitchen, saying something to the server that I didn't hear, but her answer was clear.
"You're full of yourself today!" she laughed.
"Today?" he shot back.
Accented entertainment and good food 3/4 of a mile from home. Keep it up, Monroe Ward.