Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Mini Foodventure #47: Mode (Downtown)

Too bad a restaurant like Mode wasn't around when I was in college. Delicious bistro-y foods at an affordable price AND 24/7 service would've been mighty useful during my "crammin' over ramen" days. But hey, I still pull an occasional late/all-nighter now, so a nice go-to place for decent grub anytime is still a welcoming thought; thus, I've been keeping an eye on Mode like a kid outside the candy store that's just about to open . . .
. . . or maybe not. Originally slated to serve right after Halloween, Mode's schedule got sidetracked quite a few times, all the while promising to open "soon". Finally, after a month of unexpected delays and broken promises, Mode went into a light opening mode this past weekend, serving its dinner menu on a 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. schedule -- and that's good enough for me to take an early peek before the weekend swarms.
For a place that's pretty casual, Mode has a pretty swanky vibe with its trendy white furniture, designer-ish ceiling lamps and a cool electronic blue catwalk leading up a projected screen of muted ModTV showing off all sorts of trendy and pricey wearables. Watching all those beautiful people strut and prance was an interesting way to regulate my appetite, and I found myself not wanting a heavy dish like goat cheese ravioli with browned butter.
The front-of-house that day are a pretty well-groomed and fashionable bunch too, but are also very friendly folks who eagerly look forward to going 24/7 this coming weekend. I'm sure a whole slew of downtown clubbers are too.

As noted before, the menu is primarily French bistro-ish foods (Moule Frites, Quiche, Osso Bucco, Cheese plates and the quintessential French Onion Soup with Gruyere) with a bit of Californian-fusion touches (Paninis, Calamari with a Harissa mayo, Seared Tuna Steak with Bok Choy); none of the dishes are outlandishly creative/weird, but that's understandable since most never-close places are going for a broad appeal. In fact, compared to the other always-open eateries around, Mode is actually kinda edgy. Also mentioned before, the prices are pretty reasonable, most of the entrees are in the $10-$16 range, and the priciest thing on the dinner menu was a N.Y. Steak Frites with Bernaise sauce for $24.

Feeling more French than Fusion, I went for the Croque Madame & Pomme Frites . . .
which turned out very well, the seasoned fries were fried well, and the sandwich was made with toasted brioche that had the perfect combo of slightly crispy exterior with a pillowy texture within, the slightly-nutty emmenthal cheese went well with hearty slices of black forest ham and rich mornay sauce. And of course, the over-easy egg with its liquidy yolk goodness drenching all the layers.
not bad for $11. Ok, probably not the best value in town but it's still a better and tastier deal than what most places are serving up, especially in the wee hours of the night.

In short, this place made a nice first impression on me and I can't wait to return again in the near future, since there were some other light dishes that were highly recommended but I wound up being too full to try after the sandwich. And of course, I can't wait for it go open all night and, if other items taste just as good, become my default "Plan B" place for food in downtown. Hope everything is smooth sailing from here on out for them.

916 S. Olive St. (between 9th and 10th Streets)
www.modedowntown.com (according to OpenTable, but the URL's defunct)



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