Leku Ona 

With very little understanding of Basque food other than that meals are often served "family style," I asked a colleague (who is thoroughly knowledgeable in all things food related) to join me for a meal at Leku Ona, the newest kid on the Basque Block.

When my favorite Basque told her amuma (Basque for "grandmother") that I was going to be doing a review on Leku Ona, Muma said to be sure to tell me that Leku means "place" and Ona means "good." A step inside the door of Leku Ona proves it's appropriately named.

We chose to eat in the bar, which is light and airy and offers a full complement of liquor, a large selection of wine and a giant-screen TV. It was late afternoon when we arrived and there were only a handful of people present. Eschewing the pintxos (tapas-style appetizers), we decided "when in the Basque country ..." and ordered the family style meal, which included soup, salad, paella, a "protein" and fries.

The first course was a big, steaming bowl of delicious chicken noodle soup. We had a hard time not finishing it, but we had to leave room. The salad arrived shortly and though it was a plain garden salad, the greens were fresh and crispy and the salad dressing tangy.

The paella came next, and I could have eaten my portion, my dining companion's portion and ordered another giant helping. The paella was hot and savory, not spicy, and had large chunks of chorizo and chicken liberally spread through it. For our "protein" portion, I chose the cod and my pal picked the solomo, cured pork loin marinated in about the same ingredients and spices as chorizo. When the dishes arrived, there were two pieces of protein on each plate, so we did a switch and I am glad we did. The cod was flaky and lightly breaded and garnished with a sprig of rosemary. Both the solomo and the cod were generously sprinkled with crunchy bits of roasted garlic. The solomo was delicious. The fries had arrived at around the same time as our protein plates. I didn't see any ketchup in sight and so initially, I wasn't going to eat any of them, but then thought that maybe eating them sans-condiments would allow me to sample their true taste. Know this: They are some of the best fries I have ever tasted. I am in the crispy, battered fry camp and after eating the fries at Leku Ona, I will spend my days championing that choice.

For just under $15 per person, the family style dining allows an inexpensive way to try a plentiful and delicious sampling of all the cuisine has to offer.

—Amy Atkinx lovex her a fry fix.

Leku Ona, 117 S. 6th St., 345-6665. Mon.-Sat.: 11 a.m.-2 p.m., 5-10 p.m., Happy Hour: Mon.:-Sat.: 4-6 p.m.

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