Mosaic Restaurant and Wine Bar 

I have the pleasure of knowing a Parisian woman (shouldn't everyone?) who enjoys playing Maude to my Harold. She makes a pass at me whenever we meet, whispering through daring red lipstick in a seductive Gallic accent, "If only I were sixty years younger..." Scarlet badges are not for the meek.

Entering Mosaic, you slip by the supple folds of a luxurious red partition into an intimate space that is both warm and austere. The opposing wall is also a bold crimson color and punctuated by a single door that leads to the kitchen. The feel of the dining space is ever changing thanks to borrowed art from Stewart Gallery and the owners' support of local artists, whose work they show prominently. Daily specials further ensure that you never get the same experience twice when you dine at Mosaic.

My surgically enhanced, L.A. movie producer friend agreed to dine with me because it was my "lucky day," and she just happened to be free. We settled in for dinner on a quiet and cold Thursday night.

Mosaic has a well-earned reputation for their mixed drinks and wine that is available by the bottle, flight, glass or taste. Sadly, bartender Rachel is gone, and with her the best marguerites and cosmopolitans in town. So we passed on the drink order and turned our attention to the food.

Mosaic's menu is divided into tapas, salads and large plates. I had our waitress fill the table with orders of the wontonados, parmesano fritos and insalata caprese. Teri Hatcher had trouble deciding what to eat, although you couldn't tell by the sandblasted appearance of her forehead. She finally decided on the Andalusian shrimp. Mosaic utilizes the Andalusian sauce in many of their dishes, including a delicious salmon special they served earlier in the week. The sauce is tomato based, moderately spicy and well matched to the fish. I find the tapas much more interesting and fun to sample. The parmesano fritos consist of battered and fried strips of Parmesan cheese topped with thinly sliced prosciutto. The key to this indulgence is the surprisingly light, flakey batter. The wontonados are a fusion dish of fried Spanish meat stuffed in an oriental won-ton wrap. I had about as much fun bouncing between these two appetizers as Teri's ... oh, never mind. The caprese salad features trendy buffalo mozzarella, thickly sliced tomatoes and ample basil--all drizzled with balsalmic vinegar and olive oil. Teri cooed over her first bite, likening the caprese to the best she's had--and she's had a lot.

For dessert, we requested a piece of cheesecake with raspberry sauce, but this selection turned out to be the only disappointment of the evening. Teri appreciated the hint of cinnamon in each bite in a "how'd they get the ship in the bottle" sort of a way. I pointedly remarked that it was a bit too dry and dense. She smiled vacantly in response.

There is so much to explore at Mosaic. When you feel like indulging your inner ninety-year-old that would still wear kiss-me-red lipstick, head over and order tapas and a flight of wine. My companion summed up the experience as "pleasant." Seeing the look of surprise on my face, she clarified; "No sweetie, you're pleasant, the food was lovely." I couldn't have agreed more.

--Waj Nasser carves turns like a Thanksgiving turkey

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