I was in a local restaurant famous for flagrant, au courant flourishes but I couldn't locate a gastrique or foam anywhere on the laminated, new, one-page, placemat-like menu. Instead, there were poppers, pizza, burgers and fries. And lots of the stuff I eventually got arrived in biggie-sized portions.

I was in a local restaurant famous for flagrant, au courant flourishes but I couldn't locate a gastrique or foam anywhere on the laminated, new, one-page, placemat-like menu. Instead, there were poppers, pizza, burgers and fries. And lots of the stuff I eventually got arrived in biggie-sized portions.

Presentations were surprisingly straightforward and the sturdy main courses might best be described as unfussy, Sunday supper-style victuals. Most everything was whisked out a la carte, and rested relatively unembellished in its own casserole dish. No, I wasn't in fancy restaurant bizarro world, but almost ...welcome to Rosendales Modern Bistro.

Logo-wise, aesthetically and physically, this bistro is the lowercase, downscale and downstairs version of Rosendales.

You see, the celebrated chef is still conjuring the culinary magic he's built his national reputation on upstairs, but after a minor makeover of his Short North restaurant, the room down below is now devoted to fare clearly designed to be more accessible -both monetarily and conceptually.

What's the bottom line? All of the food I tried, I really liked -but it was more satisfying than exciting. Is that a problem? Not really, because for the price it's a fine deal, and besides, whenever I need a hit of that wow! factor, I can always get it for a bigger price upstairs.

Thus I welcome this new Rosendales addition, which positions itself between the chef's more tavern-oriented next-door Details and the room upstairs still serving his more refined, A-game stuff.

Refinement didn't pop to mind when I first scanned the appetizers, but I found them to be playful and fun to eat. So give the delicious quintet of Buffalo Shrimp ($9) a chance. They might not romance you but they'll hook you with their underlying blue cheese sauce spiked with chives and their fat, crackly, tempura-battered jackets drenched in zingy, pale-orange "wing" sauce.

More pale orange and buffalo stampeded through in Old School Bison Meatballs ($6.50), but it was golf-ball-sized meat orbs and a very smoky tomato/cream sauce plus an unexpected, Central-European-style touch of dill.

Baked Potato Poppers ($6.50) were more like potato skins - ungreasy and meaty spuds flecked with pancetta and visually mimicking halved boiled eggs, only sporting a velvety well of basil aioli for middle "targets." Like many brand new items on restaurant menus everywhere, they were understandably missing something - in this case, peppers.

Simple is not a word I previously associated with Rosendales, but it's the only way to describe the lightly treated a-la-carte meats I tried. Witness the succulent Half Chicken with herbs ($14 - simply herby but without much evidence of its "Chablis Chicken Jus") and the perfectly roasted, big ol' bone-jutting, Flintstone-y Olive-Braised Lamb Shank ($19 - without much menu-described olive or rosemary flavors, but delicious and desirably unctuous nonetheless).

Thoroughly living up to its description and arriving in its namesake pan, the personal-sized Deep Dish Cast Iron Pizza ($10) was one of the few foods not served in a casserole. Constructed on a thick, puffy crust that was alluringly crispy on the edge and top, it had lots of rich tomato sauce, meaty chicken, bacon and - in seemingly pile-on stoner fashion -mozzarella and cheddar, ranch dressing, shredded lettuce and grape tomatoes. I thought the unlikely catch-all combo actually worked and I liked its BLT riffing, too.

I liked the Bistro Burger ($10) even more. It's a huge, fully loaded, towering sandwich on a very good, buttery toasted bun and it oozed juices and grilled beef flavor. This one immediately shoots to the top of the local burger group.

The built-to-share steakhouse-sized sides ($5) were uniformly excellent - try the buttery, al dente, pretty Market Vegetables, chunky Crushed Potatoes (with crunchy, frico-like cheese bits), addictive Polenta (with mascarpone and mushrooms) and especially the French Beans which, with smoked honey, tangerine slices and almonds, were sort of inspired.

Ditto for the pretty little parfait glass of key-lime-pie-like Lemon Curd dessert ($7) which was even further brightened by ginger ice cream.

With small touches like that, Rosendales Modern Bistro can inspire you to think freshly about your food, but mostly it'll get you rethinking what you thought you knew about Rosendales.