Monday is easily the most maligned day of the week, and with good reason. I mean, it's fraught with stuff like that back-to-work/back-to-school dread, and staring down the unlovely barrel of a long slog until another weekend "mini holiday" comes along.
Well, restaurants undergo a special shading of the Monday blues too. See, most people usually save their dough and energy to whoop it up later in the week. But restaurant pain can be your gain since many eateries seek to lure in Monday customers with ridiculously cheap deals.
Enter Paul's Fifth Avenue. To sweeten up your mopey Monday just a smidgeon, this beloved, reliable and super-casual Grandview institution offers two full pasta dinners for under $20. What's more, that $10 per person doesn't just score you any old discounted chomp, because Paul's pastas are really quite good.
You know Paul's, don't you? Still called Paul's Pantry by its many regulars, the place has been there since, like, forever. In the a.m. it's a desirable and dinery coffee shop. Around lunchtime, deals on classic American favorites abound.
But when the dinner bell rings, Paul's brings around surprisingly more serious, Italian-leaning cuisine - note I wrote surprisingly because of the place's "come in your softball uniform if you want" ambiance.
Paul's two-meal Monday special - it actually costs $19 - starts with either a homemade soup or a very generously sized salad for each person. You can't lose with either.
While the latter was far from revelatory, it was solidly built with its mixed greens, carrots and red onions tossed in a bright yet balanced, clearly homemade dressing. What's more, it wasn't overdressed and came served on a properly chilled plate.
The Italian Wedding Soup has long been and still is one of the better versions in town. Its deep steeping released plenty of spinach and eggy character into its chicken and excellent little meatball-loaded, steaming hot broth.
For the next course, diners choose their preferred style of pasta and preparation (these range from pesto to carbonara to creamy gorgonzola). Two I've enjoyed lately were the whole wheat linguine done Funghi Pomodoro style and the fettuccine done Polpette style.
The former's nutty and hearty pasta was treated to sauteed shrooms (lots of buttons, a few shiitakes), roasted peppers, peas, roma tomatoes, asiago cheese and a sort of garlicky deconstructed pesto with a good slurp of wine in it. Nice.
Like the linguine above, the equally huge serving of fettuccine arrived perfectly al dente. This dish was that old-school Italian-American favorite - a rich and tangy red sauce adorned with a big soft and herby meatball. As expected, the crowd-pleaser did not disappoint.
Less expected was the outrageous dessert I shared with my dining companion - Jeannie's Elvis Cake. That was a dense and super-moist, real-deal banana bready cake topped with a smooth and not-too-sweet peanut butter icing dotted with chocolate chips. Yes, you read that right, my jealous friend, and it was as good as it sounds.