Tell Me the Verdad

Verdad, Lancaster Ave in Bryn Mawr by the Bryn Mawr Film Institute,

Colleen and I had dinner tonight at Verdad, on Jeffers’s suggestion; the old Carmine’s menu is available to the few in the know, just until Wednesday, and the two of us had always wanted to go. There was much to catch up on. She has a new love interest, and being a good friend, I tried to balance excitement with skepticism—because what fun is describing a new catch if you don’t get the chance to counter “Oh, but he went to West High, and you know what they’re like” with, “He isn’t anything like the other guys from West High! He’s such a gentleman!”

We started off with the chicken quesadilla on the Verdad menu, because we were intrigued by the promise of strawberries and onions. I love drama—choosing a dish that you question because it plays with your emotions, purposefully trying on an outfit you think is ugly, to attempt to make it beautiful (my secret is out!)—so the strawberries in a savory dish were irresistible. The presentation was trendy, the quadrants spread neatly aside from three little square dishes holding guac, salsa, and sour cream, the first bite was crispy, caramelized onions, tender chicken, okay, good but still standard—no strawberries. Colleen neither. My next was ordinary, delicious, but—and then, there it was, not sweet like fruit but fragrant and delicate and bright, in the way that a bouquet of flowers is instantly apparent in a barren office, clear for an instant, and then gone, the scent burned into my mind.

Colleen continued with the striped sea bass with truffle oil, which we agreed was a no-lose proposition; and we wondered why truffle oil, so earthy, is so ideal when paired with a flaky but flavorful fish. Something about the truffle oil hitting the low notes—it makes me think of crunching through leaves in the woods at home, at twilight, with autumn sunset streaming through the golden leaves—and the fish or crab hitting the higher notes. I chose the spring rolls from Carmine’s menu and found them texturally appealing, but with a soy ginger sauce that was much too heavy on the ginger, to the extreme of being unpalatable.

We loved the closeness of Verdad, the cozy atmosphere, and the surprisingly low prices. I love seeing a fresh angle—whether it means that guys from West High really can be nice, or fishnets can be worn as part of a conservative outfit (they can, Biscuit has done it), or that strawberries fit into a savory dish, or that Verdad isn’t some outrageously expensive, fancy place—it adds fun and depth to every day.


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