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Restaurant Thrill-Seeking

As the owner of the Grateful Palate, I travel the country, and often overseas, selling Australian wine and tasting foods for my catalog. I'm always on the lookout for new restaurants because I really, really love to eat. Here, a few discoveries. --Dan Philips 

Scottsdale, Arizona
At Mosaic, young chef Deborah Knight turns out innovative dishes (roasted boar with kamut "risotto," ancho-vanilla-rubbed lamb loin) that match the New Western look of the dining room. Her boyfriend is the maître d' and sommelier; her parents own the property (10600 East Jomax Rd.; 480-563-9600). 

Chicago
People talk about food in this city as much as they do about politics and the Cubs. A lot of the talk now is about Spring, a restaurant in a former bathhouse (with the tiles to prove it). The lobster spring rolls and shrimp-dumpling soup were as outstanding as the Knoll Austrian Riesling we drank with them (2039 W. North Ave.; 773-395-7100). 

Seattle
Le Pichet is a very French bistro made for a wet Seattle day. I had rillons à l'auvergnate (crisp pork confit, preserved with cognac) and raclette baked in a cast-iron skillet. Lots of French and Spanish country wines by the pitcher, half-pitcher and glass: 1998 Vega Sindoa, 1999 Château de la Ragotière Muscadet (1933 First Ave.; 206-256-1499). 

Berkeley
Stephen Singer (Alice Waters' ex-husband) opened Downtown in Berkeley's emerging theater district. I ate there the night of the seventh game of the 2001 World Series, and the food was as exciting as the Diamondbacks' comeback: pumpkin gnocchi with smoked-trout salad; duck two ways--herbed roasted breast with a sugo of leg (2102 Shattuck Ave. at Addison St.; 510-649-3810). 

Raleigh, North Carolina
Chrish Peel, the owner of Carolina Wines, recently opened the trattoria Enoteca Vin. His wine list, with old vintages of Raveneau Chablis for under $100, made me want to come back to Raleigh for a week just to drink as much as possible. The food is simple and fresh: scallops with pureed celery root, salmon carpaccio (410 Glenwood Ave.; 919-834-3070). 

Minneapolis
Zelo is drop-dead beautiful, with a fantastic bar that the locals love. The food is modern Italian with a few Asian influences. My sesame-crusted walleye was one of 2001's better fish dishes. And in a city that's crazy for homemade ice cream, Zelo's strawberry-balsamic version was a standout (831 Nicollet Mall; 612-333-7000). 

Published February 2002
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