February 17, 2003 | Ask Gael
I’m tired of trendy - let it be tried-and-true.

         You won’t find licorice sticks in your lamb chops at Ouest. When it’s new on the menu, it’s simply yet another lip-smacking toss of some familiar food, most likely scented with garlic or punctuated with bits of pork. Like the new quick olive-oil sauté of calamari with a “ton of garlic,” chef Tom Valenti notes, swimming in a puddle of lightly stewed tomato with, oh yes, chopped soppressata. Or like pappardelle with braised lamb, with garlic, of course. Tonight I’m rhapsodizing over the new sturgeon steak, meaty and slightly rare, with black-trumpet mushrooms and sweet peas on carnaroli rice steeped in mushroom broth with truffle purée, and garlic purée too. Riding the fish is a little salad, dressed simply in lemon and olive oil, sprinkled on top with—toasted garlic chips. It’s always a challenge for chefs to rotate old favorites off the menu, says Valenti: “Customers made us bring back the duck ragù with gnocchi.” So be it.

Ouest 2315 Broadway, near 84th Street 212 580 8700