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Street Restaurant Paves Upper Polk with Gold

One look at Street is enough to suck you in from the one you're standing on. It's evident from the chic scarlet backdrop that chef/owner John Lamkin and co-owner Lynn Ramsey knew what they were doing when they gutted the space previously known as Sweet Heat. Encapsulating what you always hope for in a restaurant - the perfect balance of atmosphere with high-quality food -this Polk street oasis is the ideal dining destination. Meet a group of friends, take over the corner window table, and enjoy a prize-winning view of passersby; or cozy into an intimate two-seater for a first or even fiftieth date.

Start with the Souffleed Goat Cheese Custard on Mixed Lettuces and Tapenade Crouton ($7), guaranteed to convert even the anti-goat cheese/anti-souffle crowd. Or take the light road with the sublime Spinach Salad served with Pancetta, Pecans, Satsuma Tangerines and Gorgonzola Toast ($8). Crab lovers "Ooh" and "Ahh" over Fresh Maine Crab Cakes accompanied by Corn-Black-eyed Pea Relish, Coleslaw and Kennebec Fries ($15). Regain your culinary composure, pause to refill your wine glass with one of the many excellent selections on the list, and get ready for the main event.

The entrees are decidedly modern with a Cal-French influence and a dynamic gourmet flourish. Order up the Grilled Hawaiian Ahi, garnished with Mango Ginger Mojo and guaranteed to satisfy ($18). For another melt-in your mouth option, try the Country Potato Dumplings with Sauce Bolognese and Reggiano ($14); a little bit country, a little bit gnocchi (and a little bit rock n' roll). And just when you thought you might escape without loosening your belt, you catch a glimpse of the dessert menu.

Your taste buds are telling you yes, but your skinny jeans are telling you no. Just give in to temptation and splurge on one of many decadent $5 options (the Granny Smith Apple cake has my vote). Wave to the chef in the open kitchen in the back and let him know how much you've enjoyed the meal. With the service and presentation of a (down-to-earth) four-star restaurant, and moderate prices to boot, Street is the hidden gem you always wish you knew about.