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A MATTER OF COURSE

7. Pasta
Ristorante Catalano,
5970 South Holly Street

Torn between choosing a meat or a pasta course, I hit on Ristorante Catalano's fabulous prosciutto de pollo, a marvelous melding that fits both bills. Chicken so soft it disintegrates at the touch of a fork tops cream-swathed angel-hair pasta pungent with wild mushrooms and prosciutto; it's all baked into a salty, creamy, heart-clogging, marvelous mess.

8. Fish
The Normandy, 1515 Madison Street
This taste sensation comes with its own built-in side dish. The fish itself is tender and succulent, all of its juices trapped in two layers of grated potato that are cooked to a crisp on the outside and almost melt into the fish on the inside. The accompanying sauce, a light beurre blanc touched with basil and tiny bits of tomatoes, provides the necessary rich touch without injecting unnecessary butter. And that's a key factor if you're going to live to eat again in 1995.

9. Side Dish
Ethel's House of Soul, 2622 Welton Street
If I could have only one side dish again in my life, Ethel's yams would be it. Really sweet potatoes smothered in a sugary brown butter, these tubers make you lick your fingers and go searching for something to sop up every last drop of glaze. (With any luck, you remembered to drop some rolls in your purse at Carmine's.)

10. Dessert
Greens, 1469 South Pearl Street
Yes, almost everyone does tiramisu--but no one does it better than Greens. Not content to put out another tried-and-true ladyfinger-mascarpone-cheese-espresso standard, Greens stuffs a martini glass with ginger cake, caramel sauce, hazelnut cream, chocolate cake dipped in espresso and Kahlua, whipped cream, bits of hazelnut praline and--as though we need it at this point--a garnish of chocolate shavings. It's good to the last drop.

11. Coffee
Queen of Sheba, 7225 East Colfax Avenue
Not that anything is going to keep you awake after this gluttony, but somehow the meal isn't finished without a shot of caffeine. Few places take coffee as seriously--or pour it on with such ceremony--as Queen of Sheba. The restaurant follows the Ethiopian tradition of taking local beans in their original green form, roasting them over high heat and then, after lighting some incense to keep the senses reeling, steeping the beans in a beautiful pot. The result pours like syrup and carries the jolt of a cold shower--just the thing to sober you up and carry you into a brand-new year.

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