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Sweet Smells of Success

Although each pizza was large enough for two people, we couldn't pass up the almond tuile with mascarpone mousse and balsamic black-pepper strawberries ($5). The thin cookie tuile (pronounced "tweel") was shaped like a cannoli and filled with the mildly sweet cheese. The real trick, though, was hooking up these components with strawberries, spicy black pepper and tangy balsamic, opposites that made for an attractively unsweet yet satisfying finish.

But while 240 Union's food was consistently on the money (as was its down-to-earth wine list, which offered something nice in every price range), the service was spotty. During peak eating times, apparently the key is to make ordering decisions quickly; telling the waitstaff you're not quite ready could mean a ten- to fifteen-minute wait before you get another try. By the time dessert rolled around, we were competing with a full house, and we considered ourselves lucky to even get the tuile.

Obviously, the lag time doesn't bother too many people, because every time we've gone there the place has been hopping. In fact, 240 Union's gross has been high enough to place it in the top twenty independently operated local restaurants, with over $1.5 million in sales the year before last.

Apparently, nothing succeeds like success. But at this restaurant, Noel Cunningham deserves everything he gets.

240 Union, 240 Union Boulevard, Lakewood, 989-3562. Hours: 11 a.m.-3:30 p.m.; 5-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-3:30 p.m., 5-10:30 p.m. Friday; 5-10:30 p.m. Saturday; 5-9 p.m. Sunday.

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