If any one place in town captures the essence of New American cooking, it's Potager. Chef/owner Teri Rippeto shops local farms, puts the ingredients together in interesting and often daring ways, and when they don't work, she moves on. If that isn't the American way, new or old, what is? Try her innovative cooking in the funky dining room that's at once chaotic and urban-smooth -- dining here is sometimes like being in the eye of a hurricane -- or head out to the delightful backyard patio filled with lush foliage (potager
means "kitchen garden"). Rippeto's menu changes frequently, but you can always count on it matching up with both the weather and what's fresh that day. In the summer, expect cool salads, such as the arugula with hazelnuts and pecorino in a lemon vinaigrette, and light fish dishes; in the winter, it's cassoulet and hearty soups. No matter what time of year, go for the chocolate pudding, the most tummy-soothing, palate-pleasing chocolate dessert around.