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The lobster is the one that should sue. As we gazed at this sorry mess, we had a serious discussion of the ethics of taking an animal's life and then disrespecting it so much that it's not even fit for consumption. We didn't know whether to take the lobster home for the dog or tear it into chunks to use as packing peanuts. Adding insult to injury, the butter tasted off -- way off -- so we couldn't even drown the lobster's sorrows.

We hoped to drown ours with dessert. But the white and dark chocolate mousse ($4.50) boasted some lumpy, dark bites that tasted like uncooked, unsweetened cocoa powder; the white bites were all oily cocoa butter. And the bananas Foster ($4.75) would have been delicious if there had been more fruit -- I counted about half a banana's worth of slices -- and less cinnamon ice cream.

Still, we got out alive. And when I returned to Lamonica's, there were more promising signs. We got those rolls again and were assigned the efficient waiter I'd watched fawn all over the couple at the next table on my first visit. Although he didn't quite fawn over my party, he was very good, even comping my Coke when he failed to bring it right away. And while our starter of smoked salmon ($8.25) wasn't the highest-grade fish in the sea, it tasted fine on the buttery crostini. But the salmon's accessories were disappointing: The herbed cream cheese was just plain, and no one with any sense would want to eat raw chopped onions the size of Cracker Jacks on such delicate fish.

At least the onions in the onion soup ($3.50 for a bowl) were cooked, although the soup had so little cheese that I started thinking fondly of the fondue. And the broth was so salty and dark, it could only have started as a commercial base. More huge onion hunks appeared in the spinach salad. This time the greens were fresh and the dressing balanced, but the kitchen could have skipped the three bits of canned mushrooms it tossed in as a surprise and instead added more than four bits of the chopped, hard-boiled egg the menu had actually mentioned.

Considering the general stinginess of the kitchen, it was a surprise to find two whole crab claws next to the salmon Seattle ($22.95). The fish itself was somewhat overcooked, though, and topped by a mound of crabmeat still in the shape of the can. And the side of bearnaise sauce tasted like coconut oil, which meant either that it came from a packet or contained some peculiar ingredient that would make Escoffier wince. This time the mélange of broccoli and carrots was fresh and evenly cooked, but the other side, pasta and cheese, contained enough butter and cheap cheese to choke a horse -- not to mention more onion shards. There must be a garbage can full of raw onion chunks sitting in the middle of Lamonica's kitchen so that whoever's walking by can grab a handful and toss them into whatever he's making at the moment.

Miraculously, there were no onions adorning the Colorado lamb chops ($26.95). But the five skinny chops had been cooked way past our "medium-rare-but-heavy-on-the-rare" request, and the sauce, which was supposed to be Pommery mustard and portabello mushroom, tasted of nothing but lamb juice and butter. At least it was a sauce: The gummy paste on the generous kid's portion of chicken Alfredo ($5.95) would have been at home in a squeeze bottle of Elmer's. And the tough, chewy texture of the chicken told me it had been grilled ahead of time and reheated.

But ice cream came with that kiddie meal, and it perked up the chocolate chocolate torte ($4.75). Although the cake itself was rich and dense, the topping wasn't quite rich enough to qualify as the bona fide ganache -- a glaze-like icing made from melted chocolate and whipping cream -- listed in the dessert's description.

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Kyle Wagner
Contact: Kyle Wagner

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