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A BRAND NEW PLUM FOR UNUSUAL FINE DINING.

JUST HOW new is this restaurant on Transit near Sheridan Drive? So new that when we walked into the place, it was still the Prime Rib -- at least according to the big free standing sign that fronts the road. But we also noticed plenty of scaffolding.

And by the time we left the lettering had been been changed. We were officially leaving Michael's Plum.

Now -- that's what I call fast signmanship.

Surprises lurked inside this restaurant, as well. The dining room -- a large one -- has been redone in shades of plum-y pink. (So flattering my dear, to everyone's complexion.) And indeed the place did look great. Pink carnations center every table; pink cummerbunds center every server.

The palate cleanser between courses is a pretty pink Plum Sorbet in a crystal cup. And the menus are pink.

Speaking of menus, they are very different from what they used to be within these four walls. They once were, you remember, especially strong on beef and spaghetti. Oh, you can still get Prime Rib of Beef all right ($13.95 ). Or Filet Mignon. Or a Mixed Grill or a New York Strip ($15.95).

But you can also order a Cold Mesquite Blackened Pork Loin Appetizer in Cold Mustard Sauce ($6.95). Or Grilled Shrimp with Roasted Garlic Provencale.

For an entree you can choose Calf's Liver Janelle (with malt vinegar, raisins and grapes, $12.95) or pan-fried Mahi Mahi served with Macadamia Nuts and Ginger Lime Butter ($15.95). Even that New York Strip comes with a Red Onion Marmalade if you want it to.

This place has taken a gentle culinary turn to the left, by gosh. And the contemporary variety is welcome. There was my Grilled Wild Mushroom Salad with Grated Cheese ($4.95), as a case in point, and a fairly unusual course hereabouts -- a tasty heap of chanterelle mushrooms set off with mint, grilled red and yellow peppers and Belgian endive. It was earthy in flavor, pretty to look at. And for an appetizer, extremely filling.

Artichoke Patricia ($5.95) featured artichoke bottoms and escargot on a nest of tender pasta and was delicious too. The house bread incorporated flecks of red pepper and fennel.

Veal Chop Chandelier (my choice at $19.95) was a sheer delight. Again the handsome plate -- the thick rib chop stuffed with fresh goat cheese, set off with dried tomatoes and a sprig or two of rosemary was tender and full flavored. Rich brown sauce finished with a hint of cream and a side of Pesto Fettucine tied things up nicely.

The Companion's Chicken Edward ($13.95) was pretty, too. It was set off with multi-colored peppers and a big potato encased in coarse salt before it was baked. (Unfortunately, the chicken was dry. And it could have been a lot more tender.)

The House salad, a carefully composed palette of beautiful Boston lettuce, chopped raddichio, Belgian endive, waffle cut carrots and slightly pale tomatoes was topped with what the server called "Plum Vinagirette". Nice tang.

The salad even sported a touch of wit -- being adorned with by a crisp, skinny breadstick that looked like a chopstick.

Desserts tempted. Especially a Dacquoise or meringue shell, topped with slabs of chocolate cake and whipped cream.

And that's not all. The whole thing rested in a pool of raspberry sauce and tasted as good as it looked. (Will you be surprised to learn a Plum Cheesecake is also available?)

A few additional notes before we sign (smilingly) off. The wine list here is carefully chosen at the Plum, although it is expensive. We chose a Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay (around $18) from a good choice of French, California and New York State varieties. There's a wine steward to help you make decisions.

And we recommend the little lagniappe offered along with the coffee, too. Big fat strawberries, plumped full of creme de menthe are dipped into milk chocolate.

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