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OUT TO EAT / Great dishes, drinks and people

An ode to beets

Steve Gedra's love affair with beets started early. "I've always loved them since I was a kid," said the chef at Bistro Europa (484 Elmwood Ave., 884-1100). "Pickled beets? I'd eat the whole flippin' jar."

Beets Five Ways ($9) is Gedra's one-plate ode to beets. He starts primal, with wedges of unadorned roasted beets. Beside them are pickled wedges, with a mysterious grace note that turns out to be molasses.

Then there's raw, thin slices -- "carpaccio" -- and a "tartare" of tiny beet dice, quick-pickled in rice vinegar and honey. "Budino," another appropriate term that's Italian for custard, is beet puree with clove and star anise, jelled with agar-agar.

The plate is rounded out with a dusting of pale purple beet powder, pistachio vinaigrette and brown butter-roasted pistachios for crunch. There's also a goat cheese "truffle," rolled in ground pistachios, flavored with shallot, lemon, garlic and thyme.

The plate becomes a playground of textures and flavors, all within the bounds of the humble beet. Bring Gedra your beet deniers, and his Beets Five Ways will challenge their preconceptions. "I can get you to eat beets," he said.

-- Andrew Z. Galarneau