Diner: Food on the Move

Tattie's offers carryout without contrition

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Tattie should have herself cloned. Every neighborhood needs a Tattie's To Go, a great deli and carryout with prepared meals that would make pizza delivery obsolete. Tattie's cute little shop is on the main drag in Fairfax, almost right across Wooster Pike from Frisch's Mainliner — but miles away, gastronomically. While the owner, Tattie, has deli sandwiches and cold salads available, her cooking is notches above the ordinary.

The concept is one that I love: I actually wanted to do this in my own neighborhood years ago. Then I realized that there would be hard work involved, damn it. But it's a great idea. One "special" entrée every night and several supporting players, ready for busy folks to grab on their way home from the office. Carryout with no apologies.

The night we stopped by Tattie's, the special had sold out.

Crispy Buttermilk Garlic Fried Chicken? I'm not surprised it didn't linger. The dinner included two pieces of chicken, mashed potatoes, corn pudding and a side salad, for $10.99. Most of the specials on the February schedule sounded just as appealing, and all were priced in the $10-$13 range. Listen to this one for Feb. 17: "Casserole of bacon, sausage, chicken with white beans in an amazing sauce with brandy, red wine and sage. $10.99." Wouldn't you love to curl up in front of a good DVD with a bowlful of that and a glass of wine?

Every dish we tried from Tattie's impressed us. The best was Pork Stew, with abundant cubes of perfectly tender, lean pork accompanied by carrots, celery, potatoes and flavorful fennel in rich, thyme-flecked gravy. A la carte items are priced and weighed deli-style, so the large container — I imagine it was a pound — held four healthy portions and cost $17.18.

We had a few Jamaican Jerk Ribs ($12). Again, they were fork-tender, and I loved the sauce. It was so rich that it was almost like chocolate, very spicy and yet not "hot."

Our choosy teenaged taster picked the Roasted Garlic Pasta Salad ($16.88 for four to six servings.) What a flavor combination! We discovered new tastes in every bite, from tiny cubes of provolone, feta and parmesan cheeses, and slivers of prosciutto, to halved cran-raisins. Tattie suggested, wisely, that we serve this slightly warm to bring out the flavors, and it was superb.

We each had a nibble of Quiche ($6.95), again showcasing top-quality ingredients. Besides aged prosciutto, there were bits of genuine salame di soprassato. Squisito!

I was less keen on the corn pudding ($2.94) just because it was a little too sweet for my taste. It would make a better dessert than a side dish. The dessert, however, was fantastic. Chocolate mousse pie ($4.95) flavored with amaretto and slivered almonds, and piped with whipped cream. The fact that an entire piece of this made it home for my husband is a testimony to my love and devotion.

Tattie has been in business for 14 months, surviving mostly on word of mouth. How these people can talk with their mouths full is a mystery to me. Her lunch business is brisk, with the customer favorite Chicken Salad Sampler ($8). A scoop of your choice of chicken salad — Pesto, Cranberry or Curry — and two more side scoops from a choice of Thai slaw, roasted veggies, potato salad, sesame noodles, bean salad or egg salad. All of the sandwiches are made with Boar's Head meats, complemented by toppings like homemade baba ghanoush. There are five lunch specials under $5, including Chicken & Dumplings. She also offers lunch on Saturdays, and Sunday brunch.

There's an atrium at Tattie's with a few tables for dining in, but the focus is on food that travels well. You can check the Web site at tattiesgourmetdeli.com to learn the daily special, and order ahead by phone. It's kind of a rush to make it to Tattie's before closing time at 6 p.m., but I admire her for balancing her business with her life. This woman is a character, but she's also a darn fine cook with a passion for quality. I hope she succeeds! ©

Tattie's to Go
Go: 5729 Dragon Way, Fairfax

Call: 513-561-8646

Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday

Prices: Reasonable

Payment: Visa, MasterCard

Red Meat Alternatives: Roasted veggie salad, portabella sandwich, good options.

Accessibility: Not completely. Interior stairs could be a problem, but owner is accommodating and sensitive.

Grade: B

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