The last time I reviewed Rathbun’s Blue Plate Kitchen, the upscale comfort food was so salty that it burned my tongue. Late last spring, it made some changes in the kitchen, and Jennifer Newbold took over as chef. I’m happy to report that Newbold has a lighter touch with the salt shaker. I actually added a pinch to the crunchy crust of her chicken-fried steak. The thin batter is appropriately seasoned with fresh cracked pepper, but once you slice through the massive steak, the tenderized beef from Windy Bar Ranch in the Texas Hill Country slides out of the shell. I had to cut a square of each and reassemble them, which is not an easy task to perform on a plate covered with a two-fist portion of skin-on mashed potatoes and a nice side of slightly wilted bok choy. It wasn’t close to the worst CFS I’ve ever eaten—Newbold adds a touch of maple syrup to the cream gravy—but, at $21, it was certainly one of the pricier. After we ordered two $15 glasses of Pinot Noir, our waiter urged us to take advantage of the Pizza & Pinot promotion. Every Thursday, they knock half off any bottle of wine with Pinot in its name if you order one of the custom pizzas. We picked a $65 Ayres (Willamette Valley) and paid only $32.50. When the bill arrived, we were shocked to learn that the “custom pizza appetizer” was $20. But it was too late to complain. The soft-crust pizza covered with thick, bubbling hot Grana Padano and feta cheeses, house-made lamb sausage, whole roasted garlic cloves, and micro basil was long gone.

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