When you visit the Ivy & James, the eco-friendly, locavore new restaurant in Evelyn's Park, you could order chef Jamie Zelko's house-cured salmon on pumpernickel. You could sup on the homemade corned beef of the Rubenstein on Rye. You could even request a plate of local cheese served with honey from Zelko and wife Dalia's own hives. And you should.
But when you do, if you have any sense of whimsy and fun, you should also throw down $6 for a dish from the kids' menu. In fact, if you aren't too hungry, you'd be perfectly fine making it your whole meal. Meet the Octo-Pal and Pasta.
In the last decade, as Japanese bento box culture has gotten more attention in the Western world thanks to Pinterest and Instagram, octopi made from hot dogs have become more of a thing. I even ate a deep-fried version with haunting, dead eyes at Vermont's Champlain Valley Fair four years ago. The Octo-Pals at the Ivy & James don't have eyes, which may be even sadder.
But as long as you don't think too hard about their difficult lives, sightlessly fumbling for their next meals, the Octo-Pals can't help but put a smile on your face. When the hot dogs are boiled, their "tentacles" curl upward, as if waving "hello."
The description on the menu just mentions a "bed of pasta," which had me picturing warm spaghetti. Instead, the Octo-Pals ride cool waves of multicolored rotini, a pasta salad dotted with cubes of carrot and cucumber.
And if anyone asks why you're ordering from the kids' menu, just tell them you're overdue for a visit with your Octo-Pals.