March 2, 2009
Elbows off the table - another diner's take on Gonul's

I received a lot of calls and e-mails after last week's review of Gonul's J Street Cafe, but only one call made me sit up extra straight and really pay attention.

It was a voice mail left by Sister Sheila Walsh, a nun for 53 years and counting. She was also the first nun in the United States to be a registered lobbyist, advocating on behalf of the economically disadvantaged (she will scold you if you call them poor).

I wrote a fairly long profile of Sister Sheila two years ago. What she never got around to telling me then was she is one of this city's most active diners. A resident of midtown, she knows all the hot -- and not so hot -- spots.

"Gonul's is absolutely my favorite restaurant. I've been going there a number of years. I usually order the mussels. She does a wonderful sauce and the mussels are always fresh. It's the best in town."

Sister Sheila said Gonul's was out of mussels one time she stopped in. The chef promptly dispatched someone to buy fresh mussels. The restaurant scored points with this city's most persuasive nun.

As the voice mail continued, Sister Sheila began to weigh in with her own conclusions.

"I would say it's excellent and not just good. To me, Gonul's is wonderful."

I so enjoyed hearing from her that I invited Sister Sheila to dinner on Friday, at a nice little restaurant she seemed to enjoy. She noted that two of her other favorite eateries are Aioli and Delta King (the latter is owned by her cousins).

I thought the place we visited Friday was good, and this time she agreed, thank goodness.

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