Shopping at Finesse is like shopping at home; the blue-checkered wallpaper and the bay window looking out to Wisconsin Avenue make it cozy. And the spotless store is tiny -- any browsing is done within 10 minutes.
The kitchen is close enough that you can see, hear and smell the cooking -- chicken salad, Chinese beef, artichokes with fennel, marinated tortellini -- and cookies and brownies for dessert. The fragrance changes from day to day, depending on what owner, Marge Guarasci, fells like having on the menu.
The salads, which range in price from $5 to $10 per pound, taste homemade too. There was a smoky bacon-lemon flavor in the chicken salad, a hefty dousing of garlic in the Chinese beef, a nutty basil tomato sauce on the cannelloni. Some of the salads could have used a bit more work: a few more artichokes with the fennel; more oomph in the tortellini filling, then less cooking of their dough.
The cookies were crunchy and delicious: the oatmeal-raisin loaded with raisins, and lots of chips in the chocolate chip cookies. The brownies were chewy and nutty.
In addition to the array of cookbooks for sale along a checkerboard wall, other merchandise not made in the store includes: bread (from the Bread Oven), a few English chutneys, pink peppercorns, olives, hazelnut oil and some fruit vinegars. Open 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Mon. through Sat.Closed Sun. Moderate to expensive