windows and enveloped by cigarette smoke. After a quiet protest, a new table - this time with breathable air and a view - was found.
My paprika-tinted cabbage-and-meatball soup was flavorful but merely tepid, and I could wish for more than one small meatball per serving. A partner's Killer Nachos had all the essential ingredients - jalapeno slices, black olives, gooey cheese, chopped tomato, refried beans - but arrived welded into a sodden mass.
Her pasta, lavished with strips of well-seasoned grilled chicken breast, came with one of those gentle cream sauces that verge on being dull. My Texas chili, on the other hand, was a fire-eater's feast with authentically seasoned chopped beef, so much that I couldn't begin to finish my portion.
At dinner a day later, the air in the dining room was clearer, the nighttime view fascinating and the food conspicuously better.
An offbeat version of shrimp cocktail brought big, grilled shrimp marinated in a tasty thyme and balsamic vinegar mix and served with an appetizing salsa of finely minced tomatillas.
Escargots and wild mushrooms swathed in buttery demiglace would have been perfection had the accompanying puff pastry not been as soggy as the nachos of lunch.
Rembrandt's roasted duckling half was crisp-skinned and interestingly sauced with apricot and green peppercorn flavors, but the meat had an almost crumbly consistency that I'm attributing to overcooking.
Mahi Mahi, one of the specials of the evening, was perfectly cooked, however, and nicely complemented by the silken hollandaise and brilliant flying-fish caviar with which it was paired.
Both entrees arrived with sweet sugar snap peas, buttery carrot sticks and a nicely flavored rice mixture.
Desserts seemed something of an afterthought. The selection at both meals was decidedly limited and the quality merely acceptable.
The white chocolate mousse in a nut crumb crust at dinner had a grainy texture and an all-too-faint flavor that the soupy berry sauce couldn't rescue. At lunch there was a rather ordinary chocolate cake and a slightly better lemon-filled genoise.
Dinner service was pleasant and attentive.
Rembrandt's decor continues to focus on stained-glass windows. Soft sculptures, presumably of the artist and friend, sit at a balcony table. The dining room is nicely lighted and comfortably furnished. There's a big, attractive bar and lounge in an adjoining room, where the noise of the crowd doesn't overpower dinner conversation.
Corner 23d and Aspen Streets; 763-2228.
Open: Lunch Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; Sunday brunch, 11:30 to 2:30 p.m.; dinner Monday through Thursday, 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday, Saturday to 11 p.m.; Sunday to 9 p.m.
Price range: Lunch entrees $5.50 to $12; dinner entrees $12.95 to $17.95.
Credit cards: Major cards.
Nonsmoking section: No.
Facilities for handicapped: No.
Atmosphere: Neighborhood dining with a big-city view.