Alana Shock drops two glasses of water on the table. In a pink hat and six-point star badge with the words "sheriff" emblazoned on it, there's no smile on the face of the chef and owner of Alana's Food & Wine.

Alana Shock drops two glasses of water on the table. In a pink hat and six-point star badge with the words "sheriff" emblazoned on it, there's no smile on the face of the chef and owner of Alana's Food & Wine.

If it were anyone else, this passé gesture may have come off as rude-but from Shock it's simply amusing and set the tone of what to expect when dining at this 14-year-old Campus restaurant. Enjoy the food the way she lovingly prepares it, or get out.

It's an attitude that works at a funky spot like Alana's because her food is not only enjoyable, but she's the sort of chef you can trust to make chopped liver sing, or fennel pollen-crusted sea bass a beautiful balance of bitter and sweet.

Substitutions on the daily changing menu (always balanced with a meat option, a seafood choice, some sort of pasta or risotto and always a vegetarian option or two) she's tweaking up until dinner service earn a disapproving look and upcharge on your bill. The only insight diners get to the nightly Surprise entree-a chef's whim created with what's fresh that day, and kept a secret from the diner until it's brought to the table-is an answer to food allergy concerns. Yet, it remains one of the restaurant's most popular orders, selling out every night.

Why? Because Shock is among the handful of chefs in this city we trust most with our food. Her menus are influenced each day by what's fresh from local purveyors and what cuisine has caught her attention. This year, Shock was pulled to Indian curries and preparations, in dishes like Curried Rack of Lamb with a trio of Indian-spiced sides or an Indian Five Sesame Chicken.

Our suggestion on how to truly enjoy Alana's? Go with an open mind, an adventuresome palate and a sense of humor.

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