There are two factions of polenta lovers: those who want to dip their spoons into a bowl of golden creaminess and those who want to angle a fork through the browned, cheesy edges. Isn't our nation divided enough?
The polenta lasagna ($17) at Brick and Fire (1630 F St.) is a unifying force. True, it's not an actual lasagna — two seared rectangles of Parmesan-rich polenta sandwich roasted peppers, eggplant and mushrooms — and the roasted tomato compote is more intense than a traditional sauce, but go with it. Because the polenta, topped with shavings of still more Parmesan and a smattering of balsamic, is so very soft, enough to win over the spoon lobby without alienating the crust constituency.
The kitchen staff is also uniting us on the chocolate cake vs. cheesecake front. The chocolate marscarpone cheesecake is a narrow wedge of the rich stuff ($7). It's milder than the straight cream cheese variety, with less of the distracting tang and all of the fluffiness. The balsamic glaze on the menu turns out to be but a streak, so if it puts you off, relax; if you want more, ask. There, a nation united, if only at lunch.