Last night I was given yet another birthday dinner at Central Park, this a belated one courtesy of the in-laws. They had never heard of the place, so we felt duty-bound to introduce them...SO nice of us!
We had the same waiter as last time, who recognized and welcomed us. It's a little cramped and noisy in there, and as our drink orders were constantly being interrupted and he wasn't writing anything down I was wondering how he'd keep'em straight, but he did. He brought the wines and water, then the bread: same floppy foccacia as before, plus a crackly crisp flatbread with crusty cheese, very good, and the olive oil/balsamic/tapenade dipping sauce.
I ordered the 10 oz. New York steak, rare; Maman wanted the scampi, and Papa and Mrs. O asked for sand dabs. Papa does not enjoy crunchy vegetables, and as I'd clued him that the side veges here are essentially hot crudités, he demanded and received an extra helping of the mashed potatoes instead. The food appeared after a commendably brief wait, and was served in the proper professional manner by four waiters: the two aisle diners first, then the two on the wall side. Very smooth.
The food itself was all good, but not all flawless. Maman loved her shrimp (and gave her crunchy vegetables to her daughter); Papa and Mrs. O were ecstatic about their sand dabs. My steak seemed to be the poor relation here - much thinner than any I've gotten this side of Sizzler, and of a strangely flabby consistency, as though it had been knitted from some kind of Meat Yarn; there were real enough grill marks, but on a pinkish field, and the flavor was much more of grill than of beef. It was not totally unpleasant and I ate it, all except for the huge strip of fat and gristle I cut off the side. As for the potatoes, I would have paid extra for the glorious gratin I had last time here. These were not awful, but had been whipped to the edge of glueyness.
A pleasant meal, though, and the parents loved the place and thanked us for suggesting it. We finished up with the White Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream dessert again, this time with three spoons (Papa abstaining). As is usual when he's treating none of the rest of us saw the tab, but with all the foregoing and one glass of a cabernet, one of zinfandel, one itty bitty bottle of Spanish bubbly and a big bottle of San Pellegrino, I figure it just over $100 before tax and tip. Not bad at all.
Now I need to try them for lunch...