My favorite foodie friend and I descended on the much-debated Dakota haven last night; the controversary is warranted, but in the end, the food bursted through and made the experience divine. Here's the dish:
Place: Dakota, 9:00 PM
Myself + 1 guest
Ratings in brief:
Ambiance - A-
Service - C+
Food (Taste) - A-
Food (Presentation) - B-
Wine/Drinks - B-
Price - B-
Overall Experience - B
The space is breathtaking. Waltzing into the Roosevelt Hotel lobby, I was immediately struck with the feeling that the place held many-a-haunt - spirits all around, as my spidey-senses lit up like a house on fire - but I welcomed it; totally fit the experience.
Dakota is understated elegance, full of warm chocolate tones and gorgeous lighting. We were seated at a big table with comfy, velvety chairs, and a leather table top - center of the room, near the bar, with a great view. Very happy. And by the way, the hostess was a doll - I've read some not-so-happy seating experiences on the board, but ours was lovely and friendly.
The staff, however, really needs to find their groove. Our waiter was friendly, but in that "what I really want to do is act" way that elicits a far too casual repoire for such a stunning and expensive establishment. It took a while for our order to be taken, and the bread arrived eons after we first sat down. Service was spotty and inconsistent all evening - never to the point of annoyance, but when you're laying down this kind of cash, you want the whole thing to flow. Not so - it they get there, Dakota has major staying power. If not, flash. In. Pan.
Wine list - eh, this didn't impress me. Most of the options were way too pricey, and there just wasn't enough variety for my taste. Still, since we were in the mood to splurge, we found a winner (details below). The big mistake was not asking the waiter to open/decant this before the meal arrived - live and learn, indeed.
Now, on to the main event:
We started with a glass of Veuve Cliquot (I had a special something something to celebrate) and mulled over the menu.
Appetizer 1 - Heirloom Tomatoes, goat cheese, and greens with a heavenly, vibrant oil/citrus drizzle. This was *very* good, but WAY too large for an appetizer, and therefore a bit intimidating.
Appetizer 2 - Tuna sashimi with a citrus soy (and a generous amount at that). I had been told to steer clear of this dish, but the waiter recommended it, so I threw caution to the wind and was very glad I did - fantastically flavorful, and beautiful high-quality fish. Mmmmm Mmmm.
Pet peeve here, however - they didn't present chopsticks with the sashimi. To me, that's like serving a steak without a steak knife - I feel funny eating sashimi with a fork, and figured they'd frown upon my finger-usage, so I found myself totally missing the chopstick goodness.
Wine - Dammit, I always forget the wine specifics. I do know it was a very bold French burgundy (2002 vintage), but I don't recall the details. The way this wine opened up throughout the eve was magical - the alcohol taste disappated and the a grapey, woodsy flavor literally burst through my palette - very good wine ($135 for the bottle).
Entree 1 - I had the Petit Filet (6 oz) with the Bearnaise sauce (thanks 'Hounds for suggesting this sauce!) Holy crap this was GOOD - I ordered it rare, and in typical fashion, it arrived medium rare, but really, it was so velvety, flavorful, and tender, I was in heaven. That sauce knocked my socks off too - buttery, nutty, decadent - I really loved this dish.
Entree 2 - My date had the Colorado Rack of Lamb with the Chimchurri sauce. I had a taste of this and it was super flavorful and yummy as well. Judging from his response, he enjoyed it, but it didn't elicit ooohs and ahhhs.
Side 1 - Thanks to 'Hound recs, we had the French Fries with Truffles and Parmesan - I mean, come ON, what a gorgeous mixture. Sooooo tasty. I wanted a trough full of these to graze on all night.
Side 2 - Green beans with Garlic - not too oily, very garlicky, and super tasty.
Dessert - We had the Rocky Road Brownie Sundae. Once again, WAY too big, portion wise. I'm more fond of concentrated flavors in desserts, and do not subscribe to the More is More philosophy with this course. The brownie was the standout here - slightly undercooked and therefore sufficiently gooey, with roasted mashmellows and walnuts. The vanilla bean ice cream had a great consistency, but not very flavorful - the ice cream at Sona (which equated to only a spoonful, but a perfect one at that) was FAR superior. And the dessert menu itself was rather uninspired.
Tab - just over $300 before tip (over half of that was spent on wine/champagne, so I found the food prices fairly reasonable)
Overall, they nailed the ambiance and most of the food, but the rhythm needs some serious attention, or the Hounds will not be repeat performers.
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