I had occasion to revisit The Press Gang on Prince St. for the first time in about 5 years this week. I was looking forward to it since my previous vist had been excellent and I couldn't really figure out why I hadn't gone since.
The interior of the place is very old and full of character, basically a series of small rooms with lots of stone, beams and wooden panelled walls. The furniture is old also and unfortunately that meant we were seated in very uncomfortable (and I believe cheap) older wooden armchairs. We were handed sheets of paper that were the menus and wine list. Our server was friendly and casual.
This is the frustrating thing about The Press Gang. The furniture, service, and atmosphere are both casual, yet prices are very high given that level of offering. Couldn't they afford a decent-looking menu holder? If they're charging me $70 for a $26 bottle of Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc I would think so. The same holds true for the food items. Apps were $9-$16, mains from $23 to $40. I ordered a roasted beet salad and was fairly unimpressed with both the presentation and the flavor of the dish itself. For a main I chose the sea bass and again was unimpressed -- a small piece of fish, rather oily, with some small chunks of sweet potato and vegetable that was totally forgettable and relatively flavorless.
In fairness some others were luckier. One person ordered the chowder as an appetizer and came away impressed, and others had oysters that were fresh and flavorful. A "rack of veal" got mixed reviews; one person liked it, another found it fatty and was unimpressed. There was nothing that blew anyone away. The service was friendly and enthusiastic but very spotty as well; dishes were misplaced in front of the wrong customer, and finding a clean fork, knife or spoon when needed was always a bit of a challenge. There was simply nothing about the evening that lived up to the prices being asked, which was my biggest gripe. I mentioned the wine prices, which were beyond ridiculous, approaching 3 times the shelf price, but menu prices also failed to match up to the quality of the dishes offered.
In short, The Press Gang seems like other places run by Victor Syperek; a funky, interesting room but an indifferent food offering and service that fails to impress. I won't be recommending it any time soon.
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