Dana Bowen gives a generally positive review to Lamb and Jaffy in today's Times. As a resident of Greenpoint, it pains me to have to beg to differ.
Just to provide some context to those who are unfamiliar with Greenpoint, it is severely deprived of restaurants that fall outside of the Polish and Thai variety. Chinese Musician is the only passable Chinese and it is serviceable at best. There are two down and dirty Mexican joints (Acapulco and San Diego) that are halfway decent, but nothing to get particularly excited about. The pizza is really weak except for Carmine's, and the Italian fails to elevate above a standard red sauce experience. Forget about good sushi. We don't even have a respectable diner, although we do have an amazing donought shop that is a step back in time. With the exception of Blue Drawes, our excellent, reliable Jamaican gem, and The Garden, our organic, upscale grocer, we are well behind W'burg, LIC, Woodside, and any other nearby nabes.
As a result of Greenpoint's stark culinary landscape, we were ecstatic to see Lamb & Jaffy open. However, the menu is completely misguided, not to mention a tad expensive in places. Given that there is no bistro or cafe in Greenpoint, we had been waiting patiently (and excitedly) for somebody to open someday to give us what the 'hood needs most - a place to get great salads, a quality burger, steak frites, pork chop, roast chicken, mac and cheese, seared tuna, grilled shrimp, etc. Nothing fancy, just straightforward cuisine to fill the hole.
While Lamb and Jaffy has come within reach of this basic premise, it fails to execute entirely. For instance, no burger. Unassuming appetizers include spinach and gorgonzola salad with bacon, hummus, bruschetta, and baked brie, but then the menu goes into overdrive with entrees featuring pinot noir sauce (flank steak), saffron veloute (salmon), and sauce normande (pork). Very strange (take note, however, that the bacon-wrapped dates are indeed awesome.
It would be ideal if the apps could jump up a class in interest level and the entrees could come down to earth a bit. Also, a 7 course tasting menu in Greenpoint is really dumb.
As for the food, the flank steak is ok, but not for $16 -- a cheaper cut like skirt or hanger would certainly knock the price down and be a much better fit for Greenpoint where the avg. restaurant entree is $8.50 (or $11 or $12 at Blue Drawes). And $18 for seared scallops is pretty offensive, too. At present, Lamb and Jaffy's location, ambience and quality of food does not justify its prices with those particular items. Service is the exception, though, and it was a cut way above.
The best thing the owners can do is go and dine at DuMont - a great restaurant with reasonable prices that has a small, streamlined comfort food menu with market-driven specials. Otherwise, they might be in trouble...The Greenpoint Coffe shop on Franklin and Greene is renovating its kicthen and gearing up to serve dinner beginning in the spring, another sliver of a restaurant with "home cooking" is opening up catty corner from the coffee shop, and a BBQ place is opening on Greenpoint Avenue.
Lamb and Jaffy has a nice, workable space, a terrific service staff, a competent chef, and a leg up on future competition...they just need to take the pretense off of their entrees and adjust their pricing accordingly if they really want to win over a loyal and local crowd. Because as it stands now, it is not worthy of a visit from outside of the neighborhood.
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