Three of us visited Gotham Tavern last night (our first time) and since we shared everything we got to try a good number of items.
The amuse of perfectly cooked white beans over crostini with a spicy sauce was very nice, with a spicy finish that had us waiting for the first sip of the refreshing Nigl Riesling brought by our friend. Deciding to split a bunch of things, we first ordered the gougeres and a chicken and duck liver potted pate. The gougeres were delicious, with a pillowy texture, good cheese flavor, and just the right crispness. The pate was good, especially when matched with the roasted figs and pluots, but seemed to lack a bit compared with the pates from Castagna, for example.
Our second round was two pastas, a gnocchi with mushrooms (chanterelles?) and truffle, along with a braised pork pasta special. The braised pork was tender and was nicely complemented by a slightly spicy red sauce, and was very good with the fresh noodles. The gnocchis themselves were excellent, and were tender without being mushy. While I liked the small pieces of mushroom that had been sauteed until slightly crisp on the outside (I don't like the texture of large pieces of mushroom), my wife and our friend both thought the mushrooms should have been a bit larger and thought they were a bit crisp. While there was a hint of truffle when smelling the dish, none of us could taste any truffle whatsover, so it was a bit disappointing.
We then split two entrees, the hanger steak with potato gratin with horseradish and sherried onions and the duck leg confit. The hanger steak was cooked perfectly, with a salty, spicy coating (might be too salty for those who don't like salt), and the sherried onions were a lovely addition to the steak. The potatoes were fine, maybe a little less crisp than they could have been, and there wasn't a lot of horseradish flavor. The duck confit was also excellent, being extremely tender and easy to pull off the bone, yet it was never dry. The duck came with an odd side dish (I didn't bring a menu home, so I don't remember what it was called), but I believe it was grits, an aged white cheese and pine nuts wrapped inside a grape leaf. This was an odd combination that didn't go with the duck at all, and the cheese had a drying character that made the texture a bit grainy. It didn't exactly keep the juices flowing on the palate.
After our experience at Clarklewis, I was expecting the service to be snooty and the staff to be young, inexperienced, and just too cool for us since we're all around or over 40. While our server was a little on the aloof side, she at least knew how to decant a wine, and although she was never really friendly, she was at least efficient and didn't seem to have much of an attitude.
So, overall I'd say we had a very good dinner, but not a great one. The restaurant seems to be best with meat and pasta, and while the descriptions of the ingredients sound really good, it seems some of the ingredients are listed only for eye appeal and don't add much flavor. We brought our own wine in, and while the list has some interesting things, the prices are pretty high and there aren't many bargains to be found. Also, even though we shared both wines with the staff, there was no break given on corkage. But paying $15/bottle corkage is probably a better alternative for those with cellars than paying the bottle prices at the restaurant.
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