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Berkshires

report on John Andrews, Berkshires--wine nonsense

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Restaurants & Bars

report on John Andrews, Berkshires--wine nonsense

lucia | Jan 19, 2003 11:30 AM

We had dinner Friday night at John Andrews, just across the NY/MA border in S. Egremont, MA, near Hillsdale, NY.

Summary: Food good, order wine only by the glass

The experience was ruined by really pretentious wine service, which didn't match the knowledge or stock of the place. The wine list is long and pricey. The first two bottles I ordered (a Brunello di Montalcino and a Barolo) were out of stock, so they brought another 1985 Barolo, not on the list, which they said they'd charge the same price for. By then our apps were on the table.

They opened it with much fuss (by then we had finished our appetizers), and it was all cloudy with sediment. We refused it. They offered to decant it, but it was already agitated by the server (as was I), so we refused it. They brought yet another bottle of Barolo, again not on the list, again offered for the same price as the one I originally wanted. It was a recent vintage, not worth the money, but we felt like it was all a big pain in the ass by then and said fine. This was maybe 20-30 minutes after we ordered the first bottle. They poured this newish, ordinary vino into huge balloon glasses with much fuss, asked if we wanted the rest decanted. By then our main courses were cold, and the hub was like, "it's just WINE, for chrissakes, just leave it on the table."

I noticed that all the regulars were having cocktails and wine by the glass from the bar. Now we know.

That said, the food was overall pretty good:

Best app at our table was the braised oxtail with grilled polenta. Really rich and deep meaty flavor, shredded meat off the bone. The tuna tartare was just okay--too much sesame oil, the fish was overwhelmed.

We also had the duck breast with duck leg confit and mashed, and a saffron risotto with grilled scallops. The duck was the better dish, well made and meaty; the risotto-scallop dish arrived lukewarm, which made an otherwise good dish less attractive.

The cheese course, which we split, was first class product, but very samey selection, with a Humboldt Fog, a Point Reyes Blue, and a Old Chatham sheepsmilk camembert. They were all rather sheepy and creamy, without the differences in texture and taste that characterize a well-chosen cheese course, though each individually was well kept and perfectly ripe.

The restaurant's bread is excellent, especially the Tuscan loaf.

I'm going to go back sometime and eat, and order a glass of whatever's open.

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