After doing my research on Friday, i decided that Scott Howard was pretty much the only place I wanted to go for DAT. But they were completely booked through Monday! Boo! My years of concertgoing paid off in honing my "constant refresh" skills, however, and finally at about noon on Friday Open Table offered up an 8:30 reservation.
My dining companion was running late, and a bit pissy, but I called ahead and the restaurant told me they were running behind as well. We arrive (cute neighbourhood!) and are asked to wait in the bar. I had a cucumber martini, which really hit the spot!
We are seated next to a group of screeching howler monkies (ladies, out for a night on the town, who at the end of the night asked the waiter two things-- Is there a cigar bar next door and what is the best nearby stripclub.) We notice at this point that the acoustics are horrible. We can hardly hear ourselves think.
I notice that 50% of the reason I came is no longer on the DAT menu-- the shortribs with orzo mac and cheese! The waiter (who somewhat glaringly spoke to my décolletage on his first pass-by) comes over. The $15 wine pairing was not on the menu, so I had to (somewhat awkwardly) ask about it. Here's the scoop on the food:
- Bread Basket: A mix of sourdough, whole wheat and mini biscuits. The mini biscuits were great! The rest-- nice and warm, but not outstanding. The butter was also too cold (a pet peeve of mine.)
- Starters: He got the carrot broth. Misnamed, I think. But worth the hullabaloo. Thick, creamy, with a densely truffled cream. Interesting combo. Really liked it. I got the smoked salmon. The pairing was interesting- Smoked Salmon, fingerling potatoes with a mayonnaisey dressing and some grainy honey mustard. The first crostini I had with all the flavours was quite nice. I gave one to my companion and he agreed--- but I got a whole fillet of smoked salmon and only two silver dollar-sized crostini? After a while, this tasted like deli smoked salmon with picnic-pack potato salad.
- Mains: The offers were salmon, scallops, pork and lamb. We both went with the pork. (Again I would like to say BOO for removing the shortrib mid-promotion!) He said his was very tender. Mine was a wee bit overcooked. In all, though, it was tasty- served with some kind of a polenta or bean puree and greens. Now, I'm a greens freak, so I was bummed that they felt the need to say it was served with greens when it was served with, maybe, one leaf. The only complain in the mains was the serving size. My DC can throw it back and he left being not-hungry, but not really full.
- Dessert: I sound mention here that the dessert I wanted- the butterscotch pudding with caramelized bananas- that was mentioned in all the other DAT reviews and on the online DAT menu was not offered. He got the chocolate cake. First, it was the size of a Whole Foods Brownie Bite. It was... hmmmm... weird. He said it didn't have enough chocolate. I tasted a bit of a vegetal quality. Green beans? Beets? Something in the sweet-bitter category. I got the panna cotta with macadamia nut brittle. First, my nuts were not brittled in the least! Second, the extremely wiggly panna cotta was served with plain pomegranate seeds and chiffonade of mint leaf. May I never, EVER, have to taste together again plain pomegranate seeds and raw mint. I love my cocktails bitter, but that was way WAY too much bitter to go with the panna cotta! I was expecting rich-luscious. Instead, I got something totally unballanced and just unappealing. I ate maybe two bites.
The $15 wine pairing was nice, though! The white was a 2004 from New Zealand. My dining companion thought it would be too young. I thought it fabulous, and I am not a "white" person. The red was tasty. The Tawny Port was good as well, but i just can't stomach dessert wines. If I had it to do over again, I'd have just gotten a nice glass of red, but I am glad that I did the pairing because I wouldn't have tried the white otherwise.
Epilogue: As I was telling my companion, I do Dine About Town as more of a sport. I do research, I try to figure out where to go, it's a gamble. In fact, it's a gamble I usually lose. I don't think I've ever walked away from a DAT meal saying, "Yes! What a bargain and what outstanding food!" But, I suppose it'sthe thrill of the fight that keeps me coming back. I won't ever feel the need to go to Scott Howard again, but does that mean you shouldn't continue to try? Check back with me next year...