I had dinner last night at Standard and left wondering why there isn't more talk of it on this board (and why I had never been). For reasons that aren't important I dined early (6:00 p.m.) and it appeared to be a somewhat slow night which I attributed to "post-holiday diet syndrome." Only three or four tables were occupied by the time we left. Service was first rate--very knowledgable and attentive without being obtrusive. The wine list is interesting and fairly priced. I think the list is better than York Street and not in the same league as Lola (what, after all, is in Dallas?). The background music may be a little too much for some but I liked it. Sort of like Green Room on prozac. But, enough of this. On to the chow!
It is a good sign when a party of two KNOW they are going to have a difficult time limiting themselves to two appetizers and two entrees. We employed the usual discussions and strategy--highly praising our SECOND choices to our spouse or date. My wife, for example was between the grouper and the diver scallops and, while the grouper sounded wonderful, I damn well wanted a taste of those scallops! My coaxing worked. We split a delicious salad of field greens with lavender and farmstead cheese. The dish featured excellent greens, three cheeses along with green apple, caramelized shallots, smoked bacon and walnut brittle. Yes, it was as good as it sounds.
Choices of appetizers became more difficult. The pancetta wrapped Texas quail, shrimp pancake and Maryland blue crab cake all sounded great. In the end, however, we opted for the hand harvested, curry seared oysters and the Hudson Valley pan seared fois gras. I would ordr either again in a heartbeat. The oysters were spicy (fermented chili in the sauce) and wasn't wine friendly at all. Still, all the components came together very well. The fois gras was served atop an apple/celery tart tatin and drizzled with a cider vinegar blueberry reduction which sounds like it wouldn't be wine friendly but was. The portion was adequate and priced right at $16.
Entree decisions were also problematic with at least seven or eight things sounding mucho edible. As mentioned above, my wife took the bait of my high praise and went for the pan seared diver scallops with truffle risotto, lobster nage and scallions. The dish was composed of four large and incredibly sweet diver scallops and a wonderful, if a tiny bit salty, risotto. I was between the signature entree of braised beef short ribs and duck leg confit. I asked for the chef to decide and he sent me the confit--a citrus cured leg with braised fennel, gorgonzola polenta, roasted garlic and pernod. Excellent fall or winter dish that went very well with the 2001 Robert Craig Affinity from Napa Valley, a very quaffable blend of cabernet, merlot, cabernet franc and a touch of petit verdot.
Dessert is almost never my favorite part of a meal but no one should leave the restaurant without sampling the made to order (takes about 15 minutes) warm madeleines with homemade vanilla ice cream, caramel and powdered sugar. Fabulous!
I hope the small crowd on a Thursday night was an anomaly. Standard deserves to be in any Chowhound's dining rotation along with York Street, Lola and others. Below is the link to the web site.
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