Restaurants & Bars

American Brasserie

Martha Gehan | Nov 9, 199801:28 PM     1

Has anyone else out there had an experience at the
newly opened American Brasserie (off Broadway in the
sixties)? I'm usually willing to give a new place the
benefit of the doubt, but my experience there on
Saturday night was horrendous. A louche-looking
character who appeared to be one of the owners spent
most of the evening stationed inside the door checking
out women as they walked in (my friend and me included-
no greeting, just an appraising stare). He paused long
enough to chew out the maitre d', long and loudly, in
front of customers waiting at the bar. Pretty tacky.

While we were seated promptly, it took twenty minutes
plus to be given bread (while it flew past to all the
tables surrounding us) despite repeated requests. My
friend's appetizer never arrived. She was luckier than
the couple next to us, who never got their entrees and
had to leave to catch their movie with two beers each
and one absurdly small salad to sustain them.

That salad, which I ordered, consisted of three teeny
croutons (described as anchovy croutons, they were
lavishly buttered pieces of stale baguette- the
dressing tasted as if an anchovy may have had something
to do with it) placed around a few pieces of lettuce.
The lettuce could not have been more than two or three
leaves of a medium-sized romaine. For $6, it was less
than inadequate. More like insulting.

My pasta entree, billed as pumpkin raviloi with sage
butter, was even more anemic than the salad. About
four or five incredibly limp and translucent ravioli
sat in a puddle of warm water that tasted as if a stick
of butter may have been dipped in it. Each raviolo
contained a small smear of absoluely tasteless filling.
It may have been pumpkin. It may just as well have
been squash baby food for all the taste and seasoning
(none) it contained. The overwhelming flavor of this
dish was the acrid one of fried sage(bad idea- makes it
taste musty-much better to steep the sage in the
butter as it heats in the opinion of this amateur).
The sage had been heaped on as a garnish. None was
discernable in the sauce itself. My dining companion's
salad Nicoise was the sort one gets when ordering in at
the office from a coffee shop. But it was twelve

Two wines each, two salads, one pasta- seventy dollars
including tax and tip. As inept as the kitchen and
busing were, we did not want to stiff the completely
overwhelmed waitress- she was kind and apologetic. And
how could we blame her when the boss man never budged
from the bar when what he should have done was get off
his butt and pitch in for heaven's sake?

Now that I've delivered my screed, some positive
comments are in order. This is my first posting to
this site, but I've enjoyed it immensely the past few
months and found it most useful in my quest for good
eats of all kinds. Some advice to those trying to get
a reservation at Babbo- perservere- it's fabulous and
they can be awfully nice and accomodating once you
breach the gates. The wine steward is particularly
helpful in a low-key, unpretentious way. I've eaten
there several times and while it's not perfect it can
be damn close. The fresh anchovies are a revelation and
all pastas I've tried have been top-notch- the ravioli
with brains is a standout. Surya, while it won't knock
your socks off, is worth a visit. It's pretty and fun,
as are the staff and the crowd. And the food is quite
tasty and certainly a change from the Indian food we
downtown dwellers are accustomed to. It's not cheap
but is good value for the money. I find the cocktails
weird, but that's the only criticism I can muster.

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