Saturday afternoon, at the last minute, my husband and I decided to celebrate my birthday a week early and head to one of the restaurants on our special occasion list that we had not yet tried. After some consideration, we decided on The Arch in Brewster. We figured that not many of our friends were going to drive 45 minutes (from lower Westchester) to go to a restaurant (not many dedicated chowhoundish types among them). I wasn't sure I could get reservations at such late notice, but I called and there was no problem accomadating the two of us at the time of our choosing (8:00pm). To be honest, that set off a small red flag in my mind, but I put it aside immediately and chalked it up to the state of the economy and the lousy weather.
We were both excited to try this restaurant. We had read great reviews. The NY Times rated it excellent, Zagats rated it a 27, 27, 26 (I know, I know, for what it's worth) and it comes up often in the context of special occasion restaurants. Interestingly enough, we can't recall a word of mouth review, either positive or negative.
So we dressed up and got into the car, looking forward to a yummy, relaxing night out. We had a pleasant drive and found the restaurant easily. The valet was quick and the restaurant looked comfy/quaint/cozy. It's set in a country house sort of like LA CRÉMAILLÈRE
(which, by the way, is incredible!!!). We walked into a small vestibule where you can hang your own coat. So we hung our raincoats and then waited and waited and waited about 10 minutes before we were greeted by a maitre'd. Now, it's not like other waitstaff didn't see us there. And they kept saying someone will be with you in a minute. Another couple walked in behind us and it actually got crowded. There was no place to sit, no place to go, because out the vestibule was a main thorough fare from the tables to the kitchen. The wait wouldn't have been so bad had there been a place to sit, but it actually got annoying. Once the maitre'd showed up, we were seated right away and someone immediately showed up to take a drink order.
However, it was another 10-15 minutes before the drinks showed up and at least another 5 after that before the menus showed up. During this 20 minute period we did try to get menus, but had difficulty getting anyones attention. After the drinks and menus showed up, the bread showed up. It came with butter and two different pates (one spicier, one milder). However, the bread was medicore at best (tasted reheated, not fresh, and rather dry and crumbly). There was a sweet french bread, some sort of pistachio bread (one piece) and these bread chips (suffering from soggyness). The pates and butter were served so cold that we really had to wait for them to heat up before the flavor become evident. Once they did get a bit warmer, they were quite tasty. We also had to ask twice for a wine list.
Dinner is a four course prix fixe meal for $60. There is a website for the restaurant and I will provide the link below. To start, I had the Gruyere and Cheddar Cheese Soufflé with Parmesan Sauce and Chopped Chives. This was definitely the highlight of the meal. It was light and yummy and the parmesan sauce was perfect with it. It is served the same way a dessert souffle is with the waiter opening the center and pouring the sauce in. I hadn't had anything like it before, so things were looking up. My husband had the Maryland Crab and Lobster Cake with Dijon Mustard Sauce. It was a very small cake and really seemed to be missing the dijon sauce. While the cake was good in that there was not a lot of breading, just the right amount, it wasn't terrifically flavorful and as I said, I don't remember any dijon sauce.
Next came the soup or salad course. I got the salad which was a Mesclun Greens with Soy-Sesame Dressing. If you are serving just greens the dressing should be spectacular or at least noticeable. It was neither. Chris had the cold cucumber soup. This was good. The soup of the day was a hot corn soup. I am not a big fan of corn so I didn't order it, but I would definitely recommend sticking with the soups for this course.
My main course was Filet of Beef "Wellington". I love this dish and I was so disappointed! The fillet was a good piece, however, it was raw in the center, while the outside crust was well done. This leads me to believe it was either frozen and not thawed thoroughly or in a very cold fridge and not brought to room temp. When I make Wellington I usually give the fillet a quick turn in the saute pan to begin the cooking process. Whatever, it was so raw I had to send it back. This action did bring a concerned proprietor to the table asking what was wrong when he saw the waiter taking the plate back. So I told him and he said okay, and he'll check on it. The plate came back with the sides artfully replenished and the meat just a tad better done. Still closer to raw than I can handle. But I filled up on the replenished veggies on the plate. Oh well. Chris had the Roasted Baby Pheasant over Wild Rice Pancake with Pistachios and Cherries. He said the Pheasant was good and I enjoyed the wild rice pancake. It seemed more successful than my Wellington, but still not outstanding.
Chris had the chocolate souffle for dessert and I had the White and Dark Chocolate Mousse. His souffle was very good, my mousse was not. It tasted old and metallic, another big disappointment.
The service was not great. I was totally confused as to who to ask for what. It was not as though there were lots of people hovering over us as you may have in some restaurants (which we don't like either). But everytime someone came to the table (not often enough), it was someone different. Maybe they were short handed that night, I don't know. But it was difficult getting anyone's attention. Also, after waiting so long for menus, they wanted to take our order very quickly. Different people kept asking if we were ready to order and neither of us had our menus closed. Ugh. And I didn't get the sense they needed to turn the table over.
C'est la vie. I'd be curious to know if anyone else has been there recently and how it was.