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Manhattan

Cafe @ Country report

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Cafe @ Country report

Sean Dell | Mar 9, 2006 08:13 AM

Hey Hounds,

Having had a sublime dinner at Country last week I found myself in the neighborhood again last night and decided to try the Cafe downstairs. I was hoping that some of the shine from the kitchen upstairs would reflect on the below-stairs operation. Some hope. The truth is, the Cafe is but a shadow of its illustrious upstairs neighbor.

We ordered three apps: organic beet salad, gnocchi and foie gras/liver pate. The pate was a cold lump with a hard texture, like chilled butter. The taste was ok, as was the presentation, with little bits of sliced caperberries floating about. But it was a disappointment, at $17. The gnocchi were good, with an interesting sauce, but they were served with little florets of broccoli, cooked al dente, which didn't seem to match the rest of the dish.

And finally, lays-n-gnlmn, the beet salad. This was a joke for a restaurant aspiring to goodness, if not greatness. The little bits of beet were ok, but they were accompanied by strange thin slices of something-or-other that I'm still struggling to identify. Vegetable, yes, I believe so. No taste of anything. Not even a hint of a taste. The texture was like soft leather, chewable, but raw. Maybe it was a slice of parsnip (it was a light color). But it would have tasted parsnipy, no? It was floppy, but any slice of raw vegetable, left for a while, would probably turn floppy. So I don't think the floppiness was designed into the dish. Rather an unhappy accident. Nope, I'm lost. I haven't a clue what it was, but it certainly didn't belong in this salad, which itself didn't belong in this place.

My request for a glass of sparkling water brought a large bottle of Hildon from the barman, who in all his dealings, was keen to stamp his authority on his domain, like a schoolteacher suddenly thrown into a class of unruly 8 yo's. But we were a couple of quite ruly grown ups, so we couldn't figure out where all this Basil Fawlty brusqueness was coming from.

Which, I guess, sums the place up. It almost works, but not quite. It was full of beautiful young things, having fun. The welcome at the door was warm and friendly. So they are obviously doing something right. Pity that it's not the food.

-Sean

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