Last night I ate at Cafe duPont, a small French bistro on 1st avenue between 56th and 57th. It is one of several such places in that neighborhood, and, based on last night's experience, the least attractive.
My companion and I were greeted warmly and seated at a table in the middle of the small, romantic room, close to another couple that just arrived. We were told, however, that a party was about to leave and that a better (i.e., a little more space between parties) table would be open. We were indifferent, but appreciated the sensitivity of the maitre d'. We were moved after a few minutes.
We then waited a fairly long time to order. After we had ordered, the wine we ordered took about 15 minutes to arrive and the promised ice bucket did not arrive until we again requested one from the bus boy (who was the shining star of the eveing - attentive, pleasant, professional). The wine list was interesting if a little expensive, but it did include a number of half bottles, whcih I think is a nice option in such a setting.
Our appetizers were potato leak soup - completely without flavor - and seared scallops with avocado and mango and a raspberry vinaigrette - excellent, perfectly cooked and balanced.
The entrees continued to not arrive for a very long time. When we thought they finally would appear, it was our waitress telling us that they were out of one of the dishes that we had ordered about an hour before.
My companion reordered and we waited. (At this point, the couple that was seated at the same time as us were eating their dessert.) Just as our entrees finally arrived, the once-seemingly sensitive maitre d' sat and joined a couple beside us. The man in the couple was a loud, obnoxious, condescending ass who proceeded to drop the articles from his pronouncements in some attempt to present himself as more comprehensible to his french audience. At least his companion seemed truly embarassed to be with him and get asking him to tone it down. It actually was fairly laughable.
My entree was a lemon sole stuffed with shrimp and mushroom accompanied by artichoke hearts and rice pilaf. The fish was completely bland, including the stuffing. The pilaf was the tastiest thing on my plate. My companion had a sea bass crusted with corn meal that she found to be excellent.
We did not stay for dessert or coffee as that could have taken up the rest of the night.
Fortunately, the check was delivered promptly. So,overall, inconsistency was the theme, with half the food great and half tasteless. A great bus boy and an unattentive waitress. A host who was sensitive at first and the agent for our discomfort in the end. Total cost, just over $100 and nearly 2 hours and not a single apology.
A disappointment. Given the strength of the other cafes in the neighborhood, Cafe du Pont is no longer an option.
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