Went there on Friday evening with several friends after not having been there all summer. It was very busy around 7:30 in the bar, but we got 4 seats at the end of the bar within about 15 minutes or so.
New menu (not yet up on website, according to the owner, James) but definitely a nice change - some of the old stuff that Neal used to have; some nice additions from Peter, the new guy. James said he tried out a couple of guys on a short-time basis during the summer and settled on a young kid who used to work at eat in Union Square. He trained at Johnson & Wales (I think that's what I heard) and his earlier training at eat has served him well - he has created a wonderful menu that gives a different touch to the stuff we've been used to eating at Gargoyles...several uses of feta in various courses.
Dinner tonight was two of us splitting a salad of prosciutto and black mission figs, arugula, and Marcona almonds (smaller and saltier - I found them at Sur la Table on Saturday - they're fried in olive oil and salted) with Cabrales blue cheese. Friends got the warm Haricots Verts with bacon vinaigrette and fontina cheese - both apps were great, but the flavors of the salad was wonderful - slightly salty, sweet, tangy, and a bit of bitter with the arugula - just incredible!
Friends chose the special pizza - almond & arugula pesto with feta on a thin crust pizza - VERY good! and vegetarian canneloni stuffed with some kind of cheese (we didn't find out what). Another got a grilled hangar steak (excellent) with a tall square mashed potato cake (very bland - could have used some rosemary or other seasoning), grilled vidalia onion, and arugula salad and a romesco sauce, which was essentially a blended roasted red pepper sauce. I got the seared wolffish with shrimp risotto and sauteed asparagus. The perfectly cooked wolffish had a bit of spiced cajun-like seasoning on it, but not an overwhelming amount, and the sweet shrimp risotto was a wonderful counterpoint to the tiny bit of the spice on the fish - just great!
Dessert was 3 choices shared between the 4 of us: Strawberry & Rhubarb Galette Tart with Vanilla Ice Cream and Ginger Sauce (my choice, and I hogged most of it!), Housemade Chocolate and Butterscotch Pudding (I've had this before, and it's very good!), and the dense Chocolate Cake with Pistachio Ice Cream.
Dinner for 4, with 5-6 glasses of wine and a couple of after-dinner drinks of vanilla liqueur and port totalled $170, I believe.
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