finally got to go after 2 weeks of plotting. convinced a friend who is not drinking to go for her birthday. (they don't have a wine list, although they literally had one beer which we purchased...my friend was breast feeding so no alcohol for her). At any rate, she loved it. I liked it, thought it had promise, but I had some issues.
A happy surprise was the presence of Marty L., longtime chow-friend whom I had never met in person until that night. He happened to be there with his son and father (in law?) (he looked like Ed Asner)(not marty, the grampa) and it was lovely to meet him.
Four of us went. It was Thursday -- insanely cold wind blowing. We sat in the window seat which was so drafty we had to leave our coats on the whole time. How about some heavy flannel drapes for winter? PLEASE??? cooled down everything that came to the table.
dinner began with a free amuse-geule (sp?) -- a shot of their potato leek soup (tiny little cup). Soup was creamy and good but alas, tepid. Still, good enough to score two orders from our four top.
Next to arrive were the DELICIOUS little sugar-crusted biscuits they serve with a teeny tiny ball of butter. It was sufficient for the biscuits and I imagine that was the point but there was so little butter it made all of us laugh.
we ordered: potato leek soup; roasted beets and cippolini onions with a garlic vinaigrette; goat cheese fritters (a chevre chaude salad, essentially, but with a very interesting roasted cauliflower slice on bottom and a green goddess dressing). Salad was excellent; extremely well fried goat cheese. The caulifower was very good though I would have actually liked to have had it warm under those greens -- which were very nice too -- lots of watercress. My friend ordered the garlic vinagrette on the side of her beets because her baby is allergic to onions and garlic (so far). Luckily I warned her of the chef's feelings about special orders so she was well prepared when the waiter began quizzing her if she had ever had the dish, why was she changing it without tasting it first etc. etc. I appreciate the waiter's support of the chef, but dressing on the side is not exactly special ordering or swapping out side dishes. (I never order dressing on the side myself, unless I know overdressing to be a problem in the kitchen. I hate dressing poured on top of my greens; I want them tossed. I imagine the chef feels the same way.
Our fourth diner also order dressing on the side. It came in a ramekin that was maybe 1/6 full -- certainly sufficient for the greens on his plate but a funny sight when one is accustomed to oversize portions of everything (and a stark reminder of the butter). (It struck me as a defiant gesture on the part of the chef...as if she thinks that people are asking for dressing on the side so they can get MORE than she would normally put on and by god she is NOT going to do it. Maybe I am reading too much into this though...)
The birthday girl and her husband ordered meatballs on noodles with stroganoff sauce and loved it; I tasted and it was very good -- not oversauced, which is a frequent complaint of mine. I ordered the roasted salmon with a cranberry-lobster sauce. our fourth diner ordered roasted chicken.
My salmon was well cooked but overly caked with a very salty herb/spice mixture that overwhelmed the fish(ginger was featured, but I couldnt taste much else because of the salt. maybe some cinnamon?). The sauce too was a miss -- the sour, fresh cranberries (cooked down) completely blotted out the nice little lobster bits, which are way too delicate tasting to stand up to the sauce. It came with a mixed side of roasted root veggies which was very interesting and good and unusual. But would not order this again because of the spcies on the salmon.
I did not try the roasted chicken but the diner said it was also very salty. It was, more importantly, very tiny. I don't know if that was a normal portion but it was a particularly emaciated 1/4 chicken -- it seemed to be a breast with a little wing meat, and not a very meaty one at that. For $15, I don't think a 1/2 chicken is too much to expect, especially as the side is mashed potato...delicious but not expensive in and of itself. what gives?
We also ordered a side of green beans and a side of sauteed baby spinach. spinach was good but not great -- not evenly cooked, so there were raw parts and some a little too heavily soaked in a vinaigrette or whatever it was cooked in. I appreciated it being on the menu though to make sure I got some veggies (but at more than $3 per order, I expect them to serve it up really well.)(ah for the Full Kee sauteed spinach).
Dessert: we had some tea, and then my friend ordered the apple crisp with brown sugar vanilla ice cream -- very good. seems as though the crisp had some liquor or something in it. an unusual taste but delicious. not cloying at all. I ordered upside down pineapple cake which was good -- not too sweet, which I was kind of expecting and actually missed! -- and I can't remember the third dessert if there was one. Oh, sweet potato pie. It was a special. Diner did not comment on if it was good or not, but he finsihed it off so it must have been.
Dinner for four was $122 before tip. we ordered lots of food and one or two extras so I think that is a higher check than is typical.
The service was a little...unfriendly. there was only one waiter for a whole room of diners, but it was one of those situations where we felt like we were bothering him when we asked for more biscuits or to add the spinach to the order. We nevertheless did both and were the better for it, but in a small homey place like that I expect warm service and a good welcome.
As I reread this I realize it sounds quite negative, and I don't mean it to be. I am planning to go back to check out brunch offerings, and I will certainly try dinner again. The birthday girl was extremely enthusiastic about the place, so that was good. It might have been an off night, too. I will go back alone next time I think, to make sure my complaints were the result of an off night rather than a regular occurence before bringing more friends in. I have other friends that swear by the place so I think this might have just been a one-time problem...