A month or so ago, I walked by the Columbia Cottage Restaurant at Amsterdam and 111th and picked up a takeout menu. While most of the menu was ordinary, there was an appealing section of szechuan and shanghai specialties. So tonight we dropped in to see how they executed. Sadly our conclusion was: avoid this restaurant.
We ordered three things from this section of the menu: jellyfish appetizer, shredded beef with hotbed chives, and carp in hot bean sauce.
The jellyfish was adequate, but certainly a far cry from the city's best. The other two dishes were borderline edible. Both had very little in the way of taste. The beef in the shredded beef was not shredded and extremely tough. I guess the chives were beyond their prime, because although we could see them, they certainly contributed no flavor to the dish. The carp, billed as spicy, was overcooked and lackluster. If there was any hot bean paste in the sauce at all, it was extremely well concealed.
Given the paucity of decent Chinese restaurants on the UWS, I had had high hopes for this place. But the search will have to continue.