I have recently had two disappointments dining in Westchester county, and after Saturday nights' experience felt the need to share them both.
First, I dined this weekend at Pane e Vino in Bronxville, where I had not been in a couple of years. Pane e Vino features a regular menu along with a assortment of rolling regional menus. They are now running a "Tuscan" menu, and three of the four of us ordered off of that special menu. The service, first of all, was spotty as we had to wait and wait and wait just to order a bottle of wine. Getting our water glasses filled was also a challenge, as was getting the check. The wine list, meanwhile, was particularly limited, with only one Chianti Classico, Barola, etc. for an upscale Italian restaurant. I love Italian reds, and was therefore at a loss ordering a Californian Merlot due to the excessive mark-up on the sole Chianti Classico on the menu. I ordered an appetizer of antipasta, which I generally love elsewhere (particularly at Emilio's in Harrison as a WC comparison). I normally find it incredible how they manage to concentrate the flavors of the vegetables in an antipasta, but at Pane e Vino was mystified how the flavors seemed to vanish from the vegetables. My entree of a special seafood stew was lackluster, with more shells than fish and seafood, and desserts were uninspiring so we took a pass. My wife had a Tuscan veal special that looked like a baked potato, and was dry with an overly salty sauce. Considering the cost for the meal, this was a total disappointment. Fortunately, the company was good.
My second recent disappointment was in Scarsdale at Heathcote Tavern. I had been fond of this place over numerous visits over the past few years, but something has clearly changed here. First of all, the menu is nearly half the length as previously. The menu that remains is uninspired. I had duck two ways (duck breast and foie gras), where the seared duck breast was clearly burnt. The blackened
skin was so bitter, that it took over the insipid sauce. My wife had a codfish special, again with no punch to the fish or sauce. HT's food was previously so full-flavored, and both of these dishes lacked sufficient seasoning and simply flavor. Appetizers were no more exciting as well, dessert was still good and the wine list remains strong (although they were out of my first choice). Interestingly, they had more Chianti's on the menu than Pane e Vino.
Incidentally, I had yet another terrific meal recently at Jackie's Bistro in Eastchester, and I now finally had her famous cheesecake. With a teriffic Escargot as a starter (with crusty bread to pick up that delicious sauce left behind), and duck confit as my entree, I had my favorite hearty winter treat. By the way, the cheesecake was I believe the best I have ever had, and was surprisingly light.