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Restaurants & Bars 204

Eating at Tarry Lodge

roxlet | Nov 3, 2008 04:46 AM

Last night we went to Tarry Lodge for dinner. Overall, it was an exceptional night out.

We had an 8PM reservation, and went a bit early with an eye towards having a cocktail at the bar before our meal. While my husband parked, my son and I went in to check in with the front desk. They thanked us for checking in, and told us that we would be seated as soon as there was an available table. No sooner had we ordered our drinks, than we were told that our table was ready. We were seated about 20 minutes before the time of our reservation despite the fact that the place was packed.

A note about the cocktails -- I ordered a Manhattan, which I almost never do since it is usually disappointing compared to the one my husband makes at home. This was one of the best Manhattans I have ever had, though my husband said that his martini was a little disappointing since they used a different, more flowery gin than he typically likes. At any rate, we took the cocktails to our table and sat to peruse the menu.

The menu, which is available on line, was fairly wide-ranging with prices that we felt were extremely reasonable. The vegetable antipasti were only $5 each, the meat and the seafood were $8, I think. Pastas were in the $15 range with the most expensive entree being a shared steak.

To start, we ordered the cauliflower au gratin, the beets agrodolci, the squid with potatoes, and the salami. We also ordered a clam pizza to share, as well as the artichokes with mint from the "Contorni" menu.

The artichokes were fabulous, and unexpected. Essentially, they were fresh artichoke hearts that were cooked with olive oil and mint, and there were a lot of them. The salami, which are made by Mario Batali's father I believe, were also delicious, with the spicy one being particularly notable. We felt that the cauliflower was tasty but a bit too al dente and would have been improved with a less crunch texture. The beets were good, but perhaps a bit too dolci and not tart enough. Though the squid was tasty, it was cold and should have been served more room temperature.

We then shared a clam pizza, which was fabulous. It had little clams in their shells on top of the pie, and the fresh clams with their juice added a scrumptious, briny flavor to the pie. Our only complaint would be that the pizza was brought out at the same time as the other appetizers. We would have preferred having it afterwards.

We all decided to try the pastas -- I had the Buccatini al'Amatriciana, my son had the carbonara, and my husband had the orecchiette with sausage and rapini. All were outstanding. The carbonara came with a little egg on top, which was quickly incorporated into the unctuous pasta. The orecchiette were homemade and nicely irregular and each of the elements in the dish worked well together. The Buccatini were luscious as well.

My son was the only one who ordered dessert. He had a chocolate cake with pistachio and bitter orange gelato. I tasted both, and though I felt that the individually-sized cake was a bit dry, the gelator was exceptional and interesting. My son didn't have any problem finishing it all.

For a restaurant that has only been open only three weeks, we felt that the food and staff were really together. Our server was attentive and, with the exception of the pizza, she got everything out to us in a timely manner. The sommelier was lovely and since the wine list had many interesting and unfamiliar choices, he guided my husband towards an absolutely delicious and little-known red from Compagnia. The one aspect of service that looked like it needed some additional time, was the de-boning of the whole bronzino. Though we didn't order it, we were near the station where the server was de-boning them, and my husband cringed every time they started in on the massacre of of another fish. The fish looked delicious, but I would request it whole and do the de-boning myself, unless you truly don't know how it's done.

The place was hopping, though by the time we left at about 9:15 on a Sunday night, there were quite a few available tables. The one problem, that I believe has been noted elsewhere, is that the noise level is very high. We were in the room with the bar, and we felt that they could definitely do without the loud music that did nothing but add another grating layer to the din.

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