The new Gladstone Tavern may be the talk of the town, a long-awaited replacement for the defunct Chatfields. The building has been nicely renovated with an open contemporary style, extra-long tables with plenty of space so you don't have to share dinner with the next table.
I shared dinner with a companion the other evening, and the restaurant was quite crowded. They offer a nice outdoor patio, as well as several different seating areas inside and a nice lively bar scene. However, when its crowded, its very noisy. The couple seated near us was even remarking about how loud it was, and they were quite loud themselves.
When we arrived, there seemed to be quite a few servers standing around and hovering, but as the evening wore on it seemed they thinned out and picked up the pace. The service initially was very good, and I remarked to my companion that they trained the staff very well. The person that brought our bread subtly cleared away the straw wrappers and paper napkin rings that we had on the table. However, I may have spoken too soon. We had barely finished our appetizers, when I noticed a runner bring out our entrees and pause when she saw we still had our apps on the table. She seemed a bit perplexed, but covered well by continuing past our table and getting a co-worker to go clear our table. Several of the staff seemed to wander aimlessly and look confused. Our waitress was courteous, but towards the end of our meal she seemd to flag a bit. When it came time for dessert, she failed to mention the homemade ice cream flavors of the day. There was also a special dessert (listed on the daily specials) which was not listed on the dessert menu, and our waitress gave it a nonchalant description that barely sold it.
Some minor service issues, but to be fair, they did open only a few months ago. The food was solid and well prepared.
For appetizers we had an order of the "crabcake tots", 4 or 5 small crabcakes, presented in a cocktail glass, with a trio of sauce dotted on the plate, including a mustard sauce, a spicier red sauce, and a green herb sauce. Very pretty presentation. I had an order of steamed clams, wonderful fresh and hot in a succulent broth with garlic and herbs, perfectly soaked up by the bread. The bread in the bread basket was somewhat bland, but nice and crusty.
I ordered the braised short ribs off the menu, which were a huge portion of tender ribs classically prepared. They were served with a "horseradish" mashed potatoes, which had huge pieces of hard unmashed potato, and lacked any horseradish flavor or zing. The entrees were served with a generic mishmash of steamed broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. The ribs were tender enough - could probably have used a bit more braising, but the potatos really detracted from the dish.
My companion ordered the special "roast" entree of the evening, roast turkey with cranberry-apple compote. It was very good, flavorful, moist roasted turkey breast, although they put the fruit compote across the top rather than on the side, and served with plain mashed potatos (which my companion did not find lumpy) and the same vegetable medley. Nice surprise entree for a summer day, makes you eager for Thanksgiving.
For dessert, we split the aforementioned special dessert, which on the menu was described as a "Bing Cherry Tart, (Homemade) Vanilla Ice Cream, and Cherry-Port-Wine Sauce". Sounded excellent. When we asked the waitress she offhandedly said "oh, its a cherry tart" - not very exciting. The tart shell was crisp and flaky, however, the tart suffered from a LACK of fruit. In fact, I counted EXACTLY 16 HALF-cherries, which means a total of 8 cherries in a 4 or 5 inch tart. It had very little flavor, the port-wine-cherry sauce was a mere drizzle on the plate, and overall left us wanting more. Coffee was very fragrant and scalding hot.
Seems like there are a few small "bugs" to iron out here, but still a nice meal. They have a diverse menu that will appeal to most palates, and some nice special entrees each evening. I'll definitely go back and give this one another try soon.