Any regular readers of this board know that I am a huge fan of Michael Scelfo's food so I am excited to report that I FINALLY got to get over there and try out the Goodlife. I was not disappointed!
There were 4 of us and we headed over around 7:30. The dining room was probably half full so no problem getting a table. We started off with drinks from the menu - the 28 Kingston was delicious and my husband ordered the filthy martini but was disappointed to not find blue cheese anywhere. The rest of the evening was stellar though.
Although they had some specials last night (including steak tartar and a crab and asparagus pizza that we got to go home but somehow ended up with one of our dining companions...) we stuck to the regular menu and got 4 appetizers and 4 entrees to share among all of us. To start, we got they oysters, the cider braised berkshire bacon, the pressed duck reuben, and the risotto. The bacon was honestly one of the best things I have ever tasted. The pork was crispy on the outside but melt-in-your-mouth tender and had some kind of warm spice that I was never able to figure out because my dining companions wouldn't let me have all of it! The risotto was also outstanding. We have always thought that Scelfo has a way with risotto - it's always creamy but not heavy - and this rendition was no exception. The creaminess of the risotto was matched nicely with the brocolli and the 2 big scallops on top were cooked to perfection. Another home run. The pressed duck reuben (I was skeptical) was another hit - crunchy bread stuffed with duck and a sour cherry slaw. It was served with homemade pickles and a crunchy cole slaw that we all really enjoyed. Finally, the oysters were fried oysters served with an old bay tartar sauce and some (I think) celery root slaw. While this dish was also quite good, it was the least complex in terms of flavors - great for someone who likes straight ahead, clean flavors. The slaw was also very refreshing.
On to the entrees. We got the "local fun guy" pizza, the steak frites, the monkfish, and the pasta carbonara. The steak frites was amazing - a strip steak cooked perfectly medium rare, served over DELICIOUS creamed spinach and a side of Scelfo's rosemary fries. Two things make this an improvement over the version at the NSG. First, the cut of meat is MUCH better and there was really no fat or gristle to remove. Second, if I recollect correctly (and my memory may be failing me here), the fries at the NSG were skinless while the one's he served last night had the skin on, just bringing out the earthiness of the rosemary fries even more. He has also added cheese to this version, which for me not being a cheese fan, was overkill, but the cheese lovers at my table LOVED it. Nevertheless, there were plenty of fries to pick at without cheese and plenty with cheese so we were all happy. The pizza had a thin, crispy crust that was delicious and one of my dining companions commented that even though she hates mushrooms, she could have eaten the entire pizza. Another hit. I was also very excited to try the pasta dish because to the best of memory, Scelfo never did pasta at the NSG. This version was outstanding. The pasta came out with an egg yolk on top that we then swirled into the bacon and regianno laden sauce. The pasta was perfectly al dente and the pepperiness of the carbonara just right against the smokiness of the bacon. A truly outstanding dish. Finally, we had the monkfish, which happens to be one of my favorites. This version came perfectly seared on the outside and tender on the inside and was served over potatos, bacon, and brussel sprouts. The dish was good, but compared to the rest of the entrees was probably our least favorite - again perhaps due to the fact that it was the least complex flavorwise.
Although we barely had room we also tried dessert - a banana cake and a chocolate cake. The banana cake was the clear winner even for my friend who said that "if it ain't chocolate it ain't dessert." The banana cake was reminiscent of banana bread and served with a caramel sauce, whipped cream, and delicious vanilla tuille cookie. The chocolate cake, while also good, is not for the faint of heart - very decadent and rich. It was served with a raspberry sauce, whipped cream, and a chocolate tuille. We actually found ourselves fighting over who got to eat the tuille cookies so they may want to consider adding a dessert with just those (maybe with some fresh berries)!
Our server was nice, efficient, and knowledgeable. She brought sharing plates for us as well as new silverware between the apps and the mains. And as she brought each dish she described it to us so we would remember all of the elements. After making gluttens of oursevles we ended up at about $80 pp., which included several rounds of drinks, 2 bottles of wine (all their wines are available by the glass and by the bottle and while there were 6-7 options each for red and white, we were told that they are going to be expanding the wine list shortly), all the food noted above, and tax and tip. It is probably the most you could ever spend there as the prices are VERY reasonable. Around 10 o'clock the downstairs started getting busy and it was time for us to move on, but all in it was a FABULOUS experience and we will definitely be back.