SO and I went to the Benno joint last night after Nutcracker. We were 20 minutes early for our 8:45 reservation, but they had no problem seating us - the dining room was about half full.
We were seated out of view of the kitchen, and so unfortunately were unable to observe the chefs at work. No more than 30 seconds after we were handed the menus, the decisions were made:
Rigati con granseola: by far the most outstanding dish of the night (SO agrees). Rigati cooked al dente, served in a robust sauce with a healthy dosage of peekytoe crab and sea urchin. Full-flavoured but not overpowering.
Reginette verdi al ragu bolognese: in comparison to the other primi this came across as a bit more pedestrian. The pasta was, granted, cooked to the same high quality as the rigati, but the meat (veal, pork, and beef) ragu was, while tasty, one-note. Maybe I have myself to blame for ordering something al ragu bolognese and expecting something revolutionary, though.
Anatra arrosto: the duck breast was the highlight - cooked to tender medium rare with a smoky, slightly crisp skin. The leg was de-boned and compacted into something resembling a terrine (but not ground by any means...there must be a proper term for this), and not as interesting. The sauce was, imho, overpowering and didn't allow the flavour of the meat to come through. SO hated the farro (said it had a Chinese herbal taste to it, haha). I just found the dish too heavy 3/4 through it.
Piccione e fegato grasso: on the online menu this was priced at $45 and carries a $8 supplement to the prix fixe. At the restaurant last night this was $40 with no supplement (they offered a $48 steak with $8 supp. instead). We decided to go for it. The foie gras sauce wasn't as intense as I'd like it, but the squab's own..."gaminess?"...I quite enjoyed. A bit skimpy on the meat here, though, at least compared to the duck preparation.
Mille Foglie: a dry, less fluffy and puff version of the mille feuille I'm used to (difference between Italian and French? Don't know). Roasted pear was moist and sweet. Mostly pleasant.
Dolce alla gorgonzola: I flat out did not like this. Both the cheesecake and the pistachio genovese were, dare I say, savoury. I had to pair them with the concord grape sorbetto to balance out the taste in my mouth. Too many things were going on in this one and I just think they don't meld well together.
Bread (focaccia, multi-grain, white, breadstick) was adequate with a yummy eggplant-chick pea dip and EVOO. Petit fours were nougats with candied orange, coffee truffles (with grappa, apparently), and four-spice caramel. We were stuffed and couldn't finish all of them so we asked to bring them home.
Service was mostly faultless. One time the gentleman refilling my water splash some in my eye as I was turning to say thanks. I don't think he noticed. Another time the lady putting down our desserts almost allowed the sorbetto (sitting on a bed of clumped up granola) fly off the plate (it ended up on the edge). I doubt she could've missed that, but she didn't make note of it, and neither did we. Our main server, Jennifer, was competent and pleasant throughout the evening.
Overall a positive experience and for $130 ($60 prix fixe x 2 + tax) I would say it was fair value. Will try to get some pictures up at some point (again, on my SO's camera...).
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