Went to Hammersley's Bistro last night. First time there, though it's been on my "list" for a while.
The service was excellent. Even the three valets who swarmed the car as we pulled up impressed. We were operating under tight time constraints (just over an hour for dinner) and arrived at prime time (7:45 pm) without reservations. Despite these difficult circumstances, the staff rose valiantly to the occasion. The accomodating hostess led us immediately to a well-placed table for two and the waiter (whom we notified about the time crunch) made sure orders were taken and courses served expeditiously. He also brought a wonderful glass of red when asked for something that would compliment my DC's cassoulet.
On to the food. I loved the fact that the menu somehow manages to be seasonal and novel yet traditionally French, all at the same time. I had the warm Duxbury oysters with the apple cider Hollandaise. Delicious sweet and creamy sauce, cut by some wilted spinach. My DC had the squash soup, which was quite spicy, but with complex seasoning, rather than as the result of someone just dumping in a ton of cayenne.
For my main, at the waiter's recommendation, I tried the salmon instead of the legendary chicken, since he told me it would be lighter and I wasn't starving. He definitely steered me in the right direction: gorgeous thin fillet of ultra-fresh fish cooked over a very high heat to give it a slight crust but magically kept the center just barely cooked. I felt like whoever prepared it should have been given some kind of trophy for Most Perfectly Timed Salmon Cooking. Really incredible. It came with bacony-lentils in red wine. No stinting on quality bacon here. My DC had the cassoulet, which was ultra-hearty. I think it would be great on a cold winter night.
Tragically, time constraints meant we weren't able to order dessert. I had gone in determined to order the highly-praised lemon souffle but was being wooed by the more seasonal and fun pumpkin profiteroles with warm chocolate sauce. I think I'll have to go back and get dessert some time very soon, since I think I dreamt about them last night dancing together chorus-line-style. Question: if I'm forced (for propriety's sake) to limit myself to just one of them, can anyone suggest a favorite?
I also had a nice glass of Henriot champagne. It tasted fuller and fruitier (to this wine ignoramus) than my standbys Veuve and P-J, but not as far in that direction as a brut rose. Educational.
I'm so glad I finally hit this place. It's a much more comforable and friendly joint that I'd imagined...very pleasantly so.