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Restaurants & Bars 5

ORTOLAN -- non-review

jcwla | Feb 23, 200512:09 PM

We made a 7 o'clock reservation for three.
Arrived and the hostess asked, "Two tonight?"
No, actually, three. Just like we'd said.
Hmm..."I'll see what I can do."
There was not a soul in the place -- five staff members per customer.
Finally she heads toward the bar area.
No, too loud, my friends won't want that.
The space has been called "dramatic."
Maybe so, but not in a particularly useful way.
One room is devoted to an absurdly long table for 25.
The main dining room is old-lady formal.
And the bar area is a sort of grotto-ish space with makeshift space for dining.
What's the theme? There is none, as far as I can tell.

I ordered a glass of rose and waited for my friends.
I'm thinking, how nice to have a rose available by the glass.
Then I take a sip. Blech!
Call it a cross between Riunite and Robitussin.

Now I turn my attention to the menu.
It's a bizarre menu.
Half a dozen first courses, not separated in any way from the main courses, and two of which were a terrine of foie gras and caviar at $110. A third was a vegetable plate. The other three were fish, including langoustines and spiny lobster.
"You don't have any salads or...?"
"Well," said the waiter, "I can probably make a salad by special request..."
I'm not much for prognostication, but this town is all about appetizers and small plates, and SALADS. The appeal of the first courses strikes me as extremely limited.

Fish was the main theme of the entrees as well. One filet of beef dish, one lamb dish for two or more at $36 a head. Maybe six to eight entrees total. Really limited selection. Just as many desserts as entrees. You have to be in exactly the right mood, and I knew my friends wouldn't be.

Actually, their first complaint when they arrived was the overpowering smell of the paint that had been recently applied. One of them had to walk out as soon as she walked in. She couldn't take the smell. We told the proprietor we'd have to make it another time, and he was nice enough not to bother with the glass of wine. We went over to Orso, which was no great shakes.

But I saw nothing at Ortolan that would make me want to go back.

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