Stopped by the Oval Room for lunch the other day. It was the first time I visited since their make-over, and my first taste of food from a kitchen run by Frank Moralles, late of the acclaimed Union Pacific in NYC.
The decor is very chic. It's Butterfield 9, brighter and crisper, if that's possible. Walking in immediately raised my expectations that something new and different was going on there.
The menu is similar to the old Oval Room, but the preparations are much more interesting. All of the appetizers looked intriguing, and I found it hard to choose.
I ordered the butternut squash soup to start, which had a dollop of creme fraiche and was spiced with Thai curry. The curry jazzed up a dish that is a favorite of mine and took it in a new direction. Usually, I think nutmeg or cinnamon--a hint of sweetness in a squash soup. Not so here--it was bold, tangy and delicious.
My companion ordered a codfish cake appetizer, and I apologize for not recalling the accoutrements. For the moment, I will suffice it to say it was visually stimulating and excellent flavors throughout.
I was less impressed with my entree--north atlantic salmon on a bed of celary root puree surrounded by an apple cider broth. The dish worked well, but was somehow less interesting than I'd hoped. The salmon itself was a fine fish, but just slightly dry--owing perhaps to the fact that I noticed our entrees emerge from the kitchen and then head back inside when the server noticed my companion was still eating his cod. Makes me think the fish had a few minutes too many under a heat lamp.
My friend ordered an entree salad of gravalax and greens, which was good but not extraordinary. He was hoping for a gravalax that was more cured than smoked, and this fish, despite the server's recommendation was just a lightly smoked salmon.
In short --I was impressed with the appetizers, but don't know enough yet about the entrees or deserts to form a full impression. I look forward to hearing other reports.