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Restaurants & Bars 6

Park Avenue Autumn...meh

rifkind81 | Nov 8, 200906:29 PM

I had been intrigued with the idea of Park Avenue for several years; with it's seasonal re-invention and freshness. Fall being my favorite season gastronomically I decided to check it out.

One point I would like to note...we go out to eat frequently and have both worked in hospitality for years; however, we do not get out for a fine dining meal more than once or twice a month. Fine dining is expensive (Park Avenue is no exception) and we try to select restaurants that place quite a bit of attention on the experience (food and service both). So I typically apply a higher standard to meals where entrees cost $35 as opposed to $16. If any of my criticism appears nit-picky it is due to my higher standards for a fine dining meal.

The restaurant is certainly beautiful. The decor was stunning and the room was very comfortable and spacious. My companion and I were seated at a large table (for 4) with a nice view of the action in the room. On each place-setting was a little seasonal specials menu with a few additions.

The service was attentive right from the beginning. It should be noted though that the room was nearly empty and the place seemed overstaffed. My companion and I had peeked at the menu ahead of time and had a good idea of what we would be getting. To start I ordered the potato gnocchi and she ordered the salmon tartar.

The amuse arrived (a Parisienne of apple with some nut on top...peanut I think) and it was delicious. Breads were a sweet onion roll (good), pumpkin bread (ok...kinda like all other pumpkin breads) and blugur/quinoa flatbreads (not good). The butter and salt were both delicious.

The first course arrived...the salmon tartar was a very large portion and the potato gnocchi got some black truffle grated on top. A good start I thought.

My gnocchi were light but seemed to be swimming in a butter broth with sweet corn. The richness did not accentuate the grated truffle, the flavor of which seemed to fall to the wayside. Still, it was properly cooked and seasoned. All in all...good but not great.

The salmon tartar tasted fresh and had a nice aroma, but seemed under-seasoned to me.... there was a lemony vinaigrette at the bottom of the plate which really complemented the fish but did not seem very autumn-ish. Again, not a huge complaint (there were more autumnal dishes on the menu we could have opted to order but did not). So another good but not great dish.

For entrees I had the Pork Schnitzel and my companion had the Venison Chop. We ordered a side of mini latkes. For whatever reason...when the second course arrived the manager brought a complimentary order of creamed corn (perhaps a mistake in the kitchen?). Nice gesture, though I did not quite understand it and the manager did not really explain it. He just said they wanted us to have it...and not to look a gift horse in the mouth we took it.

My schnitzel was a good piece of schnitzel. And when I say that I mean it was large and greasy, not burned or under-seasoned. Totally cool with that. Last time I had schnitzel was in Austria in April right outside the University of Vienna. That was how they made it there. Delicious. The schnitzel came with a salad of baby greens (I want to say amaranth) on top which was really really salty. I enjoy really salty food so this was fine, but if you don't like salty food you would probably send it back. The other accompaniment was pear mustard which just tasted like mustard.

Again...not at all blown away. This was a completely average piece of meat with a completely average preparation. Not bad, but not great either.

The Venison Chop was an equally large piece of meat. It an excellent crust and was cooked just below med-rare. The meat was delicious, albeit a bit tough towards the bottom side. Not sure if this is caused by a particular piece of connective tissue or what, but the top half of the meat was noticeably more tender than the bottom. This dish did not come with any accompaniments except some pomegranate seeds sprinkled all over the meat and plate. Kinda disappointing. For the price of the dish I expected a little more bang for the buck. In my opinion the meat itself was good but not enough to justify the price tag ($35). So my companion liked the dish but I was underwhelmed by the simplicity of the dish.

The mini latkes were good. They tasted like an upmarket McDonald's hash brown, except less greasy. They came with sour cream and rosemary apple sauce. I like the apple sauce and thought the latkes were fine. The creamed corn was much too sweet. But it was free so whatever.

We did not stay for dessert. In terms of beverage I had a few bourbons and she had a glass of Sancerre. We wanted to order a bottle of red with our entrees but the few selections under $100 were not to our liking. Typically I prefer to spend around $75 on a bottle, but in this case my companion was fine without any wine so we skipped it. Oh...we did get 1 bottle of Perrier which was appropriately marked up...between $7-$9, I didn't really pay too much attention to it.

So at the end of the meal I felt a bit of buyer's remorse. The food neither blew me away nor turned me off. Kinda like a meal on Prozac. That's it. If anyone has eaten here and would like to share I am curious to your opinions.


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