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Range report - not too shabby

Eugene Park | Jan 9, 2006 03:01 AM

Greetings CH'ers. Just got home from a night out in the City that included dinner at Range. Arrived minutes prior to my 8:30 rez, and was seated in less than 90 seconds in the main dining room in back. My companion and I were lucky enough to score a corner table along the wall, so we were able to sit 90 degrees from each other, rather than across the table. This came in handy, as Range was packed and the noise level was loud (but not unbearably so).

Water was poured and menus offered. My friend chose the roasted chicken with bacon & walnut bread salad, while I had the lamb osso buco. We shared the Manilla clams appetizer to start. Our server mentioned that the fish entrees were both sold out, though wild striped bass could be substituted and would be prepared the same as the steelhead and one other fish I am blanking on right now (if you look at the dinner menu on Range's website, you'll see the steelhead and the wild striped bass, but tonight there was a different fish than the bass on the menu). I was pleased that our server didn't try the so typical upsell to some type of imported sparkling or still water. I ordered a bottle of 2003 La Spinetta Barbera d'Asti off the nicely varied wine list ($48, which is a reasonable 100% markup).

The clams were of good quality, decent size and tasty, though you'd have to be a peckish eater to try and make a meal of them by themselves. The fennel sausage was layered on top of the clams, along with 2 smallish slices of garlic toast (bread used was multigrain, which was an interesting and tasty touch). All in all, a good start to the meal.

While we awaited our entrees, our appetizer was cleared, and new silverware provided. Service was very good, with neither our server or bussers being too solicitous or unavailable. Water glasses were refilled quickly. My friend and I were consuming our wine with vigor, so I did all the pouring myself.

Our entrees arrived soon after, and were piping hot as evidenced by the steam billowing off of each one. The initial bites of roast chicken (wing portion) were exquisitely tasty and moist, but that changed a bit when we came upon the too-salty breast portion. While the breast meat was very moist and juicy, it was obvious that the solution that had been injected as part of the cooking process was a degree or two too salty. It wasn't a dealkiller, and was pretty much mitigated by the sweetness of the bacon & walnut bread salad accompaniment. Overall, this was a well-crafted dish that just missed perfection by about a teaspoon too much of salt. Regardless, my friend advised that she enjoyed the dish very much.

I have an inherent weakness for osso buco, though this was the first time I'd ever had the lamb version. A decent size shank of osso buco was brought to me, nicely browned with a good portion of silken bone marrow. Lamb osso buco isn't quite as juicy and fork tender as the veal version, but this was still a treat. My friend doesn't usually partake of red meat, so this was her loss. I'd recommend this to anyone who likes traditional veal osso buco.

The Barbera d'Asti was good, and paired well with everything we ate. It came out at the proper temperature, and Range uses decent stemware (though I didn't remember to look and see which brand they use).

Both my friend and I were too stuffed for dessert (which was somewhat a bad thing since I had taken her there for her birthday, so no candles for her to blow out). Bill with tax and 18% tip came out to $120.

3 out or 4 stars. Would've been 3.5 stars if the chicken was less salty.

Disclaimer - I'm not a professional reviewer, just the prototypical Chowhound...... =-D

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