Another couple, my wife and I went to Rathbun's this past weekend for the first time.
We were eagerly anticipating the evening, and I had printed the menu off the website just to see what to expect. I was pleased that the menu on the website was basically the same as the one presented, which is not always the case when dining out.
The room was crowded and electric, but not too loud, and we were seated at perhaps the best table in the room, tucked away in a corner. So far so good.
We had some prosecco before we arrived, so we skipped cocktails and went straight to the wine list.
We ordered an '02 Lagone Super Tuscan sangiovese blend ($32). It was excellent.
We began with the eggplant steak fries (a house speciality), lightly dipped in bread crumbs, fried and served with confectioners sugar and a tabasco dipping sauce. These were pretty good, although the dipping sauce was way too hot and it overpowered any eggplant flavor. Without the sauce, these fries are creative and pretty tasty.
For the next course I ordered the butternut squash tortellonis with candied pecans and amaretto butter fondue. I was expecting a lot from this dish, and it did not deliver. The squash filling was so hot it seemed like the pasta might have come from the microwave. You couldn't taste the squash because it was too hot. The candied pecans and butter fondue was the best thing I ate all night, although I didn't taste any amaretto.
My friend ordered the shaved fennel and apple salad with a sambucca vinaigrette. Disappointing. The fennel flavor was barely there and I couldn't taste any sambucca. It needed seasoning.
My wife ordered the special of the night from the "small plates" menu--stuffed dates wrapped in prosciutto (stuffed with bleu cheese and marinated in a chestnut honey).
This might have been the worst thing I have ever tasted at a restaurant, and it smelled like a horse's stable. I am not kidding. After a couple of bites, we returned it and asked the waitor (nice guy) to check with the chef (Kevin Rathbun, who was there) to see if it was bad. The waitor returned to say the chef believed it was ok and it must be the marination and the combo flavors. Yuck!
Our entrees were good but simple (grouper, scallops, and a mushroom risotto), not spectacular.
All in all, I was not impressed with what we ordered, and I was hoping for better food from such a hyped establishment.
I like the atmosphere enough that I might go back and try some other dishes. The wine was great and the prices are reasonable (although we didn't order from the "second mortgage" plates). The "small plates" are tapas style, but the portions are enough.