I was fondly remembering my experience 4-6 months ago at Gargoyles yesterday and decided it was high time for a return visit. I love the ambiance of the place, and the delicious glazed duck confit with sticky rice and cashews I had last time is firmly etched into my memory.
Last night pleased again, though the service was a bit spotty. The place was busy when we arrived and we were told there would be a 20 minute wait, with several other duos ahead of us. Edging over to the bar, we found a wait there too, but for some reason there were a couple of unoccupied tables along the front windows. Asking the bartender if we could sit there, he told us to take it up with the hostess, which we did, and were seated. During the rest of the meal, the other table sat empty, even though, we'd been told, there were a few other couples waiting for a spot. Bizarre.
Our drinks - a Green Apple Martini and a "Big Girl" - were huge and very strong and we enjoyed them, getting tipsier and tipsier as we waited for bread, which we finally ended up asking for and which arrived at the same time as our apps. The tomato soup and "flight" of grilled cheese was excellent, with bright tomato flavor and interesting curdy cheese, though the soup was a touch spicy for my personal taste. (In general, I tend to find the menu items at Gargoyles a little spicy, so I compensate by steering towards things that sound a little tamer.) The sweetness of the pistachios was an interesting foil for the oxtail and foie gras in our second app. We split the perfectly rare rib-eye steak and I appreciated both the playfulness of the idea of the accompanying large tots and their taste and texture. They forgot to give us the tomato jam - we had some kind of creamy (cheesy?) sauce instead.
We wanted the cherry clafoutis for dessert but were told it's no longer available and will be replaced with something else. Not to be overly fussy, but it really annoys me when something is on the menu but then when you've decided you want it, you're told you can't have it (it's more understandable if it's late and they've merely run out of the thing for the evening). It feels sort of mean to be tempted with a mouth-watering description only to be told they're not making that anymore. If you aren't making it anymore, take it off the freaking menu.
Total was $88 before tip. Gargoyles fills an important spot in my mental roster of reliable restaurants: a casual and comfortable but not scruffy or pubby environment, with creative, unfussy food and very solid bartending. The occasional FOH lapse or unauthorized kitchen omission is a price I'm willing to pay.