Visited this place on NYE with a small group. No charge for the valet service. 9:30 res; arrived a bit early and we were seated early, after a very brief wait. Excellent ambiance for a group of middle-aged folks (some decorations and a small jazz group playing). Felt lively, but not raucous. The highpoint of the meal was the service, as opposed to the food, which was good enough. From the time of making the reservation, to a confirmation call inquiring about corkage ($20.00), to our early arrival and seating, the reception staff were efficient and pleasant. The server, runners, and bussers were all excellent. I can't think of a service detail that was missed or botched.
We had some duplications in our ordering, so most dishes produced multiple opinions.
The butter lettuce salads had good quality lettuce, and the dressing was tasty enough, but they were overdressed. The beet salad was nicely composed, again with good quality ingredients, but the flavor was somehow lacking (specifically, seasoning on the beets). The salmon was very good (quality and cooking) as was the beef filet. I enjoyed the pork belly (nice flavor and texture), but the sides were slightly congealed and a bit cool. My guess is that it sat on the line for awhile, waiting for another dish. One dessert stood out, one disappointed, and another was fine. The riff on a bannana split did not meet anyones' expectation for presentation or flavor. The molten chocolate cakes were good enough, but not spectacular. The creme brulee "napoleon" was the hit of the bunch. A nice custard and caramel sauce, with perfectly crisp and appropriately sweet layers of pastry.
We didn't avail ourselves of the champagne, but it was nice to know it was there.
I generally tilt toward food as more important than service, but this was a great example of the vital contribution that top notch service makes to the whole experience. We'll visit again, and hopefully on a night that's not an "event" so we can experience the cooking in more of the kitchen's usual groove.
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