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Restaurant L & E - Chester, CT

pepoling | Oct 18, 2009 09:08 AM

This is the restaurant that replaced the beloved Restaurant du Village. It is a totally different concept, so I was hoping it live up to the high standards set by its predecessor. Unfortunately, it was very disappointing when I tried it the other night.

First of all, the interior has been completely redone. The decor has no coherence whatsoever. There are absurd pictures of stylized farm animals on the wall, classical looking mirrors and a Corinthian column holding up the guest book, and a very modern-looking granite bar with strange mobiles made of utensils hanging above. It would be OK if the weird decor was "shabby chic" or antiques or something, but it came off as looking like they shopped the clearance section of Pier 1. It was also extremely loud - not necessarily bad but just a total change in crowd from RdV, which was quiet and classy.

There are 2 menus. The bar menu is served in the bar and in the dining room on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. It consists of things like moules frites, a burger, a lobster casserole, and BBQ pork with macaroni and cheese. There was not a single vegetarian selection, or even anything remotely "light" - everything either came with fries, was loaded with cheese, etc. The prices were around $12-13. The dinner menu consisted of "small plates." You are instructed to order 2-3 of these. However, like the bar menu, there was nothing remotely "light" - even the "soup and salad" had to come with chunks of smoked duck breast. In this day and age, it seems very strange not to offer a single dish like a green salad, vegetable pasta, etc. The one pasta came with a rabbit sauce. I am not a vegetarian, but I certainly wouldn't eat 2-3 plates of meat based dishes. The prices were quite high. The pasta, for instance, was $16. For a "small plate??????"

I ordered the soup and salad, which was a wild mushroom soup with a little heap of shredded apple strangely placed in the middle of my soup bowl, and topped with the aforementioned duck breast chucks. The soup was really tasty and well done, but why they chose to put salad actually in the soup, making the soup cold and the salad soggy, is beyond me. My mother had the "egg in a hole" which was a completely butter-drenched piece of bread (it was literally transparent), grilled, with an egg in the middle. It had a little bit of smoked salmon with creme fraiche and salmon roe (misleadingly called "caviar" on the menu - just call it salmon roe if it's not the fancy stuff!!!) It was tasty enough, although it really belonged on a brunch menu, and it was pretty much the only thing a vegetarian could have ordered. It was worth maybe $7 or $8, but certainly not $12.

The bread we were served was 2 pieces of focaccia which were covered with melted parmesan cheese and too much salt and pepper.

I would never return here for dinner. You could not make a balanced meal out of the "small plates" because of the lack of vegetables and the prices are too high to justify the quality of the food. You could certainly sit at the bar, enjoy a drink with one of the small plates, and be full, as we were. The bartender seems to be a main attraction with his own menu of martini concoctions. However, because the door to the restaurant doesn't have an entrance way or even a curtain around it, every time anyone enters the restaurant, people seated at the bar get treated to a blast of icy air.

Much better idea to go down the street to the River Tavern, whose food actually makes sense and tastes coherent. This place spends way too much energy on trying to be "cool." I will be very interested to read the review when the NY Times comes around to this place.

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