We had not been to Stage House for several years. Actually, since David Drake went off on his own although this was not the reason. We'd enjoyed our meals there and didn't even realize until last year that there had been a change with the restaurant.
However, on that note, I was tempted to title this review "Stage House - Should Have Gone Back to David Drake Instead".
We decided to have dinner there Saturday night as a substitute for not going into NYC for dinner at Babbo for my birthday.
I know, slap me silly for canceling THAT, however, the reason we canceled was I was ill the night before and still not feeling well Saturday morning/afternoon and didn't think I'd be able to make it into the city, let alone that I didn't want to possibly waste good money (and gift certifates) on our dinner there if I wasn't going to enjoy myself. And it certainly appeared that would be there case.
But around 5pm, and after not eating all day, I began to feel that I could manage to eat dinner. We tossed around some ideas. Most of the places I wanted to go to were already were booked solid or only had tables at late hours. SH had a 6:30 available, so we decided to take that.
Ok, now on to the review.
First, I'd forgotten how uncomfortable the seating is. In keeping with the historic feel of the place, the chairs are stiff and wooden which really don't make you feel like you want to spend any time sitting in them. I joked that I felt like they should have been used to put me in the corner for a punishment.
I seemed to remember the menu being more of a prix fixe back when, maybe I'm wrong? All a la carte, which is not big deal, we actually prefer that.
The waiter came over, handed us menus and the wine list. We both choose a wine by the glass from their "special" list which were extremeley expensive choices. I chose a red zin, he a pinot noir. Both were good however, completely forgettable and as it turned out not worth the $15 price per (small) pour we were given. Very disappointing.
I chose the freshly shaved black truffle with fine herbs and parmigiano reggiano for my appetizer, my husband the golden beet salad with goat cheese, almonds, chives, sun-dried black currents and lavendar dressing.
Mine was great. You could really smell the truffles wafting up at you as the plate was set down and the rice was perfectly cooked. My husband's beet salad was comprised of very small diced pieces of yellow beets, mixed with all the other ingredients. Nicely plated and presented into a circular mound and was also delicious. Ok, so things were looking good for the meal itself.
I decided to stay with a safe choice, breast of organic chicken, escarole, oven dried tomatoes,
pancetta, goat cheese tortellini with a white port sauce. My husband ordered the pork tenderloin, yukon gold potato/apple/date/celery root hash with port wine demi-glaze .
While my chicken was nicely cooked and the sauce very good, the goat cheese tortellini failed to deliver the wow factor I expected. The goat cheese itself was great, but they were wrapped in a wonton skin, which just didn't stand up in texture or flavor to the goat cheese. As a matter of fact, it was pointless to even be there. May as well have just dropped balls of goat cheese on the plate instead. Plus, they were somewhat dried out. The broccoli rabe (at least I think that is what it was) was tasty, but a tad too salty/vinegary for my tastes.
My husband's pork was quite disappointing. It was completely flavorless and overcooked but there was an enormous amount of it on the plate. In comparison the potato hash, was undercooked. The sauce had no flavor at all, could have been dishwater on the plate for all we knew. Ok I exaggerate but you get the picture.
The desert menu did NOTHING for us at all. We eventually chose to share a tahitian vanilla creme brulee. Good, but no big deal - came with some fresh strawberries which were not quite ripe. Had some coffee (him, good) and a white tea (me, I think it was called Shanghai Rose, very grassy tasting). Did not like the way the tea was presented because they brought over the teapot, and poured the entire pot into a very large coffee cup. I couldn't even attempt to drink it for many many minutes as it was just too large a cup of just past boiling liqued. I would have prefered them to leave the pot at the table, and let me pour more as needed.
Service was not great. We could not help making comparisons to David Drake the whole time. Totally different category. Stage House really has slipped since he has left we think. Our waiter was not very attentive, somewhat sloppy about his movements (nearly knocking over my wine at one point). Not once did he ask us if we wanted any more wine or anything else in general. Plus, years ago they served an amuse bouche and gave you a plate of petit fours/cookies etc. at the end of the meal gratis. None of this occurred.
Dinner came out to about $140ish with tip and tax.
All in all, there is just nothing special about this restaurant at all any longer. The dining experience is uncomfortable, not serviced professionally nor is the food remarkable enough to venture there ever again. It was just "ok" and I get get "ok" (and much better in fact) in a whole lot of other places close by to home and not pay anywhere near that price.
Like I said, should have just taken the 9:00 reservation at David Drake instead. Now that's special dining!