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Water's Edge Rant

lintsao | Oct 24, 2003 11:11 AM

It’s not a “people are talking about” kinda place, but.....

I was married there three years ago, and I swear, I SWEAR – it wasn’t just the bloom of love – the food was good. We ate three meals there around that time: one in May 2000 before signing the reception contract, the wedding meal in October, and my birthday the following May. The food was perhaps not cutting edge stylistically, but was excellently prepared, used prime ingredients to which proper respect was paid, and was professionally served.

When we planned the wedding meal I told the manager that when working in a restaurant years ago I had come up with a fresh tarragon pesto that was delicious with grilled swordfish steak, and the chef replicated that well for me. Our appetizer was 3 beggar’s purses, one with goat cheese filling, one with duck and one with butternut squash purée, and the cake was chocolate with cannoli cream filling. All this was executed perfectly. So we went back for our third anniversary last night and


What an incoherent mess of a meal. A new chef I guess. New owners? I don’t know but don’t care to find out at this point. The service was well-meaning but absolutely bumbling and untrained in food, pacing and enhancement of the diners’ experience. In the land of thirty-dollar main courses I don’t give points for well-meaning.

I thought it didn’t bode well when the guy making the rounds with a large basket of rolls gave me what he called a scallion roll which turned out to be a biscuit. I love biscuits for breakfast or with Sunday supper, and they can be fine in an elegant restaurant where they’re doing some riff on downhome cooking, but with cocktails and with the server making no distinction it was a little (but not terminally) weird. After that Roll Guy would stop by every 5-10 minutes offering more from his basket which was simply disruptive.

My appetizer was seared duck foie gras. Whenever it was seared, it wasn’t within recent memory of its being served as it was lukewarm, and the caramelized vinegar sauce on it had hardened upon hitting the cold plate (warming plates is terra incognita here) to that kind of consistency where the caramel just sticks hard in your teeth and stays there. The foie gras had not been cleaned of any connective tissue so cutting it and lifting a bite away with your fork resulted in a tug-of-war of stringy membranes. It was accompanied by a messy salad of greens piled on a wad of small pieces of carrot and red pepper held together by a dressing the primary ingredient of which was honey. Not just cloying and unpleasant but utterly incoherent.

For some reason I was also served another plate with a slice of foie gras terrine with toast points and chopped cooked pineapple with specks of black pepper (I’ll bet the chef called it a salsa). The terrine was the best part of this course, although if the toast points were other than Pepperidge Farm bread it wasn’t apparent to me. If the pineapple had started out fresh, it was cooked in a manner that it might as well have been canned.

Then, having buttered and spread my last toast point, with it poised in the air, and with salad and “salsa” remaining on my plate that I didn’t intend to eat, a server appeared and started clearing the table. If I had thought there was hope for the meal at that point I would have stopped him, but as it was I just held my toast point out of the way and watched in astonishment.

My main course was steak served with potato croquettes and an asparagus/baby carrot arrangement. The steak was far from piping hot and the vegetables went quickly cold on that cold plate. What a tough piece of meat! By the time I’d had enough of it (that is to say long before I’d finished it) the joints of my index and middle fingers ached from sawing. As to the croquettes, I kept thinking about the Febo. The Febo is a Dutch automat chain sometimes referred to in Holland as the Pleebo (plee means loo in Dutch) but you put a guilder (I mean a euro) in the slot, open the little glass door, and get...a GOOD croquette.

By this time the thought of dessert was laughable and their ferry boat for Manhattan was leaving in 10 minutes so we slugged our wine and ran for the boat.

So I would say you could still at least go there for a drink to enjoy the view, except now they moor a large dinner boat in front of the place which partially obscures the view. If you can go when that boat is out, by all means go for a drink and enjoy the sunset, but DO NOT EAT ANYTHING!!


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