Sunday, October 25, 2009

Goldfish: a $15 Lure

What do you make of a place that charges $15 for a three-course dinner, with selections that include scallops and New York Strip steak? Can it be taken seriously? Is there a catch?

The short answer is yes, Goldfish Oyster Bar and Restaurant in Ossining can be taken seriously, and no, there’s no discernible catch: a three-course meal really is $15, Monday through Wednesday night (prices are higher for the rest of the week). And plenty of my food was actually quite good.

Goldfish was brought to my attention by my friend Fran, who was ready to celebrate her latest birthday. For the past few years, the tradition in our core group of five fun-loving gals has been treating the birthday girl to dinner, then splitting the bill amongst the remaining four of us (it’s not rocket science). Our group, however, was temporarily down two of its members (Roisin is a brand new mommy (yay, Roisin!) and Katy is on her way to becoming “Dr. Katy” up in Boston), so for the time being, it was up to Fran, lifelong partner-in-crime Danielle and myself to keep our birthday dinner ritual alive and fabulous. Fran, ever mindful of the bill now being split between two financially-strapped Westchester souls instead of four, declared Goldfish the perfect economic solution.

That’s how I found myself behind the Arcadian Shopping Center off Route 9 on Tuesday night, immediately after work. I arrived at 6:00 p.m., parking in a small lot across the street, which looked very much like a residential street, the restaurant looking very much like a residential house.

Inside, the restaurant is warm, somewhat noisy but inviting. There is a second floor overlooking the downstairs dining room and kitchen (I think there was a wedding reception up there. On a Tuesday), and downstairs, the vibe is somewhere between family friendly dining, and upscale diner. Tables are packed closely together, and there is a countertop where patrons can eat facing the open kitchen. The crowd ranges from younger strapped-for-cash 20 and 30-somethings, to families, to (the dominant demographic on our night) seniors. All seemed happy.

The prix-fixe menu is extensive, with some ambitious offerings.

Check out our appetizers:

I got the Smoked Salmon Platter:
There’s a lot of salmon here! In fact, I received more salmon at Goldfish (and good quality) than I have at other restaurants that charged a whole lot more. Nothing fancy, but delectable.

Danielle got the New England Clam Chowder:
I didn’t try this, but Danielle was very satisfied. She said the soup was creamy, chunky, and the portion was just right.

Fran got Mussels sautéed in a garlic lemon broth
I thought the portion looked generous, but Fran said she remembered it being larger the first time she ate at Goldfish. She was still pleased, though.

For entrees, I ordered the Seared Sea Scallops
Grilled asparagus, herbed potato cake, and Vin Cotto glaze:
Scallop fail. The portion was nicely sized (there were three large scallops) and I did like the taste and presentation of the herbed potato cake (in the back, on the left). But while the scallops looked like they had a decent sear, there was no texture on the outside, so it was kind of like eating… flan. Which isn’t a good thing. Maybe they were undercooked? Which is also not a good thing. The vegetables were well-seasoned and garlicky, but the Vin Cotto glaze might’ve been too sweet for the scallops. This was a disappointment, yet I still feel like I got my $5 worth (how can you lose, really?) because I devoured the potato and the vegetables.

Danielle ordered the Grilled New York Strip Steak
Grilled asparagus (she substituted asparagus for the spinach), another potato cake, and a port wine mushroom sauce:
You can see from the picture that the portion is again pretty substantial for a five note. Yet Danielle being Danielle ordered her steak well done (“extremely well done, No blood at all!”), so it was hard for me to judge the quality and texture of the meat. I will say that for an “extremely well done” order, the meat was pretty tender. And the sauce was good. It kind of reminded me of beef stroganoff. Maybe not a good thing if you’re looking for NY Strip, but I sure am a fan of stroganoff.

Fran’s looks the worst. She got the Cappellini alla Salmone
Arugala, fresh tomato with a light lemon garlic broth:
It actually tasted good once Fran mixed it all together. The presentation was awful. All of the sauce was in the bottom of her bowl, and it looks like dry pasta was added as an afterthought, heaped on top with no seasoning whatsoever. The salmon did look tender and moist once we uncovered it under the pasta, but I thought this was the most inexcusable entrée.

For dessert, the portions were much smaller, yet very delicious:

I ordered the Ricotta Fritters:
The presentation could use some work (that’s a big ol bowl for a spoonful of lemon dipping sauce), but the fritters were scrumptious. They reminded me of the fried donuts you get at Chinese buffets, but the ricotta filling classed it up a little.

Danielle got the New York Style Cheesecake:
I didn’t want to try this because the portion was so small, but Danielle made it a point of telling me over and over and over how good it was.

Fran ordered the Butterscotch Pot De Crème:
This was lovely. Light and sweet, but not too sweet.

In short, old chaps, we got along swimmingly for the evening (you see what I did there? A little Goldfish humor). You can’t beat the value, and even though there were some hiccups during the entrée portion of our night, for the price, and for the selection available, I would heartily recommend Goldfish as a Monday through Wednesday meet up. Just as we discovered some gems in the appetizer and dessert section of the menu, I’m sure there are standouts under the entrée section waiting to be unearthed. And I have no problem forking over $5 until I find them.

Goldfish Oyster Bar and Restaurant
6 Rockledge Ave
Ossining, NY 10562
(914) 762-0051

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