Monday, February 1, 2010

Dovetail: NYC Restaurant Week 2010

Are you enjoying NYC Restaurant Week: Winter 2010? My budget and time constraints only allowed for two restaurants this season, so I wanted to make both picks count. Up this past Friday was Dovetail, made famous by Frank Bruni and Adam Platt’s solid reviews, and a few articles that showcased the restaurant’s use of bacon in dessert as part of the newest culinary trend.

What did I learn about Dovetail on Friday? A.) that joint is far. I picked a restaurant where I actually had to exit Grand Central Station and walk to Bryant Park on one of the coldest night of the year in order to catch the right subway line (the B). B.) The ride and walk ended up being well worth it. Even though I couldn’t feel my nose or ears by the time I arrived, I knew almost immediately that Dovetail was the right choice. Because… C.) ….Chef John Fraser clearly loves Restaurant Week! Amuses and free stuff were flying left and right! I told Eileen, my dinner companion for the night, that the creativity-level of the food—along with the sheer amount of it—reminded me of the dishes we sampled at Anthos last year (minus the crappy service we got at Anthos).

Dovetail the restaurant is quite comfortable. It’s a small space, yet there is ample room between tables to make it feel private and relaxing. The colors exude warmth, with browns and brick, and the vibe is a tad more formal and classy than I expected. Servers were especially going for the formal vibe, yet never came across as inaccessibly stuffy or weird.

But let’s get to the free stuff.

Shortly after we placed our orders, we received the following:
Our amuse bouche was a stunner: pureed beets, sour cream, and salmon tartare. The taste was nice enough (I’m not a huge fan of beets), and certainly classy, but I much preferred the white cheddar cornbread that was also left on our table: sweet and moist, with a slightly firm outer shell. One of the best pieces of bread ever sampled.

For starters, Eileen chose the cauliflower soup:
The server added some extra elements tableside: bacon, apples, walnuts and brown butter that, when swirled, reminded us of Quaker Oatmeal’s Maple Brown Sugar Instant Variety. I stole a spoonful, and while the consistency looked watery, it totally worked, as did the flavor: rich, and super-fresh. Like Grade-A roasted cauliflowers in pureed form.

I was looking to shake things up this Restaurant Week and try something new, so I ordered the Rabbit Mille Fuille:
I had no idea what a mille fuille (pronounced “mill fwee”) was, but when my plate arrived, I deduced it had something to do with stacked layers of phyllo dough. In between the layers was the rabbit (in terrine form) and a frisee salad including pears and turnips. There was a super-pleasant creamy sauce underneath it all. Altogether it was refreshing, and well-balanced. A good start.

Next, Eileen and I ordered the Hanger Steak:
The portion might look small in the photo, but it was a nice-sized serving and a great progression to our appetizers. The steak was cooked well, but it seemed either over-salted, or lacking something sweet to balance the overall dish. Still, Eileen and I both came away thinking the dish was a success, mostly due to the hen of the woods mushrooms, and an absolutely fabulous mini beef cheek lasagna (the lasagna is hidden behind the steak in the photo).

For dessert, Eileen ordered something chocolatey (per usual), the Black Forest Gateau:
She said it was fine, but nothing out-of-this-world. She was more interested in eyeballing my dessert for the rest of the evening.

Cause the famous bread pudding was on the dessert menu! (Sort of… they ix-nayed the bacon —maybe they thought it was too out there for Restaurant Week):
Bacon or no bacon, my first bite was one of those classic first bites. It reminded me of when Anton Ego took a bite of Lil Chef’s ratatouille in Ratatouille: a sensory explosion that took me back to Saturday breakfasts with Mom, to comfort, to sheer happiness, to indulgence. To da shiznit. I kept looking at that little yellow square placed before me, stupefied as to how one bite of anything could be so good. And it’s why I will for certain come back to Dovetail when Restaurant Week is over. I simply must have that little yellow square again.

After dessert, a small plate of mignardises:
And with the bill, some peanut-butter granola for the road:
The highs far outweighed any lows experienced at Dovetail (lows included our tea arriving after dessert, and one overly ambitious server who came by and hovered over us to make sure we ate our amuses (Eileen and I wanted that tasty cornbread before anything)).

So stay classy, Dovetail. Perhaps next time I visit, the slab of bacon will be put in its rightful place—atop of your bread pudding. I can tell already it will work just perfectly.

103 West 77th Street
New York, NY 10024


  1. Looks and sounds like Dovetail was clearly the right choice for Restaurant Week. What a great value. Long live Restaurant Week!

  2. When I was in NYC I had brunch at Dovetail and I'm really glad I did. Best brunch ever.

  3. Sharon is spot on with all of her comments here! The service was also really good, the entire staff was on point in every aspect and they didnt miss a beat. Clearly demonstrated by a server whizzing by our table swiftly picking up our empty plates right after we had put down our forks. Glasses of water always fill. Only downspot, if I remember correctly we had asked for more cornbread that never came. Oh well. That cornbread was phenomenal. The food was excellent and a great choice for restaurant week. I also heard that the brunch is wonderful but its a bit far to venture out on a weekend morning. Another thing is there is a Shake Shack right next door to Dovetail...where Sharon and I had secretly thought of dumping our rezzie for. Glad we didnt - though my hubby Alex really wanted a burger (he denies it). :-)

  4. This is great. I work with Eileen and she's looking very pleased with herself. I would say she's looking well-fed but that sounds vaguely insulting - you get the point.

    Small piece of trivia for you too - bacon desert is a trend inspired by one Heston Blumenthal, who created a bacon and egg icecream at his place 'The Fat Duck' outside London.

  5. I was always skeptical about bacon-infused desserts until I recently tried Vosges' dark chocolate bacon bar. Would love to try the bread pudding with bacon here!