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Dec 14, 2006 09:41 PM

The White Dog, In Decline?

Went there for dinner a few night ago, and I'm sad to see a restaurant that stands for so many good things -- in terms of locally grown, organic, humane treatment of the food (and of the people who grow and raise it) -- deliver so poorly when it comes to actual food preparation.

Appetizers were okay-to-decent -- a crawfish-and-crab cake that was a bit on the mushy side (and overpriced at $12.50), and their Heirloom Apple, Peppery Greens and Fresh Herb Salad, which was fresh and competent.

Entrees, though were the real let-down -- the Low Country Spiced Crispy Pekin Duck Breast was just completely bland, and the strip steak was overcooked (I had asked for medium rare) and flavor-free as well; I just didn't want to finish it.

The sundae, however, is still good after all these years, but I don't know that I'll be going back anytime soon. Have others had similar experiences?

The ironic thing is that we attended after Craig LaBan's talk at the nearby B&N, and were really in the mood for a good meal.

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  1. I've only been there once since Michael O'Halloran left, it was a bit of a letdown but nothing so bad as what you're describing. I wonder if they're still searching for an executive chef.

    1. i've been dropping into the city nearly once a month for work over the past half year and usually hit the white dog each time. i've heard so many rave reviews that i was excited to try it at first and embrace their mantra (one that i'm not unfamiliar with) but found them to be entirely disappointing.

      the flavour combinations were often imbalanced and tended to put an emphasis on certain ingredients that shouldn't have stood at the forefront. their softshell crab was abysmally mushy from a bad deep fry that i was chewing on it forever. there always seems to be a pool of grease, fat or oil sitting at the bottom of my plate when i'm done.

      i now hestitate when someone suggests eating there... at the very least their desserts are pretty good.

      1. I may be in the minority here but didn't like either the White Dog or Farmicia for that manner when we ate at either place. The seasoning was lacking at both places and I agree that too much focus was on the food itself in an almost unadulterated form as opposed to the perparation of it. While I agree that buying local is great, I wish they would jazz up their food a bit!

        2 Replies
        1. re: bluehensfan

          I don't like Farmicia either. I can get behind their philosophy, but focusing on fresh ingredients doesn't mean that you're not allowed to prepare them in interesting ways.

          You may want to try Bistro 7, a few blocks north of Farmicia. It's also run by an ex-White Dog chef, the aforementioned Michael O'Halloran. I loved the White Dog for a while, and then was disappointed on my last trip a couple years ago. I learned afterwards that he was exec chef during the time I liked it.

          1. re: bluehensfan

            I am a vegetarian and so very much wanted to like Farmacia and White Dog, since I agree so much with their stated mission. But both were disappointing. I've been to Farmacia twice, and the service was downright lousy. White Dog was fine and I keep meaning to get back there sometime (it's been years since I first tried it), but for someone on a limited budget, it had better be spectacular if I'm going to shell out big money and I didn't exactly get my socks knocked off. I agree with the post-er below (GDSwamp) who mentioned that their dishes are a litte over/under seasoned, etc. Thank the culinary gods for Horizons!!!

          2. I like Farmicia for weekend brunch -- they do so pretty nice things. But for dinner? I miss the Novelty box.

            1. I had a really tasty smoked-duck salad at White Dog the other day, and I've had good things there off and on, but generally it falls into a new category of restaurant my partner and I have created called "Wow, Jim's a Pretty Good Cook!"; meaning that if you went over to your friend's house and he'd never cooked for you before and HE served you that food, you'd be very impressed and it would be a nice discovery that your friend really can cook. But for a restaurant to serve it and charge you $12 for apps and $23 for entrees, it's really not satisfactory. I love White Dog's mission and the local/organic aspect of their cooking, but I think they are WAY overpriced for food that (a) is often presented less as a dish than as just some food on a plate, and (b) is almost always a little overseasoned, or a little underseasoned, or a little cold, or a little runny, or... you know what I mean. Again: hats off to my pal Jim for teaching himself to make fancy stuff like duck and lamb - with SAUCE, no less! But asking me to pay $50 pp for the privilege is a bit much.