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David Drake Tasting

foodchick Jan 6, 2007 12:24 AM

Hi there! I've just made a reservation for next Saturday for my belated birthday dinner at David Drake's. We live in Scotch Plains, so are familiar with his skills from the Stage House Inn and are so excited for dinner! Has anyone done the tasting menu with wine? What did you think? Thank-you!

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  1. seal Jan 6, 2007 12:52 AM

    Been there a few times. Only had the tasting once.

    We all enjoyed it very much, but it may have been as much to do with the company as the food and wine.

    I was just there again over new year's eve and something has been bothering me about the food since. Maybe it is the salt content, maybe something else...

    Either way, drink a lot of water with your meal as well as the wine and I hope you enjoy.

    1 Reply
    1. re: seal
      foodchick Jan 7, 2007 03:46 PM

      I hope they were just having an off night! Was the food just overseasoned when you went?

    2. sivyaleah Jan 6, 2007 02:20 PM

      Foodchick, I haven't done the tasing, only the regular menu but just wanted to say that our meal was one of the best we've had anywhere, most especially in NJ. I wrote a very detailed review of it last year here.

      Whatever you wind up doing please remember to post your review. My husband and I have been very interested in the vegetarian tasting. Unfortunately we haven't been back since we were there last year, had to cancel once at the last minute and tried for New Years but alas, were too late in the attempt.

      BTW, seems we're neighbors :-) - we're in SP too!

      2 Replies
      1. re: sivyaleah
        foodchick Jan 7, 2007 03:45 PM

        Hi neighbor! I just read your very detailed review- now I am even more excited to go to dinner! Thank-you for all the great advice...I'm not sure if we'll do the tasting or just the 3 course dinner (and we would get the cheese, too. I LOVE that, and always did it at the Stage House when he was chef), but I'll be sure to post about it afterwards.

        1. re: foodchick
          sivyaleah Jan 8, 2007 12:35 AM

          Funny thing about my review - we were looking on their website the other week and on the page which has links for Reviews it has a link to Chowhound which says something like "December 3, 2005 - look it up".

          You could have knocked me over with a feather when I realized that was the date of our dinner, and that it was my review they were asking people to check out!

      2. r
        RGR Jan 6, 2007 03:29 PM

        We've been to David Drake's several times and did the tasting dinner at the end of the summer. There was a bit of a pacing problem, and I had some issues with portion sizes. However, the food, as always, was delicious. My husband did the wine pairings and was pleased with the selections. I've found that service is a half-step below the level of perfection we always experience at Nicholas and Lorena's. But, overall, it remains one of the top restaurants in the state.

        1 Reply
        1. re: RGR
          bgut1 Jan 8, 2007 02:52 PM

          I agree with RGR. While the food was fabulous (and on par with Nicholas) the service and the room didn't meet expectations. That being said, I enjoyed the meal tremendously and would rank DD as one of the best restaurants in the state.

        2. seal Jan 8, 2007 06:50 PM

          I also enjoyed my meal very much most every time. I am still curious about the new year's eve thing, but certainly not about to let it sour my taste for David Drake.

          Also in agreement about the location, room, service, but willing to put up with it all.

          1 Reply
          1. re: seal
            sivyaleah Jan 8, 2007 11:31 PM

            Funny, we thought the room was beautiful, although somewhat cramped and the service was impeccable when we were there.

          2. bgut1 Jan 9, 2007 04:39 AM

            I didn't mean to imply the room was not attractive instead I meant that the room was very crowded as you noted.

            2 Replies
            1. re: bgut1
              sivyaleah Jan 9, 2007 10:42 AM

              That is very true. When I went to get into my table I had to practically brush my rear against the shoulders of the table next to me. I noted this in my review. I was really concerned I'd knock something off their table - I had this happen at one of the top restaurants in NYC once, it was mortifying! Thankfully in that case it was a very large space and they were able to move me to another table easily, completely across the room out of eye range of the person I offended, so as to keep embarrassment to a minimum. If that happened at DD, I think I would have left the restaurant!

              1. re: sivyaleah
                r
                RGR Jan 9, 2007 04:34 PM

                This is one of the major reasons that, in my view, Nicholas provides an experience that is, overall, superior to that at David Drake's.

                It would be very easy for Nicholas to jam more tables into the spacious main dining room; however, from the beginning and to this day, tables are both capacious and spaced wide apart. Obviously, this is a conscious decision by Nicholas and Melissa, so I presume they believe that seating is integral to making the dining experience feel special. It's the same kind of thinking that went into their choice of chairs around the bar, i.e., super comfortable.

                The problem at David Drake's, of course, is that the rooms are quite small. In the room on the right, it's obvious that they strove to put in as many tables as they could instead of sacrificing one or two in order to increase the comfort level. In the room on the other side, seating is banquette-style, which has the inherent problem of sitting pretty close to one's neighbors.

                I should note that at Lorena's, a restaurant we adore, the tables are also close; however, because of their arrangement, one does not have the feeling that one is sitting in someone else's lap.

            2. bgut1 Jan 9, 2007 08:20 PM

              I agree completely. When we dined there several months back, we were placed in the room to the right (the fireplace room) behind a screen for the hostess stand. I remember having to really squeeze between our neigboring table's chairs and the screen to get to our table. Very uncomfortable and would have detracted from my meal had not the neighboring table leave before our entrees arrived. Truthfully, I would have gladly paid a little more for my meal (in lieu of less covers) to have more room and feel comfortable. Nick and Melissa really have this one right. Seating is such an integral part of the dining experience.

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