Valentine dinner at Gargoyles on the Square
This was not worth the slog through the slush. With a kid on the way we thought we’d splurge on their somewhat pricey set holiday menu and make sure we had a romantic meal. It did not feel romantic – we waited for very long periods of time in between our three courses, which seemed unnecessary with such a small menu. At one point a waiter holding several desserts asked us if we’d gotten our entrée yet, like he was going to plonk down a dessert in front of us if we had.
We started with the white brioche-shaped bread rolls they brought, which were actively bad. They tasted like they’d been frozen. Then we had a “Not So Simple Ceasar Salad” with hamachi for two. I thought it was pretty simple, myself. The hamachi pieces were seared, fresh enough, but lacking in that buttery texture I hoped for. There were thin bits of an aged dry orange cheddar I think was called Mimolette, and some supposedly “truffled” croutons that didn’t taste like much along with a not at all artfully arranged vertical stack of romaine leaves with the dressing interspersed. It was meant to be creative, but seemed silly and almost slapdash.
Then we had the short rib for two. This was cozy and a large portion, but had no depth. It was the bulk of our meal and it was bland. The mashed potatoes were quite nice, but y’know, they were mashed potatoes. The broccoli rabe was fine but unmemorable and the four little fried oysters that came on it were a bit arbitrary, but tasty.
This was followed by a chocolate dessert plate for two, which was the most remarkable of the items we had. It included some interesting turtles, white chocolate truffles, delicious white and chocolate dipped strawberries, and another item I’m forgetting.
It felt very production line-ish rather than romantic, and the food was just good, not anything that seemed special. It didn’t feel like a $60/each meal. I don’t know if we ordered poorly or shouldn’t expect much for high volume set menus, but I was disappointed.
Sounds like a really lackluster night--I may bump my plans to visit back a little, behind other restaurants, and not just because you had an ungreat meal. Oh no, there's a far more deep offense here...
"Then we had a “Not So Simple Ceasar Salad” with hamachi for two. I thought it was pretty simple, myself. The hamachi pieces were seared, fresh enough, but lacking in that buttery texture I hoped for. There were thin bits of an aged dry orange cheddar I think was called Mimolette, and some supposedly “truffled” croutons that didn’t taste like much"
Hamachi on a Caesar? CHEDDAR on a caesar??!! This was not only "Not So Simple," it was Not So Caesar. I call shennanigans!
I don't mind the word "Caesar" being applied where it does not, in a culturally precise sense, apply.
But this particular salad pretty much made me hate the place from the moment it was set down in front of us. I like hamachi, I liked the mimolette. But we're talking about a salad for 2 as part of a $60/each prix fixe app/entre/dessert meal for supposedly a special event. That means this salad cost us at least $30, maybe $40. And let me go over it again: 4 slices of seared hamachi, half a dozen slivers of mimolette, no more than 6 dice-size croutons, most of a head of romaine separated and stacked, and dressing slopped over the top of the pile. That's it. Unless you find it romantic to try to scrape dressing off of one romaine leaf onto the others, this is a terninally lame beginning to a meal. I mean nobody-should-ever-eat-there-again lame. Not a mistake or a compositional misjudgment, but a deliberate insult to eating.
The short rib (singular) was also for two, so that represented another, what, $60-70? By no possible stretch of the imagination was that short rib remarkable enough that I would have served it in that context if it were my restaurant.
The dessert was very good. But not good enough to compensate for the rest. And the service was undistinguished. So yeah, they got their $120+tip out of us, but they're unlikely to ever get another dollar or good word from us. Not, I think, a smart trade-off.