Petite Crevette Report
I had an excellent meal this weekend at Petite Crevette. Neil is at the healm and he is at the top of his game. I had some fantastic first of the season soft shell crabs and a perfectly prepared fish soup, all the elements worked and everything was cooked perfectly. Mastery. My friend ordered a scallops dish which was also excellent. Beautiful seared scallops over a fish stock infused with ginger and sweet corn. Really nice. Its BYO for now. Go before Neil vanishes yet again.
We've been about every other week since it opened, and the food and service is consistently excellent -- I am especially addicted to Neil's tuna burger. 2 weeks ago we went on a Wed., and Neil wasn't there (he's been every other time we've been). The food was just as good -- we both had dishes we'd had before -- but the service was definitely lacking a bit. Charming and friendly as ever, but slooooow -- staff definitely seemed to be kicking back a bit, maybe b/c the boss was away (as many of us are known to do!). Has anyone else had different experiences -- either w/ food or service -- when Neil isn't there?
I went with friends on Saturday night, and I have to say the food was a little mixed. The corn and crab chowder was very rich and tasty. The mussels provencal were plump and juicy. The mustard encrusted salmon was disappointing -the salmon was cooked just right, but the 'mustard crust' was simply whole mustard seeds rolled onto the fish after cooking, which didn't impart any flavor at all to the dish. A friend also had the sea scallops and they were delicious, but I thought the stock lacked a little flavor.
Except for the salmon which I thought was only okay, all the food was good, but nothing I tasted really made me say "Yumm!". We also found the service lacking a bit, but the atmosphere of the place was really wonderful.
LONG time lurker, first time post-er. but enough about me...
just got back from this joint and know what? hells yeah.
cozy factor was indeed in full effect - antique radio playing an opera from local classical station WQXR? check. dimly lit 18 seat room with oldie wallpaper? tastefully chosen knickknacks? check.
we started with the organic salad with tomato and mozz, and while i'm sure this isn't the true measure of a joint's virtues, tomato was juicy and mozz was fantastic and perfectly dressed. one for one.
the wife got the tuna burger (ordered it medium rare but because it was cut-up seemed more medium to me) and it was totally solid. hand cut fries were winners too but i wouldn't hang a poster of them in my room. my tilapia (a special not on the day-to-day menu) was, however, exceptional. baked and then pan seared gave it amazing texture and the butter/not-too-lemony sauce with capers and aforementioned tomatoes were exquisite. mashed pots and a harrycoat ver (sic) were sick [that's means "great" for you old-timers]. desert (not made in house) was some raspberry crumbly thing. eh.
i got some of the service vibe some of you other guys were talking about- SUPER nice and attentive but took a little longer to get your food that say, erm, bennigans or something. we didn't have anywhere to go so whatever. also witnessed a deft move by our server when the guy next to us asked for A1 steak sauce when she put his plate down- she asked him to try it first and if he still wanted it that she would go out and buy some for him. awesome.
in totem: great find. apparently this chef (neil?) is a local hero or something but he won some new converts tonight. go team crevette.
ps. steak sauce guy decided he didn't need it.
Great food. TERRIBLE SERVICE. We've been there twice now, on a Tuesday and a Saturday, and each time it's been hit or miss.
The misses: The seats in the back room near the window are particularly uncomfortable. It's byob, which I love. However, it took our waitress on a not very busy Tuesday night over 30 minutes to bring us wine glasses and open the wine for us. Still got the corking fee. This is a tiny place, maybe 10 tables. Our cold appetizer (haricot verts mixed green salad) took 45 minutes. Entrees took another hour. In this time we finished our wine and were ready to knaw on the table.
Another pet peeve: the cioppino. One of the best that I've ever had (including summers on Nantucket). A delicious, hearty seafood stew with a very generous half lobster. The catch- no cracker... or knife or tiny fork either. As a matter of policy, they refuse to offer customers a seafood cracker so you can actually get to this delicious lobster meat. My husband tried to muscle the meat out, but finally I sent it back to the kitchen to crack for me. The waitress gave me a blank stare. How are people supposed to eat this? At $25 it's not very expensive for NYC, but it's one of the priciest dishes on the menu. When we were there a second time, we heard the waitress explain the no cracker policy to another hapless customer. If I was a waitress, I would carry my own to offer to customers. Bizarre.
The hits: The food is awesome. We've only tried the seafood, which has been impressive. Tender and delicious, perfectly cooked sea scallops. Tuna carpaccio was delicate and light for a hot summer day. Thai curry cod was a great combination of flavors- spicy and creamy. Lightly fried oysters with lots of their briny flavor preserved. A very solid grilled mahi mahi. The cioppino.
I suspect that we'll be back, because the food is really that good. Next time, I'll bring my own wine opener and a shellfish cracker.
I actaully had a similar experience with the service when I was there (see above for my brief review). The waitress was very slow getting us things, and then when the food came out, one entree was missing, and she just sort-of looked at us like we were supposed to do something about it. Finally, she realized that, yes, we did actually want the missing entree. It took almost 45 -yes 45- minutes for that entree to come out!! Our friend was about to pass out from hunger. On top of that, they were rushing us out because they needed our table! He had about 5 minutes to eat, and then when he complained, she looked like we were insane. It spoiled the experience a bit.
Went for the first time last night as a party of 4. I can echo many of the sentiments here with a few additional ones. We sat and our wine was opened promptly. However, we were told the water glasses were being washed and they would be ready soon. Took about 20 minutes and a second request for water before they came. We were told we should order now because the kitchen was about to get slammed and they didn't want us to have to wait. We ordered the fried oysters (which were good) and the wild copper river salmon carpaccio, which was over greens. The salmon tasted very mild for a wild fish and we weren't crazy about it as you could barely taste the fish. The apps. took a VERY long time to come which, if we weren't with friends would have been very bothersome.
The entrees took even longer to come. All were passable to good. I enjoyed my thai cod (which I knew would satisfy and didn't expect to be mind-blowing). The scallops were all well prepared.
When the bill came, I noticed 2 things. Two entrees were priced higher than posted. I brought this to the waitresses attention and she changed it, with a mild apology. Secondly, I noticed a $5/bottle corkage fee. Is this unusual? Everywhere I've been where there's a corkage fee, I've been told before they opened the bottle. It would't have changed us bringing wine, but it seems a fair practice to let patrons know, either by a posted sign or communicated by the staff of the fee.
Anyway, a servicable meal, but given the delays, miscommunications and only decent food, would not rush to return.