New Haven: Foster's Restaurant
Anyone been to a new place called Foster's located on Orange St. near Crown in New Haven? I've heard some good things.
Foster's is a fantastic fine dining establishment. They specialize in "Eccentric Americana" which is essentially contemporary takes on culinary classics. Their Seafood Bouillabaisse is bursting with flavor. The atmosphere is classy and modern and the restaurant features a grill station in the center of the dining room where the Head Chef prepares food in front of everyone. Easily within the top three places to dine in New Haven.. I'll be returning to sample more of the menu in the future.
I have been there once, and it's a mixed bag.
I loved what I got to eat: an interesting salad with pumpkin croutons, pepperoni and beets, and a fish done in parchment paper with rice and veggies. They were both delicious and a good value. I also got a glass of wine that was very nice, not the usual plonk you get in by-the-glass territory.
My husband's dinner was the opposite - very badly prepared. His appetizer was a mussel dish done with capers in pastry. It was so salty that it was inedible. The table next to us ordered the same thing and had the same problem. Someone obviously forgot to rinse the capers and forgot to taste the concoction before it went into the pastry. His entree was a veal osso bucco. The meat was delicious, but the accompanying potatoes and carrots were totally undercooked. The potatoes were so hard as to be inedible.
The service was excellent, and the waitress and manager definitely listened to us when we complained about the two bad dishes mentioned above.
As far as the decor goes, I found it kind of cold and sparse. Wood floor, a bank of windows and no effort to soften it up. They put these white, internally lit fabric sleeves over structural colums - we agreed they looked like condoms.
We will go back sometime to try it again, but as far as it being one of the best places in New Haven, the jury is still out as far as I am concerned.
We've now eaten at Foster's on two occasions and like shoes' experience, we found it to be a mixed bag on both times.
I think that the overriding sense is that this is a restaurant that you WANT to like...we think the space, while sparse, is beautifully done...the service very good, and the "vibe" very positive. The downside, as experienced on both visits, is that we found the food to be very uneven, some dishes absolutely delicious and others causing us to wonder what they were thinking!! I think that the two primary faults are:
1 - some dishes are doomed for failure due to the combining of very disparate ingredients - a classic "trying too hard" scenario.
2 - An emphasis on what my wife calls "boy food" - heavy dishes with heavy sauces.
Dave Foster is an engaging, passionate chef and again, his commitment to his craft and to New Haven's dining scene make you wish that you liked the food more than you do....but the fact is, in my opinion, there are better choices for the same dollars.
been there several times for appt decided to take friends for dinner for our anniv it went beyond our expectations staff was delightful appt were great soup was to die for and main courses for us all were wonderful cant wait to go back
Haven't been yet but out of curiosity (wanting to know if they were open for lunch) I went to their website http://fostersrestaurant.com/.
I see they're having a $95 per person, "game" dinner, May 29th, which features rabbit, venison, water buffalo and amazingly, LEG OF LION! Talk about wierd and leaving a huge carbon footprint!
I think I'll pass (on this dinner).
Foster's is an incredible restaurant, for those who like, um, adventurous cuisine! If you've ever watched IRON CHEF on TV and thought"Wow, I want to eat crazy food like that!", then this is the place for you. Last time I ate there, the piece de resistance was the dessert...it was a key lime cheesecake, with a creme brulee top! Insane, yes...but delicious.
I thought I would resurrect this topic because we went last night.
When we went in, about 6:30PM, there was hardly anyone there. A few at the bar and three at one table. When we left, at 8, one couple had come in to eat. It's sad, since we had a fabulous meal!
I was first impressed with the spare but elegant space and the use of fabric in the ceiling to attenuate noise. Horray that someone cares!
We had scotch. They have a great Islay, I'm not familiar with, called Lagavulin. 14 YO, it is peaty and fantastic.
So ordered a half-bottle of 7 Deadly Zins, one we often buy and I got a half-bottle of Crossing, a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. You must try it; it has a lush mouth feel, much like a buttery Chardonnay, like Chalk Hill or Trefethen.
We had blackened frogs legs that were delightful. The bed of arugula was a good match, but I thought the tarter sauce, which was obviously homemade, was not very creative or unusual; at least not for a southern boy.
SO ordered a pork BBQ slider, which came slaw. It was finely shredded and mixed with the perfect amount of sauce. I almost stole it from her...
I had a special: a whole fish stuffed with minced scallops and chunks of salmon. This fish was from the Mediterranean (can't recall the name), but was almost like trout and really picked up the sweetness of the scallops and the generous amount of pepper in the stuffing. It came with a brown rice. I ate everything but the head and tail!
We finished with a raspberry cheesecake that is topped with creme brule. I've never seen this before but it was really good. I was told they sometimes do a Key Lime version. We really enjoyed our food. Everything was spot-on.
Service was spectacular from Christen, the single waitress in the place. Our bill was $117, with beverages being over 53% of it. There was only one wild game on the menu:boar. That aspect of the menu put me off for a while in trying Foster's. Actually, the menu is quite civilized. I highly recommend you try it and they are participating in the "New Haven Restaurant week" April 19-24), so after the protracted "Taste of New Haven", these now seem endless, but is a good deal for us.
As for one couple who were at the bar when we arrived, I think their beverages were 100% of their tab. As we left I thought they were debating whether to leave or have sex on the barstools... they obviously were having a good time at Foster's.
Hmmm. I guess I'll have to ask them. I'm starting to want to eat it either way. I haven't been to Foster's in a long time, and I'm not sure why. I went there the first week they were open, and they already had great service and very well executed, unique food. I've never given much thought to the decor, but now you've got me thinking about it. I don't think New Haven's dining scene is lacking much in terms of food and service, but good design is definitely a rarity here (even though good design firms definitely are not). And now that I'm thinking about it, most times I've been there, there have been folks at the bar watching sports, and a decent crowd at the tables, and the noise level has still been low.
The local design firm that did Foster's interior is Gray-Organschi. They are just around the corner on Crown. Just so happens that they are the design firm we are using for our new cabin and sleeping quarters in BC. We like them.
There are "hard" areas in the restaurant but there are also long expanses of foam/fabric seating and the "clouds" overhead. I believe they also did Barcelona's interior.
Nice review! We went on MLK day for lunch based on reviews here and loved it, too.
I got a chuckle out of your Lagavulin comment--that is my guy's single malt of choice and was part of a special b'day present to him a few years back.
And I was psyched to find the cheesecake brulee there as well. Had only found that one other time on vaca in Quebec more than 6 years ago and I still remember the original! Am hoping we find the key lime variation on our next visit. In the meantime, their braised short ribs are seared (!) in my memory.
Edit: pretty sure you mean Lagavulin 16 (yours is minus two years). ;)