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Eighty One- a dining report

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Ate at Eighty One on their opening night. 1/2 full due to the "soft opening". All in all a great addition to the UWS dining scene. Started with a nice amuse of tuna w/caviar & a grapefruit gelee- very tasty. 5 rolls available- all Amy's Bread. I had an outstanding "winter shaved salad"- I don't normally order salads out, but this one appealed and I was so glad I did. It was incredibly full of flavor and the dressing was plate wiping good. Hubby had the calamari- smoky grilled flavor- he really enjoyed it. We split the scallop/foie gras ravioli appetizer with its delicious beurre blanc. Again- the bread came in handy for wiping up every last drop of butter and foam. For entrees I had the lamb 3 ways- the loin was succulent, the chop tender, but the shoulder was a bit too salty for my taste, and even for my salt loving husband. He had the tuna plancha (there are 2 preps of entree tuna- he'll try the other one next time), he loved it- the foie gras was a decadent but enjoyable addition.
It was our anniversary, and with only briefly mentioning as we got our cards out if the waiter's way, he brought out 2 desserts on the house (we were quite full and likely would have only ordered one to share) The butternut squash creme brulee with accompanying mandarin milkshake made my husband smile as he adores creme brulee and also pumpkin pie- this dessert tasted like a marriage of the two. I prefered the tiny milkshake. The other dessert was lemon 2 ways- very light and in my mind a perfect ending to an enjoyable meal. The only "opening night" gaff was that the plumbing wasn't quite perfect yet so the restroom had icy cold water... not bad for a new joint! We're going back with friends next week to sample more... the dining room ambience is very pleasant with its heavy rust colored draperies and banquettes. I hope other Hounds find their way to dining here- we need to keep these new joints open!

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  1. Thanks so much for the review. I've made a reservation.

    1. Thanks for posting, sounds great -- i have a reservation for sunday, and am looking forward to it!

      1. We had our meal there this evening and wow, it was wonderful. Poached egg with sweetbreads and grilled calamari to start, chicken breast with thigh and codfish for mains. The sweetbreads were soft, not crispy, but blended well with the egg, the calamari were perfectly grilled. Loved my chicken dish, breast was very tender and the thigh had a crispy skin, treated almost like duck. Cod was very nice, the sauce balanced out the fish perfectly. Service was polite and cordial, everything was on point. Unfortunately we were too full to try out any desserts, but we'll save those for our next visit which will be very soon. Between this and dovetail, we plan to be dining out in our neighborhood much more often now!

        1. Service was terrible. it took over 30 minutes for our drinks to arrive. While waiting, the wine we ordered for dinner was brought over. The foie gras served was the worst foie gras I've ever had - anywhere. Risotto and asparagus appetizers were good, as were the cod and sea bass entrees. However, the entrees took forever to come. Overall, overpriced and not worth the hype, which is a shame since there is such a dearth of good restaurants in the neighborhood.

          1. Thought I would give this thread a "bump".
            Has anyone been to 81 since last posting?
            If so, any updates on/about it?
            While I have not been there, I have heard several nice comments about it.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Jon1856

              last week, went there for a saturday afternoon bar mitzvah reception. it was great, the food, the drinks, the service and the room. very elegant.
              I look forward to go back for a evening meal for two.

              1. re: Jon1856

                I just came from dinner at 81 (solo) and can only speak for my own meal: the calamari a la plancha was very nice; the Giannone Chicken (sounds sweet, don't you think? Like someone's grandmother's recipe?) was so badly misrepresented on the menu and such a tasteless dish that I don't think I can return. I asked how the chicken was cooked and was told it was a chicken breast (not my favorite, but . . .) stuffed with gruyere and ham and served with cabbage stuffed with dark chicken meat and foie gras. Worth a try. The stuffed cabbage leaf was fine. The chicken was a skinless breast (yes, skinless in a fancy restaurant like this!) cooked sous vide and served naked and scary-pale-beige except for a few stripes of tasteless brown sauce, with a tiny smear of cheese and the thinnest slice of ham you could shave in the middle. It was spa food, and not good spa food. And this was a $32 half breast of chicken. Dovetail, on W 77th, is a much more serious restaurant with almost exactly similar prices.

                Not a very interesting wine list, heavy on the old-school-over-$100 bottles of Chard and Cab from CA and FR. Dovetail's wine list is not really any better.

                Oh -- the bread sticks at the bar are addictive and I made my meal of them.