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"42" in White Plains -- review

Three of us went for a special occasion two nights ago, and it was a fiasco. First, there's no one in the lobby of the hotel to tell you that you have to take the hotel elevator to "2", then exit and take a second, reserved elevator to 42. We were greeted and seated promptly, and the view, while expansive, certainly doesn't have much to recommend it at night, unlike Manhattan. We ordered drinks: a Bombay gimlet and an apple martini. I knew something was awry when I was asked whether I wanted olives or a twist in the gimlet, a drink made with sweetened (Rose's) lime juice and gin. They brought me a Bombay martini, and I sent it back with instructions on how a gimlet is made (no one there knew). The apple martini probably had an apple waved over it, but had to be returned and remade as well since there was essentially no apple flavor. Cocktails are $18. The wine menu is extremely expensive, and the wines by the glass are $20 and up, way up, (for domestic pinot noir and cabs that are $30 -$40 in wine stores by the bottle).

This is the kind of place where the waiter tells you the pedigree of the olive oil that's used to make the breadsticks, and the source of the table butter, and the fact that the butter is drizzled with "sea salt from Hawaii." Two of us ordered "ceviche'" that turned out to be four small squares of marinated fish with various condiments on a plate.

I ordered the duck entree, one of the lesser priced dishes, at $34. I received a rectangular plate with four small rounds of medium rare duck breast. Each could be cut into two pieces, for a total of eight morsels (you can do the math as to the cost of each bite). The duck was good enough, but not especially different from what one would expect at any high-end restaurant. My companions each ordered the same entree, short rib ($34). Instead of having been braised for hours in wine and herbs, it hadn't been cooked nearly long enough and was fatty and somewhat dense since the internal fat hadn't had the chance to melt away, tenderizing the meat. One of us sent the dish back, and it was removed from the final bill. The steak (which we did not order) is listed at $75.

Service was pretentious, chaotic and amateurish -- lots of waiters (100% male) running around, all studiously avoiding the beckoning diners. Despite the fact that two drinks had to be remade and an entree was returned as inedible, no manager ever appeared to inquire about the problems.

If one is looking for a high-end dining experience, it isn't here. Try one of the many other recs on the board, or wait for a trip into Manhattan. This isn't just a "work in progress" -- we found it to be an expensive disaster. And we all left hungry.

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  1. Thanks for the review, vitsurg. Good for them, that they can charge $18. for a drink and the nouveaux riche of WP will pay it.

    Where did you go to get some real food?

    1. Apparently 42 is not the answer.

      (Sorry, couldn't resist saying that) ;-)

      1 Reply
      1. re: Avalondaughter

        Good one, Avalondaughter.

        I doubt the owner knew there was a question!

        Too bad, I really enjoyed Trotters in its day.

      2. Just another mention about the pricing of wines by the glass:

        The average restaurant charges 2.5 to 3 times the retail price of a bottle of wine in a wine store. They then charge for a glass of that wine 1/4 of the bottle price (there are 5 glasses of wine in a 750ml bottle).

        So, that $30 bottle of wine in a store (which is not considered cheap) costs $70 in the restaurant, and $18.75 per glass. Which seems to be what 42 is charging. A $40 bottle at the higher markup would be $120 for the bottle, or $30 by the glass.

        2 Replies
        1. re: rbailin

          If you had to choose between 42 and BLT Steak @ the Ritz Carlton for a special occasion, which would you choose?

          1. re: rbailin

            That's basically correct rbailin but I think it obnoxious, even at a high end restaurant to have only that price point on the wines by the glass. However, I expect a quality high end restaurant to have a good wine by the glass selection along with a good wine list and both of those should have diversity not only in varietals and regions but also in price points - even for pretentious, upscale dining and even in Westchester.

          2. I have to say I enjoyed a recent meal at 42. Yes on some level its overpriced, the portions are on the small side, and some of the food is definitely hit or miss, but it's better than some other comparable places Ive been to with similar pricing.

            The space is beautiful, modern yet relaxed like the rest of the hotel, with ample views everywhere. The breadsticks at the table were tasty if somewhat low-brow, and the opening selection of bread was ok but nothing special, and it was cold and small.

            The amuse bouche was delicious, a scallop preparation with a lovely smoked flavor.
            I tried a few appetizers which were very hit or miss. The kona kampachi was rather mediocre; the fish cut into chunks which felt kind of clumsy and topped with a somewhat dull marinade and popcorn. The popcorn didn't add anything eye-opening and even tasted kind of stale and unappealing, and the avocado puree was boring. The beef carpaccio also tasted somewhat flat; it might appeal to blue cheese lovers because that's all it tasted of, strong bitter cheese notes which aren't my favorite. On the other hand, there was a special spring pea soup which was lovely and clean, topped with champagne, and then there was a veggie platter which blew me out of the water. I'm not even a real fan of vegetables or vegan at all, but this gorgeous array of fresh seasonal items like the crispest ramps I've ever had, special custom pickles, etc all arranged like a gorgeous painting, with lovely flavors was maybe one of the best dishes I've had ever.

            The entrees were solid if again not mindblowing. I had the halibut which was above average, with a soft tender, perfectly cooked piece of fish, a subtle but flavorful broth with lemongrass and other notes that worked well together, and a touch of paprika that added a nice kick. The bison was also well prepared and not dry.

            Service seemed fine to me, a little pretentious as they mentioned before, but nothing ridiculous, although not on par with the best places I've been to.

            Dessert was pleasant if not particularly original. I had a chocolate dish with rich well-executed chocolate flavors, especially in the mousse-like section. Small portion which was ok for me because i was getting full, but might displease others.

            I do have to acknowledge that my meal was comped, which may have skewed my tolerance of the misses during the evening. But overall, head to head with a similar meal I had at X20, I liked the food here better, the flavors had more subtlety, originality and execution when they happened correctly. I even had halibut at both places, and 42's version won hands down for me. Granted X20 is a better value with lower prices and a similarly modern setting, lovely view, but if it's just the food I'm looking at, 42 wins IMO.

            I am curious to try the tasting menu at 42, maybe at a future date.

            3 Replies
            1. re: jeanki

              >>Yes on some level its overpriced, the portions are on the small side, and some of the food is definitely hit or miss,

              And you have to pay for parking.

              Not a high recommendation. Not a place I'll be visiting even once.

              >>I do have to acknowledge that my meal was comped,

              Oh.

              1. re: jeanki

                I would think that a comp meal might skew a review a bit......... One may tend to overlook some of the flaws and one might be grateful to the restaurant management for picking up the tab. Do you think there's a degree of indebtedness that goes along with having your meal paid for? Perhaps the experience might have been less than stellar if you paid full price?

                PS - Im jealous your meal was comped!

                1. re: frequentdiner

                  Yes I definitely agree, as I said I think I was more forgiving of the unsuccessful dishes as a result, that is why I acknowledged this (the restaurant didn't pick up the tab by the way, it was a corporate tab). But I get similar comped meals once in a while as part of my job (my x2o dinner was also comped), so specific indebtedness this time wasn't really a factor.

                  Kind of like on Gordon Ramsey's BBC F word show, I guess the rough guideline would be, would this be a dish I would have paid for willingly? I would say definitely yes on the amazing vegetable platter (which in and of itself was incredible to me), yes to the soup, and the halibut, and maybe yes on the dessert, but definitely no to the rest of the food I tried. They need to iron out the flaws in their menu for sure, and the prices ought to come down a notch. But I saw great potential when they did hit their mark, and the setting itself is lovely. Despite the misses, I would still consider going back on my own paycheck.

              2. Wow, I know someone who went this weekend for a very special dinner. I was told she had to get a reservation two weeks in advance and she and her husband couldn't wait to go. She's a steak girl, so I'm sure she got the $75 one. I sure hope her review is better than yours.

                Just a question, did the drink fiasco put you in a bit of a negative frame of mind. I've returned food that was wrong, but I don't think I've ever had to return a drink. That is inexcusible.

                1. I must disagree. My husband and I just had our anniversary dinner there and were, overall, very satisfied. Bar was small, bartender attentive but a Cosmo and sparkling water were $16. The restaurant itself: ambiance was ok, no music, service was fantastic, people were mostly dressed little nicer than usual (hate going out for a special occasion and being seated next to a guy in an oversized t-shirt and shorts) and food was mostly great. We had the tasting menu with wine pairings: amuse bouche was vichyssoise in a shotglass (fantastic), carrot soup with vanilla foam (just ok, 2 very delicate flavors together, wished there was more of a kick), cockles (great, broth was awesome, wished for some bread with it), my entree was black bass with olives and capers and too much olive oil (little too crispy for me) but hubs had pork which was pretty great. The dessert was fantastic: some type of crisp with thyme and lemon, almond icecream, compote of fruits etc (we both inhaled it). We both really liked the wines as well but I don't think hubs enjoyed driving home afterward. :) Before the bill we were presented with small cups of chocolate mousse and small tray of desserts: rosewater marshmellow, ginger gelatin, mallomar, caramel popcorn (???), and almond cake. Delicious minus the popcorn. Dinner plus coffee plus tax and tip was $301 but the experience was lovely. And again, the service was impeccable and well orchestrated.

                  1. I'm a retired attorney in White Plains and got hammered on my bill and will go back anyway. The view is out of control and the rib eye was outstanding. My sister is in the business and said that even at $75, it's a better value than any other steak house in Westchester. Can someone talk to them about the drink prices though?

                    1. They most have made major changes since then. I had dinner there the day after Thanskgiving and was surprised to find good service, excellent food and great views of Westchester.

                      1. I agree 100% in that 42 is not up to snuff.

                        Finding the elevator to the restaurant is difficult enough. The hall on the promenade isn't wide and open, there was no one to be found to ask. After walking around a few minutes, we spotted the neon 42 light and found the elevator.

                        A draft Amstel (11oz?) and vodka tonic was $22. Service at the bar was good, but at those prices, there isn't exactly a line going out the door. We stopped at two rounds. Once it became clear we were not going to be an expensive bar tab, our service and smiles clearly turned perfunctory and forced.

                        The view from the table where we sitting was okay, nothing spectacular only because it was dark. I am sure during the day it is much better.

                        The starter salads for dinner were 3 pieces of lettuce. 1 green, 2 purple, 2 tiny pieces of cheese and a couple of raisins.

                        My wife had Bison. It was medium well and a little tough for her. She managed and finished it. I had chicken, a leg that was slightly bigger than that of a cornish game hen. It was tasty enough, but wasn't enough in volume for even a children's menu.

                        The chocolate mousse for dessert was good. Reasonable size too. There was a plate wth 3 cookies, carefully arranged so they were equidistant from each other as to not allow too much plate area to show. In addition to wondering how much careful calculation that must have taken staff to do, we were also wondering if we were supposed to fight over the 3rd cookie since there were two of us?

                        At this point, when it became clear we were stopping off for dinner on the way home, we decided to forgo coffee.

                        When you walk out, you can see inside the kitchen as the chefs preparing the tiny meal you will be getting.

                        In a nutshell, the portions here are embarrassingly small. To take slightly $200 for what couldn't possibly be $25 worth of food is utter blasphemy.

                        I can find much better food value and the same quality. There will not be a return trip to the restaurant. I don't recommend it, you would be wasting your money. God bless you if you are in a position not to care, but if you do, don't waste your money.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Kingtutt200

                          Here's a recent update on "42": My husband and I went for dinner on Saturday evening, Sept 12/09 to celebrate an anniversary. I took a chance and called at the last minute for a reservation. I was told they had "an incredibly busy night" but they could seat us if we dined on the late side, and we accepted a 9:30 reservation. The host on the phone was very nice, chatty, asked if it was a special occasion, etc.

                          We live in White Plains, but had not been to the new Ritz Carlton. We, too, had the same "where are we?" reaction once in the lobby. The decor is minimalist and they've omitted as much signage as possible, so it took a stop at the front desk to get directions to the restaurant. We were welcomed graciously by the elevator attendant and taken up to the top.

                          Once up there we found out why the place was so "incredibly busy". The main restaurant was closed for a private function; a wedding reception. However, our host took us on a little tour and allowed us to peek into the wedding party and take a look at the view from that side of the building. Then we were escorted up a flight of stairs to the second level of the restaurant and we were seated side by side facing the view. No, it isn't Manhattan, but there is a charm all the same and we had fun pointing out familiar places and landmarks.

                          I have only one complaint about our table. There was a loud party of four next to us and we could hear the music from the lounge, which took away from the quiet romantic evening we'd had in mind. I discovered later, that if we'd asked to move to a table farther into that section, a small room divider would have muffled the sound and we would have been much more comfortable. Live and learn. Having never been there before, what did we know??!!

                          Now, the food....We opted for appetizers and entrees rather than the tasting menus. We just didn't care for the tasting menu entrees that evening. Did note, however, that they have a third option called a Market Menu that was very reasonable... and I believe that $10 of the cost goes to Blythedale Children's Hospital.

                          We ordered the salmon tartar and the heirloom tomato appetizers. They brought the salmon and a spinach salad by error. The salad was spirited away with apologies and shortly brought back again and we were told to enjoy it while they prepared the heirloom tomato dish. And we did...and they were all, all three, quite yummy.

                          The amuse bouche was fantastic - a mussel ceviche. I could have stopped there and wished for a platter of them!

                          Our entrees were duck and bison. Contrary to the above comments, we found the portions more than adequate compared to other similar establishments. Perhaps because these entrees were not from a tasting menu. Perhaps they've read some of the previous reviews from 2008 and adjusted things. However, I took a bite of the bison, which was gorgeous and inviting, and found it so spicy I couldn't eat it. I pushed aside the vegetables and tried again and realized i would not be able to continue with a burning mouth. Immediately we had a senior someone at our table side. I had not seen this man before...though one doesn't see too much of the staff when one is facing the window with one's back to the restaurant!

                          Anyway, he asked if the person who took our order had informed me the bison was a spicy dish. They had not. I also read menus very carefully and did not remember seeing that in the description of the dish. Like the minimalist decor, so too is the menu. They brought me a menu and under the bison was simply "7 spices, potato puree and mushrooms". Nowhere did it indicate the 7 spices referred to were a Cajun rub! There was no way to "fix it" and I was encouraged to order the veal, which I did. This was a full and beautiful and delicious plate and I couldn't finish it. The leftovers were wrapped up and delivered to our table in an oversized bright red "42" shopping bag.

                          We shared a chocolate dessert which was pretty and nice, but I think there is a tendency to be trendy and a need to over-decorate plates with drips of too many sauces, gelees and other faddy additions. In the meantime, the loud table of four near us apparently knew one of the chefs who came tableside and pulled out a container of liquid nitrogen and created a dessert just for them. Maybe I've been watching too much "Top Chef"!

                          The table settings and accessories used throughout the meal were lovely. They prompted me to order Harney Earl Grey tea which was presented in a tea pot and served in a light-as-air Rosenthal tea cup. Yes, I admit it, I turned over the saucer to see what china was used. Hey, no one could see...I was facing a window !! A sweet little plate of cookies accompanied our tea and coffee.

                          To be fair, yes, we'd go again but I'd like to see the view at different times of day. They serve a high tea which would be a perfect girls' day out!

                          I don't know how much our meal cost because I didn't see the bill. This was a special anniversary (yes, the matre d'hotel did wish us a happy anniversary) and we knew we would be spending a lot, so it was totally expected. They did not charge us for the mistakenly delivered salad nor the rejected bison NOR our dessert.

                          When the table of four next to us left, we savored the atmosphere a bit more before leaving ourselves. We also asked our waiter about the sound issue, particularly the music which seemed to be coming from different sources. He told us it was from the lounge, which pumps up the sound around 10 PM. We also learned that 42 and the lounge close at midnight on Friday and Saturday nights. We thought that was really odd since the lounge, particularly, is a terrific spot for a late night drink and there are so many bars in White Plains that stay open quite late. Never did get the answer to that question.

                          Leaving at midnight, the hotel lobby was almost deserted. Again, silly inexperienced us, it took another stop at the front desk to find out how to find the valet. Apparently the valet booth was right next to the main entrance, but we didn't see it on the way in. Oh well, we made it home.

                          If you have the money to spend on such a meal, you have to make your own judgment on 42. Bon Appetite!

                        2. Another unsatisfying experience at 42... We hadn't yet been and having read the reviews on here, while curious, weren't in a rush to g. But... we had some friends who suggested it - one who had been and liked it and the other who wanted to try it. I must say ti was very disappointing. The decor was nice but service was poor and food was mediocre. I had the lobster which arrived chewy and cold. they proceeded to reheat it, rendering it even worse. No one thought to even check back to see how it was. Our server was mostly preoccupied and only attentve to the men, plus a bit condescending. And parking was a disaster - took forever to park and for the valet to retrieve our car... I wouldn't rush back!

                          -----
                          42
                          1 Renaissance Square, White Plains, NY 10601

                          1. My sister, who I went with wants to give a 2. I gave a 3 because the food and wine was excellent in my opinion.

                            Service was where it was terrible.

                            1) Saying that there is a dress code, when in actuality people can walk in with blue jeans, is silly. Either have a dress code that you enforce, or do not mention it.

                            2) Our waiter was lovely the first half of the meal. I ordered a coffee while waiting for desert. 20 minutes later, no desert and our waiter was back, asking if I'd like a coffee (as if I hadn't had one already. It then took another 10 minutes for desert to come out, and we were given the wrong desert. 10 minutes later we received the right desert.

                            3) The check did not come for another 20 minutes.

                            The food, while excellent, was not particularly innovative. Frankly, if you are willing spending the money that this costs, go to the city. Or X20.