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Mar 24, 2008 01:58 PM

"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,


              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.