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New Haven Restaurant Week: Chowhounds at Foster's 11-09

Four avid CHowhounds (and two of their SOs) got together at Foster's for dinner this week.
Speaking for myself and my SO, we had a splendid time and thought our meals, and all shared food consumed, was spectacular. There was hardly a complaint.
Attending was Don Shirer, Kattyeyes, linguist, his wife, me and my SO.
The restaurant quickly became nearly full and remained that way for much of the evening. I would guess we left around 9PM and it was still quite populated. At times it was a little noisy, but most of the time you could carry on a normal conversation. Thanks, much in part to cloth clouds and cloth pillars in the room. It is effective and makes for a nice visual accent. Foster's is a nice restaurant. There is attention to detail. David Foster frequently makes the rounds and talks to customers. He is a huge man and hard to miss, even without the colorful chef's pants he wears).
We had wine glasses changed out and silverware replaced. The only thing I did not see done was a crumbing of the table. Our waitress was very professional in almost every aspect. I though her slightly overbearing when linguist was trying to decide on a white wine and she started helping him pick one with twenty questions (as if he was ignorant), when he was just debating and hesitating. He is not ignorant of wines!
Our rare blackened tuna was perfect. The herbed calamari steak was fantastic and the peanut butter and jelly cheesecake was very good. The tart appetizer was very tasty, but the pastry shell was overworked and pretty tough. That is all I can complain about. The slider appetizer I tried was vey good and the salad and pasta dishes I tasted were all very good.
To me, with the restaurant as busy as it was, they did a magnificent job taking care of us.

This was my and SO's second visit to Foster's and we will definitely be back again, soon.
Hopefully, others will chime in and add their own perspective.

Foster's Restaurant
56 Orange St, New Haven, CT 06510

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  1. Thanks for posting this! I also saw Frank Cohen's review of Foster's lunch menu at RestaurantsCT.com; he's got photos of the PBJ cheesecake and the wacky chef's pants. I don't usually love his reviews, but I've found his Restaurant Week reviews for Zinc, Union League and Foster's more engaging than usual . . .

    1. My wife and I enjoyed the evening too, and were happy to be introduced to Foster's this way. As far as I can tell, New Haven restaurant week has been quite successful in getting people in to fill the tables....
      It has been mentioned in the past that portions at Foster's are quite large, and this aspect of the restaurant certainly wasn't changed for the occasion. I could really only manage only one of the two giant manicotti on my plate, and after that, only half of the "s'mores crême brulée" (topped with chocolate, graham cracker crumbs and melted marshmallow: heavily touted by our server, good if not quite as yummy as she promised). I think we all agreed that these were very generous meals for $29. And looking at the menus for other places, I have to disagree with the opinion some voiced before the fact that Restaurant Week offered few bargains: unless the portions offered were really tiny (as one person did report for Heirloom), most of the menus offered looked like pretty good value to me.
      Since game dishes are a specialty here, and I'm fond of game, I'm sorry I let myself be put off by the negative opinion voiced at a neighboring table about the boar chops. At our table, only Don Shirer was brave enough to swim against the tide, and I gather they were actually quite good. That's a fairly unusual thing to find on a bargain promotional menu ... I'll go back again, perhaps even for the elk, venison, yak, antelope and moose dinner next week.
      The space in Foster's is generally quite pleasant. I would like to register a minor gripe, though: the silverware looks great as a place setting, but it's really impractical to eat with.

      1 Reply
      1. re: linguist

        I have to agree that the silverware is lacking in ergonomics. The fact that you can hang them on your belt is not enough to overcome the awkwardness in use! ;)
        Bathroom: The space for the free-standing bowl sink and container of paper towels is not adequate. I could not wash my hands without water missing the bowl sink and hitting the counter and towels. In the women's, water was dripping off the counter.
        I just don't think of it as being practical for a high-use area and who wants to use soggy paper towels? I know we're here for the food, but these are relevant details. The food and restaurant in general is too good.

      2. I'll chip in another positive review. I enjoyed the wild boar chops, which were not at all dry as rumored by a neighbor, but I was surprised to find them quite mild and not as gamey as I expected. They were accompanied by corn off-the-cob and a triangular slab of macaroni breaded and deep fried. It made an interesting variation on standard macNcheese. Those of us who had the romaine salads with craisins, nuts and vinegrette were complimentary about this appetizer, and the 3 chocolate mousse dessert with filo layers was also delicious. Peeking at my boon companions' plates between conversational gambits, the other offerings looked pretty good as well. With only one ear still working, I was bothered a bit by the noise level when the room was full, but the overall decor and the sine-wave-edged tables complimented the food. Those of us who investigated the restrooms remarked on the wooden bowls supported by a pebble-encrusted plastic shelf. Foster's standard menu looks interesting enough to merit a return visit.

        1. I appreciate all the details everyone is filling in. It's obvious that David is a talented and creative chef. I particularly liked the airy and light three chocolate mousse dessert with filo pastry.

          1. What gives?...It seems the 'Mod-Squad' removed a couple of posts(and defending responses) on another Foster's thread from yesterday. Oh well, at least I later found this one which I somehow missed when first posted.

            Come on Ms. Katty and Scarguy, you've set the bar for spoiling us with pics in your posts(and RestaurantsCT did do a nice job with theirs during New Haven RW)... but were there any taken this time? Could someone please get Scar a friggin' crumber for Christmas already?!? Maybe one of you Hounds can crumb the table yourselves while he's inspecting the johns so he'll have one less factor to weigh! :)

            Anyway, in my own experiences I have to hand it to someone this accommodating, adventurous, and deserving of praise. I most admire David's creativity and the extent of his receptiveness to feedback shows certain character....but those themed game-dinner menus are really something else. Halloween '08 & '09 are particularly entertaining to read.

            You'd be hard pressed to find many game-dinners that are better or as unique than what Foster's puts on(and so regularly too). Wish I could attend them more often but it's great when others post of a place or a particular meal on Chow which in turn gives you the "kick in the pants" to get back whenever possible.

            Got game?:

            8 Replies
            1. re: noreservations

              Hmm, that's the second time I've seem Scargod mention crumbing the table. Does that mean they pick up all the plates and sweep for crumbs while you're eating? If so, isn't that a bit intrusive?

              1. re: ratbuddy

                Crumbing of the table was once part of any good service, There is a small "dust pan" and a little sweep- often a metal or plastic, (sometimes bone or ivory if antique) that is used to scrape the cloth of crumbs. A good waiter can quickly and discretely remove most crumbs from the table without disturbing all the dishes etc.

                Crumbing is most frequently done after the main and and before dessert, but can and should be done between any course if the waiter sees that the table is looking less than perfect.

                I see fewer and fewer places that actually do crumb any more. I fear it is going the way of finger bowls and steamed towels.

                1. re: gardencub

                  Crumbing always makes me think of those old rolling sweeper things - for housecleaning. In miniature.

                2. re: ratbuddy

                  While I value your insightful comments, I would point out that crumbing is a very necessary event in a meal so people like me don't have to wallow in their own filth.

                  Foster's is fairly elegant, as is Union League, etc. It would be a pity for patrons to have a fancy white tablecloth, cloth napkins, and services like glasses replaced if you changed wines and new clean silverware, and then not have your table cleaned when and if dirty, in-between courses. I don't think it is an antiquated practice and it's not intrusive.
                  I just had dinner at a smallish, but not sleazy, Italian place near Derby recently. After our entrees, the owner, of all people, was removing the plates and spilled grated Parmesan cheese all over one side of the table... and left it there. Then they asked if we wanted dessert. Between bread crumbs and cheese there was no place for the guest to rest their arms or place their hands without getting them dirty.

                  1. re: Scargod

                    Just curious, did you say anything? The owner just might not have realized it was offputting to have crud on the table. Whenever I have an issue like that, I'll call afterwards during a less busy time and let them know. So far, not a single manager/owner has been anything less than thankful I let them know - they're in the business of making us happy, and sometimes just need a little clueing in.

                    1. re: ratbuddy

                      No. The amount of detritus on the table was minimal; mostly bread crumbs.
                      And I would disagree with Katty, Foster's is pretty elegant. It's not all the visual style or architectural/decorative ambiance, but includes how you are treated and cared for from the moment you walk in till you leave. It is close to Union League in this respect.

                    2. re: Scargod

                      I agree, crumbing can be a very necessary part of good service. Some foods produce inordinant amounts of crumbs, and some diners are just not as tidy as others. Crisp crusted breads, flatbreads, salt and pepper grinders, bowls of grated cheese, etc all can leave a huge mess on a table.

                      I wonder if management has phased out crumbing as part of good service, or if waiters are just not as well trained any more? Could it be like so many other things that were once taught under the guise of manners and etiquette, lost after the 60's? If you rebeled against place cards, salad forks and the trappings of middleclass / bourgeoisie?

                      In any case, the fine details of good service are never out of place.

                      1. re: gardencub

                        Thanks for covering my back!
                        Today four of us ate lunch at Thali and our waiter crumbed the table. The service was professional and first-rate; not just because of that one detail, either.

                3. Just went to Foster's Friday night for the 1st time! The place was hopping, there was some sort of special party going on in the bar. Found out it was the photographer whose works are adorning the walls. The crowd added to the energy and the photos are beautiful- kudos Ed Ross. But Dave Foster ..... this is where the real kudos needs to go. We had a range of orders at our table - the cashew crusted filet of sole was to die for with a light sherry lime cream sauce, the butternut ravioli with a sage sauce that makes you want to lick the plate. The boar chops perfectly cooked and THE famous mac n cheese wedge. The crab nachos are worth the neighborhood parking fee alone. Dessert??? A treasure was found in the S'more Creme Brulee. The presentation for this dessert has lingered in our senses for days. Exceptional. My only reget was that I hadn't found Foster's before Friday.