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Peniche, or Why do all the places I like go downhill?

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It's always relieving to have established that go-to neighborhood place, the one you order from when you don't feel like cooking or the one you pop by on a Friday night to unwind after work. Iron Tomato used to be the former for us, and we ordered or went in there 2-3 times per week. Now that it has changed hands and lost all that made it special, we don't even patronize it. Peniche used to be the latter for us, until we went in there Friday for an entirely disappointing meal.

We adored Peniche. The food, drinks and vibe (at least before it gets crazy-busy around 7:00) were just right for a Friday night meal, and we went there often. We haven't been since the holidays and dropped by on Friday evening. The first signal that something was off was that they got rid of the checklist for ordering. I remarked on it to the waitress and she said, "They want us to talk more to the customers now." Then, we ordered an appetizer special off a computer printed, ripped half-sheet of paper, which just seemed strange and less-than-classy. When it arrived, we were surprised to find it had octopus on it, especially since octopus wasn't listed in the description. Our waitress strongly encouraged us to "try" it, which we did, although my wife is not an octopus fan. We sipped on our drinks (the grape caipiroscas). Was it my imagination, or were they lacking?

But the real sign that something was off was that none of the food was up to its usual standard. The ribs had a different sauce and entirely different taste (less complex and unique), the butternut squash was not as flavorful and not cooked to its usual texture, and the steak dish with egg over brioche just didn't come together. If this was my first meal at Peniche, I wouldn't come back. Since this was probably my 20th, I knew then what the issue was.

"Has the kitchen changed hands?" I asked the waitress.
"Yes, we have a new head chef as of January 1."
"I thought so, because the food tastes very different."
"Better, I hope," she said, with a question mark.
"Unfortunately, no." I told her.

She gave us a pouty look and then of course brought our comments to the open kitchen less than ten feet from where we were sitting. We knew she had done so because the kitchen staff all began to stare over at us. This was the extent of the interaction, as no one came over to follow up with us or to check in.

So, it seems another fine establishment has died. I am sad, because I really loved the place and have so few places in Westchester I can say that about consistently. On the plus side, we had a fantastic experience at Arrosto the next night. If only it was closer to home, I might be able to call it my new neighborhood joint.

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Peniche
175 Main St, White Plains, NY 10601

The Iron Tomato
57 Mamaroneck Ave, White Plains, NY 10601

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  1. Used to love the Iron Tomato and still do like a few things. Love the salad bar and the prime rib. I have to say, they used to make a great fresh turkey and now it's always dry. And I have to argue with the servers if I want my prime rib put in a covered dish so I can cut it when I get it back to work - they want to put in it those plastic soup containers.

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    The Iron Tomato
    57 Mamaroneck Ave, White Plains, NY 10601

    1. beyond sad. that egg dish was one of the best in the area. arrosto is good but not what peniche sadly was. I will be mourning the loss over dim sum...

      2 Replies
      1. re: cubanat

        Peniche not only has a new chef but the old owners Anthony from 42 and the old Trotters are long gone.

        I live in White Plains and liked Peniche when it first opened. I still can't understand how over two years later they never replaced the rest of the sign and just left the P. It always looks dark when you walk past and you never know if it is open or not. It is a shame.

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        Peniche
        175 Main St, White Plains, NY 10601

        1. re: kaaaassss

          I too used to love Peniche. Haven't been in a while to say I don't love it anymore, but based on recent reviews, probably not. I am also baffled by the fact that they haven't fixed the sign yet, and the website has been down forever. It really makes you wonder if they have any passion for the place anymore. Seems like not.

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          Peniche
          175 Main St, White Plains, NY 10601

      2. Agree with the OP, especially about Iron Tomato. Another one to add to the list is Ianelli's, which closed last year. That was our White Plains go-to for a quick, tasty pasta and salad weeknight meal. We really miss that one. The food options in White Plains are truly lacking. We like Melt (which isn't open by the time I get home from work), Turkish Cusine and Sunshine Deli but that's about it. We schelp to Port Chester a ton since there's so little around here. It would be nice to have more local haunts.

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        The Iron Tomato
        57 Mamaroneck Ave, White Plains, NY 10601

        1 Reply
        1. re: mla19

          Went to Bellotta at 42 this weekend. This is where anyone that liked Peniche now has to get their tapas fix. It was a neat scene. Sat in the mezzanine section which was quieter then the bar area which was packed when we left and we found out we could have eaten there as well. Out of the ton of stuff we ordered here were the hits: the frango, the gambas piri piri, the patatas bravas, the black forest dessert. The misses sadly since it was my favorite thing at Peniche was the bitoque. the bread was served on top of the dish as a garnish instead of on the bottom of the dish where it soaked up the yolk and steak juices. Very sad that it did not make the trip upstairs. The other miss was the deconstructed torta espenola. I get the schtick but it just wasn't tasty at all. Will go back for sure. Great drinks and great wines from Portugal. no kids and a great view to top it all off. now if white plains could just figure out how to plow the parking spots correctly...another thread I guess