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Crabtree Kittle House [Chappaqua]

Went to Crabtree last night and was quite disappointed. We have not been there since this chef took over. The service is terrific but the food lacked flavor. It seemed that the chef relied on a coating of salt on each dish to flavor rather than season throughout. We started well with a hunk of sour dough bread which was crusty and terrific. The butter had a layer of coarse salt over the top which was nice. I did know at the time that this was a portent of things to come. I ordered a glass of chardonnay to start and did not like the wine. When I sent it back the waitress informed me that she did not like that chard either but there was another more oakie one and would I like that one. The obvious question....... why was I not offered that choice at the beginning? I opted out and chose to wait for our bottle. The amuse was served it was smoked trout under a horseradish cream foam. Trout was good, horseradish cream had no flavor. I did not have an appetizer but my husband had the foie and he loved it, but he loves foie. For the main course, I chose the John Boy Farms chicken. It was the biggest chicken breast I'd ever seen. The crispy skin looked great until I actually ate it - it was a salt lick. The meat, though juicy had NO flavor at all and the salt on the top made it inedible. I sent it back. The chicken that replaced it had no salt on top and no flavor. It was juicy though. My husband meanwhile ordered the strip steak with roasted bone marrow. The quality of the meat was outstanding. He loved it but I, again, I did not like the coarse salt treatment on top. The demi glace was lacking a depth of flavor that comes with seasoning in layers, thought he meat itself was good. We did not have dessert but the truffles they brought, you guessed it, no taste.
This was a truly disappointing meal. The wine list is really the reason to go, it's amazing and it can take hours just to pick a bottle. The place was crowded, but still had a very old fashioned vibe. I don't think I'll go back.........

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  1. I guess all the positive reviews should be taken with a grain of salt.

    3 Replies
    1. re: adrouault

      Chefs change there so frequently that it's really not surprising. We went about 1 1/2 years ago and the chef was fantastic - food was amazing. After that chef left we didn't go back until this time and for me, I'll wait for the next round!

      1. re: adrouault

        you should take all reviews with a grain of salt! your taste is what matters not that of some schlub that thinks the best sushi can be found at the ayce buffets...

      2. Well, the cat's out of the bag. I was never a huge fan of Kittle House; it always seemed sorta stuffy for my taste. But a while back I read about the Tap Room somewhere, and we love it so much that we've been back time and again. It felt sort of like a secret spot, but not so much anymore.

        http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/28/nyr...

        The food is really spectacular and served in an atmosphere that I just find so personally appealing (dark, intimate, romantic, just loud enough to have a private conversation without others hearing). There's also a GREAT piano player who plays on Saturdays (and possibly other nights, I don't know.) We've had and loved the lobster roll, eggplant parm, bbq chicken, various sandwiches and salads, wings, various desserts, numerous beers from their excellent beer list, affordable wines BTG. The service is _not_ impeccable as described in the review, but good enough for me.

        The only line I didn't agree with was this-- "One dish was too 'down home' for my taste: super-smoky barbecued chicken with a dull sweet potato purée and bitter collard greens." We must have had a different meal because my bbq chicken was perfectly flavored, with a silky and flavorful sweet potato puree and the BEST collard greens I've ever had.

        Reservations recommended on the weekends...

        14 Replies
        1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

          what's the average per person price (with drinks and tip) with the Tap Room menu?

          1. re: weedy

            It depends on what you order. The entrees vary in price, from teens to mid twenties. We usually share an appetizer, each get an entree, and share a dessert. Id say on average about $30 pp for food. Beer and wine prices vary too, but Id venture to say another $10 pp for a drink or two. So while it's certainly not cheap, it's no more than we'd spend at Birdsall House, for example, with a much nicer atmosphere.

            1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

              thanks, Birdsall prices, as a guideline, helps a lot

              that's roughly half of what I expect Crabtree proper to run...

              I do wish they'd put prices on the website menu

              1. re: weedy

                No problem. Yeah that always irritates me. I bet they would send you a menu with prices if you emailed. The menu changes often.

                Make sure you ask for the tap room menu if they don't give it toyou. You can order off either menu in the tap room. On the website it says tap room menu only available after 9 on Saturdays but the Times review doesn't specify that so Id call to confirm.

                1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

                  If they responded.. I emailed them twice about their HVRW menu and got no response. And their FB page is a person so they have to accept your friend request.

                  1. re: MisterBill2

                    I got an email from them containing their rw menu. It sounds great- I'll post it if you want.

                    1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

                      Yes ,I also got the mailing list mail with the HVRW menu. But they never responded to the emails I had sent, or to my FB friend request. Nor did they bother sending the menu to the Valley Table to put up on their website. I hope they pay more attention to the food! BTW the menu IS available on their website under "menus" but it was not there when I originally asked.

          2. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

            I went to the Tap House maybe about a year ago, we enjoyed it also. Quite different then the Kittle House though, which IMHO was always alittle overrated. I read somewhere that the Kittle House is opening a new place in Tarrytown and I think (correct me if I'm wrong) it's more along the lines of a gastropub.

            1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

              The review said that they serve the Tap House menu on Saturdays but their website menu claims not. I assume the website is wrong. Oops, I see this was previously mentioned.

              1. re: MisterBill2

                I dont know how frequently their website is updated unfortunately. The menu online does not match what they actually serve.

                1. re: MisterBill2

                  The website is apparently correct. My husband just called and the reservationist said they don't begin offering the tap room menu till 9 PM on Saturdays. I wonder if it would be futile to try to get the Times to update that listing?

                2. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

                  We went to the Tap Room last night. At first I was wondering if we'd made the right choice. It was our anniversary and pretty much every place we wanted to go was closed. Since our experience at the main dining room was less than stellar and we'd read this review on CH we opted to try it. There were a lot of children there last night - they were well behaved but their voices really carried in that room. None of them seemed to be able to speak in a normal tone of voice. But the food was really good. We opted for the $2 bread and olive service, and I have to say the sourdough bread and the very soft butter topped with large salt crystals was delicious. We never did get the olives. My husband had the seared foie - it was one of the best. It was served with a maple gastrique - the flavor took me back to how maple tasted when I was a kid. He then had the hangar steak. My husband has a dairy allergy so they subbed roasted potatoes for the mashed with no problem. I was not in the mood for much so I had the rock shrimp tempura with chipotle mayo and the tempura was light and cruncy. The mayo was a bit hot for me so the waiter mixed in some plain mayo and it was perfect. Of course, we had a great bottle of wine - it is the Kittle House after all. I would definitely go back. That burger had my name on it!

                  1. re: wincountrygirl

                    So happy you enjoyed your meal. The burger is excellent so you should definitely try it! Sometimes they undercook their fries, so ask for them well done if that's your preference.

                    It was actually so so loud last time we went that we havent been back in a couple months. I think there was some sort of overflow from a private event or something and we literally could not hear each other.

                    Anyway, thanks for posting!

                3. I finally made it back to the Tap Room after a few months. It was an impromptu dinner on a weeknight (1000 point reservation on Open Table for a 7 PM reservation, worth $10 right there!) and it reminded me why the Tap Room is so much better on a weeknight. It was pretty quiet, not crowded at all, and very relaxed.

                  Service is always scattered and this night was no exception. We had no fewer than 5 different waiters/waitresses waiting on us, and the same peculiar experience we have each time of people asking us what we want to eat/drink before we have menus placed in front of us.

                  Food was great, from my favorite salad, the KH chopped salad, and the duck banh mi we had for appetizers (plus their ridiculously good butter and bread)... to our entrees (perfectly cooked buttery salmon for my husband, lobster roll and crispy fresh-fried chips for me)... to our shared dessert, which without fanfare they always split elegantly onto two plates, of the Kittle Kat bar with gelato.

                  At about $100, we had a relaxed, enjoyable dinner with great food in a place that somehow seems "undiscovered" by the masses... not many places like that in Westchester.

                  7 Replies
                    1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

                      You just reminded me of that bread and butter in the tap room! Our meal cost a bit more there because it was our anniversary and we opted for a good bottle of wine. I much prefer the tap room to the main restaurant.

                      1. re: wincountrygirl

                        Oh my god, that butter is so good. I always eat way too much of it. I think I'd sit in the tap room even if I ordered off the regular menu.

                        1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

                          I could have just had that. I wonder what kind of butter it is.

                    2. FYI there is a 20 percent off all food and drink groupon offer available today 11/19/2013 for Kittle House.

                      20 Replies
                                1. re: wincountrygirl

                                  You're welcome, I had you and ice cream in mind when I posted.

                                    1. re: chowdom

                                      I wish we had a like button! Thanks Chowdom. We are actually going to the Tap Room Wednesday for my husband's 60th, but we already had the reservations - I wonder if I should cancel and do via groupon.

                                      1. re: wincountrygirl

                                        I'm glad you are taking advantage of the offer, why not. You could make a new reservation through groupon and then cancel your current reservation. Groupon customer service is great you can contact them via phone or email with any questions.

                                        A bit of trivia, growing up my family lived a block and a half away from the Crabtrees, me and my siblings each had a Crabtree in our grade as a friend :) nice family! I frequently patronized the restaurant when it was located in Crestwood. It had a huge rectangular bar and great piano player in the lounge area.

                                        We also tend to celebrate special occasions at our "favorite spots" I don't like surprises when celebrating a milestone.

                                        Happy Bday to your husband ... have a terrific evening

                                        1. re: chowdom

                                          Thanks. I feel the same way - I tend not to take a chance on a special occasion. I will say there have been times over the 20 hears we've lived up here that I have not enjoyed the food at Kittle House, but the chef they have now is terrific. I understand he was there before, probably in the mid 90s when we moved here. I'll give the groupon thing a shot.

                                          1. re: chowdom

                                            That's so funny...my grandfather was friends with " Mr. Crabtree" from when it was in Crestwood!! I remember going to the "new" one in Chappaqua with him for special dinners.

                                    2. re: chowdom

                                      Didn't go last week, but just booked it for next Wednesday. I'll let you know how it goes!!! I'll have to call to make sure we get the Tap Room, though!

                                      1. re: wincountrygirl

                                        They had a gift card sale on black friday- 20% off 100$ gift cards. I decided to do that instead of the other deal because the gift certificates can be used anytime, not just weeknights, and we usually don't trek to chappaqua on weeknights. I forgot to post about the sale on here, sorry. :( We're going this weekend for my birthday!

                                        1. re: wincountrygirl

                                          I checked with them a few weeks ago when we were there for HVRW and they told me the Groupon discount can be used on the Tap Room menu. Do you actually have to sit in there to order off that menu? Also, note that I posted the discount reservation deal back in August (it was 30% then). Savored is what's now known as Groupon Reserve.

                                          1. re: MisterBill2

                                            The tap room menu is only available in the tap room. Sometimes they don't remember to give it to you and you have to ask. In both dining areas they have a separate 3 course fixed price menu that I believe is $35.

                                            1. re: MisterBill2

                                              Well, the Groupon was a total bust. I made my reservation for this coming Wednesday the 11 on Thursday early AM and I got a confirmation from Groupon. I called the restaurant late that afternoon just to add that I wanted the Tap Room, as the Groupon reserve did not allow me to specify. They did not have the reservation, and they told me they are not taking reservations for Wednesdays - I asked if it was just that Wednesday but she had no idea if or why. I emailed Groupon on Friday and they have yet to get back to me. They did send a survey to see how satisfied I was with their customer service - who I never heard from. Oh well!

                                                1. re: wincountrygirl

                                                  WCG did you hear back from groupon?
                                                  I emailed them and explained the issue you had with Kittle House. I let them know I recommended them and they screwed up and I was embarrassed and I wouldn't be using groupon .... ever again because of it. They sent me a couple of apology emails and a 5 dollar off anything coupon that I have no intention of ever using.
                                                  Again I'm really sorry.

                                                  1. re: chowdom

                                                    Chowdom - not your fault!! And no,they never got back to me. We did go - but boy, there was a Christmas party there that night and there was one guy in the bar .... let's just say I hope they took his keys and when he left, everyone sighed with relief. I think I'll email groupon again.......it's the principle of the thing! Please, don't worry - you have nothing to be sorry for!!

                                                2. re: MisterBill2

                                                  While you can have the full menu in the Tap Room, I don't think they offer the Tap Room menu in the main dining room.

                                        2. My family and I had a really delicious birthday meal here on a recent Sunday by the fireplace in the Tap Room. The food was excellent. The service remains really strange. We were seated and given no menus, and then the waiter came over and asked what we wanted to drink, and which point we asked for menus. We received one single wine BTG menu. No beer menu. No food menus. When we finally got food menus, surprise, no tap room menu, so we had to ask again. And the same song and dance we always have with no fewer than 5 waiters/busboys waiting on the table.

                                          Anyway I'm willing to overlook that because the patient waiter took good care of our (needy) table and the food really was almost perfect. Salads always spot on, some raw fish deal for my husband, cheese plate, oysters, and their fantastic bread. Steaks for three of us, perfectly cooked, burgers for two of us, and a sublime short rib dish (from the regular menu). They plated our homemade cake gorgeously with gelato and berries and sang to me. Great wine by the glass (sancerre and pinot grigio) and as always great beer selection.

                                          We were able to use a few of the gift cards we purchased, and we have a few more we're looking forward to using soon! No wedding antics or drunken bar patrons on Sundays, it seems-- it was quiet and subdued.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

                                            Went back to the Tap Room last night and had the sliders. It was probably one of the best bites of food I have ever eaten. They have brisket in them and cole slaw and fried onions on them... fantastic!!

                                            1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

                                              Update on Summer Wednesdays in the Tap Room - still have dollar Oysters but the 1/2 price California Chardonnay does not apply to the whole list any longer. There is a short list of about 20 bottles to choose from. We had a great bottle, but we were very disappointed that we could not get the one we wanted. Food was still great - had my sliders!!!

                                              1. re: wincountrygirl

                                                Glad you enjoyed! Anything else new and interesting on the menu?