The Vanderbilt - Prospect Hts.
- jen kalb Dec 2, 2012 08:18 PM
First visit to this neighborhood place will likely be the last - first of all menu was a strange amalgam of main course plates and snacks/sides making it hard to know how to put a meal together.
Amalgam included both ambitious combo dishes (striped bass with lentils, walnut pesto and escarole) and sausage plates, fried pickles and burgers and tater tots for the young (at heart)
We started with a "medium" plate of broccoli raab with broccoli raab with ham hock and crumbs. .The lukewarm vegetable was overwhelmed by an unpleasant artificial-seeming smoke flavor I guess from the ham hocks - no hammy flavor evident. Crumbs were fine, but lost in the smoke As we talked about this dish daughter remembered why she hadnt wanted to order the brussel sprouts - incongruously sweet on a prior visit. Not exactly vegetable heaven, here.
Plate of weisswurst with sauerkraut was reported to be ok, nothing special. Taste of the Aforesaid bass was not discernible when eaten with the lentils and particularly the walnut topping, a waste IMO of a good and expensive piece of fish ($24) though each of the components was individually fine. My lamb special was a good plain, quite salty. grill of thin meat slices, topped with panisse (chickpea fritters) heavily and monochromatically dosed with ground coriander, which made this otherwisewell made ligurian fry taste incongruously like a pakora and obiterated its delicate taste. The accompanying generous portion of chickpea salad was acceptable and pleasant but not very distinct. Our desserts were a pumpkin cake with toffee (rather like a combo of a muffin and sticky toffee pudding, topped with cream cheese ice cream - this dessert was good - and rather boring apple fritters, simple apple slices deep fried in batter, and dusted with confectioners sugar - no spice , lemon or other flavor notes to pick it up, the sort of thing thats more something for a gang to pick at than an individual dessert. Quite a selection of beers and some decent wines.
All in all I think this kitchen needs a wakeup call - the execution of the dishes was acceptable and the service was fine, but the dish concepts were seriously flawed. The format is also inchoate, not really a small plates menu that works for sharing like say General Greene, not really a good traditional dining format either. With so many other restaurants opening in the area, I think this rates more as a bar snack destination than serious dining.