Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Restaurant Week: Dovetail Review

My second winter Restaurant Week meal took me to the Upper West Side, just around the corner from the Museum of Natural History and next to Shake Shack, to an under-the-radar spot housing an upscale restaurant called Dovetail. Had a friend (who became my dining companion on this evening) not recommended this to me, I might have let this place slip by. Here is a place where you get ultimate value for your $35 meal. Not only did we get three courses for that price, where many of the main courses alone on the regular dinner menu exceed $30, but Dovetail also offers the little "extras" that are a signature of high-end meals.

The atmosphere, a little dark and plain, makes you feel like you are in a fancy place but in an understated way. The service was a little stiff but given that we were practically thieves with a deal this good, I'll give the place a little slack.

Our evening began with a shotglass of an elegant beet puree topped with smoked salmon and creme fraiche, to be eaten with a classy mini spoon. This bright greeting arrived with individual servings of crumbly, buttery, addictive cheddar cornbread. A lovely way to whet the appetite before weaving our way through an alternating path of meat and seafood.

Rabbit Mille Fuille 
pears, turnips, frisee
This was a tower of rabbit cradled between delicate layers that resembled paper-thin round tortilla chips. Though rabbit brings to mind a heavy dish for cold weather, this appetizer served its purpose well; it was light and balanced with the vegetables providing a little extra cushioning.

Squid a la Plancha
peppers, radish, coconut
The tender squid was just one player in this well-composed dish, with the coconut foam playing off the sharper flavor of the peppers, creating a harmonious combination. My only complaint — the portion was on the small side.

Duck Confit
curry squash, radicchio, dates
The duck was delicious with a crispy layer of skin across the top and was matched to a gently sweet sauce.

Steamed Cod
saffron, fennel, meyer lemon sauce
Cod can be a difficult fish to pull off. Sometimes it's a texture problem, coming off too slimy; other times it's a flavor problem, without proper seasoning it turns out bland. But I couldn't have imagined a better cod than the one we had here. This was perfectly cooked with a beautiful, salty golden sear on top. The creamy lemon sauce managed not to overwhelm the fish, instead providing a great complement, like tartar sauce to fried fish.

Vanilla Panna Cotta
clementine soda, lemon grass gelee
This was a non-traditional panna cotta, with the cream on the bottom. First you had to pass through a layer of clementine soda foam that retained a nice, strong element of carbonation and made for a refreshing cap to the meal. Beneath there, the slices of clementines and the lemon grass gelee and lastly, the panna cotta layer, which almost became an afterthought.

Almond Bread Pudding
rum raisin ice cream, maple butterscotch
This delightfully spongey cake was pierced with slivers of almond and soaked in the maple flavor. But this dessert had just the right amount of sweetness. It almost doubled as an end to the meal and a start to the next day, owing to its seeming inspiration in french toast.

To cap it all off, Dovetail made a proper end to the meal with tasty petits fours — chocolate truffles, pecan cookies, and fruit chews. And then, we were sent back into the cold with a little container of peanut butter granola and warm memories of dinner at Dovetail.

1 comment:

  1. Navah9:23 AM

    oh, the memories! :)

    great write-up...

    your "companion"