NYC: Dovetail (Mar. 2013)
Authors: Victor, Monte, and Tad
Exec Chef: John Fraser
Date: March 25, 2013
Tad’s notes: Ah Dovetail. I’ve gushed about this place before, and you’ve probably gotten the sense that the reason I love this place is not just because of the food. Don’t get me wrong, the food is great. But what makes me LOVE Dovetail is the sense of comfort I get when I come here. It is close, it is casual enough that I don’t have to dress up, and it is consistent. It’s like Applebee’s, only for people in my tax bracket. AND they offer cheaper prix fixe options for those not so lucky.
We chose to order three different tasting menus, but shared them all.
White truffle arancini, rosemary wheat cracker, and cornbread.
Tad: The bread course here remains one of my favorites in New York. There is something special about the amount of love, and buttery goodness, that goes into the cornbread. Arancini is delicious, and the rosemary cracker is fun both in flavor and in texture.
Salt-cured celery root with cilantro, pomegranates, and barbecued peanuts.
Tad: The peanuts in this dish were an excellent touch. Dovetail always has impressed me with their vegetarian options. The one weakness, if you can call it that, is that if you don’t eat each element at the same time (especially the pomegranate), you lose out on the complexity. On the other hand, it is only an amuse.
with pee wee potatoes, whole grain mustard, and bitter herbs.
Tad: Look, I said I love Dovetail’s vegetarian options, and I mean it. But something about this dish just seemed a tiny bit too simple. A while back, Monte and I made some mustard and potato salad, and it tasted sort of like this. Not that we are terrible cooks, but if we could approximate this flavor… Anyway, still solid, just not the usual level of wow I expect from Dovetail.
Foie Gras Terrine
with red wine, Fuji apples, and walnuts.
Tad: Cruel? Yes. Delicious? Absolutely. Geese are a subjugated species, so I see nothing wrong with squeezing every last drop of utility out of them. Just kidding, of course! But if you think about it, I will probably die a slow, painful death as my arteries harden from years of excess, foie gras, and wagyu beef. In the end, the geese get their revenge. Circle of life, my friends. Earlier in the evening, Monte and I spoke about the wonder of adding acid to unctuous dishes; it is by no means a novel observation, but we were just getting excited over how cool the phenomenon is. Anyway, this dish exemplifies this juxtaposition.
with lobster, pineapple, and shiso.
Tad: This was an interesting dish, in that what I thought would be the star was actually merely a member of the supporting cast. The lobster, in this case, was as delicious as you would expect. But it was the combination of the quinoa and radish that made each bite thought-provoking. The dish didn’t necessarily scream “ceviche” but was fun all the same.
with everything spice, horseradish, and miner’s lettuce.
Tad: This was another very good dish. The beets here are always tasty, and in this case, the salmon almost seemed like the garnish. There was a lot going on here, especially in terms of subtle interplay between the various, I would argue, extremely distinctive elements. Salmon was not as good as Smorgaschef (according to Monte) or Red Rooster but that’s to be expected.
Matzo Ball Gnudi
with broccoli rabe and radishes.
Tad: Hmm…what can I say? I really wanted to like this dish. The elements all sounded interesting, and it would be an elevated take on a classic. But for some reason, this dish just didn’t do it for me. Tasted like an Asian soup. With some sprouts.
with smoked duck breast, coffee cashews, and chipotle-tofu vinaigrette.
Tad: I sound like a broken record; it is axiomatic at this point to say that the vegetable dishes here are delicious. Although calling this a vegetable dish is not entirely correct, the carrot is the nucleus of this dish. It had a body and richness of a protein. The duck is an additional burst of serendipity. It was just-
Monte: Tad, I’ve been wondering why you are always so verbose.
Victor: Yeah, sometimes you can say things without shift + f7. You could have just said the duck was a pleasant surprise.
Tad: If I don’t have my method of expression, what am I? Look, I am neither a chef nor a professional critic. I am just some guy who likes food. What value do I add? Why do I write? Most people like good food; to claim that you like good food doesn’t make you a special part of some subculture (I’m looking at you, self-proclaimed “foodies”). You’re just being overbearing with your hobby. My preference is to at least entertain in an erudite manner while I join our modern trend of over-sharing.
Monte: Er…wow. Okay. That was a lot of sharing. I thought you were just going to make a snooty joke about your richie rich education.
Tad: You wound me.
with kale, carrots, and black pepper honey.
Tad: Okay, let me try to be laconic. This was meh.
with cauliflower, spinach, and caraway.
Tad: Tastes. Like. Brisket. Katz’s. Deli. Better.
Grilled Hearts of Palm
with bacon, cauliflower, and dried fruits.
Monte: Tad, now you’re just being passive aggressive.
Tad: Fine, I’ll stop. I enjoyed this dish for the same reason I enjoyed the duck and carrots. The hearts of palm are perfectly cooked, and each element fits well together. The overall flavor is something familiar, rustic, and hearty. Yet the way that each element is put together is elegant in a very light-handed way. I think the effect was achieved with smokey but light vegetables and just the right amount of bacon.
Australian Lamb Saddle for Two
with asparagus, lentils, olives, and piquillo peppers.
Tad: Unlike the previous dishes, this was just delicious, heavy meat. Well seasoned, well prepared, delicious. Reminded me once again that I was at the top of the food chain.
Soft Chocolate Ganache
with blood orange, honey cardamom ice cream, and espresso sponge cake.
Chocolate Banana Gâteau
with green tea crumble and almond milk ice cream.
Victor: I took a TERRIBLE picture of this one, and it really does not do the dessert justice :(.
Tad: The desserts were both quite good. I am starting to develop a sweet tooth. The cake was my favorite of all the different bites we had.
A bunch of chocolates that I didn’t really bother to remember :(.