Dinner: Dovetail

For a couple of weeks now, I have been figuring out how to write about my dinner at Dovetail.  I’m reminded of Dorothy Parker’s play review that simply said, “If you don’t knit, bring a book.”

Before I rate the meal or go into the experience, let me give you some background.  I have wanted to try Dovetail for some time now because it’s highly rated with a Michelin star.  Yes, it has 4, not 5, stars on Yelp, but so does Tocqueville and I loved that restaurant–and the real food snobs don’t rely on Yelp, do they?  Three stars from both the New York Times and New York magazine…a 25 for food from Zagat…is not glowing but average.  The chef is often described as being too ambitious or trying too hard.  After having dined at Dovetail, I would say I agree–that the chef is trying to hard to be different, to use ingredients in unique ways, that the food winds up not only lacking in flavor but bordering on being inedible.

Yes, that was a VERY negative review of Dovetail, but I believe, for the price, this food should be Le Bernardin good, Per Se good, Eleven Madison Park good, Daniel good.

I got the Blueberry Fields to start, a special concoction on the non-alcoholic drink menu that was so-so.

drink

The amuse bouche tantalizes taste buds, but this one was an unfortunate harbinger of things to come.  It had two elements, the caviar panna cotta on the left and the oyster with elderflower liqueur on the right.  Presentation is lovely, yes, but the fishy taste of the caviar mixed with the gelatinous cream was unpalatable.  Topping it off with an oyster with alcohol didn’t help.

amuse bouche

It was nice to have a little break of an arancini, a rice ball that was quite tasty, and the highlight of this meal.  The cornbread was OK, but a bit dry.

bread

My first course was foie gras, a dish I love.  When I think of it, I’m reminded of the heavenly foie gras at Per Se.  This was not what I expected.  Perhaps I am ignorant, and if I am, I am probably in the majority to not expect a goose liver, once pierced, oozing watery pinkish fine liver grains.   Yes, I see that it made Grub Street’s list of the best foie gras dishes in New York, but it didn’t make mine.

foie gras
My dining companion had the bland gnocchi, but after the amuse bouche and my first course, she was grateful.

gnocchi

After our appetizers, we were each given a plate of strewn leaves and even a fava bean, cut in half, yes, with a paint splatter of a few different dressings.  This tasted OK, though it is hard to pick up one leaf at a time with a fork.

salad

My friend’s next course was the eggplant terrine.  This was not flavorful and the texture was more like gelatin than eggplant.

eggplant

I got the agnolotti, and this proved to be the best dish of the meal.  The sweet corn flavor was appealing, although I didn’t like the lemony filling of the pasta.

agnolotti

My main course was the roasted chicken.  The chicken was cooked perfectly; however, I didn’t enjoy the broth or the choice of root vegetables.

chicken

My friend’s main course was the scallops.  They were seared but very gelatinous in the middle, almost undercooked.  I think it may be the trend to cook it this way, but it makes for an unpleasant texture.

scallops

We had a palate cleanser of cucumber sorbet in blackberry yogurt.  The cucumber sorbet was so-so, and the yogurt was nice.

cucumber sorbet

For dessert, I got the beet red velvet cake.  Always a fan of red velvet, I was open to trying this version.  I like the idea of using beet juice to dye the cake red; however, the cake was just blah.  And yes, there was beet puree on the plate, which should only be used in baby food–not in dessert.

red velvet cake

My friend got the rhubarb rice pudding tart, and it wasn’t like a tart.  There was a phyllo-like rim around the edge with a rice mixture inside.

tart

There were chocolates at the end of the meal, and they were average.

chocolates

In addition to the food, the service was attentive but not particularly friendly.  The bartender who served our drinks seemed as if she had better things to do.  We got two dirt-encrusted forks, which shouldn’t happen at a restaurant of this caliber.  I really do not like giving a negative review of a restaurant, but I can’t, in good conscience, recommend this restaurant.  At over $200 for two people, a meal should be exceptional not the exception.

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