Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Restaurant: Dovetail - NYC

Michael Colameco (PBS's "Colameco's Food Show") had a morning radio program on WOR in which he talked about cooking and dining. One restaurant he consistently recommended was John Fraser's Dovetail, so when I saw it was participating in Restaurant Week, I went for dinner. Inconspicuously located just off Columbus Ave at 103 W 77th Street, Dovetail ( "to join together harmoniously" ) has a warm, cozy atmosphere of earth tones, exposed brick, maple panels, oak tables -you get the idea. A dovetail is also a type of joint in woodworking, so they're working that theme here.

I ordered an interesting cocktail, a Black Martinez, with gin, sloe gin and orange bitters. A perfect meld with neither liquor dominating and the delicious orange finish was spot on. The lovely Miss C ordered a sauvignon blanc to go with her fish entree, more on that shortly. We were served cornbread and an amuse bouche on elegant spoons of a piece of curried watermelon topped with coconut flan. A surprise extra is always a plus in my book! However, this didn't quite hit the mark. The flan was so airy it was almost tasteless, but the curry in the watermelon was pretty heavy. It would've been a cool experiment if the curry was barely there on the backend of it. This was the only unbalanced thing we had all evening.

For her appetizer Miss C selected the White Gazpacho with almonds, asparagus, lavender and grapes. Served with some of the aforementioned items in a bowl and the "soup" poured over it. Light, tasty and not as sweet as the ingredients might suggest. I went for the Cantaloupe Salad with squid, fennel and mint. Funny thing about Dovetail, the portions look small but are surprisingly filling. The cantaloupe was thinly sliced, but I was more interested in the squid. All the ingredients were balanced and the squid was light and tender.

My entree was Braised Veal Shoulder with chorizo, peas, preserved lemon, sauce blanquette. There's a consistent theme to the food here at Dovetail, and that is balance. Elements that you'd think would dominate the dish, don't. There's obviously been time spent in achieving this because things could easily tip one way or the other taste-wise, but they don't. The veal pieces were tender, moist and the sauce blanquette complimented the meat. Again, at first I thought, "Not enough here!" but I was wrong. Miss C had a good-sized, firm, flaky piece of hake with grilled shrimp in a tomato stew (a tad salty), parsnips, peas, carrots, haricots verts and one last item we couldn't decipher that turned out to be chick pea fritters!

For dessert she had a berry crumble with ice cream - nice texture but a bit bland, and Miss C felt it definitely needed the ice cream to complete it. I had a chocolate mousse cake, a sliver of thick chocolate cake with a piece of hard chocolate on the top with a few cherries on the side, pistachio crémeux, and to the side, 3 pistachio nuts which visually was a bit amusing for some reason. Just these 3 little pistachio nuts sitting out there on this large plate like little sailors lost at sea.

We ate in the bar area, which was comfortable but darker than the restaurant area, and I like the visual part of dining. We were mainly served by our bartender who was very friendly, and an unending stream of suit-and-tied men that were either checking on our meal or taking our plates, along with the regular waitstaff - it was a little confusing! It was an enjoyable Restaurant Week meal (our drinks were $14 each) and we were pleasantly surprised at how full we were since the dishes seemed small. Not stuffed, just right, which in my mind reiterated the theme of balance here at Dovetail.

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