If ”Sam” endorsed it we must try it. “Sam” being Sam Sifton formerly The New York Times restaurant critic. Sam has yet to let us down with his choices, mostly because he chooses eateries that are not just a “scene”, or exclusive. He actually chooses locations for the quality of the food, presentation, ambiance etc. In my opinion this is the right way to judge the more than 8000+ restaurants in New York. This go around Sam has lead us to The Dutch, number 1 on the 2011 best of NYC list. I was very excited about this meal as the menu was adventurous, yet familiar.
I was more familiar with the menu than my wife and therefore I already had a good idea of what I was going to partake. My wife went cold turkey and found several choices to her liking. Eventually we decided on the following:
Little Oyster sandwiches
Housemade French Fries
Banana Cream Pie
Forbidden Rice Pudding
The table was set with some spicy cornbread which was wonderful with a nice hint of kick, just enough to grab your attention but not overwhelm you with heat. The little oyster sandwiches, which are described appropriately, were perfectly balanced with horseradish and cucumber. Beef Tataki was as my wife described it, beef sushi very thin slices of beef seasoned nicely. My wife’s scallops looked great but I did not have the opportunity to taste as the portion was somewhat small. Duck on the other hand was bountiful and sliced over a bed of dirty rice, which perfectly soaked up all the flavors. These dishes were accompanied by the Housemade French Fries. Now I don’t often go over the moon about what may be considered pub, or ballpark fare, but these are not any French Fries that you may have known in the past. These Fries were, dare I say, ethereal! If there is a French Fry nirvana The Dutch Fries would be the key holder to such a land. Never have I ever had a French Fry that was actually diminished in flavor by adding a condiment. While they were served with ketchup and mayonnaise, they had no place on these God sent tubers. When the server placed them on the table I thought them almost vulgar due to the sheer amount served, I would have enjoyed being slapped by the same server after imbibing in the starchy awesomeness! My suggestion to The Dutch is to place this dish on the entrée side of the menu, because deeming it a side dish is insulting and diminishes their greatness! Have I gone too far, I feel as Melville in describing a windowsill in Moby Dick. So after completely devouring a prodigious amount of French Fried greatness I made room for the dessert which Sam suggested. My wife chose the Rice Pudding which was very complex, even on the menu it seemed to be overwhelmingly charged with flavors. I settled on the Banana Cream Pie which had chunks of banana throughout accompanied by a scoop of citrus ice cream.
Overall the fare was excellent, if for no other reason than those Godlike French Fries. The rest of the fare was well done and presented. Save for the overly complex Rice Pudding, Skimpy Scallops, and what I felt was poor pairing of ice cream flavor with the Banana Cream Pie this was a wonderful experience. The space is shabby chic and the service was adequate but not overly impressive. However, the pricing was fair for the level of cuisine you partake albeit not the McDonalds dollar menu. It certainly leaves you feeling satisfied and comfortable with money well spent.