Having read rave reviews of the new Bar Breton in New York City, I was looking forward to dinner there on my first night in steamy, soggy Manhattan (it’s been raining here for days). I’d always liked chef Cyril Reynaud’s cooking at Fleur de Sel, and since I’m a huge fan of galettes, or buckwheat flour crepes with savory fillings, I was confident of a good feed. Alas, the meal was a major letdown beginning with a cocktail that smelled and tasted like long shoreman’s sweat (rest assured that I’m guessing on this one), followed by a special starter of Virginia oysters that came to the table drowning in a sauce mignonette (shallots and vinegar) that completely obliterated their flavor. Why a restaurant would automatically apply such a heavy-handed garnish rather than serving it as as side dish is beyond me. Next, my galette with a small green salad–hungry as a farmhand, I ordered the version with Black Forest ham, Gruyere, and an egg. What arrived was a correctly crispy galette filled with a flabby slice of tasteless supermarket quality boiled ham–if they’d run out of Black Forest ham, the waitress should have said so–and bits of rubbery cheese which led me to conclude that the cheese was poor quality, pre-grated or both. The smoked trout in my friend Nanette’s galette was completely tasteless, too, and the only saving grace of this meal was a fairly priced bottle of Spanish Rueda, a nice summer wine, and some very good company.
Having read a major shout-out good review of the Greenwich Tavern as one of the best places for brunch in Fairfield County, Connecticut in the metropolitan pages of a certain estimable New York newspaper, I invited Mom to lunch for Father’s Day on Sunday. Despite the patrician sounding name, this rather frumpy little restaurant turned out to be located on U.S. 1, aka the Post Road, which is renamed Putnam Avenue in Greenwich. I was immediately suspicious of this place when I realized it had valet parking, too–I mean after all, what’s the point of living in the suburbs if you can’t park your own car. In any event, the meal was more of an intriguing study in profit-maximizing food-service industry practices than it was a good feed. Though Mom’s wild mushroom and andouille potstickers were pretty good (if boldly overpriced at $12), the shrimp in my cocktail were flaccid and had been hanging around the kitchen for a while. Next, we both ordered the lobster roll, which arrived as two dainty little buns of barely dressed lobster, a smart way of tinkering with the bread to crustacean ratio. And we both had cones of cold fries, and then a large order of garlic Parmesan fries, entirely unnecessary, that the waiter charmed Mom into wanting. A middle-brow California Chardonnay at $12 a glass meant we clearly in hedge-fund territory, too, and the only half-decent moment of this meal was the nicely made pecan tart. Otherwise, yet another expensive and mediocre meal in southwestern Connecticut, a place I must visit regularly to see my family, so if anyone has any suggestions of truly good eats in Stamford, Norwalk, Westport, Bridgeport, etc., I’d be very grateful.