Zafra

Dorado Beach Plantation Village Dorado, Puerto Rico • 00646 • (787) 626-1054 doradobeachclubs.com

tuna-duo

If you’re staying at The Ritz Carlton in Dorado Beach and want to mix it up a little from the resort restaurants, don’t. I can completely empathize with the desire for adventure, but as the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Located in the “Plantation,” which I suppose is Puerto Rican for “clubhouse,” as in the clubhouse you’d expect to find at many a golf resort (not to shit on it too much though, it is a rather grand clubhouse, taking cues from its name and looking a lot like a giant house on a plantation), but a clubhouse is still a clubhouse and our dread started creeping in fast as we approached.

Situated in a corner on the top floor the dining room sorta shat the bed. Totally depressing. Away from the water. By the golf course, part of the clubhouse (can you tell I don’t like clubhouses yet?), the dining room is just small and somewhat dated, populated by a lifeless crowd. So, we opted to sit outside where we were attacked by mosquitoes and a bat (guess this explains why we were the only ones sitting outside), who circled around our table for the entire meal. Lucky for me I don’t have much hair left for it to get tangled in. Wifey wasn’t too happy though.

And the unhappiness only swelled from there. The pork chop was dangerously under cooked and even more dangerously boring. As for the salmon entrée, it was also under cooked with a smidge more flavor than the pork.

On the upside, neither of us was bitten by the bat (just the mosquitoes). On the downside, I shoulda listened more closely to the story of Solla Sollew, by Dr. Seuss, when I was a child. Well, lesson finally learned. Even Nirvana has its misses.

1 tooth

 

Charlie Bird

5 King St. New York, NY 10012(212) 235-7133charliebirdnyc.com

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It’s tough to get a reservation at Charlie Bird. Too tough if you ask me, because it simply isn’t worth the aggravation. Hell, even if it were easy to get a table here I still don’t think I could honestly say it’s worth the money or your time, falling into that ever-growing pile of over-hyped Italian restaurants in New York.

The décor is an intimate sliver on the Soho fringe with exposed brick and a floor to ceiling windowed wall, which tends to make the place quite noisy and thus less intimate because you constantly have to break the flow of conversation at your table by saying, “Wha?” The service was good though. Friendly, unaffected and most importantly attentive.

But Charlie choked where it counts, serving up a ho-hum string of dishes seven deep, made up of three starters and all four pastas. The only bright spots being the focaccia they serve as their bread and the painfully simple, yet surprisingly delicious faro salad (pictured).

So starting positive, let’s talk focaccia, which once served you might ask, hey, where’s the olive oil for dipping? But take just one single bite and you will soon learn that ample amounts of oil are already in the bread. It’s very good, but let’s just say you’re napkin is going to look like you had a run-in with one of those Turkish wrestlers and lost.

Apart from the focaccia, the only other thing that managed to impress was the faro salad I mentioned above, made with a colorful array of roasted cherry tomatoes, pistachios, mint and Parmesan. And while it’s very good, why bend over backwards to get a reservation at 6:30pm for a dish you could easily make at home?

So now that the backhanded compliments are out of the way, it’s time to get nasty… The grilled octopus saltimbocca with Tuscan beans and prosciutto is okay, if not a touch dry. Also, after hearing that it was the best in the world, I feel it is my moral duty to bring those hypers back down to Earth, and correct this injustice by setting the record straight. This pus wouldn’t even crack my top five in New York City alone! Pearl & Ash, Gato and Pasha all handily trouncing this lame attempt at an Ultimate.

Far more disappointing than the octopus, however, was the burrata, served up with baby romaine and pickle accompaniments that did absolutely nothing for the dish. In fact, this dish was so boring it makes watching golf on TV seem riveting by comparison. Yet even as boring as the burrata was, I think the cauliflower with hazelnuts might actually be able to out-bore it in a bore-off.

Then came the pastas, and all four tasted like the chef had developed an acute case of flavor-a-phobia. The best two were the corn parapdelle with leek fondue and the linguini with uni, bortarga and lemon. But saying they were the best is like claiming bragging rights after winning a foot race versus a corpse. The corpses being the gnocci, (Élan’s is WAY better, not to mention Frenchier), and the Chitarra Nero with crab and chili, which was just flat out too salty to be enjoyable. And so was the entire experience for that matter. Especially when there are scads of other places out there that are easier to get into and are infinitely tastier. Sorry Charlie (couldn’t resist a little old school Starkist ad humor).

2 teeth