Cafe of Love

38 E Main St. Mount Kisco, NY10549 • (914) 242-1002 cafeofloveny.com

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Despite its horrible name, I had such high hopes for this place. After all, the reviews are excellent. But to truly be excellent IMO, you need to deliver consistency across a range of dishes. With solid service. And great decor. Cafe of Love failed at all three.

The decor is just okay. Nothing even worth mentioning. There are so many places that best it in Westchester alone. And the service was “eh.” A tad slow, poor recommendations, and worst of all, they were out of their signature dishes by 8pm on a Saturday night.

Then there’s the food. We were a party of 4, and all of us got an app, entree and dessert. Plus a side in the middle. So, I had the chance to taste a LOT of things. Of all 12 dishes, only 4 were worth mentioning:

1. The side of truffled chickpeas. Pretty addictively awesome.
2. The sweet corn gnocci. Very good.
3. The deconstructed Key Lime Pie. Solid good.
4. The Peach cobbler. Extremely good.

Everything else, the duck, salmon, mussels, butter lettuce salad… All of them were a waste of taste buds. Even the bread was borderline stale. Fortunately the white bean spread they served with it was quite tasty. But with a hit:miss ratio of 1:3, I’d say “excellent” is a bit of a reach.

So as we come full circle, back to the name, perhaps they should change it to “Cafe of Eh.”

2 teeth

J. Gumbo’s

61 W 23rd St. New York, NY 10010(212) 206-8501 •  jgumbos.com

jambalaya

Finally! Good, quick Cajun in the city. It’s one of my favorite cuisines and it kills me that there’s such a drought of places to get it. I assume it must not be as marketable to the Northern palate, but if we can have Ethiopian restaurants up in this bitch, I think we can do Cajun. Can I get an amen?

So, having fully tipped my hand, you can imagine that I liked it. And while it isn’t flawless, it is WAY better than Indikitch a few steps down the block, which seems to be doing business like gangbusters. But, if you like spicy, and you don’t need to have Indian per se, do like Johnnie Walker and keep walking.

I tried several different dishes, because they let you sample, and the Drunken Chicken won the Battle Royale. Granted the Jambalaya was pretty good as well, but me likey the spicy and it’s a little light on the heat. As was the Etouffée, which was the biggest disappointment of the three. Way too mild to carry the name, which means “choke” as in so hot it causes you to. It also happens to be one of my favorite dishes, so perhaps I’m a bit more critical than most. That said, their hot sauce is pretty impressive, so next time I might just order the Etouffée and get all Emeril on its ass and “kick it up a notch.”

On the value side of things, the portions are generous and come with cornbread, dessert and a drink. The cornbread is passable, but the drink options are unfortunately just the usual suspects courtesy of Coke and Pepsi.

But the biggest miss was the peach cobbler for dessert. Shoulda gone with Dave’s Cookies. The cobbler is soggy and made with canned peaches. Fortunately it’s also made with lots of butter and sugar, so the taste is okay, but consistency is a big uneasy.

Service is friendly and décor is pretty standard with the minor exception of the art on the walls. But none of that matters because what’s truly important is that we got ourselves some bona fide Cajun my friends. I guarantee.

3 teeth

Pure Food & WIne

54 Irving Pl. New York, NY 10003(212) 477-1010 • purefoodandwine.com
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After hearing SO many people rave about this place, expectations were pretty high. Which is always dangerous. That said, it held up pretty well.

First: The garden is very charming. Clean and simple. Perfect on a Summer evening.

Second: The service was very good. Our waiter made some excellent recommendations.

Third: All four entrees we had were spot on. The lasagna (of course), the squash blossoms (my fav), the tamale and the BBQ portobello mushrooms.

Fourth: Both desserts were killer. The peach cobbler was as good as anything I’ve had at a non veggie/raw place. And the chocolate semifreddo was also quite solid.

So, that’s why it got three knives. But why not more you ask? Sounds incredible right? And it was. VERY impressive for raw/non-dairy. So much so that it’ll have you you questioning if it’s really vegan or not. And had that been all we had, I’d probably be throwing out another knife or two. But, things actually got off to a rocky start…

First: The white sangria was terrible! Worst I’ve ever had. They use Chardonay, which admittedly I hate. And what a horrible choice for Sangria, which is supposed to be refreshing! Chardonay tends to have heavy notes of caramel, which isn’t exactly what one would want on a hot Summer’s eve. Should’ve used a Pinot Grigio, Savignon Blanc or Gavi.

Second: All four appetizers where underwhelming. The morels and asparagus were good. But the other three were very blah. And with first impressions being so hard to overcome, Pure was fighting an uphill battle all night. That said, it was a great come from behind performance to reach 3 knives.

And that about sums it up. Great place for a vegetarian date- just skip the apps. And the sangria.

3 teeth