Chappaqua Station

1 Station Plaza Chappaqua, NY 10514 • 914-861-8001 • chappaquastation.com

5-2

I’ll give the place an A for effort, but sadly the exchange rate of A’s to knives isn’t a favorable one. But before leaping all the way to the end, let’s discuss how we got there.

Located in the Chappaqua train station, as the uninventive name suggests, it seems to be taking a page out of like-minded restaurants (Via Vanti & Iron Horse) both one stop up and down on the Harlem line. That said, CTS is more of a bar with small plates. The wine selection is rather thin, however, whereas the cocktails go much deeper, which is strange for a place that sports a menu predominantly made up of charcuterie and cheese.

Also strange is the décor, if you can call it that. Basically all they did was stick a big bar (pictured) in the middle of the room and tables around it (albeit the space was already nice as is, I suppose). Then, they converted the café next to the main room into the kitchen, if you can call it that as well. More of a prep area if you ask me. And considering you’re on my blog it would appear you are asking. Oh, and one more thing. The seemingly intimate back right corner by the velvet red curtain is anything but. DO NOT SIT THERE. On the other side of the curtain is wait station where they will come and go repeatedly carrying dirty vats of water and other undesirable cargo.

Service is a variation on the Bar Taco method, using a check box menu, but somehow less fun and a touch cheap, because CTS uses laminated cards and red Sharpie’s. Also not helping the cheap vibe is the use of paper plates.

Among the small plates, the best things by far were the wine and cheese/charcuterie, but that’s not to say that even that was good. More passable than anything. The cheeses out shining the meat, even with such hopefuls as salami with pistachios and lemon zest, or the even more underwhelming salami with coriander and chili. On the cheese side, we went camembert, Vermont cheddar and bleu, and all three were solid. And while they surround the board with goodies such as jam, mustard, candied nuts and grapes, it does little to mask the failings of flavor.

Speaking of fails, the di parma, basil, tomato and mozzarella flatbread is not even on par with Stouffer’s French Bread Pizza! Not that I’ve had it in nearly three decades, but I ate a shit-ton as a kid. But saving the flatbread from the dubious distinction of the low point, dessert swooped in with an apple pie so bad we didn’t have more than a bite or two. Instead we focused our efforts on the Sherry B’s vanilla ice cream on top.

So not a great showing, but not entirely a train-wreck either. I look forward to them upping their game. And hopefully the MTA does the same.

2 teeth

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Restaurant North

386 Main St. Armonk, NY 10504 • (914) 273-8686restaurantnorth.com

Restaurant North

Having never been THAT impressed with this chef’s former stomping ground Union Square Café, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that I find North to also be considerably over-hyped.

And after having been there twice now, I’ve come to the conclusion that my biggest issue is that they would be much better suited as a bakery or as a casual haunt. But when held to the standards of fine dining, they simply don’t measure up. Blue Hill at Stone Barns and The Inn at Pound Ridge are both much, MUCH better. And for Italian it’s bested by both Fortina (just two blocks away) and The Cookery in Dobbs Ferry.

For me, the misses start the moment you enter the door. First with a decor that is notch or two past minimalist, trending toward unfinished. This is then followed up with a hostess who tried to seat us at the shittiest table by the bar, even though about 75% of the tables in the restaurant were empty. And this is with us having had a reservation for weeks mind you. The excuse, because one of the tables on the other half of the dining room was being reserved for a friend of the chef’s. But what about the other six open tables?!?!

After that, things improved, but never so much that they fell in line with the sterling reputation this place seems to enjoy.  This is not to say that what lies ahead was all bad, by any means, but if your are going to be a top restaurant in one of the wealthiest suburbs on the planet, you’d better be more than just “not bad.”

Not bad, however, was the story from top to bottom. Not one course the first time we went reached what I would call “excellent,” and we each had three. Yet each course lacked that little extra something that takes a dish from good to memorable. And with 6 different dishes and two proprietary cocktails, I’d say they had ample ways to impress, but failed at every one.

The only two dishes from that outing to rise above just a solid good were a pasta dish and the soft shell crabs. Both teetering on great. But sadly, not actually great.

Fortunately, while definitely ferocious, I also try to be fairocious, so I gave them a second chance before writing this review and upon revisiting it, this somewhat only served to solidified my opinions from the first experience.

That said, there were a few shining moments once again, and this time they were shining much brighter. For example, the focaccia they serve as the bread with your meal is phenomenal. It’s also an Ultimate.

Another thing worthy of note is the muffin they give you after the meal to take home. Moist, heavily seeded for a nice contrast in textures, and heavily awesome. So, it would appear that they bookend you well, between incredibly delicious baked goods, but if you just look past the bready smoke and mirrors, mediocrity was once again abound.

For example, the swordfish entree while perfectly cooked was woefully blah. Their hazelnut encrusted variation of a Scotch egg was equally lacking in flavor, begging for some salt to bring out the flavor of the egg. And the “Super Awesome” chocolate chip cookie is “super overrated.” It’s the same typical half baked cookie in a skillet you’d expect to find at Applebee’s with a very mediocre scoop of vanilla on top. You want a truly “super awesome” chocolate chip cookie, head to Sherry B’s in Chappaqua and get the one with walnuts (even if you’re allergic, it’s worth it). Or if you’re in the city, there’s none better than the one at City Bakery.

Another inflated dish is the burger. And while it’s definitely more impressive than the aforementioned dishes, with its creamed kale topper, it also falls WAY short of places like Minetta Tavern, Father’s Office and Burger & Barrel, to which I’ve heard it compared. Blasphemy!

Back on the upside, because I like to end things on a positive note (not really, but I will), the mushroom flatbread was surprisingly good, well balanced between the heartiness of the mushrooms, the creaminess of the goat cheese and the fresh pepperiness of the greens.

And finally, the suckling pig. Definitely not the looker of the bunch. In fact, once shredded amongst the bed of spaetzle it looked more like a cat got a hold of a stuffed animal and ripped it to bits. But the taste was excellent. Accented with a nice touch of heat.

But even with the stronger showing my second time around, it’s still WAY too hit and miss to be playing at the level they claim to be. Especially when they pull shit like pawning us off on the busboy to take our dessert order. Classy North. Very classy.

2 teeth

 

Sherry B Dessert Studio

65 King St. Chappaqua, NY 10514(914) 238-8300 sherryb.com

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Apart from their ridiculously inconvenient hours, this place is perfection. From coffee to chai lattes to brownies so good you’d swear they were laced, like the dulce de leche.

Even the decor is incredibly well done- something you’d expect to see in Manhattan. Sleek, with interesting touches like using muffin pans as a decorative element. Sounds weird, but looks great. And the staff, as well as Sherry, are always very friendly and equally skilled.

The only miss for me is the ice cream. It’s just okay. Wish it lived up to the rest, but that’s a pretty high bar.

5 teeth

The Ultimate Cookie

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City Bakery – New York, NY

Both the chocolate chip and the chocolate lava cookies are at the top of my list, and both from the same place. So that should tell you something. Something like, you should be putting on your shoes and heading out for these cookies.

Let’s start with the lava cookie, because it’s very simple to explain. You know those molten lava cakes you get for dessert in restaurants, where you break them open and then all of the gooey liquid chocolate oozes out? Well, this is that in cookie form. Nuff said. Oh, and it’s pulled off like a champ.

Then there’s the chocolate chip cookie. Now, considering there are SO many contenders in this bucket, and basically all of them are at minimum good (after all, they are cookies), I feel the need to clarify what puts these above the rest. First and foremost, they possess the single most vital cookie characteristic, they are moist. But not under-baked moist, where you still get a bit of that floury grain in every bite. No, that’s the cheap way at it. City Bakery takes the road less travelled making their cookies right-out-of-the-oven gooey. But here’s the thing, they are like this for hours after being out of the oven. I don’t know how they do it (other than a plethora of butter), but it tastes like the stuff dreams are made of. Hell, I don’t even dream of cookies this good. Well, now I do because I’ve had them. But until you do, you don’t. Trust me.

 

Sherry B – Chappaqua, NY

Now I know what you’re thinking. Really? Chappaqua? The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie is from Chappaqua? Well, yes it is. Sharing the title with City Bakery and Dominique Ansel Bakery. It’s three inches of diameter deliciousness.  A clinic on balance and texture and decadence. Get one fresh baked and fuggetaboutit!

 

Dominique Ansel Bakery – New York, NY

It should come as no surprise that the inventor of the cronut also bakes a decent cookie. In fact, make that four decent cookies, the chocolate molten cookie, the salted white chocolate macadamia (my personal fav), the chocolate chip and the gingerbread cookie. All, baked warm and gooey to order if you ring those babies up on trycaviar.com. Yes, screw Seamless. TryCaviar has more game in its dot than Seamless has in its entire URL. And yes, that very well may be the first, and lamest, URL slam.

The Ultimate Brownie

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Sherry B Dessert Studio – Chappaqua, NY

The Dulce de Leche brownie at Sherry B’s is so damn good I’d swear she figured out a way to use orgasms as an ingredient. The buttery, gooey sensation when you bite into this god-like rectangle is almost not to be believed. Pushed as far as one could possibly go on the richness scale before turning disgusting (a la Fat Witch), it just makes it to that hairline threshold of “now I know why I was given a mouth.”

Greensquare Tavern – New York, NY

While a Blondie is debatable as a brownie, versus a glorified rectangular chocolate chip cookie, this Blondie manages to make me care less about such things, because whatever it is, it’s just good ass good. Moist, chocolaty, chunky, awesomey. Without going grainy and sugary.

Pret-A-Manger-New York, NY

I know. I know… Pret? Really? REALLY. I mean think about the level of difficulty here. To be able to mass-produce a brownie THIS good is worthy of note in my eyes. This densely packed parallelogram of chocolaty gusto deserves nothing but respect. Done with a dark chocolate that yields a bitterness to it almost as if there might also be a hint of coffee in there somewhere. But whatever it is, I stand my ground.