Wolfert’s Roost

100 Main St. Irvington, NY 10533 • (914) 231-7576WolfertsRoostIRV.com

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If I gave out knives for effort, the Roost would earn a resounding five, because I really do appreciate the inventiveness in almost every dish. I also dig the understated vibe, which feels a little reminiscent of The Cookery in neighboring Dobbs Ferry, especially with its kitchen utensil chandeliers and abysmal acoustics. But sadly Wolfert is no Cookery when it comes to culinary greatness. I’m getting ahead of myself though, so let’s go “back to the start” as Chris Martin would say.

Upon entering we came prepared, BYOBing a nice bottle of Caymus Conundrum and a French Bordeaux. What we weren’t prepared for was having to send up a flare to get our waitress’ attention. But once we caught her eye, we ordered about a third of the menu, partly out of fear that we may never see her again. Well, fortunately she returned with three very impressive starters. The best of the trio, and of the entire meal, would be the wild mushroom bruschetta. As seen on Yelp (and above), this dish deserves every last ounce of adulation. But it gets high with a little help from its friends, taleggio and the fried egg on top.

The other world-rocking small plate was the bloomin’ broccoli. I assume paying homage to the Outback Steakhouse, the battered and fried floret is not only bloomin’, it’s boomin’ with flavors both savory and sweet thanks to the brilliant accompaniments of Humboldt Fog and apricot jam. The former already being one of my favorite cheeses on Earth, perhaps I’m a little biased.

The third app was also pretty good, the spaghetti with pork ragu and piave (yet another favorite cheese), but because it was done as a torta, the pasta was a bit on the crispy side, which I like in a textural way, but don’t actually love.

Now, before I move on to the entrees, or “big bowls” as they are referred to on the menu, I want to dispel a crazy misperception you might find in other reviews, this notion of meager-sized portions. Now, I’m not exactly sure what passes for a small plate for some of these people, but I’m guessing these were the same people fighting Bloomberg to keep Super Big Gulps in the city. It’s either that or they went with the tasting menu, which are supposed to be small portions, you neanderthals!

Getting back to the Big Bowls, this is where things fell apart. The fried chicken everyone raves about is almost as puzzling as the portion size comments. We only ordered a half portion and it was easily enough for three people, granted that might’ve been due to the fact that it sucked wind. Soggy on the outside, dry on the inside and flavorless all over. If you want truly great fried chicken try ABC Kitchen in New York, Highball & Harvest in Orlando or Son of a Gun in LA. This, on the other hand, is a cock-a-doodle-don’t.

The other big bowl of blah was the Korean-ish baby back ribs. Once again a dish ruined by Sahara-like dryness, which was such a shame, because the flavors on the outside were actually pretty decent (kimchi and gouchujong). Fortunately the third bowl, the Short Rib Pho somewhat redeemed Wolfert, because thankfully it was served in a broth that kept it moist. But as good as it was, it was no consolation to the damage done.

Pressing on and trying to put the past behind us, or more accurately trying to put dessert in front of us, we went with what was essentially a chocolate chip cookie and ice cream and a caramelized banana and ice cream dessert. I don’t recall the actual names of either, but both were good, not great- which is indicative of the experience as a whole. Good, but not great.

3 teeth

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Le Colonial

20 Cosmo Pl. San Francisco, CA 94109(415) 931-3600lecolonialsf.com

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It’s hard to get excited about Le Colonial, only because this is the third one I’ve been to. Granted, all three were good. Obviously New York, the original. LA, the sequel. And now this one. And it’s been about 15 years since I ate at the first one. So, it’s menu and concept have been copied in droves ever since.

But all that aside, it still holds its own. And while I find the decor in the other two to be a bit more refined, this one was my favorite. The way in which you enter is such a transformative experience it sorta reminded me of Spice Market in NYC. Granted nowhere near that level, but because you go from a sketchy alley in the Loin into a French Vietnamese palace, the shift is quite dramatic.

As for service, we had a very large party and they handled it like pros. So kudos there as well.

And as far as food goes, most of it was a solid good, with a few highlights. Those being the duck spring rolls (ask for Srirachi). The ribs. The beef stew with Scotch eggs- perhaps my favorite thing of the night. And for dessert, both the chocolate cake and the banana spring rolls were money.

So hats off to keeping up the standards for 15 years and two sequels later. But unfortunately there are a lot of other games in town that make it hard to give you more than 3 knives.

3 teeth

Maharlika

111 1st Ave. New York, NY 10003(646) 392-7880maharlikanyc.com

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While I definitely like places like this, a little more down and dirty, away from all the pomp and circumstance of what it means to be fine dining in NYC (which I also love, don’t get me wrong), I found the decor a little too down and a little too dirty. In fact, decor is such an afterthought here, I literally don’t think they thought about it at all. And by sitting us between the bus station and the kitchen, even though we had a reservation, certainly didn’t help. So that explains the docking of one star.

As for the other star, service was fine, so it wasn’t that. It was actually the food. Which pains me to say it, because I also loved it. I think one of the other reviewers had the same criticism, that while ALL of the dishes are filled with terrific flavors, they simply need to up their game on how to cook some of the meat. For example, the spare ribs were a touch dry and the short rib was very dry too. Meanwhile, the oxtail was as moist as can be, more like the short ribs should have been.

As for some of the other dishes, the special shrimp starter was the weakest of everything. No flavor comparatively to other dishes. The pork belly, while good, and an interesting blend of textures, was VERY difficult to eat, because you practically needed a power saw to slice into it. This was perhaps an inflamed issue, because we literally had to ask for knives at the table three times.

Spam fries with banana ketchup were good, but what is the level of difficulty here? You’ve got fatty reconstituted meat battered and deep fried and dipped in sweet ketchup.

Desserts were passable, one being coconut flan, which I’m not a fan of categorically. The other being the Mango cheesecake, which I liked, because the hint of mango gave a lightness to an otherwise heavy dessert. But outstanding it wasn’t.

So, why the three knives then, after all of this bitching and moaning? Because I saved the best for last. The eggplant side dish is just awesome. As is the fried chicken and waffles (pictured)- best I’ve ever had. So perfectly cooked I could honestly go back just for that (okay, and the eggplant).

3 teeth