Thursday, April 26, 2012

Another Bar Dinner @ Prospect

One evening, we "needed" foie gras, but didn't want a full dinner.  So, we headed across the street to Prospect, where I knew the bar served a great pate with foie in it.  We've dined in the bar area at Prospect a number of times, and I've reviewed it before, so I'll skip the general details, and focus just on the details from this visit.

The bar was full, so we sat at the walk in communal table instead.  It has standard waiter based service, not quite the same feel as being at the bar where you can interact with the bartenders, but still a nice option for being able to walk right in.  We ordered a mix of bar snacks, starters, and mains.

Drinks

The Ambassador : Rye, Bonal, Apricot Eau-de-Vie, Zucca.  $11.50.
I only tried a sip of this, but it had a nice bitterness to it, and like all of Prospect's drinks, was really well balanced.

Bar Snacks

Duck liver, foie gras & bacon pate: spiced red pepper jelly, warm crostini.  $8.
This was the dish we came for.  Last time I was at Prospect, I LOVED this.  Couldn't get enough of it.  This time, it seemed like the recipe was slightly different.  It is a creamy pate, studded with bacon chunks, topped with red pepper jelly.  Last time, I adored the bacon flavor, and the saltiness the bacon added.  This time, the bacon barely came through, although it was clearly there, as I could find the chunks in the otherwise creamy pate.  Last time, it didn't have much foie gras flavor, this time, it had more, which I should have liked, but somehow the flavor just didn't pop.  The layer of red pepper jelly was much thicker this time, and I felt that it overpowered the pate, it was hard to get to the pate through all the jelly.  The jelly had a very strong red pepper flavor.  I think the biggest issue is that it seemed under-salted.  Last time, the bacon definitely added some of the smoky component and that was missing this time, but it seemed under-salted in general.  We scraped the salt crystals off of the butter that came with the bread, and added it to the pate, and that was much more delicious.

I'll still order this again, and hope the recipe is more like the first time.
Focaccia (on the side, requested).
Last time, we thought this paired really well with the pate, so we asked for it again.  It was served cold, which didn't work as well as when it was warm before.  The salt crystals on the top did help address the under-salting of the pate however, and it was again a better pairing than the crostini that come with the pate.
Dungeness crab cakes, remoulade.  $7.
Crab cakes?  No, these were crab balls.  I'd had these in the past, so I skipped them this night.  My memory is that I was disappointed with them, being more fried and bready than crabby.

Wild mushroom arancini, aioli.  $5.
When these showed up, we thought they were another order of the crab cakes.  They looked almost the same!

The shell on them was really nice and crisp, although they were kind oily for my liking.  I didn't really taste the mushroom in the filling, just creamy rice, which was disappointing.   I expected a more cheesy flavor as well. The aoili was really thick, and not very flavorful.

I didn't really like these, and wouldn't order them again, but $5 seemed like a great value.

Starters

Wild salmon crudo, beech mushrooms, grapefruit, sea beans, avocado puree, rice crackers.  $16.
This was the first dish added to the menu from the new chef!

The fish was a good cut, decent quality, although not that flavorful.  The citrus and sea beans were a really refreshing, bright, and light pairing.  The tiny itty bitty beech mushrooms were pickled, adding an intense vinegar flavor to bites than included them.

I wouldn't go out of my way for this dish or rave about it, but it was nicely done, with a good balance of flavors.
Seared Monterey Calamari & Gulf White Prawns, Romesco, Deep Fried Butter Beans, Sherry Shallot Vinaigrette, Peppercress.  $14.50.
I did no have the prawns or calamari, but the folks who ordered this said they were well cooked.  The deep fried beans were really not good.  The deep frying process made the skin on them way too crisp and really unpleasant to eat.  Additionally, all you tasted was oil.  The romesco sauce had a great spicy kick to it.

I wouldn't order again, just because of the horrible beans!

Mains

Northern Halibut, Zuckerman Farms Asparagus, English Peas, Herb Spaetzle, Shaved Purple Asparagus Salad, Lemon Vinaigrette, Chervil.  $32.
The halibut was well cooked, with a crispy nice crust on it.  It was slightly fishy however.  I've been adoring peas and asparagus lately, as they are so fresh and delicious and in season right now, so I was really looking forward to them.  However, I felt that they weren't that flavorful in this dish.  I'm not really sure why, but I would have loved to seem them highlighted more.  I enjoyed the contrasting textures from the soft the peas and spaetzle with the crisp shaved asparagus.

I wouldn't get this again, and didn't feel the $32 price tag was really justified.  It was well executed, but the flavors just didn't pop for me.

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