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The Dog and Duck

The Dog and Duck, SunnysideThanks to the wonder that is my neighborhood babysitting co-op, Mr Apparently and I were able to spend a lovely Valentine’s Day dinner on our own in this new-ish local establishment. If I recall correctly, The Dog and Duck, which took over the space vacated by Bliss, opened just before the holidays in December. And the reports I heard from friends in the neighborhood were uniformly bad. But the space looks terrific and I wanted to see for myself, so we gave them a while to get the kinks worked out and chose last night for our visit.

I will offer this caveat: Valentine’s Day may not be the best day to judge a restaurant.

Our experience did not begin well. We arrived at the relatively early hour of 6:30. Only two tables were seated. Our lack of reservations confused the hostess somewhat, but she amiably offered us the table to either side of the door or an incredibly romantic banquette awkwardly tucked behind the only two patrons at the bar. She also offered to “set a table” for us if we’d like to wait at the bar, and so we did. All the tables were already set for service, but clearly this was some sort of restaurant-speak for “you didn’t make a reservation, and so you will have to wait.”

At the bar, we were asked, “Whadda yiz guys want?” By now I was ready to abandon ship and head over to Claret, but we asked for a menu and, after being asked again what the bartender could get for “yiz guys,” we each selected a beer from the eight or ten offered on tap. The tap to the Newcastle, however, wasn’t working. The hostess invited us to our table by pointing to it and noting that we could go there whenever we pleased. I ordered a bottle of Blue Point. The whole experience was confusing. We paid for the beer and moved to the table.

Once seated in the most secluded and rather lovely corner of the restaurant, we were able to breathe and look around. The venue has been built out beautifully. When the staff is moving at an appropriate pace, it feels like a fine dining experience. Each fixture and fabric has clearly been chose with utmost care. I loved just sitting there.

Our server, while charming, had to check with the kitchen to answer each of our questions about the menu. He was amiable, with the slightly mocking smile of a young Christian Slater. Once we’d ordered, our appetizers came out quickly. The restaurant began to fill up.

From the special menu, a salad of lobster poached in butter with citrus was a disappointment. The lobster meat tasted dry and bland; the citrus and balsamic overpowered it. In the dimly lit room, the cubes of lobster and citrus appeared identical, resulting in a strange, unwelcome game of roulette with each bite. But a generous serving of duck liver pate, served in a mason jar with thick bread and cranberry jam, was absolutely delicious (and available on the regular menu). The experience was improving, although our empty plates sat on the table for quite a long time, until another waiter noticed and whisked them away. This attention, however, wreaked some sort of havoc with the flow of service, as we sat unattended for quite some time following.

Stick with me here. This is the good part.

Our entrees were excellent. Fabulous. Incredibly sound and wonderful food. My filet mignon was cooked exactly as I’d requested, was generous without being overwhelming, and was covered with just enough melted blue cheese to add to its flavor without becoming a cheeseburger. A large portion of Gruyère gratineed potatoes and a small serving of sauteed spinach rounded out the plate. Mr Apparently’s lamb shank, I’m told, was equally pleasing. (Dear Reader, of course he offered me a bite, but lamb is just not my thing.)

By this time, the staff could have used roller skates. Each server and manager moved so quickly as to be a danger to those in their paths. More than once I witnessed a hasty runner dash to the center of the dining room, only to realize he had no idea where to deliver those plates he carried. The flow of traffic was odd, as if the more trips around the dining room a server made, the more he might be able to accomplish, rather than simply handling what was required within arm’s reach and then moving on.

I had ordered the prix fixe, and so an attractive dessert of strawberry mousse in a freestanding chocolate quasi-heart shape was set before us.  I had not been enthusiastic about the dessert options, but the mousse turned out to be delicious, right down to the garnish. The menu also pronounced chocolate-dipped strawberries to be part of the meal; they were not forthcoming. A cup of decaf tasted as if it had been made earlier in the day.

By the time we were ready to leave, we could not. The place was packed, and only by closely following a server could we finagle our way from the back of the house to the door. Everyone was boisterous and happy, and there was not a seat or perch to be had.

In summary: a mixed experience. The restaurant looks more formal than the menu and staff prove it to be, and so one’s expectations should not be set too high. The kitchen seems to have their act together to a greater degree than the front-of-house staff. The well-appointed tables in the back corner offer privacy and even charm, except during frequent moments when a porter opens a door to the brightly-lit basement stairs to deliver provisions to the kitchen.

I would suggest timing your visit on a weeknight, when you can sit for a while and enjoy the atmosphere. I expect The Dog and Duck will become a much-loved local establishment, certainly offering a more comfortable experience than Bar 43 and even a more refined atmosphere than Quaint. The food shows great promise. Just be prepared for a disconnect between the look of the venue, the quality of the food, and the overall visit that you will have: the room promises a type of experience that, at least at present, it cannot deliver.

Ramps Season!

My internet connection has been on the blink, so just this gem for now: five ways to enjoy ramps! 

 

Kemp’s Kitchen: The Top 5 Ways to Eat Ramps — Gourmet Live.

p.s. I hope this resolves itself soon, as my service call is 4 days away.

A Little More Love (from the Internets)

Kaffe Fassett Hat Sew, Mama, Sew!, one of my favorite blogs, likes this hat that I made with Kaffe Fassett Winding Floral fabric in Green. So many lovely things in this photo pool!

Gourmet Resurrected?

Gourmet Is Back — But Not as a Magazine | Epicenter | Wired.com.

Wired reports that ”At a press event at the Condé Nast building, CEO Chuck Townsend announced the development of Gourmet Live, stressing ‘it is not a magazine, and it is not a digitized version of a magazine.’”

I wait with bated breath. I miss Gourmet, and the issues of Bon Appetit they send me instead just aren’t satisfying that itch.

Ruth Reichl
Ruth Reichl = Gourmet

The question is, with Ruth Reichl be involved? Because for me, Gourmet = Ruth. Her delightfully quirky sensibility permeated every feature in the magazine and made it worth reading. And some quick web research suggests that no, she’s not involved in this project. In fact, according to the Observer, Reichl twittered, “they’re reviving the brand, not the magazine. Pity.”

My interest just dropped considerably, from “enthusiastic and hopeful” to “curious and observant.”

http://live.gourmet.com

I Have an Issue with Periodicals

The Magazine StashFor much of my adult life, I have teased my mother about the abundance of magazines in her home. Nearly every chair in the house has a basket or pile of magazines nearby.

It is time for me to admit that I suffer from the same affliction.

I do read every magazine that comes into the house, with the understandable exception of various programming magazines that Mr. Apparently brings home.

I have put myself on a magazine diet, ignoring renewal notices…until they make me an offer I can’t refuse. Martha Stewart Living plus Everyday Food for less than the cost of MSL alone? Oh Martha, you didn’t even need to toss in that free canvas tote.

The Week and I are on a trial separation. Can I justify a magazine subscription that’s over $50 a year? It’s a weekly, and one of my primary sources of news. (Although I suspect that Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me gets much of their news from The Week, too, so I could just start listening again.) They just sent me a “please come back” email that I’m trying to ignore…

Gourmet and Cookie went bust last year, just after I sent my renewal checks, so now I receive Bon Appetit instead. It’s not the most scintillating read, nor is it worth the time it would take to find the phone number and cancel. I do find a recipe or two worth trying in each issue.

Food and Wine and Real Simple were $5 Amazon specials that I was powerless to resist.

Wired, National Geographic, Make and Family Handyman arrive addressed to Mr. Apparently. I read all of them. I miss Craft, which is now published online.

I have jettisoned the knitting magazines, Cook’s Illustrated and The Atlantic. I’m sorry, Atlantic, but too many bitchy-women articles sealed the deal. ReadyMade got the boot when they fired the founders and moved the editorial staff to Des Moines. But if they offer me another $5 deal at the Renegade Craft Fair, I may be forced to reconsider.

My son receives Click and Your Big Backyard. He is the most resourceful of us, paging through his back issues of Wild Animal Baby and Ladybug over and over again.

I don’t know why eBay banned magazine subscription sales, but I am wistful for the days when I could purchase two years of The New Yorker for $25 and three years of The Week for $8. Don’t worry, New Yorker, I will continue to subscribe.

I have a birthday coming up. My resolve is weakening, and I’m off to update my wish list.

What I Made This Week: Custom Orders

Thanks to the kind words of some lovely friends, I had quite a few custom orders for hats this week and have spent most of my time at the sewing machine…

Florentine

Plume

Cars & Squares

Magnolias

Shoe Emergency?

Apparently can’t be bothered to post something witty tonight because she’s just realized that she hasn’t worn her black special occasion shoes since giving birth (i.e., when my feet grew half a size) and suddenly needs a pair available for purchase online and delivered to my home no later than Thursday.

Which one of these floats your boat?





The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

Good: Snuggling in bed with Apparently Junior, reading his favorite books about tractors and fire trucks, while huge flakes of snow tumbled around outside the windows.
Bad: Why in bed? We were both exhausted, having been up since before dawn. And I tried to nap this afternoon, really I did, but the ConEd guys drilling in the street outside were having none of it. “We have to work in the snow; you don’t get to sleep during the day time,” they said. Or, they would have if I’d opened the window and asked them – nicely, of course – to stop. And if they spoke using semi-colons.
Ugly: The ConEd guys left three orange cones blocking the entrance to my street. I watched as an SUV drove over one of them, dragged it a few feet, and then backed up into the intersection in an attempt to dislodge the errant beacon. Back and forth, several times, until the passenger was discharged to investigate, and she then appealed to a building super who was salting the sidewalks, who finally yanked out the wayward cone. I can only assume that the ConEd guys left the cones for a reason (other than neglect), and that the SUV is going to receive some sort of nastygram when they return to find it parked over their manhole cover.

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