Archive for November, 2007

No Country for this Old Man: Why I’ll Stick to Town

November 26, 2007

Complementing the name and cuisine of Town Restaurant with Country Restaurant was a great idea and a witty verbal play for Geoffrey Zakarian: Town&Country. However, after a recent visit to the latter, I’m pretty sure I won’t be jumping the ampersand anytime soon. The front of house under the recently departed Doug Psaltis just didn’t match the back, and until it does, there will be no return visits to Country for this Old Man. Here are a few “freebies” that explain why.

1) An hour of free time to cool my heels at the bar: “Your table is being re-set right now” would be a far more credible fib if it weren’t followed in sequence by “The party ahead of you is paying their check” and then “The party ahead of you has just started their desserts.” Hard even to imagine the unlikely chain of events that would lead a party to occupy our table as it was being re-set, request a check for a meal eaten elsewhere then order dessert. Could it be that they simply didn’t have a table ready? And why no complementary drink to unruffle feathers or at least a better time estimate so I could decide whether to order a cocktail?

2) A free White Burgundy bath at the table to wet them: The snippy server—think maitre d’ in “Ferris Bueller”—did little to end the nightmare. Rather, he made it worse. Among the egregious highlights, he cleared my part-full wine glass and inverted it table-side, dumping its contents onto the floor and my shoes: No cleanup and no replacement.

3) A free steam facial from plastic plate cover: The inordinate distance food must get frog-marched to make it from kitchen to table means everything arrives covered in condensation-fogged plastic lids. I know the restaurant is in a hotel, but Country table service shouldn’t feel like Ramada room service. Cold and soggy deep fried pickles that accompanied the “Sample in a Jar” steak tartare made for an ugly and unappetizing combo.

4) A free laugh courtesy of the wine list: Laughably expensive list given the relatively casual and reasonable food on offer in the Café. A surfeit of three and four digits wine selections suggests that the beverage director is confusing Burgerhounds with Burghounds. Danny Meyer’s story about the Union Square Café customer ordering a 12-dollar tuna burger and a 1200-dollar bottle of wine is meant for a laugh not for a business model.

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