Sunday, July 31, 2011

Song of the Summer

I knew I had to eat at The Dutch after Sam Sifton coined it the "song of the summer" in his two-star review in the New York Times. Critics such as Sifton and New York Magazine's Adam Platt praise Andrew Carmellini's new Soho venture from concept to execution. Carmellini, owner of Locanda Verde, teamed up with Luke Ostrom (co-owner of Locanda Verde) and Josh Pickard (Lure Fishbar/Chinatown Brasserie) to bring his interpretation of elevated American comfort food to the corner of Sullivan and Prince.

My friend Amanda and I were lucky to get last minute reservations at the new Soho hot-spot. Upon arrival, the hostess took us from the bar room through a zig-zagged hallway to our table in the main dining room. Although the dining room had a sexy, elegant feel it was still comfortable and far from stuffy. We were seated at a corner table overlooking the whole dining room--maybe the best table in the house? Books on the windowsill and the fireplace gave a real, homey feel to the restaurant. The service was good. Our server was attentive and knowledgeable, but not overly chatty which is OK with me. I also really liked that he let us sit and finish our wine before presenting our check. He could have easily dropped the check after declining dessert, but he let us stay till our glasses were dry.

Our first impression of the food was one of excitement as we loved the jalapeno cornbread. I've had jalapeno cornbread before, but this might have been my favorite. The bread was served warm with only a little jalapeno kick showed allowing a great balance of sweet and spicy. We skipped the oysters, "snacks", and appetizers and straight for "seconds". We split the scallops entree as our appetizer and I'm so happy that we did. Not only did I get to introduce Amanda to scallops, but Carmellini's interpretation was brilliant. Sweet corn, bacon, and chipotle added great flavor without overtaking the delicate sea scallops. What an awesome start! Next, Amanda got the grilled Swordfish with a summer beans and pine nuts while I got the Pecan Duck, which was accompanied with celery and organic dirty rice. Amanda's swordfish was good, but I was happy with my duck. The duck was perfectly cooked at medium rare and was packed with great flavor. The pecans not only added a nice flavor, but textural component. The duck and Oregon Pinot Noir sang in beautiful harmony as I savored every bite.

As per usual I am was too full to order dessert. I read some food things about their homemade pies, but I couldn't do it and Amanda agreed. Overall, The Dutch was quite a scene and proved to be an awesome time. The food proved Carmellini's genius, the service smooth, and the atmosphere comfortable and exciting. There are so many factors that go into a flawless dinner service, but The Dutch pulled it off and that's why it could be called the "song of the summer".

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