Diaghilev Report [long]
JudiAU | Feb 15, 200508:07 PM 14
Diaghilev is a faded dowager of a restaurant, with an 80’s-meets-the-Art Deco Disco décor softened by good lighting. There was a captain who greeted, hugged,and thanked many people who came and went but not us.
The primary music was provided by a tone deaf harpist and a pianest. Both the harp and the piano were out of tune, the harp badly enough that it caused my husband to wince repeatedly. There were many heated conversations between the musicians as the pianist exhorted the harpist to tune her instrument. After a break, he returned to the dining room triumphantly with a pitch pipe in hand and blew notes loudly in her general direction until she tried to tune her harp. Stylistically, the harp was played as if it had been naughty and had to be disciplined in a particularly Soviet way.
When the musicians were on break, rather loud music was piped into the restaurant. My husband found the soundtrack to Blade Runner an odd choice. Also, when the musicians started playing again it took them almost ten minutes to turn the piped music off. Luckily, the restaurant was quiet so we could enjoy both songs at the same time.
Service was baffling, both very formal and restrained but oddly bad and dysfunctional. We observed at least three different modes of dress among the staff who walked around, very swiftly, doing very little. There were long breaks between courses and each time we finally had to ask for our plates to be removed, even though we had obviously been done for ages and the food had congealed on our plates. We had to ask for the wine list and the check twice.
After we were seated, a waiter placed vodka glasses on the table. Five minutes later, the captain made a big show of lining up decanters of vodka and asking which we would like from the selection, a special Russian tradition. My husband choose tea flavored, which he loved, and I choose green peppercorn which was spicy and fun. An excellent start! Every couple received the same treatment and choose vodka.
An amuse of sevruga caviar, house-cured salmon, and crème fraiche on a small toast arrived. Utterly delicious. Excellent ingredients.
We receive our menus (finally).
The menu is not the same as the one outside and is missing one course and the two dishes that interested my husband. The amuse was not an amuse but our appetizer. We are missing two courses.
After ages our order is taken.
After ages our lobster bisque arrives. It contains so much cream and butter that the lobster flavor is almost absent. There are pellet-sized pieces of lobster, including many pieces which are clearly from the legs. The lobster is nicely cooked. There was perhaps one rounded tablespoon of lobster in at least two cups of bisque per person. Impossible to eat it all and we finally beg them to take it away.
After ages our foie gras terrine arrives. I describe the terrine here: [BROKEN LINK REMOVED]
In essence, I think they used very low quality foie gras parts and trim to make it and attempted to cover it up by making it look "arty. The texture was ruined and the terrine was overcooked. Foie gras does not need vinaigrette and it is preferable if it doesn’t taste “squiggly” in the mouth.
After ages we ask them to remove our plate. At this point we discuss the music at length.
After ages our entrees arrive. I have the duck special, which includes half of a duck breast and a dug leg. Quite good with a herbaceous sauce with sweet spices. Terrific braised cabbage. Novelle asparagus flan in liu of vegetable. Unfortunately, they have cooked the breast medium. They did not ask me how I like duck cooked and inadvertently assumed that it would be properly cooked. My husband had a sea bass that was pleasant.
We are offered coffee which we decline.
Ages later our dessert arrives. I don’t eat at the chain restaurants maligned on these boards but this is always how I imagine an Applebees dessert to taste-- sachrine sweet tastless goo. Uninteresting cold mouse formed into a heart. It tastes vaguely of chocolate. We wonder if they used Ovaltine to flavor the dish. It surrounded by a moat of kool-aid flavored fruit sauce with lots of out-of-season tasteless berries. A few were previously frozen. Utterly depressing.
Again we have to ask to have our plates taken away.
My husband tells our waiter that we are finished.
My husband flags down the waiter to again ask for our check.
A basket of stale, inexpertly baked tuile cookies arrive on a plate elaborately decorated with the missing chocolate. Hurray! We are at Diaghilev.
I ask my husband, “Tuile?” He says, “Yes, that is exactly how I feel.” He’s witty, that husband of mine.
The check arrives. We are charged for the vodka that we “ordered.” My husband is infuriated over this. $14
Bill for two with a bottle of $98 wine, $615.
My husband explains that normally, the cost per couple for the pre fix (with the additional courses) is $190. Instead, this was the special Valentine rate of $185 per person.
We leave, stunned.