As I mentioned upthread, we had dinner last night (12/7) at Fromagerie. We arrived shortly before our 9 p.m. reservation. Not that we would have needed one, but it's too far away (40 minutes) to take the chance doing a walk-in. But as we suspected, on a Wednesday evening, the place was dead, i.e., in addition to us, 2 tables in the main dining room each occupied by a couple and a couple seated in the adjoining smaller dining room. So, a total of 8 people. The couple seated at the table adjacent to ours left shortly after we were seated which brought the total down to 6.
The dining rooms are lovely, having been refreshed since our one and only visit during David Burke's tenure. Seating is comfortable, nicely-spaced tables are dressed with white linen, a fire in the gas fireplace made for a cozy feel, and Christmas decorations are tasteful. Obviously, noise was not an issue. This is the kind of ambiance Mr. RBI and I love.
Mr. RBI looked over the list of wines by the glass and chose a Côte du Rhône at a very reasonable $9/glass. He had two. Having perused the menu on the website and having decided what dishes we planned to order, we checked the menus presented to us to make sure they were on it. They were, so we ordered promptly.
Before I get into the particulars, let me say this. There is excellent cooking going on in Fromagerie's kitchen. But while all the food we had was delicious, there were some flaws with my dishes.
For the first course, Mr. RBI chose the Classic Caesar Salad prepared tableside ($14). Based on tasting a bit of it, I agreed with him that it was top-notch, one of the best Caesars we've had. I started with the Foie Gras, pan seared with pears and a port wine reduction ($16). While the foie was perfectly prepared and arrived properly hot, the portion was a bit skimpy. It sat upon two slices of toasted bread that were so hard as to be inedible. The pears were delicious but were ice cold when they should have been warm or at the very least room temperature.
Just after our first courses were served, a young man came by with the bread basket which held an excellent selection. We both chose the sourdough roll. A superior roll, it was warm with a nice crust and was accompanied by butter at the correct temperature.
For the mains, Mr. RBI had the Coq au Vin ($34), one of his favorite French bistro dishes. I didn't taste any of it, but he said it was a fine version. I had the Duck Breast with Cherries & Grappa ($34). Duck is one of my favorites. This deboned breast -- what the French call the magret -- was exceptionally tender and juicy. It was prepared exactly to my medium specification with skin that had been rendered of fat sufficiently to leave it very crisp. Accompaniments were polenta and pickled red cabbage. The plate was finished the cherry grappa sauce. But here's where a major problem arose. Now, I love a delicious sauce and this sauce was delicious. However, the plate was literally swimming in it. So much so that the skin on some of the duck slices lost a bit of the crispness; the polenta was totally overwhelmed and practically disintegrated; and the red cabbage was so buried that I didn't realize it was there (it's not mentioned on the menu) until my fork hit upon it. So, a case of what is essentially a terrific dish with plating gone wrong.
For dessert, we shared the Profiteroles with Chocolate Sauce ($12) Most of the profiteroles we've had have been filled with ice cream. These were filled with a very tasty pastry cream, a pleasing change as they were much lighter.
With the exception of the foie gras, portions were very generous. Because we are big on portion control, we took home some of each main course.
Service throughout the meal by our captain Jonathan was outstanding (he prepared the Caesar). Chef/Manager Steven Botta stopped by during our meal to see how things were going and then again at the end at which point we had a lengthy conversation with him. He was very interested in and receptive to our comments. I mentioned the over-saucing problems, and Mr. RBI suggested that he put the wine list on the website.
We found the pricing in line with what we pay at most of the high end restaurants we frequent in NYC. It seems fair to us especially considering the quality of the materials Botta is using, including Pat LaFrieda steaks as well as the special grind La Frieda is doing for the burger which, Botta told us, is extremely popular. Even though we generally don't have burgers when we go out to dinner, we'll definitely have to try this one.
Overall, despite the flaws, we really enjoyed our dinner and will be putting Fromagerie on our NJ rotation.
The photo set from this dinner can be viewed on my Flickr here.