Why the Crowds at La Fontaine, Somers, NY?

I just don’t get it, though I should. It kind of goes along with the 3 Westerly thread. La Fontaine has been around for a long time. We last ate there in 1995 and stopped going - now I remember why. We went out with friends last night and she liked it after a family lunch she had there a few weeks ago. The place is pretty from the outside and has a nice outdoor patio. First thing you notice when you walk in is the smell. Really. Moldy? Dirty? Damp? Did not whet the appetite! And it was dark. Not pleasantly dark - dingy dark? The dining room had tables that looked like farm house furniture which is ok. No cloths, bare. We were seated and brought a plate of bread, olive oil and then some kind of foccacia wth onions, cheese (maybe ricotta) and some unrecognizable veges on it - I had one bite. The food was ok, not bad, not great. I had chicken scarpariello that was on the bone which is a huge plus in my book, but I asked if it was hot and the waiter said no. It was hot. My husband had a version of veal saltimbocca which was ok and curiously had the same base sauce as my chicken. And the sauce was too thick. Our companions seemed to like theirs, he had a steak and I forget what she had! But we had trouble getting the waiter all night. If we needed something we would catch his eye, he’d look over and send the bus boy. Bus boy ain’t bringing me another glass of wine. We were routinely seen and ignored. We shared tiramisu for dessert which was an odd mix of awful and delicious - the expresso soaked lady finger part was great!

But this place is always packed. It’s not on the water, its nothing special and its not good, not bad, barely passable. In contrast we ate at Nino’s in Bedford Hills the other night. I’m not crazy about the ambience there, but the service is great - they remember your likes/dislikes too. And the chicken scarp is on the bone and they make it for me with sweet vinegar peppers!

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold