The dining room was simply appointed with only a wink and a nod to the building's former use. In fact, I wonder if most diners even notice the train painted on the wall or if they only see the bottle lined shelves that cover the perimeter of the room. If you look closely, the server did notice though that I was taking a photo and gave me a friendly smile.
Whenever possible, we do peruse a restaurant menu before we arrive and this allows the Mr. to not only make sure they have one of his favorite dishes, but gives him time to decide if maybe he wants to try something else.
Our waiter (I always hesitate between the words: waiter, waitress and server - are the terms dated, preferred or is it ok to specify gender? I try to be PC, but really, sometimes it is a challenge when the intent is never to hurt feelings...) not only enthusiastically and descriptively told us about the evening's specials, he was entertaining in his own way. While some may find it boring to tell strangers about the "delicious," "outrageous," or "unbelievable" options available, I had the feeling he carefully plans not only word choice, but body language and facial expressions that will accompany each item.
When asked what I would like to drink, I asked for a cocktail menu which was then brought over with 4 pre-dinner and 4 post-dinner options. I wondered why these mini-sandwich board style menus weren't on the table in the first place and found it equally puzzling that it was brought away after I ordered. Would they have to bring it back after the meal? Does it really take up that much table space or do they only have 2 of them?
Black Apple Martini
My cocktail was reminiscent of a Manhattan though the ingredients weren't necessarily the same - it just packed a similar punch and the cherry in the bottom of the glass is both playful and decadent. I thoroughly enjoyed every sip and yes, I ate the fruit at the end.
To begin, we shared one of the special appetizers - eggplant stuffed with crab meat and ricotta. The eggplant was sliced so thinly it could have been overlooked by the palate and considered simply as a vehicle to hold the creamy and delicate filling. The sauce was decidedly lemony and I'm sure the flavor was thought to not only compliment the crab, but to add dimension and alert all taste buds that something wonderful was happening. When our waiter returned to ask how it was, I smiled and said, "Super good." Not my usual response to be sure, but those were the words that came to mind and it was indeed.
Looking at the photo, the appetizer can somehow remind one of cannoli...perhaps a bit of foreshadowing?
The Mr.'s Chicken Marsala - though this photo may not do it justice, the plate was really picture perfect. He may have once said, "Vegetables taste like hell," but the spinach was prepared to a velvety texture just before wilted and he seemed happy with the potato croquette. The chicken was tender and smothered in a perfect marasala wine sauce. I was able to steal a forkful to make sure it tasted as great as it looked.
I always smile when I am praised for my choices. Does the server think I need justification or validation for my own taste? He was practically glowing when I chose the seafood macaroni and cheese. I have to admit, it was an awesome dish, but the funny thing is neither our server nor myself prepared it. The cheese sauce was creamy without feeling too thick and heavy and the dish was loaded with large chunks of lobster and shrimp. The breaded topping was crisp and the steam continued to rise from the dish throughout the entire time I tried to finish it.
I finally surrendered and had about half of my meal wrapped. When asked about dessert I did order a cannoli to go.
Though I was at first startled by our check, I then remembered I had a $14 cocktail, we split an appetizer and my main course was $30. It's not that the meal wasn't worth the price, the restaurant may be best reserved for special occasions more than every Friday night.
We sat for a few minutes at the entrance of the Ulster County Fair to allow pedestrian crossing and cars to enter the parking lot. It was funny to have the windows down and listen to the high pitched shrieks of what sounded like a group of young girls on the Ferris Wheel. What says summer more than a country fair?
While the Mr. was away he did a little touristy gift shopping and first presented me with a mini-flashlight as a joke and then nervously handed me a box that was obviously the size used for jewelry. He was afraid I wouldn't like the necklace he had chosen (I have said in the past I am not the kind of woman who wants hearts and charms) and didn't realize how large it was until he bought it. I have to say, I love it. I love that he thought of me and it reminds me of a scene from Sex and the City (yes, I know it was just a movie - but when Carrie holds her "love" key-chain and realizes she is going to hurry to get her shoes from the Park Avenue apartment...well, you just knew she and Big were going to reconcile - ah love.)
The Mr. and I have each had our moments, but we are in love and Fed Well.