Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Revisit: THE DUTCH

Five years later, there's been no lapse whatsoever in the quality of The Dutch.  If anything, I enjoyed this visit more than the last, which is a notable feat, especially given that Andrew Carmellini's expanding empire now includes nine eateries and has ventured into Miami, plus two cookbooks.  I was seated at a different table this time which gave me a prime vantage point into the open kitchen, where a very handsome set of chefs (none of them the boys noted at the bottom of the menu, A.C., Luke and Josh), but obviously a capable set of talent that flawlessly upholds their legacy.  Pretty easy on the yes, too... which never hurts.

But lest not handsome chefs distract from their handiwork: everything was as up to snuff as it ever was.  We sat down to a warm board of crusty sourdough and a mini-loaf of perfect cornbread... just sweet as summer corn but not sugary, a moist, knobby crumb and rampantly
corny. A simple crock of chilled snap peas played their textures in different forms: toothsome orbs, julienned shells and whole pods, their freshness emphasized by chewy, salty nubs of lamb bacon and
 a salty-sweet glaze.  Milky burrata paired with a relish of crushed cerignola olives so fresh they tasted not of olives but simply of green.  Kissed with lemon and spread on warm rusks make for simple, luscious open-faced delights.

Those appetizer courses are judiciously sized, fit for one plus a bite or two to share with a tablemate.  Entrees tend more generous: in fact, none of us could finish our, and certainly not for lack of enjoyment.  Roast chicken could have been listed "For Two".  Served in a cast-iron skillet and festooned with a thatch of dandelion leaves, the bird was deeply bronzed and lavished in a garlicky yogurt sauce studded with fava beans and kicked with Moroccan spices.  Black sea bass was a showcase of spring: gossamer
 furls of new rhubarb added the acidity normally imparted by decidedly non-locavore lemons, precious fiddleheads were abundantly strewn across a bed of lusciously waxy discs of brilliant purple potatoes, themselves alone worth ordering the dish for.   The menu is pretty big, there were two other fish entrees to choose from, another chicken preparation (their "famous" fried), a lamb and a pork, and three versions of beef, from which we choose a grilled hanger steak fashioned into a sort of deconstructed bibimbap, sided with a spicy kimchi fried rice crowned with a wobbly egg.   We got a side dish of "Bang
 bang" portabellos just for the fun of it, and they were well-grilled with a good zip of heat, a handsome flourish a microgreens atop,but not particularly exciting beyond that. 

But perhaps they were saving the exciting for the desserts, which I had been saving room for all evening.  Both prior visits  deprived me of pie: the first time, A.C. sent out a lemon tart and a piece of chocolate cake, leaving no room for pie (if there exists such a state), and the second time a prior postprandial engagement cut us off short.  So this time, there was no avoiding it: a gorgeous, fat slice of blueberry with a creamy ricotta ice cream drizzled with lemon-thyme syrup.  Blueberry is not my favorite pie, but this one was plump with big, juicy beauties, no hint of gumminess and an exceptionally thin, flaky buttery crust that showcased the buxom fruit.  A pie worth waiting for, for certain, and a restaurant that warrants repeat visits.

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