Thursday, July 16, 2009
10 Downing's location alone makes it a desirable stop in the West Village. Since the restaurant is just due south of both Bleecker and Minetta streets, the outdoor dining area is the perfect roost for people watching. Also, since the foot traffic thins a bit after crossing Bleecker, diners won't feel as if they're eating in a fish bowl. That's the good part. Now, on to the low down dirty truth...
Although the place has seen a steady flow of publicity from the blogosphere (including a decent review from New York magazine). The best word that I can think of to describe the food is "disappointing." All the dishes sounded conceptually delicious. However, when tasted, each course was slightly off.
1st Course (Starters):
Chicken liver spread with pickled vegetables = tasted way too livery (in a bad way)
Gazpacho = the soup's color was a sad beige garnished with a bland tomato puree
Radicchio salad with an olive tapanade covered bread-stick = this dish actually wasn't so bad... but it was definitely not amazing enough to warrant a repeat visit
2nd Course (Mains) :
Crispy pork belly = More like "flacid pork belly." It was not crispy... at all (although the creamed corn that accompanied the pork was pretty tasty... and the tiny bits of chive were a nice touch.)
Oevo Raviolo (pasta sheets with fresh peas and a soft-boiled egg) = tasted like a bland carbonara.
3rd Course (Desserts):
Buttermilk Pannacotta = was not not chilled, instead it was served at room temperature. Yuck!
Peanut butter ice cream served with strawberry preserves and toasted bread (a take on ol' fashioned PB&J) = the table agreed that the toasted plain white bread was a poor choice
The front of house service was appalling. It took almost 10 minutes to receive the menu, the waiter seemed noticeably disappointed when we ordered from the Restaurant Week prix fixe, and we actually heard the Maitre d' tell one of the runners, "Well, what the fuck has the chef done for you anyway." Really? Talk about dampening a nice evening outdoors. But, that's not even the worst part.
What was really terrible: to give our table the "hint" to leave, the waiter took away our salt and pepper shakers. Not that bad. However, less than 2 minutes later, we saw him tell the busboy to take two of the four water glasses away from the table. Granted the glasses were empty. But, that's when a decent server would have asked if we wanted our glasses refilled.
A friend of mine who works at one of the city's hottest restaurants, said that you can always tell good service by how often you ask the staff to fill your water glass. "If it's always full, then you know your server is paying attention to your table." After that lame FOH move, we left immediately. As we walked out, no one from the restaurant acknowledged us.
This place was a real DOWNER. And we agreed "hands down" never to return!
(Note: We visited 10 Dowing during Summer '09 Restaurant Week. And, although I know that R.W. is definitely not when chefs put their best culinary foot forward, this is prime time for a restaurant to lure new patrons. Word of mouth publicity is gold here in the city. Why muck it up with poor front of house behavior?)
10 Downing Food & Wine
10 Downing Street (at Sixth Ave.)
New York, NY 10014
10 Downing NY Magazine Review