Thursday, April 23, 2009


Ashland, April 23—

ON THE ROAD when restauration's uncertain I often gravitate toward salads, of all things. Salads are just as delicate as any other course, but mediocre greens are better than no greens. So today at the brew pub I had a salad: arugula (commercial, tame, clean and sturdy, not bad) dressed with olive oil and "balsamic vinegar" and a few pine nuts (Chinese, no doubt of it at all) and domestic cheese masquerading as Parmigiano. Cheap pinot grigio.

But for dinner we stopped in at Amuse, which I think of as the area's second restaurant, New Sammy's being first. I started with a nice clam chowder, an unconventional one, clams with bits of bacon in a savory broth with bits of potato. Then — another salad: arugula with shaved fennel, feta, and pine nuts, with a creamy lemon dressing. Delicious.

It'd been days since I had a glass of red wine, so I asked for the Côtes de Rhône. It was absolutely terrible. I sent it back and asked for a Pinot noir instead. But the waitress brought me another glass of the Rhône, and it was fine. The first had come from a bottle that must have stood open for days. An odd flaw in a restaurant otherwise quite attentive to detail, both in the kitchen and on the floor.

1 comment:

Curtis Faville said...

I've had about five meals at that brew pub, and they've all been serviceable, but I've never eaten out properly at Ashland.

It used to have five (FIVE!!) used bookstores, but now there's only ONE! And a poor one, at that. So the only occasion I have to go through there is on my way back from points further North.

Regarding sending back wines. I've probably had to send back about a dozen bottles in my time. The last time--at Nizza La Bella in Albany--the so-called maitre d' refused to accept it back, and then said we wouldn't get another, so there! F you! My most notable return was at Harry's Bar in Venice--the poor Italian waiter stood there, agape, not knowing what to do. Mr. Cipriani strode over to our table and demanded to know just what I found wrong with the stuff. "Bitter, bitter, sour!!" I replied. He brought us a bottle of champagne on the house.

Once, at Cafe Rouge, I had to send back two bottles of red in a row. The waiter was perfectly agreeable--he knew something was wrong. Not long after that, they completely revamped their wine list. No excuse for that at a decent restaurant.