Talk of the Town Diner, Watertown
Hubby *loves* blueberry pancakes. He can't get enough of them. A weekend doesn't go by that he doesn't suggest going to the Deluxe Town diner, also in Watertown, and chowing down on a tall stack with a big ol' glass of milk. I told my coworker John about his love of the Town Diner and John, who grew up in Watertown declared the Talk of the Town Diner to be better (disclaimer, he is friends with the owner). I am a woman of science, so Hubby and I decided to try Talk of the Town for a compare and contrast. He had blueberry pancakes with easy over eggs, I had 2 eggs scrambled, with corn beef hash and toast. Hubby stated that pancakes were "floppy, not fluffy." I found my hash way oversalted and both our eggs had parts that were strangely tinted greenish? Maybe from the grill? YUCK. Lastly, homefries were undercooked; al dente potato is not good eats. The best thing was the toast, made from scali bread, the white toast of my youth. Sorry, John, Deluxe kicks the ass of the Talk of the Town.
Mill on the Floss, Lanesborough MA - http://www.millonthefloss.com/
Mill on the Floss is a renovated Mill turned in to a restaurant, Bon Appetit did a feature on it in Nov 2002. We started with complimentary water crackers and the mildest swiss I've ever tasted, and rolls that were hot with shatteringly crisp crust. For appetizers I had the Chicken Liver pate, and Hubby had escargot with garlic butter. I loved my pate, smooth, great flavor, whole mustard and cornichons went perfectly. The escargot were okay. . . they were topped with too many bread crumbs. I wish we had stopped there, but onward to the entrees. I had the Roast Duckling à l 'Orange and he had the Sweetbreads "au beurre noir". My duck was good, classic in taste and appearance, sauce was a little too sweet, nothing special. Hubby's sweetbreads were the big let down. Understand this, on the back of the menu is a 4 stanza poem, that a patron wrote about the sweetbreads after ordering them. I figured if it was good enough to inspire poetry it must be damn good, right? Wrong. Again, like the duck, it was fine in presentation and flavor, but boring. Completely underwhelmed by both entrees. I guess when I spend $30 per entree, I expect more.
Why does that happen so often? You get great appetizers, and lackluster entrees? We actually passed on dessert, which is shocking if you know Hubby. We did find a great little ice cream shack on rt 7. Krispy Kone, which serves 87 flavors of soft serve. I had caramel, he had mint chip. very tasty.
Gardner's, Stephentown NY
Oy. I had an ordering snafu here. It was just a plain looking diner that I had no prior knowledge of or research on, but it was on our way to the Hancock Shaker Museum (which Hubby loved). No tourists here, but us. Decor was 6 mounted deer heads on the wall, all looking different ways (as Hubby joked, "clearly none of them were looking in the right direction... behind them.") He had (what else???) blueberry pancakes, I had eggs, sausage and homefries. I saw biscuits with sausage gravy on the menu, single and double. I thought, hey, I love biscuits, haven't had a good one in a while, we should try that. So I ordered a double for me and Hubby, and our waitress gave us a strange look, but didn't say anything. When the food came, I found out why, it was a big bowl of glue-like paste with crumbled dry biscuits. I tried one bite and it was over.
Pancakes were, of course, a disappointment. My homefries were underdone (why can't anyone get this right?!?!). At least my eggs were fine.
Old Inn on the Green, New Marlborough, MA - http://www.oldinn.com/
This was a sensational menu. We got there early and opted to dine outside. It was a beautiful evening. The dining room exclusively uses candles for lighting and our table also was lit by a candle stick. We decided to splurge and order the 8 course tasting menu ($85). The nice thing about this tasting menu is that you have choices for 4 of the courses, so between Hubby and I, we were able to try over 14 different things. there were 3 amuses, a salmon puff (good), smoked tuna on cucumber (better) and a raw oyster (great). Next was a fluke ceviche, with cilantro and orange oil. The fish had good texture and flavor combo was good, but honestly, I'm just not such a ceviche fan, I would rather take my raw fish wrapped in some rice and seaweed. The menu called it "Maine Line-Caught Fluke," does it make a difference that it was 'line-caught'???
Second course was a Ricotta Agnolotti with pea mint sauce. Basically 3 small homemade pieces of filled pasta, perfectly cooked, the sauce tasted of spring. very nice.
We had a choice of the third course, Hubby had Foie Gras, it came with a strawberry compote and a vanilla shortbread, which made the whole thing kinda desserty. It was good, but strange, nothing like liver for dessert. I chose the swordfish. Now my friend McLight loves swordfish, goes on and on about how it's his favorite fish. He recently claimed that a swordfish meal at Sole Proprietor had an restorative effect on his bridge play. I am ok with swordfish; till this meal, I have never been super impressed, but this dish changed it all. There's no way to describe it to adequately convey how great it was. It was just perfectly cooked and seasoned, crispy skin, melt in your mouth textured flesh. It was served along with a red pepper sauce and a yellow pepper sauce. If I had just ordered this for dinner, I would have been blissful.
Fourth course, almost half way through. Hubby had lobster and udon noodles, it was served in a tea cup and was probably my least favorite part of the whole meal. I'm just not a fan of asian fusion flavors. I had squab with figs, and a foie gras flan. The combo of squab and figs was delicious, well composed, but the flan was amazing. I think the flan and the swordfish need to have a deathmatch to determine my favorite dish of the night. (I'm guessing the fish would win, after all, it has a weapon.) I love flans, all flans, sweet flans, savory flans. I still remember the great blue crab flan I had at EVOO in Somerville 5 years ago.
Fifth course. Hubby had sweetbreads, they were head and shoulders above the previous nights. Great texture and flavor. I had halibut with seaweed salad, miso vinaigrette, mango chutney. It was okay, again those Asian flavors. My least favorite fish of the night (and there's more fish to come)
Sixth course. Hubby had braised shortribs with the cutest little spatzle. The meat was very tender, but I think a little under seasoned. I had salmon with white bean, smoked tomato puree and bacon. The salmon skin was nice and crispy, like all skin should be and the bacon added a nice smoky note.
Seventh - the cheese course. He had Bayley Hazen, a lovely blue by Jasper Hill, the same farm that makes Constant Bliss (see L'espalier entry) and I had a nice raw sheep's milk cheese
Refresher - a surprisingly large martini glass with a loose rose gelee and a small scoop of musk melon sorbet, topped with some basil. I enjoyed the sorbet immensely, but the gelee had an almost medicinal taste to it? I didn't finish the gelee.
Eighth - dessert at last. Hubby had a Strawberry Lemon Verbena cake with mascarpone mousse and lemon sorbet. Nice flavors, but no where near as good as my chocolate cake, topped with a honey whipped ricotta. The topping really turned a standard chocolate dessert in to something different and special. The check came with chocolate peach truffles. Good, but ordinary.
Bread - the bread was great, warm slices of a baguette they make on the premises.
Service - was fantastic, really liked our server.
We also had breakfast the next day, but I'm sick of blogging, maybe I'll write about it later.