Pages

Friday, July 17, 2009

Perhaps I Shall Tarry Here A While

I just had a fabulous (although rather noisy) birthday dinner.

At my request, Kevin took me to Tarry Lodge in Port Chester, NY.

Tarry Lodge has quite a bit of history to it. It has been around for over 100 years and has been everyhing from a family restaurant to a speakeasy. Once upon a time it was a go-to neighborhood Italian restaurant and pizza place, but like many long-standing institutions, it's heyday was long past. Port Chester in recent years has filled with more upscale Italian restaurants and Latin American restaurants of all shapes and colors. It eventually closed its doors.

One day I began to hear whispers that Mario Batali had purchased the place. I couldn't believe it. Batali and Bastianich open restaurants in big cities. Why would they open a restaurant in a piddling little suburb? If Westchester folks want B&B food, we're supposed to suck it up and get on the train and go into the city.

Then the rumor turned out to be true. Batali and Bastianich did buy the Tarry Lodge and opened it with Andy Nusser as the chef. It seemed amazing, but it was true.

It has been open for a few months now, but I had yet to try it. Getting a reservation at Tarry Lodge isn't as hard as getting one at Babbo, but I had already been hearing the buzz about crowds and long waits. I had no desire to even try to get near the place unless it was a very special occasion. Well, what occasion could be more special than my birthday? I decided it was time to try it and see if it lived up to the hype. Last week I made the reservation.

Our night didn't start out very promising. We arrived for our 8:15 reservation and were told that they were a bit behind. The hostess said the wait would be 5 minutes. Well, the 5 minutes became 25 minutes. At one point they offered us a small table near the kitchen, but said they would rather give us a nicer table. Kevin thinks it was a ploy to seat another couple before us, as we saw another couple head toward the "bad" table not more than two minutes later. Eventually someone came along and gave us complimentary glasses of proseco for our trouble. Okay. That made things a bit better. Finally, we were seated.

Tarry Lodge is a beautiful restaurant. The building was built in 1906 and the owners have wisely retained its architectural integrity. I could not stop admiring the beautiful woodwork in the place. I don't know if it is original or not. The building is old, but people who have been to the old Tarry Lodge say it was never there before.

Here is the entryway.

I was a little afraid that in an effort to get away from the "red sauce Italian" roots of the place that they would do something drastic with the decor. In order to look more authentically Italian I feared they would try to give it that Italian Villa Courtyard look. That is a perfectly charming style of decor, but it would not be right for such a beautiful Victorian building.

Here is a shot of the bar from one side.
The bar looking down from our table, which was in an elevated area above the bar area.

Here is the area where our table was. You can see Kevin trying to hide behind his menu.

There is a second floor which I did not see. I had hoped we might be seated up there because the first floor had a really big disadvantage. It was NOISY. It was really, seriously loud in there. That's a big complaint of many Tarry Lodge diners. Kevin and I didn't have to shout to be heard, but it didn't give us much of a romantic atmosphere.

We sat down and were greeted by our waiter. He was a man of few words, but lots of big smiles. I really liked him.

Raise a glass to the birthday girl. The wine I'm drinking is a Bastianich (until last night I didn't know they had their own label) called Joe's Rosso. I thought the wine was expensive here until I realized they don't serve by the glass, but by the quartillo. This was A LOT of wine. It was so much wine that I had to hand the car keys off to Kevin at the end of the evening. He was anticipating that I would have to do this, so he drank Shirley Temples all night. (He's such a little boy.)
A lovely foccacia was our bread.

On to the starters. Here is my farro with grilled corn. Behind it is Kevin's eggplant caponata. We were both quite pleased with our choices. I even persuaded Kevin to try the farro and he really liked it.


Prosciutto di Parma. I snarfed this entire plate. It was so melt-in-your-mouth good. I told Kevin I felt as if I were holding Italy in my mouth. Yum yum yum. I wish they served the coppa that they served at Lupa though.

Kevin opted to try one of the many designer pizzas for his entree. This one was a spicy pizza with clams. He wasn't crazy about having to deal with whole clams like this, but he liked it anyway.

I had brasato al barolo. This was a cut of beef braised in red wine. There was a hint of lemon (with lemon peel garnish) in this dish that was very unexpected and took this in a different direction from your typical braised beef dish. The polenta beneth it was unbelievably creamy.

Dessert was a flourless chocolate cake with pisctachio gelato and candied orange peel on the side. I had to order it because birthdays call for chocolate cake. They were nice enough to stick a candle on it for me.

Kevin opted for a sundae of mixed gelati covered with a fresh cherry topping. I'm not sure what happened to the photo. It doesn't look like I remembered to upload it.

We both agreed at the end of the night that this is great to have around as a special occasion restaurant. Food is interesting and well-prepared and I think for the caliber of food served, pretty reasonably priced. Table service was good - friendly and prompt. The only negatives were the wait and the noise. However, I think the food was good enough to counteract those things.

I will definitely tarry here again some time.

7 comments:

Donna-FFW said...

Are you from around Port Chester?? I grew up and lived in Yonkers for 24 years before moving here to NJ.

Great review!!

Bellini Valli said...

Seems like we share a birthday week so Happy birthday!! Siybds like a perfect evening!!

Adam said...

Oh man, did I miss your birthday? Well Happy Belated. I hope 26 treats you well :)

The restaurant food looks perfect, and I like the decor the place had. I'm not a huge fan of white molding, but it looks really nice.

noble pig said...

How wonderful it sounds. And lots of wine...I like that!

Theresa said...

Happy B'day!!! And I'll have to check that out too. I'm in northern westchester. Looks very nice.

Sue said...

That sounds like it might become your go-to place for special occasions.

Restaurants are so dumb, if they had presented you with the prosecco after a seven minute wait, instead of 25 minutes, you probably wouldn't have even noticed.

I do feel bad for restaurants sometimes. If I have an earlier reservation, which I try to avoid, I always ask what the time frame is for the next reservation. Plus I often make the reservation a little later than I think I need, so I don't arrive late and screw up YOUR birthday dinner!

Lo said...

OOooh. Aaaaah. YUM.
What a great birthday! This celebration looks just perfect to me. Especially the wine!