Saturday, November 24, 2012

Restaurant North, Armonk, NY

Mussels on Flatbread
Restaurant North in Armonk owners Eric Gabrynowicz and Stephen Mancini believe in using local suppliers to create a true farm to table dining experience that should please the most die hard localvore. One of their suppliers is Sycamore Farms in Montgomery, owned by the Smith family, employers of my son Mark. Restaurant North has been on my short list of places to go for some time now, so when Mark gave us a gift card to go there that list got even shorter, it was simply a matter of finding the right time to go.

We made a five o'clock reservation on a Saturday, they open at five, because it was a bit over an hour's drive so we figured we'd eat, then do some shopping on the way home. As we entered I took a look and my first impression was of a refreshing understated simplicity in design. It looked like a restaurant that was saying, "Hey, we're nice, we can be trendy, but just wait until you try our food." It is what I call 'Up-County,' something you would have  found in Northern Westchester, Fairfield and Putnam Counties years ago. It has that Town and Country feel to it, city standards, or better, in a country setting. Well, country depends on where you're from. This part of Westchester hasn't really been country since Roosevelt was in office.

We were greeted and seated, given menus, water and offered bread. We had the place to ourselves for close to a half an hour. By the time we left at six-thirty (they do not rush you there as they believe in a relaxed and pleasant dining experience) the room was nearly full. Even though it was crowded near the end, the noise level wasn't bad. 

Steelhead Salmon
The menu is not huge, it is printed on a single page as it changes  daily depending on what is available. The size wasn't a problem, the problem was there were far too many excellent choices. We ordered appetizers to stall for time while we made our dinner choices. Teresa ordered the potato gnocchi over chicken Bolognese that was quite good (sorry, no picture) and I ordered the Mussels on Flatbread shown above which were amazing. The mussels were cooked in wine and lemon juice with garlic and spread over a grilled flatbread. It was quite savory, and quite delectable.  

I was down to the Steelhead Trout and the Seared Scallops for dinner. Our waitress suggested the salmon and she was right. It came exactly as I ordered it, just a shade less than medium, on a bed of quinoa, eggplant and broccolette (I think so anyway as the taste seemed to be a cross between Brussels sprouts and broccoli). The outside of the fish was crispy and the inside was a lovely reddish/pink. It was perfectly cooked and the flavor balanced with the rest of the dish.

Poached Cod
Teresa got the Poached Cod on a bed of lentils and beets. I took a taste and it was delightful. It was a simple dish with subtle flavor hints coming through, like the sea salt and horseradish.

French Toast Bread Pudding
As I looked over the dessert menu I took note of the French Toast Bread Pudding. I made one of those a couple of weeks ago to get rid of an excess of leftover French Toast when I was cooking on a retreat weekend and it was pretty good. I decided to order it so I could see whose was better, mine or the restaurant's. When it came I realized that it was far better than mine was, but then they did set out to make the dish, I was just trying to re-use some leftovers. Teresa ordered a pear tart and Chef Eric sent us out a cookie as well. We had a bit of sugar overload after that.

Chocolate Chip Cookie
The bottom line?

Decor- Simple, yet sophisticated with a hint of modern balanced with that Up-County feel.
Service- Impeccable.
Food- Amazing. Every dish was perfect.
Prices- Moderate to high, depending on what you are used to. Appetizer, entree and desert come to about $60.00 per person. 
Verdict- Must go!