Every now and then, the Accidental Locavore needs a break from the kitchen. Tuesday I met some friends down at the new Beecher’s cheese store and café for lunch. They must have a great press person and have been mentioned in countless publications as the cheese/foodie destination of the moment. Part of the allure might be that they are making cheese in the store. OK. If you have a need to look at cheese curdling, far be it from me to stop you.
You know the Accidental Locavore is a sucker for (almost) anything cheese, so an early trip to Beecher’s was a must. Now I can save you from making the trip, unless your taste in cheese is a few steps up from Velveeta. Beecher’s signature cheese is, according to them, a mix of cheddar and Gruyere. Kind of insulting to both…
While not crazy about the signature product, it does make a good grilled cheese sandwich. Which is good because that, along with the “World’s Best Mac & Cheese” is most of the menu. And trust me, it’s NOT the world’s best mac & cheese (they were finalists in 2005, what we tasted would not cut it in 2011). The locavore may be a little cranky as it’s currently in the low 90’s and the menu at Beecher’s consisted of a couple of grilled cheese sandwiches, a lackluster salad and the mac & cheese. Not exactly summer lunch food.
But why Beecher’s? As a locavore, I appreciate that they are using local milk for their cheese, but it’s just not enough. This city has amazing cheese shops, some even with restaurants attached. To compete with the likes of Artisanal or Murray’s you need something unique and unfortunately, Beecher’s isn’t it. Guess I won’t be getting invited to their tasting panel…
I’m sure there exist trendy restaurants, well reviewed by the NY Times, that are worth the wait, decibel level and general hassle, but the Dutch isn’t one of them. In my many years of living in Manhattan, I can honestly say there are almost no highly reviewed restaurants (or musicals for that matter), worth the hassle of being the first on your block to have been there.
Tuesday night at the Dutch was just reinforcement of that credo. After the obligatory twenty-minute wait (with a reservation), we were shown to a large table in the middle of the bar area. Great, as long as you’re willing to forgo conversation and just text your dining partners throughout the meal… Another twenty-minute wait for a more suitable table. Oh, and did I mention that air conditioning was more of a concept than a reality? Tepid water and not-chilled-enough white wine kept the uncomfortably warm theme consistent throughout the evening.
After all that, the menu wasn’t terribly interesting. Six or so fish dishes, a duck pot-pie, some steaks and oysters. Yeah, OK… I had a beautifully cooked piece of cod in a broth with a strange spicy element (superfluous) and smoked mushrooms served about two hours after the time we had booked the table for.
The highlight of the evening? Great conversation and torrid gossip among friends…but I’m sworn to secrecy.
Thanks to my friend Robin Baron for the photos of the Dutch. She shares her views on our dinner there on her site: Simplifying Fabulous
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Anne: I’ve never been a Foodie, but your Accidental Locavore blog is bringing me perilously close. Every post provides a tasty tidbit of new knowledge, and your sense of FUN permeates it all. Thank you!
To give Beecher’s credit, both the chef and the press rep got back to me right away and asked to be given another shot.
bummer on Beechers
I have too much respect for cheese to go there. Ouch
I must agree with Anne on Breecher’s, although I did like their signature cheese I wanted a mixed selection. All the toasted cheese sandwiches were made with the same cheese. For me the most disappointing thing on a hot day was not being able to get a simple cheese board with fruit or sausage and some good toast and crackers. She also left out that the selection of ice tea was awful. After trying the specialty, we finally asked them to just pour a hot English Breakfast over ice.
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I can’t thank you enough for the careful way you are now defining the meanings of your “chef speak”. Most helpful. I have always hated to be left out of a conversation or to feel stupid in the middle of one. I now read your Blog with confidence and knowing I am about to learn something new about FOOD and its preparation.
As to The Dutch…it is amazing you and your friend Robin had such different experiences in the same place on the same night. Hmmmmm. Next time I am in NYC I will go to the Dutch and check it out for myself. Will report back.
Thanks as always for your weekly food stories and ideas. Carol