The consistent refrain about Dovetail has been sheer wonderment that any restaurant of its caliber could survive, let alone flourish, in the culinary tundra of the Upper West Side. And we must admit, we were skeptical too. We were prepared for Dovetail to be a solid, possibly even excellent restaurant, but to limp along with dignity for a while before ultimately shuttering. We must confess to being taken aback at the quality, consistency and creativity of the food – and at the restaurant’s success. It is perennially busy, and a festive atmosphere always descends on the hoards of civilized, dapper young diners chattering away.
The restaurant design is contemporary, elegant and warm, but somewhat indistinctive. Fraser honed his skills under Thomas Keller at The French Laundry and then at Taillevent and it shows – his dishes are executed with impressive technique and deep respect for ingredients. But the food is also unstilted: white cheddar truffled cornbread is served at the beginning of the meal. It is hard to go wrong on the menu, but the seasonal American cuisine features a few truly standout dishes: a ramp fettucine with English peas, hon shimeji mushrooms and bacon that should be paired with the 2010 Tenuta delle Terre Nere from Etna Rosso in Sicily; a halibut with fava beans and spring onions; a roasted sirloin with a profoundly delicious beef cheek lasagna; and a seared pork belly, mixed with kale and mushrooms, and a slowly poached egg. There are a few nice touches: a rotating sherry list, a Monday night vegetarian menu that will give even dyed-in-the-wool carnivores pause; and a “Sunday Suppa” menu, 3 courses for $46, that is far and away one of the best values in NYC dining. This an already widely acclaimed restaurant that deserves even more recognition.
103 W. 77th St.
New York (nr. Columbus Ave.)
212-362-3800 Mon-Tue, 5:30pm-11pm; Wed-Fri, noon-2:30pm, 5:30pm-11pm; Sat, 11:30am-2:30pm, 5:30pm-11pm; Sun, 11:30am-2:30pm, 5:30pm-10pm