Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Tabree

My list of restaurants that I've been meaning to get to for a long time but just haven't made it to is simply too long. One of these restaurants that was on the list that I was able to cross off over the weekend was Tabree. I've been wanting to go to Tabree since it operated out of a small storefront on Elmwood Avenue. When it moved to Main Street in Snyder and then added the talents of Chef Bruce Wieszala, I tried to make it more of a point to get there. Well, it's taken some time, but we finally got there. While some of the food was great, some of it was not so great. Sadly, the resounding memory of the evening was of bad service.

When we arrived on a busy Friday night, the dining room was mostly full. We were shown to our table shortly after arriving and began to look at the menu. The menu is cosmopolitan to say the least, featuring French Bistro staples as well as dishes with American, Mediterranean and Asian influences. Hors d'oeuvres, salads, entrees and sandwiches are all solidly represented and we were given ample time to make our ultimate selections.

We decided to start with something I've been waiting to have from Chef Wieszala's kitchen for a long time - charcuterie. We ordered the small board ($16) to split amongst four people before our hors d'oeuvres arrived. For hors d'oeuvres and starters, my wife opted for the crab cake ($13). Jen chose the Smoked & Grilled Shrimp ($13), while her husband, Dan went with the Calamari "Frito" with House Aioli ($12). I ordered a special that sounded enticing - Tuna Crudo ($15).

The entree selections took a bit more time, but my wife chose the Bar Steak ($26) and Jen went with the Lobster Roll ($20) based on a suggestion from our server. Dan ordered the Handmade Potato Gnocchi ($22) from the menu, while I selected another special - Long Island Duck ($27).

After a very lengthy wait, our charcuterie board arrived:


I was not provided a description of the elements of the board, but I could tell there was some delicious lardo, finocchiona and some other wonderfully made cured meats. On the board was also a selection of mustard, house picked vegetables (including ramps) and chutney. All the meat was clearly crafted with skill and love and was delicious. It was all good, but the clear star for me was a dish I'd heard much about - the pâté brûlée. While some versions of pâté tend to be overly gamy, this one was not. It had plenty of delicious liver flavor, but when it was mixed with the caramelized sugar crust, it was phenomenal. I could have had that and nothing more all night and been completely content.

Once the board was taken away, the chef sent us this delicious plate:


The fritter you see was cooked perfectly and featured unctuous pork head meat from T Meadow Farm. It was delicious atop potatoes and adorned with a whole grain mustard sauce. Everyone got a delicious bite and I got to introduce others to tasty head meat. Thank you, chef!

After the charcuterie board and tasty treat had been cleared, our hors d'oeuvres and starters arrived. This was my wife's crab cake:



The cake was seared properly and cooked well. While it was full of crab meat, it lacked seasoning. It was served with fennel & apple slaw which was crunchy and flavorful.

These were Jen's shrimp:



The shrimp were served with barbecued French lentils. While the shrimp was full of delicious smoky flavor, they were overcooked and a tad chewy.

Dan's calamari were more successful:



They were served with a delicious house made aioli and were perfectly cooked. They were crispy and flavorful. One particularly Italian touch I enjoyed was the fried slices of lemon. No fritto would be without that in Italy.

This was my gorgeous Tuna Crudo:




Crudo is an Italian preparation of fish much like sushi in that it is served raw. It's commonly topped with a light vinaigrette or just some good extra virgin olive oil. This version with a show stopping presentation was dressed lightly with citrus, Serrano peppers, crispy shallots, salmon roe and pea tendrils. The tuna was top notch and very fresh. The light citrus vinaigrette was tasty and not overpowering. The Serranos were very hot and added another layer to the dish. A great starter.

After the start course plates were cleared, we awaited our entrees. This was Jen's Lobster Roll:



The sandwich had plenty of lobster meat. It was served on a delicious hot roll from Tom Cat Bakery in Queens. Unfortunately, the lobster had too much tarragon and overpowered the delicate flavor of the meat.

My wife's steak was more successful:



The steak was 10 oz. of flank cut certified Angus Beef. It was cooked perfectly as per my wife's request and topped with maître d’hôtel butter, a compound butter typically made with parsley, lemon juice, butter, salt & pepper. The frites were crispy, salty and delicious. They were made even better by the addition of the house-made aioli for dipping.

Dan's gnocchi were well-made and the preparation symbolic of Spring:



The gnocchi were light, fluffy and served with wild mushrooms, spring vegetables and a wonderfully bright house-made lemon ricotta. A lovely spring pasta dish.

Lastly, this was my duck:




[Photographs were less than optimal due to the dark interior of the restaurant and my refusal to use a flash due to its ill affects on the images.]

The Long Island duck breast was cooked to a perfect medium rare and had delightfully crispy skin. It, too, featured a beautiful presentation with the duck breast served atop a base of duck confit and granola. Carefully placed roasted carrots with cumin and rainbow chard adorned the meat, with dollups of shallot puree along the sides to round out the dish. The granola was a playful way to add a crunchy texture to the dish and the maple flavor it in complimented the duck. 

I would be remiss if I failed to mention the poor service we received that evening. It, unfortunately, overshadowed a well-made meal and was the focal point of the evening. Our charcuterie board took nearly an hour to arrive after we ordered. The server, who we were told was new, was inattentive and seemingly forgetful of our presence. She forgot to bring me a glass of wine as I had asked for with my dinner. Luckily, it did not appear on the bill. Management offered us a free round of drinks when we informed them of the problem, but we declined. Suffice it to say that the poor service made us regret the money we spent that evening.

That said, we were able to enjoy a night out with some very good friends, great conversation and very good food, some of it great. I'm still thinking about the pâté brûlée for what it's worth. Unfortunately, the service is what we'll remember about that meal.





~NE


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