by Susan on April 22, 2008


Much buzz surrounded Dovetail’s December opening and less than six months later, most of the city’s revered restaurant critics have already reviewed the newcomer. The reviews, in a rare show of solidarity, all praised John Fraser’s Upper West Side restaurant. Though my last UWS dining journey to Bar Boulud left me disappointed, I was inspired to give Dovetail a try. My expectations were high but measured. Dovetail delivered.

John Fraser, who most recently worked at Compass, is both the chef and owner of Dovetail. His culinary vision and skills are apparent. Harmonious flavors and seasonal dishes are plated elegantly. Unique touches succeed. Every dish we tasted confirmed that Fraser knows what he is doing; it was only outside the kitchen where Dovetail faltered.

Dovetail is in a townhouse across from the Museum of Natural History. As you reach for the handle on the stylish glass door you feel as though you’ve scored an invite to a fancy soiree. Unfortunately, the feeling ends once you’re seated inside the tablecloth-less and acoustically-challenged space. While Fraser’s cooking style and dishes are cohesive, Dovetail’s atmosphere and service are incongruous with the high quality and high priced food. Exposed brick and wood create an intimate atmosphere, but the noise level and casual table settings detract from the dining experience. Aside from professional uniforms that aptly reflect the upscale menu, the wait staff had neither the skills nor personality to serve Dovetail’s menu. They never smiled; all their faces were blank and uninviting. Throughout the night they emitted the feeling that they didn’t want to be there.

Two amuse bouches, perched delicately on curve-handled spoons, arrived with mini loaves of buttery, cheddar cornbread. From start to finish, the dishes were balanced and well-prepared. Nothing was over seasoned or bland and there wasn’t a combination of flavors that didn’t produce solid results.

The most memorable dish was a simple and beautiful Beet Ravioli starter. Thin slices of red beets were folded to encase a creamy cheese mixture. The Soft-Shell Crab was crisp and seasoned perfectly. Pieces of White Asparagus, arranged in an elegant zigzag, was dressed up with raw salmon.

Surprising ingredients added richness and salt to Fraser’s fish dishes. Maine Sea Scallops came with a hollandaise while the sauce on the Braised Striped Bass was dotted with pieces of bacon. Pistachio Crusted Duck was cooked perfectly. The texture of the crunchy exterior was an excellent match for the gamey meat.

Dessert brought another high note, a delectable and elegant Brioche Bread Pudding. From start to finish, the kitchen executed a lovely meal.

103 West 77th Street
New York, NY 10024

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: