Whatever opinion I might have had of Scott Bryan as a person from an interview doesn't much matter. And while his food is anything but cutting-edge, I didn't find it boring (sorry, Sneak). I've never eaten at any of his other restaurants (looks like there have been quite a few, though not as many as Ryan Skeen ), so this was a fresh start.
We both had events near The Milling Room on Monday night, so it was a reasonable choice for dinner after. I agonized a little over it, though, because the menu does read like a collection of boring greatest hits. Turned out, though, that he is a proponent of Big Flavors, which I tend to like. We ended up being quite happy with our meal.
While waiting for Paul to arrive, I had a Boulevardier (Old Overholt rye, Campari, Carpano-Antica). It was a big drink, and a nice take on a Manhattan. No Maraschino cherry, thank god.
We both had eaten some at our respective events, so figured we'd order on the light side. I suspect that's not possible. Maybe the hamachi tartare is light, but usually anything with hamachi is just too light on flavor for me. I ended up with
TUSCAN MUSHROOM SOUP (Garlic-Anchovy Vinaigrette, Reggiano, Croutons) [this is taken directly from the online menu. I think it's a mistake, although there were croutons, untoasted; but no vinaigrette or cheese in evidence as in the salad below]
and Paul with
ESCAROLE SALAD (Garlic-Anchovy Vinaigrette, Reggiano, Croutons) [this is accurate]
I'm not sure what was Tuscan about the soup, but it was most definitely mushroom. Lots and lots of bits of various mushrooms with diced carrot and a few other things. Big mushroom flavor, and a big portion--the plates they use must hold at least 10 ounces if not more. Now that I think of it, it had a mouthfeel reminiscent of my mother's mushroom-barley soup. Anyway, I loved this. Paul's salad was a large heap of greens with a heavy shower of grated cheese. Even if there was too much dressing (a bit wet for me), it was a well-balanced dressing, with no single flavor of anchovy or garlic dominating. He was quite pleased with that. It's unusual for him to eat the croutons on a salad, but he did--the sourdough they serve was excellent, with a chewy crumb and heavy crust.
Paul's idea of something light for a main was
WILD MUSHROOM RISOTTO (Black Trumpets, Peas, Reggiano, Black Truffle).
ROAST FARM CHICKEN (Mascarpone Polenta, Lemon, Garlic Confit, Madeira)
as recommended by rozrapp. We were both wrong; neither of these was a light plate. Both somewhat heavy, both delicious. The lemon in the chicken certainly helped brighten it, but man, that polenta is rich. At least my glass of cava rosé was on the light side (in a good way). A majority of the chicken portion came home with me. The mushrooms in the risotto were abundant and flavorful; I couldn't detect much black truffle, but I only had a small taste. But of course, this too was rich, and another big portion. His glass of pinot noir (Santa Barbara, "Au Bon Climat") cut the richness some.
After that, we figured no dessert. But then we saw a blackberry financier--magic words both, even if the blackberries probably come from Chile (like the "seasonal fruit" we served all year round at Match). Berries throughout a barely sweetened cake as well as on the side as garnish and a coulis under. The lack of sugar made it a good finish to the meal, along with decaf for Paul and mint-verbena tisane for me.
Nice to have someplace better than Calle Ocho for when we're at events at the Planetarium. The Tavern menu to come could be just the thing for smaller meals.
$127 before tax and tip, a good price for 1 drink, 2 glasses of wine, 2 apps, 2 mains, 1 dessert, 2 coffee/tea.