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Willow Road


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Don’t be fooled into believing Willow Road is a pub with American comfort food. True it is a gastropub, but you will nonetheless be served delicious, sophisticated food masterfully created by Bouley and Cru alumnus Todd Macdonald, which is honest and unpretentious; a rare combination these days and one well-worth seeking out. There are no foams, no sous-vide preparations and no prissy plating. The dishes are just delicious, innovative and memorable. The pickled baby vegetables in a Mason jar are a far cry from Grandma’s bread and butter pickles. The roasted sugar pumpkin stuffed with swiss chard, mushroom and nuts and served with a mushroom velouté is marvelous; a charred bean salad with mustard seeds, mussels a la plancha (even naked), delectable grilled lobster and an aligote (pureed potatoes with comté) will make you wonder why you ever put up with the ridiculous 1,000-taste tasting menus and tuxedoed service staff of yesteryear. You will not wake up in the morning trying to remember what you ate, but will have fond memories of every bite and an overwhelming desire to go back for more.

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  • 1 month later...

Don't you just cringe when the waiter walks up to your table and asks, "have you ever been here before?" You want to say, "no, but I've eaten at restaurants before," but you don't because you know what's coming. "Let me explain the menu to you." "Why, do you think I'm too stupid to understand that bites mean really small plates, small plates mean small appetizers and large plates mean small entrees?" And when he says, "It's family style, but that doesn't mean it's large plates like at Carmines, it means that you're supposed to share," don't you want to throw your glass of water at him? And when he says, "it's really tapas style," don't you want to say, "no, it really isn't." And when the waiter explains that the entrees are smaller sized because they're meant to be shared do you just want to say, as I did, "you're telling me that you're giving me less food, and I'm supposed to give some away?" And when he cheerfully says, "but they're going to give you some of theirs." Don't you wish to say what I wasn't obnoxious enough to say, "but you're giving them less food to begin with as well."

 

This whole sharing thing is a scam. But you all know that already. I think more people should call them out at the restaurant.

 

All said, however, this was a terrific place. The waiter was great. We shared the special fish of the day, a massive, very well-cooked, red snapper. It easily could have fed three or four (normal) people. The fried chicken was deemed "very good," although it was dipped in some honey sauce. Where's Paula Deen be at? The black bass and the scallop dishes (a three scallop large plate?) were also very good. The sticky toffee pudding with salted caramel ice cream was terrific, although slightly on the salty side. The panko-crusted deep fried "unreal" snickers bar wasn't very good.

 

Not inexpensive. I think the bill for six, with four drinks, was about $400.

 

I would go back soon if it wasn't in such an unpleasant area, nestled between the butt cheeks of Colicchio & Sons and Del Posto, as it were, such and such.

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....honest and unpretentious; a rare combination these days...

 

Actually, isn't it the most common combination these days?

 

...will make you wonder why you ever put up with the ridiculous 1,000-taste tasting menus and tuxedoed service staff of yesteryear...

 

When you find a restaurant serving a 1,000-taste menu with tuxedoed staff, could you let us know?

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The food we got looked more interesting than the stuff on Oak's review. I think they aimed a bit higher than Oak does. However, I don't disagree with him that this is not a destination restaurant. It's yet another restaurant that I would like to have within a few blocks of my apartment.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I say it here:

Don't you just cringe when the waiter walks up to your table and asks, "have you ever been here before?" You want to say, "no, but I've eaten at restaurants before," but you don't because you know what's coming. "Let me explain the menu to you." "Why, do you think I'm too stupid to understand that bites mean really small plates, small plates mean small appetizers and large plates mean small entrees?" And when he says, "It's family style, but that doesn't mean it's large plates like at Carmines, it means that you're supposed to share," don't you want to throw your glass of water at him? And when he says, "it's really tapas style," don't you want to say, "no, it really isn't." And when the waiter explains that the entrees are smaller sized because they're meant to be shared do you just want to say, as I did, "you're telling me that you're giving me less food, and I'm supposed to give some away?" And when he cheerfully says, "but they're going to give you some of theirs." Don't you wish to say what I wasn't obnoxious enough to say, "but you're giving them less food to begin with as well."

This whole sharing thing is a scam. But you all know that already. I think more people should call them out at the


It comes out there:

 

If you go out a lot, you've heard The Lecture dozens of times before. Here are its high points: 1) Guests should order at least two or three plates per person; 2) These plates are made for sharing; and, 3) The plates may arrive at any time.

Let's interpret The Lecture and see what it really means.

1) Even though a dish carries a price tag of $15, expect the size to be small, though the complicated description makes it read like an entrée. In fact all of the dishes - the waiter seems to be saying - represent comically puny servings. You really need at least three to begin to feel like you've actually eaten dinner.

2) This is the weirdest assertion of all, a total non-sequitur. If a plate is small, how would that make it shareable? But saying the plates are made to be shared makes you feel like the servings are bigger than they really are, and gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling.

3) What this means is: We don't care what your experience of the meal is, and our kitchen can't regulate the pace because we've hired too few cooks. So if all the hot dishes arrive at once, it shouldn't bother you. They're so small anyway, you can finish them in a second or two.

But it's not just the self-serving nature of The Lecture that rankles, but the wheedling and condescending tone in which it is often delivered. One feels like a recalcitrant third-grader being admonished. Even if you answer the initial question in the affirmative (Why, yes! I've been to your excellent restaurant dozens of times!), you're still likely to get The Lecture.


Seitsema

 

(No, I'm not suggesting he copied or even read my post.)

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