Friday, November 6, 2009

Chadwick's Restaurant: a world of choices for the discerning diner

By Marshall Slater

There is little question that you will have problems when you come to Chadwick’s Restaurant...ahhh, but what sweet problems. The truth of the matter is that there are so many varied and first rate choices to your meal that you will first be torn between several “must haves” and then, no matter what you end up choosing and no matter how satisfying it inevitably will turn out to be…you will bemoan the fact that you had to choose and couldn’t have them all.

We should all have such problems.

Well, I suppose this is somewhat unfair of the restaurant: compelling you to return again and again to revisit favorites and savor other new dishes. And beware those who think they can resist temptation…you won’t and you will be glad you didn’t. Eat the celery stalks the next day…settle down to a feast on this night.

Chadwick’s, a staple in an ever changing dining scene since 1987, bills itself as serving American cuisine, but this is partially misleading. While its roots are patriotic enough, the skills of the kitchen, the attention to detail, the excellence of the chef propel the offerings far beyond a mere classification.

The façade of this dining establishment has occupied the corner of 89th Street and Third Avenue for so long, some take it for granted, but one thing is clear…the management and staff do not. It is really quite rare to continue to find such vigor to please in such a long-running success story. Each order that emerges from the kitchen has been crafted from the finest ingredients and rendered by a master — Executive Chef Sean Quinn — whose dedication would have you believe he is still auditioning for the job and whose continued employment is teetering on every dish.

From the moment you sit you understand how pleasing your visit will be…even the homemade deep orange-red sweet red pepper spread — a complex concoction of fresh parsley, pignoli, garlic, olives and more — which accompanies the excellent crusty, fluffy loaves of bread is a standout. And here let me point out another observation: You’ll go through the spread quickly, and have a knife duel with your companion over who gets the last dollop. But when the spread has been consumed, that’s not the end of it. The waiter just brings you another container of the spread and, seeing how much you enjoyed it the first time, makes sure this bowl is twice as large as the first. Quite a contrast to other dining establishment who may throw you a complimentary piece of bruschetta…and when it’s gone, it’s gone.

And yes, be assured the place is lovely inside…but enough divergence from the menu. Let’s get down to it.

There is the Pan Seared Day Boat Scallops appetizer. I must confess, I have been at this a long time and have not heard about “day boat” scallops…and, assuming you have not either, I can only assume from this dish that they are gargantuan rounds, so big that each can only be consumed with three large bites. And based on the Chadwick’s dish, one can also say they are so tender and light that you will forever be jaded when you order scallops elsewhere. Done here they are seared to perfection, gently browned on both sides, served with stunningly delicious wild mushrooms atop an equally addictive mache green salad, but the real star is the authentic truffle oil vinaigrette, which offers a totally singularly pleasing accent to the dish and a whoosh of flavor that you will rave to your friends about.

Equal praise is heaped on a more mundanely sounding starter, the fried calamari. The seafood is without peer…each ring is so tender and flavorful, and coated with a delectable batter that is not the least bit oily, you will certainly wonder what you have been missing till now.

Finally, extra thin strips of French fried zucchini covers the top of the seafood, which is then served with two sauces: a very good and traditional spicy tomato plus a most uncharacteristic but very welcome green pepperoncini sauce which, it turns out, is the perfect complement to the calamari.

Hungry yet?

The Chilled Maine Lobster Salad is a work of food art, and you will have misgivings digging into it it’s so pretty…but you will. The perimeter of the plate is comprised of split cherry tomatoes interspersed with dollops of tamale mayonnaise and basil oil. The abundance of fresh lobster meat is truly generous and it is served in fresh corn kernels relish with greens. The entire dish is built artfully around the shell. Finally, may I add…with every bite of sweet lobster meat, there was not a hint — not even the faintest whisper — of shell or cartilage.

Let’s continue with the Braised Beef Short Rib Spring Rolls, which started as a bar treat and ended up on the menu because of the universal clamor for it. It is served with a mound of shredded red Asian slaw with a slight vinegary accent while the spring rolls are further enhanced with the thick and sweet honey ginger dipping sauce.

Other options for appetizers include Japanese crab cakes with wasabi vinaigrette and red cabbage slaw; a fresh mozzarella and grilled eggplant Napoleon in a thick balsamic vinegar; Clams Catalan with shaved fennel, chorizos (Spanish sausage), cannelloni beans and toasted almonds all in a tomato saffron broth, and Hickory and Molasses BBQ Duck Breast.

Order the Chesapeake Oyster Chowder on a cold night and be warmed to the gills in this supper confection of heavy cream and a touch of brandy, with hickory smoked bacon, chunks of red bliss potatoes, kernels of corn, celery and carrots.

Pasta dishes continue the distinction: the Tagliatelle with Crab Sauce is memorable even as your belt begins to tighten from indulging on the aforementioned appetizers. Jumbo lump crabmeat (and again, not a single bite will contain shell or even a flake of cartilage) is served in more than generous supply in a fresh sweet plum tomato ambrosia with finely cubed sweet fresh tomatoes, the flavors of which seep into the first rate pasta, cooked to uncommon perfection.

Choices here also include the Papardella with Slow Braised Duck Ragu with apricots, shiitakes and crumbled goat cheese; Rigatoni with a sweet fennel sausage sauce of garlic, tomato, cream and fresh basil, and Braised Beef Ravioli with wild mushrooms and tomato ragu.

Am I gushing yet? Unabashedly I am…but enthusiasm is easy when describing the food at Chadwick’s.

The main event offers fabulous seafood entrées such as the Pan Roasted Tilapia with a unique hash of fresh lobster meat with chunks of sweet potatoes, smoky bits of bacon, corn kernels and onion with shredded chives and minced tomatoes in the fresh lemon buerre blanc sauce. The Red Snapper is encrusted in a superlative horseradish creation, which contrasts with near perfection with the Dijon mustard buerre blanc sauce.

The salmon is seared and prepared in an aromatic lemon broth and presented with a sweet pea puree; the tuna is dusted in fennel and done with orange and chili oil, served with roasted eggplant, roasted cherry tomatoes and a Kalamata olive tapenade.

On land, there is the Pistachio Rack of Colorado Lamb with sautéed spinach and fresh mint jus and oven roasted organic chicken with a sweet corn and black truffle risotto with a contrasting white truffle, lemon butter sauce.

With all this it is hard to remember that Chadwick’s is equally praised as a top notch steak and chop house with a 48-ounce Porterhouse, a 24-ounce boneless shell steak, peppercorn crusted filet mignon with grilled asparagus with a brandy and wild mushroom demi-glace and char grilled double cut pork chops with whipped garlic potatoes and sautéed spinach, served with a homemade apple sauce or hot cherry peppers, the chops in a rich Bordelaise sauce.T

he place — I am told — also has excellent desserts, but frankly, while the mind was willing, the body couldn’t handle even the sweetest of confections.

Chadwick’s Restaurant
8822 Third Avenue, 718-833-9855 or Hours: Lunch is served Monday – Saturday, 11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.; dinner is served seven nights: Monday – Thursday, 4:30 p.m. – 10 p.m., until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 1:30 – 9 p.m. on Sunday.

There is free valet parking seven nights a week.

Entertainment is featured Saturdays from 7:30 p.m., spotlighting George Hotz on keyboard and vocals.

Private parties up to 70 in the main room; up to 40 in the private party room. Ask about their many party package menus.

They offer a price fixed dinner menu at $22.95 Monday – Thursday, 4:30 – 7 p.m. with some of the top selections from the regular menu. The meal includes appetizer, entrée and dessert.

There is also a price fixed $16.95 lunch special.

Make sure to enquire about the Thanksgiving Day special menu.

Photo by Stefano Giovannini


Patricia M. Quinn,  November 10, 2009 at 4:54 PM  

Kudos to Chadwicks what a great article. Congratulations on your recent Zagat 2010 ratings.

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