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David Drake

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Hi All

Went last night to David Drake for a 9th Anniversary dinner.

First, was a little put off by the neighborhood. But once inside I found the place very charming. We were put at a tiny table for two in a room set with three tables. Only one other ended up being occupied. My wife found the room too cold and with the nearby door to the outside opening and closing a lot last night it was a problem.

We made our reservation through OpenTable. Open Table allows for notes to be sent to the restaurant. Advised them that this was a wedding anniversary and I wanted it to be a special evening and that my wife is allergic to peanuts. To which Brian Maher GM replied, "Your allergy concerns will be noted and your server will alert the kitchen. as well as guide you to appropriate selections not containing any peanut products."

Well, I could have just walked in from the street. Even when I asked about the 100 points I was to earn from Open Table they were clueless.

All of this would be unimportant because to me the important thing is the food first and service second.

Our waiter, Bob S. according to the check, never introduced himself. Discussed water and menu changes, and I told waiter to select wine by the glass for each of my dishes.

Wife and I both picked the same appetizer, "SALAD OF WARM DUCK CONFIT bitter greens, horseradish dressing, sliced baby beets $13". Wife felt it lacked something. I felt it was good, plenty of duck, nice balance of flavors, would have liked a little more dressing tossed in, but not an exceptional dish. Matched wine was a slightly sweet Reisling, a pretty good balance to the bitterness of the greens.

For my Main I chose, "SEARED SEA SCALLOPS AND PORK BELLY

braised leek, saffron potato, sauce romesco $29". Found the scallops too lightly seared to develop flavor, but was cooked properly to retain moistness. Pork belly was done perfectly, crispy, and a good play to the scallop. But found the romesco sauce much too tomato(y) and not even a hint of saffron was detected. The Brully chosen by the waiter was also a very good choice.

My wifes Main was "BARRAMUNDI FILET celery root and cauliflower purée, roasted portabello, vincotto reduction $26". My wife liked the dish but again felt it was not exceptional. She gave me a taste. Loved the perfectly crispy skin and moist fish flesh underneath, but agreed there was no wow factor to the dish. The waiters choice of Cornu Bourgogne Rouge worked well with the flavors.

Wife ordered for dessert, "SWEET LIME RISOTTO tropical salsa, coconut sorbet, thai basil." $10. We both agreed this was the hit of the evening. Very creative with outstanding latin flavors. Risotto perfectly cooked just a hair past al dente in a lime flavored cream.

I ordered a Cappucino. $6. Found it wimpy watery.

Found the staff, Waiter - Did his job well but needs to personalize his service with the customer a little more, develop a "Table Side" manner to steal from the old Dr adage. The two Mexican bus people, dressed in crisp white uniforms, were perfect. They performed their duties very professionally. A young lady originally from California also helped with clearing duties. She had a perfect personallity for dealing with the public. I found her charming and cute, and reminded me of our brat number two who waited tables in Philadelphia.

Lastly, I e-mailed this was an anniverary. Asked that this be a special night. We exchanged cards at the table and had them on display. Nothing!! Not even a congratulations.

All in all, not a destination to return to.

Viejo


"A dry crust of bread eaten in peace and quiet is better than a feast eaten where everyone argues" Proverbs (17:1).

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Can you DD fans (helloooo, Randi!) tell me your favorite tables/why? The owner of our company (a ridiculously particular man) thinks DD is one of his favorite new places, but he was saying that he's not sure about sitting in one room vs. the other.

Fwiw, he prefers a square or round table vs. one where 2-3 people sit on each side. (I said he was PARTICULAR)...in any case, your suggestions/reasoning would be greatly appreciated, as I've never been there.

Thanks in advance!


"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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Can you DD fans (helloooo, Randi!) tell me your favorite tables/why?  The owner of our company (a ridiculously particular man) thinks DD is one of his favorite new places, but he was saying that he's not sure about sitting in one room vs. the other. 

Fwiw, he prefers a square or round table vs. one where 2-3 people sit on each side.  (I said he was PARTICULAR)...in any case, your suggestions/reasoning would be greatly appreciated, as I've never been there.

Thanks in advance!

Sitting downstairs he would prefer (as I do) the room on your right as you enter, the room on your left is narrow with several seats on each side of the tables. Upstairs, the side with the bar has only small 2 person tables. The other side has both types.

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In all the times I've been there (and there have been many!) I've only ever sat in the room to the right, the one Jeffrey described.

My favorite table there is the one in the far right corner as you enter the room. Not sure why - I just like it best! It's a square table that seats 4.


"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best --" and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called. - A.A. Milne

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In all the times I've been there (and there have been many!) I've only ever sat in the room to the right, the one Jeffrey described.

My favorite table there is the one in the far right corner as you enter the room.  Not sure why - I just like it best!  It's a square table that seats 4.

That table is quite nice, as is the (usually) round table in the same room. As you enter the room on the right, this table is on the sidewalk side, in front of the large window. Seats five or six.

The fireplace projects slightly into the room, which gives both of these tables a slight barrier from the rest of the room (all of four other tables).


Apparently it's easier still to dictate the conversation and in effect, kill the conversation.

rancho gordo

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Great info...thanks very much!

Curlz


"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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We make our David Drake debut tonight. What did people enjoy on the current menu?

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Sadly, I haven't been there since September. Looking forward to hearing about your experience.

I hope you love it!


"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best --" and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called. - A.A. Milne

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We make our David Drake debut tonight. What did people enjoy on the current menu?

...Anxiously awaiting your report. Hope it was wonderful!


"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best --" and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called. - A.A. Milne

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Yes, David Drake is an exceptional restaurant.

The ambience is great. We were a group of six and we were seated in a small room with two other tables for two. It was like having a private room. The decor is very attractive. The service is attentive, respectful and the service of the plates is well-choreographed to insure simultaneous serving of all table members (no such thing as "Who ordered the filet mignon" here). Impressive, although this shouldn't be so hard to do.

On to the food.Three of us had halibut over peas and cavatelli with a dash of pesto. It was light and refreshing and a dish that seemed suited for spring. Another of us had seared scallops that looked great. A relative had squab, which he enjoyed but he said that he was a small squab. The other ordered entree was a flat iron steak at the other end of the table, which my brother-in-law liked.

The wine list was extensive. We had a Sancerre that we enjoy at home and it was a hit with the group.

Slight disappointments: no pork, veal or chicken on the menu. Did have rabbit, duck breast and squab, which are more unusual. We were a group of six and they automatically added 18.7% to the bill. Why do this ? I would have left 20% or more. Do large tables really stiff the staff? Also, no disrespect to Rahway, but the area seems to be in disrepair and the locals do not appear to be prospective customers for restaurant. Good for Rahway if this restaurant helps their economy, but the restaurant seems out of character for the neighborhood. It's not an affluent area. Don't mean to be a snob.

We all enjoyed the experience and we will return. My cousins want to bring business associates. I recommend it as one of the best restuarants in NJ and on a par with many in NYC.

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I'm so glad you enjoyed it! I need to get back there sometime soon.


"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best --" and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called. - A.A. Milne

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Randi, to the white courtesy phone... Randi, to the white courtesy phone...


"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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he is cooking up here in northern morris/southern sussex county at a place called Alice's overlooking lake hopatcong. ny times review here:http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/10/nyregion/10dinenj.html


Nothing is better than frying in lard.

Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.

 

Linda Ellerbee

Take Big Bites

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Randi, to the white courtesy phone... Randi, to the white courtesy phone...

Thanks, Curlz. I'm in mourning. :sad:

I had no idea - a friend told me today. I knew I'd get the scoop here, and I did.

Would be nice if he reopened. But I'm thinking it could be years till the economy can support a place like his. I wonder how Nicholas is doing. I did go there on Thanksgiving (guess I need to post the pics!)

Yikes, I feel like I am cheating on dD.

I need to make the hike to Alice's.


"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best --" and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called. - A.A. Milne

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maybe when i am post recovery we should see if we can have a group dinner at alices?


Nothing is better than frying in lard.

Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.

 

Linda Ellerbee

Take Big Bites

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well i asked my husband to take me here last night for my birthday. i wish i had followed my own rule and gone by myself for lunch - it would have saved me a lot of unhappy feelings and a fight with my very buzzed husband.

first the good - the place looks fabulous. we were greeted and seated promptly. our cocktail order was taken. he had a margarita with a better tequila, i had an elderflower cocktail that was very, very nice. john ordered the codfish cake and the hand cut fettuccine with fire roasted tomatoes, olive, fresh herbs, etc. he said they were both very, very good. they provided the table with a bottle each of still and sparkling water.

now the not so good - i ordered 2 small plates of things i love to eat - beef and potato empanadas and onion rings. when they came out i ate one of the empanadas. the filling was really good. one of the best i have eaten and i have eaten these all over morris county. the crust not so much - by the time i finished the first one the crust was getting soggy. i tried to eat an onion ring. they were pipping hot - just as they should be but as i picked it up my hands felt greasy. i tried another and the same thing. as they sat there you could see the grease soaking the paper that lined the basket. this was very frustating since i was seeing that other diners were getting things like french fries that didn't look greasy.

i didn't say anything to our server since she never came by to ask how things were. she didn't show up until my husband had finished all of his meal and then she just asked if we wanted anything wrapped - and i was sitting there with basically an untouched basket of onion rings and two of three empanadas. when we said no she removed the food and, 10 minutes later, we asked a passing bus person to have her bring us the check. i was also under orders from my husband to say nothing because he wanted to take the tomatoes he couldn't finish home and he didn't want the kitchen staff to spit in them. and i shouldn't take it out on the server. and i should be glad there was even food on my plate. and maybe i'm too flipping picky about my food. and maybe the fat americans love their onion rings with grease dripping down to their elbows. did i mention that he had a glass of wine with his dinner?

over all i think from seeing what other diners had i think i made bad food choices. would i give it another try? maybe but ALONE!!


Nothing is better than frying in lard.

Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.

 

Linda Ellerbee

Take Big Bites

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Is David Drake still at Alice's Restaurant?


Susan

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i dont' know but he is still listed on the menu as the chef. maybe he did an overhaul then split?


Nothing is better than frying in lard.

Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.

 

Linda Ellerbee

Take Big Bites

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$35 is very reasonable for a restaurant the calibur of David Drake's. Where do you dine that you find cheaper wines?

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