In a nutshell: This elegant restaurant tucked away on the Upper West Side is perhaps one of the neighborhood’s best kept secrets–especially for their exquisite prix fixe brunch.
Steps away from the American Museum of Natural History and a long-line-as-always Shake Shack, there is a diamond worth excavating. Although there is signage outside, the restaurant is so surreptitious that my companion nearly walked into the apartment building next door. Once you find the right entrance, though, you’re in for a treat at Dovetail.
The interior seamlessly interplays modern brick-against-wood architecture, handsome furniture, crisp white tablecloths, and immaculate table settings. Chef and Proprietor John Fraser knows how to set the scene to let the real star shine: the food.
On Sundays, Dovetail serves a luxurious multi-course brunch–including sweet and savory breads, canapés for the table, an entree, and desserts to share–for a mere $32.
This particular meal comes from their July brunch offering; the menu is slightly modified from month to month.
Mmm… bread. My favorite part of a meal. The bread basket here pleased me to no extent: intoxicating aroma when it arrived at the table and piping hot to touch. The biscuit was a touch dry and could have used a pat of butter or jam, but the other two breads were standouts. The cornbread’s crisp exterior gave way to a tender interior punctuated by pungent cheddar. The moist muffin crumbled easily, the plump blueberries inside staining the golden batter purple.
Next arrives a platter of canapés, little tastings to whet our appetite: tart yogurt parfaits sprinkled with crisp granola, a touch of farm-fresh honey, and sliced grapes; silky smooth cucumber vichyssoise; Lilliputian cured salmon tea sandwiches accented with glowing orbs of roe; and savory bison meatballs. Each presents its own flavor profile and is true to its core ingredients.
Bring on the entrees! The sirloin is finished at the table, a viscous bordelaise sauce drizzled lazily atop the slices of beef. The meat is tender and juicy (with and without the bordelaise) and satisfies any carnivorous morning cravings. Have the eggs anyway you want it, and dig your fork into the hearty side of potatoes while you’re at it.
The classic French sandwich gets a nouveau update in Dovetail’s patty melt madame. A decorative splotch of sharp French mustard, the seeds still visible, brings the first pop of color and flavor to the plate. Instead of the usual slice of brioche, a bed of puffy croutons forms the base. A burger-esque patty of ground veal, moist and seasoned well, is blanketed with a melted slice of provolone and a golden-eyed sunny-side-up egg. The dish as a whole is quite satisfying and makes you rethink croque madames.
Two toasted english muffin halves cradle a poached egg each, garnished with Swiss chard, radish, spicy hollandaise sauce, and what appeared to be dolmades. The crab we were expecting was hidden inside those carefully bundled grape leaves, a unique presentation that beats simply throwing shreds of meat on top. The combination of ingredients worked well together and elevated the standard Canadian ham version to new heights.
The sirloin and crab Benedict were both accompanied by a side of roast potatoes. These could have been a touch crispier, but had the right touch of seasoning.
Similar to the patty on the patty melt madame, these were simply smaller in size and an excellent companion to the main entrees.
Pastry Chef Michal Shelkowitz worked magic on the trio of desserts presented at the end of the meal. The crumble played with textures and flavors, evoking the fruity inside of an exceptional pie. Rich dark chocolate in the form of a thick, almost pudding-like mousse melded elegantly with caramelized banana for the crémeux. The panna cotta burst with fresh berry flavor, creamy and refreshing.
The portions are spot-on and the variety of dishes and flavors is unparalleled. l I look forward to returning to Dovetail to try their Sunday Supper and other exciting offerings.
103 W 77th Street
New York, NY