Sunday, January 27, 2008

TJ Buckley's in Brattleboro (VT)

A mixed review of TJ Buckleys. We ate there last night and were at the same time impressed but ultimately disappointed. First, it is a lovely space, very intimate and it's always a treat to see the kitchen work (everything seemed to go quite tranquilly). The hostess and the chef were nice people.

The food was hit and miss. The appetizer plate was pate with crackers, mustard, chutney. Pretty standard stuff, but tasty and enjoyable. Our mains were scallops with fried polenta, golden beets, and pork belly; and hangar steak with mashed potatoes. The scallops were great, the polenta done well, and the pork belly tasty. The steak dish was disappointing. When it hit my table the steak had cooled to room temperature, and it had done so for two reasons: 1) it was undercooked (rare when I asked for medium rare) and 2) the chef had 4 of these finishing at the same time, and they sat on the prep table for a few minutes prior to plating. In other words, by the time it got to me it had cooled down to a degree that made the steak less enjoyable than it could have been. The steak itself was ok, nothing to write home about. Lastly, we shared a chocolate cake for dessert, which was dry and really had nothing going for it.

In addition to the food disappointments, each entree was $35. Anywhere else and these are $25 meals, particularly mine, which was no frills steak and potatoes. The emotionless cake was $7. I could justify such prices if the entrees were lights-out delicious, but they weren't, and considering the simplicity of the dishes, there didn't seem to be much to justify such prices.

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