When was the last time you ate in a restaurant where you really believed the owners could have filled more tables, but thought your dining comfort was more important?
Or the last time you had memorable salad greens—a salad you could have enjoyed without dressing?
I was pretty sure I was going to like The Horned Dorset when I walked into the dining room and saw tables distributed, with an eye to making a graceful and commodious space that invited us to sit and look around, and gave us room enough to talk in privacy without whispering. It made me think of long-ago places where proprietors were powered more by pride than profit. Le Bernardin is claustrophobic by comparison.
If the service wasn't polished, it was the better for it: our waiter and busboy weren't interested in showing off, they were concentrating on helping us enjoy our meal. Which was of the highest caliber. Beef, lamb and striped bass were all select quality, cooked precisely enough, an accompanied by such outstanding vegetables from the organic garden outside that I was distracted from the main item. I very seldom eat anywhere that I think beats my own restaurant right across the board, but The Horned Dorset did.
If I absolutely had to complain, I'd say the servings were a tad too big, and the wine list (very reasonably priced) could have been more imaginative. Maybe my ice cream is better. But if I were going to open a restaurant in upstate New York, I'd look for a location where I wouldn't have to compete with these folks. And make a point of taking my wife-and-partner there to see what we can learn.
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