I attended the Friends and Family pre-opener this past weekend and I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. For the F&F, it went rather smoothly. Of course, there's always a little room for some quirks and backups before any restaurant opens, and this was no exception.
What was good:
- The seafood dishes are done by a former chef of Le Bernardin, he KNOWS fish! Chef Matthew Schaefer also has an INCREDIBLE Crab Chowder. That is a must-keep for the menu.
- The Arctic Char was also well done -the lentils made the dish.
- Old Bay Chips and Dip -maybe a bit salty on the chips, but the dip really evens it all out and makes a great combination. Have this with the K Viogner and HELLO yumminess! Great pairing.
- The atmosphere is perfect for its location. Overall, it has so much to offer the local crowd. Great bar space, nice banquettes and such a big space (it *is* New York City, and big space is not like Midwestern or Texan big space, but it's all relative, right?). Fun spot all around.
What needs some improvement:
- Staff knowledge of the menu (but of course, this comes with time).
- Some of the dishes were a bit too salty for me (but it IS seafood, so I'm not knocking it, just making a suggestion).
- Some others need a little more pizazz. Like the Roasted Wild Mushrooms are good, but there's not any real dimension to their flavor. They are just mushrooms right now.
- Expansion of dessert menu. The citrus sorbet and cheesecake ice cream are delicious.
- Timing of the resetting (of silverware, plates, crumb removal, etc.). Again, this is after a little more experience.
I liked so much about this up and coming restaurant, that I am trying to not be over the top. I'm honestly trying to be fair with my assessment. Keep in mind that there are seafood dishes, but also choices for the "not so crazy for the ocean wildlife" crowd, too.
Choptank goes live on Monday, January 11th, 2010. Not to be missed. Make your reservations now, this has all the potential to make it big!