outside the dutch
After much anticipation, I finally paid a visit to Andrew Carmellini of Locanda Verde’s new hot spot, the Dutch. With reservations nearly impossible to find, I took a chance and walked in unprepared. Fortunately, despite the overbearing noise and packed bar, at 6:30pm a table for two was relatively easy to come by. After a few drinks and sampling 5 different dishes, I profess with regret that I’m just not that impressed. The Dutch is housed in a beautiful, window-lined space surrounding a grandiose bar, and its food is solid and obviously professionally prepared, but it seems to blend in with New York’s dozens of other (yet delicious) American-classics-with-a-twist restaurants (think Cookshop, Market Table, 100 Acres, Craft…). They’re indistinguishable. I won’t be disappointed if the opportunity to re-visit arises, but I won’t be rushing back.
With a bar of its stature, I would expect a larger selection of specialty cocktails, but it came down to either the one gin or the one vodka selection after eliminating all of non-clear alcohol options. I decided on the Aviation Royale, which was a mix of gin, maraschino, lemon, and a bubbly wine. Though the waitress described it as “exceptionally dry,” it was actually quite sweet and tart. Definitely an interesting concoction, but too much going on for my preference.
Aviation Royale and Eastside Manhattan
I do give props to the Dutch for having such a robust complimentary bread, something very important to me. All tables are served a hefty portion of warm, homemade cornbread served with whipped butter. I could have made a breakfast, lunch, and dinner out of this thing and it was so delicious that I had to cut myself off to save room for dinner. For appetizers, I, as always, went for the buratta and heirloom tomato salad and one mini oyster sandwich. The buratta was perfectly room temperature and creamy, but clashed with the sweet cornbread. I love buratta but I prefer to eat it with grilled bread, so I was disappointed by the fact that it wasn’t an option.
The little fried oyster sandwich brought me straight back to New Orleans with its oversized, crispy fried oyster and subtle dill sauce. At $5 a pop, this crunchy oyster overload is a steal.
tiny oyster slider
For our main dishes we selected a wide range of seafood: the ruby red shrimp with fried green tomatoes and the black cod with smoked mushrooms. Even though the waitress warned us about the smokiness of the fish broth, we ordered the cod stubbornly, not realizing the vastness of the smokiness spectrum. Desperately searching for something to WOW me, I ordered the scallops with corn and bacon, which were perfectly cooked but a typical, boring rendition of the scallop and corn combination. Regardless, the waitress kindly took our fish off the bill without us even alluding to dissatisfaction – an exceptional service move in a city with little patience for discontent.
shrimp atop crispy, juicy fried green tomatoes
smoky black cod
So, I think I ate enough to give a fair assessment that while The Dutch has solid and hearty food, a professionally trained staff and an obviously well organized operation, it doesn’t have enough to keep it at the top of my list. I think I’ll continue my visits to Barbuto or Extra Virgin instead if a hankering for glorified American classics arises.
Location: 131 Sullivan Street at Prince Street