Dan Foti, the man behind the former Baker’s Wife in Tappan, has opened Commissary, a New American restaurant, in the spot where Village Grill used to be in Tappan. I tried it recently and absolutely adored the food. There were a few kinks, but I have faith they will be ironed out in time.
The restaurant hasn’t changed much since it was the Village Grille. Orange walls, white tablecloths, wooden chairs.
They start you out with a nice warm bread with herbs and olive oil:
We shared a couple of appetizers. We wanted to try the Game Sausage Plate for Two, but they had just sold out. So we got the Seared Cape May Scallops with Cauiflower Latkes, Melted Leeks and Sunchoke Chips:
Scallops were sweet and nicely seared. It was hard to tell the latkes were cauliflower, but the crunchy texture was a good accompaniment.
We also tried the frittata:
The fillings change daily; this one had spinach and goat cheese. It was good, but felt rather more lunch-y than dinner-y to me.
Here is the Arugula Salad with Clementine, Avocado and Caramelized Fennel with Sherry Vinaigrette and Fresh Thyme.
This was a sophisticated salad with good balance of flavor and texture.
Nicely composed, too.
For our main courses, Greg got the Shellfish Stew with Long Island Clams and Canadian Mussels, Leeks, Tomato, Fennel, Chickpeas and Moroccan Spices:
Exellent. Fresh, firm fish. Nice pop on the chickpeas, which revealed a creamy inside, and a good note of acidity from the tomatoes. The Moroccan spices brought it all together. I couldn’t stop eating it.
Center cut Pork Chop and Cider-Braised Pork Belly with Barley Risotto and Tuscan Kale:
The pork chop was juicy and cooked perfectly. The risotto and kale played nicely together. The pork belly was underdone: flabby and stringy — I had to pull the pieces apart to eat them. Too bad.
Pappardelle with Wild Mushroom Ragu and Kale:
This was the weakest entree. The kale completely overpowered the rest of the dish. I felt like I was eating the color green.
Seared Haddock with Carrot-GInger Jus with Swiss Chard, Fennel Tops and Radish Salad:
The best looking dish of the bunch:
The fish was flaky and moist. The sauce was bright. The radishes were crisp. A real winner.
I was really very impressed with the food. The atmosphere left a little to be desired. In the back of the restaurant, there were couples and groups of four enjoying their meals. But toward the front, a large group of friends were treating the place like a social club or a lounge rather than a restaurant. They had brought a magnum or two of Corbett Canyon merlot, and were laughing heartily and carrying on. They raised the noise level up several decibles, and started pulling chairs up to each other’s tables:
It’s hard to see here, but they’re all gathered in the front window:
Hey, I’m all for having fun at a restaurant, especially in the lounge of the restaurant. But there is no lounge here. So instead of giving me an “everyone’s welcome” kind of vibe, I felt like an outsider at a party I wasn’t even sure I wanted to be invited to in the first place.
Hey, maybe the owner and the chef were kicking back with their friends after a hard first week. That’s fine. Just wait until the customers have left. The excellent food deserves a better stage.
We’ll be back to see that it gets that.
The 411 on its way. For now: