Although the weather was dreary and rainy Monday night, mine and my husband’s dinner at 42 at the Ritz-Carlton in White Plains was anything but!
The night started off well – I found parking on the street (usually a rarity for White Plains) and did not have to shell out $10 for valet. (Although valet may have been a better idea as the rain and wind were pretty unforgiving!) A note to future 42 diners, the restaurant doesn’t validate valet parking, but there are a few garages close by if you can’t find street parking.
After I ran into the Ritz lobby soaking wet and cold, I was immediately greeted with a feeling of serenity, from the courteous doorman to the warm double-sided fire place in the lobby, this place is definitely about luxury, comfort and exclusivity….42 even has its own special elevator! Take the lobby elevators to the second floor, change over to the private elevator for 42 and its glass windows treat you to wonderful views of White Plains as you climb the 42 stories to the restaurant.
Despite showing up about 40 minutes early for our reservation, and the restaurant being extremely busy, the hostess was able to seat us almost immediately – a huge win in my book. Although having to wait for our table wouldn’t have been the worst thing. The restaurant offers a small bar and lounge area with floor-to-ceiling windows with exquisite views of the city (those windows and stunning views wrap around the entire restaurant). The bar are also offers bowls of yummy buttered popcorn and a decent drink list – a variety of specialty cocktails as well as domestic and imported beer.
After grabbing a passion fruit mojito for myself and a glass of cabernet sauvignon for my husband, we headed over to the main dining room. (We also found out that the restaurant was offering reduced-cost bottled wine as part of HVRW – 3 different whites each $28 and three different reds ranging from $28-$39/bottle).
To make more room for HVRW, the restaurant removed some of the lounge furniture from the entry foyer and replaced them with extra tables, almost all of which were filled at 7pm when we made our way into the also-full main dining room. Despite the large crowd (mostly couples), the main dining room wasn’t overly noisy.
Although we could take in some of the lights and views of the city when we were first seated, the clouds and fog rolled in and by the time we received our appetizers, we were surrounded by a white haze and it seemed we were dining in the clouds! Like their tagline says – it’s different up here! (Though I have to say, my husband was a bit disappointed we couldn’t enjoy the splendid views the restaurant is widely known for.)
Our meal kicked off with some bread sticks – some plain and others flavored with salt and cumin – and whipped butter. The restaurant week menu offered three choices of appetizers – braised endives with a Parmigiano custard, prosciutto and shallots; salmon tartar with Asian pear, jalapeño and toasted sesame oil; and caldo verde – a Portuguese potato soup with kale and chorizo sausage. I opted for the endives and my husband went for the caldo verde. Both were absolutely wonderful (so wonderful we dove right into them and finished it all before we remembered to take a picture for my blog post!) I loved how the Parmigiano custard complemented the endives and the prosciutto was shaved nice and thin and was very tasty! Only wish we had more of both – definitely my favorite food of the evening.
Unfortunately, shortly before we received our entrées, a minor snafu with an oven hood in the kitchen triggered the fire alarm! A blaring alarm sounded and a recording urged us to “exit at the nearest stairwell” and “do not use the elevators” – a scary thought when you are 42 stories in the sky! We weren’t in any danger, but it took about 10-15 minutes to quiet the alarm (which was so loud I couldn’t even hear my husband right next to me). Chef Goncalves himself came out and taped over the blinking strobe light that accompanied the alarm. I guess when you are the chef you have to put out all fires – real or imaginary!
Back to the food. For our entrée we had four choices – chicken with potato puree, capers, ver jus and glazed carrots; skirt steak or braised lamb belly roulade with polenta and mixed vegetables; and salmon with lentil salad, a whole wheat honey mustard sauce and spinach. I opted for the salmon and my husband (staying true to his Greek roots) ordered the lamb.
Our waitress was excellent. She took the time to explain that the lamb belly would be crispy on the outside but layered quite a bit with fat and meat, all edible, but not something everyone is aware of. My husband stuck to his order and, although he mostly enjoyed the tender meat, he admitted the fat was a little hard to take. My salmon was cooked perfectly – crispy on the outside and pink in the middle as I had requested. The honey-mustard sauce was excellent, although I could have done with a few less lentils.
Our dessert choices included a vanilla panna cotta with peach geleé, milk foam and almond financier; a chocolate tart with chantilly and caramel; and fruit salad with grape, strawberry, cantaloupe and a grapefruit sorbet. I opted for the vanilla panna cotta and my husband went for the chocolate tart. Both were excellent! I was barely able to siphon off a bite of my husband’s tart before it was gone. To make up for the fire alarm interruption, the chef sent everyone a free dessert wine, and although we would have loved a glass of the eiswein normally on the menu, it was unavailable so we settled for a sherry and a late harvest chardonnay.
Finally, to top off the evening, Chef Goncalves sent all guests a complimentary second dessert…a modern day twist on a childhood favorite, the creamsicle. We were each served bowls of orange reduction. An assistant waiter brought over a second bowl filled with cream, vanilla and sugar…and a can of liquid nitrogen! He combined the nitrogen
with the cream producing a smoke which left behind small balls of vanilla ice cream (like the “dippin dots” often seen at stadiums), which they combined with the orange reduction. A warning – wait 10-15 seconds to enjoy this dessert otherwise the ice cream will stick to your tongue! Although we absolutely loved the “cool” effect of this dessert, neither my husband nor I were big fans of the orange reduction.
Overall, the food was delicious, the staff was very knowledgeable about everything on the menu and the service was excellent. A great ambiance and experience all around!