Half Moon in Dobbs Ferry: Hudson Valley Restaurant Week 2011

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Hello! Guest blogger Kristina Massari reporting on Half Moon in Dobbs Ferry….

When I envisioned my dinner at Half Moon for Hudson Valley Restaurant Week, I imagined it would be a perky 60-something degree day, and I’d be stealing one of the first drinks of the outdoor season on the restaurant’s lovely patio, just inches from the gently-lapping Hudson. That was not the case. Instead, I was yet again cleaning snow off my car and battling a 30-degree evening. Oh well – better luck next year!

I ventured out to Half Moon last night with my sister and mother for dinner. The restaurant is perched on the shore of the Hudson, so close to the water that on a nice day you can actually wave to the kayakers outside the window. So cool.

Half Moon is fairly large restaurant with a decent-size bar/lounge area to the left of the entrance. It offers seating at the bar as well as some cozy couches that surround an open-air gas fireplace (which was definitely needed yesterday!). I saw folks grabbing appetizers at the bar, which offers an array of specialty cocktails for about $11-$12, beers from all over, including local brews and fruit beers – yum! They also have an award-winning wine list.

At the bar, I opted for a Royal Fizz – Prosecco, Chambord, Grand Marnier and muddled berries. Wow! I’ll definitely be back for more of these. My sister went for the Champagne Dream- a French sparkling wine, peach schnapps, brandy and citrus flavors. One of the waiters also brought us a fish and chips-style basket filled with warm, fresh-baked bread and a side of shredded of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. The bread is also paired with a bottle each of extra virgin olive oil and an exceptional, homemade chili oil, which together is the perfect balance of spicy and smooth. I loved it.

As we made our way over to our dinner table on the main floor, we couldn’t help but marvel at the expansive view of the Hudson River. The huge windows on the restaurant face west, to the river, and offer views of Rockland County. The restaurant has open and airy feeling and also offers upstairs balcony seating, where you can look down to the first floor and out to the river.

At dinner, we all opted for different wines–a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc for me (it had delicious citrus flavors, I plan to hunt it down at my local shops), a Malbec and a Pinot Noir. A nice surprise, their HVRW menu had numerous choices for all of our courses – 8 appetizers, 7 entrees and a dessert sampler which offered scaled down version of flourless chocolate cake, butterscotch panna cotta and strawberry shortcake.

For my first course, I opted for the baked ricotta crepe that was topped with mushrooms in a brown butter sauce. I thought I was exquisite and definitely my favorite food choice of the night. The creamy ricotta fused nicely with the crispy outside of the crepe. My sister selected the mahi mahi ceviche in a tomato and cilantro salsa. It was a little light on the mahi mahi and heavy on the tomato, but it was super fresh. My mother went with the mini pulled pork buns done in a homemade barbeque sauce. The sauce was tasty and didn’t overwhelm the pork, but the buns were a little soggy, a pet peeve of mine.

Since Half Moon is known for its fresh seafood and Montauk-vibe, we all felt it was a sin not to order fish for our main course, although there were chicken, pork and steak options on the menu as well. (Sorry vegetarians, there wasn’t anything for you.) I went a little outside my normal “safety salmon,” and ordered the blackened catfish filet, with stewed squash and tomatoes and a side of crayfish jambalaya. I was expecting the catfish to be a bit spicier and have more of Cajun punch, but the flavors in the seasoning were tempered a bit by the juicy stewed tomatoes and squash. I actually loved the tomato-spice combo but I wanted more tomato! I enjoyed the jambalaya and crayfish but again was expecting it to have more Cajun heat.

My sister went with a tequila shrimp that came with a side of cilantro rice and zucchini in a buttery lime sauce. (Note: there’s a steep $8 surcharge for this selection). I’m usually not a big fan of cilantro because I feel it has the tendency to overwhelm certain dishes, but as the flavor for the rice, it was delicious – my second favorite food of the night. I missed the tequila flavor in the shrimp; it was a bit bland for me.

My mom went for the hickory fire roasted salmon, with duck fat potatoes, asparagus and grilled onion in a parsley butter sauce. I definitely appreciated the uniqueness of the smoky flavors in the salmon, though a bit salty (some lemon juice helped tone it down), but the potatoes were a bit dry and I would have preferred more asparagus.

The dessert sampler offered a blend of every flavor – rich chocolate, sweet strawberries and cream, and a light panna cotta with a wispy vanilla infusion. The butterscotch panna cotta was definitely my favorite dessert – the butterscotch wasn’t overwhelming and the vanilla bean flavor paired well.

All in all, I felt the appetizers and desserts were the strongest parts of the meal, and the drinks were exceptional. What I really like about Half Moon is that it offers many of the old favorites – but with a twist. Instead of by-the-book bread with olive oil and vinegar, they offered chili oil (delicious!) and EVOO, Caesar salad with Chipotle seasoning, macaroni and cheese with shrimp and a beer sangria, just to name a few of the other choices on this year’s HVRW menu. If only we could have ordered it all.

I’ll surely come back to Half Moon– as soon as this weather starts cooperating – for some mahi mahi ceviche and a nice cold Sangria at the outdoor bar….and I might even try to dip my toes in the Hudson while enjoying the view.

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