Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Village Green With Envy (because I could never make a sauce that good)

Last night, the mamala and I headed back to Ridgewood for dinner at the Village Green, located on the corner of Prospect and Hudson, one block off of the main street, East Ridgewood Ave. You may assume for the purposes of this that all of my prior thoughts on Ridgewood stand – it's a beautiful town.

We were nervous, though, after the Latour debacle. Like Latour, Village Green has a food rating of 26 in Zagat's. Unlike, Latour, the Village Green was given a rating of "Excellent" by the New York Times (which is how Mom discovered it). VG specializes in tasting menus and is prix fixe. On weekends, a reservation is a must. We had a res for this Tuesday evening, but it really wasn't necessary.

I'm here to tell you that VG provided me with one of the finest meals I've had since the tasting menu at 1789 back in February. Yes, better than Babbo. It was that good, and it has, for the time-being, restored my faith in Zagat's.

We entered the Green, which is comprised of two small dining rooms, and since it was a slow night, we were allowed to choose where we sat. The setting is very intimate, with minimal decorations. There doesn't need to be much in terms of decoration, though, as the multi-pained windows are terribly attractive with their dark wood. As Mom put it, "I feel like I'm in a small eatery in York."

Diners choose between a 4, 5, or 7 course tasting menu, and there are selections to be made for each course. Mom and I decided to really do it up and have the 7 course. Our courses below:


Lump crab meat cocktail

Sashimi grade tuna with greens and roe


Grilled white asparagus salad


Foie gras on an apple and cranberry bread pudding with a red wine reduction sauce

Sauteed soft shell crab with citrus browned butter


Grilled sea scallop with lobster risotto


Braised beef short rib with red wine reduction and creamy gorgonzola polenta




Fallen chocolate cake with fresh whipped cream

Vanilla crème brulee

Where there is only one dish listed, Mom and I ordered the same thing. On the others, we shared. People, dish after dish was as amazing as the last. The lump crab and sashimi were both light ways to start off the meal with interesting hints of lime on both. The asparagus salad was served with a truffle vinaigrette and the asparagus was marinated in something that made it pleasantly salty and bitter. The foie gras was out of this world – perfectly sauteed and the red wine reduction was a perfect accompaniment. The soft shell crab was also lovely, but paled next to the foie gras. The scallop was nicely done – neither under or overdone, and the lobster risotto was perfectly al dente, but also creamy, unlike the dried and sticky clump of risotto at Latour.

The braised rib fell off the bone and again, the red wine reduction was good enough to drink by the cup full. You've got to love a talented saucier. And the creamy gorgonzola polenta? Perfection. Gorgonzola can be overpowering, but the chef added just enough to make it interesting.

I cannot recount what types of cheese were served, I started to go into good food overload by the 6th course. There were five types of cheese, each unique and pungent. And did I mention the fresh baked bread that they kept serving us during the meal? Multi-grained, rosemary, and olive. Unbelievable.

Dessert's fallen cake (meaning flourless) was rich in flavor and surprisingly light in texture. Mom's brulee was clearly infused with a fresh vanilla bean stewed in milk – you can't get that flavor from the bottled extract. My only complaint was that the crust of the brulee could have been slightly more carmelized. But the custard was done beautifully.

The pacing of the meal was done at just the right speed, so that we could appreciate each course before moving onto the next. Our waitress said it's difficult to do that on a weekend, when there are many reservations. Speaking of our waitress, she looked about 16, but had a knowledge of the menu and food in general that far surpassed any other server I've had in comparable restaurants. Furthermore, she was friendly and very competent. So, kudos on the service.

Of course, it's not cheap, and it's probably a good thing that I don't live very close to Ridgewood, lest I spend all my money at the Green. But I do believe this will be my destination for my next special occasion meal. Thanks for restoring my faith, Village Green.

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