For one of my last meals before going (temporarily) meatless, I headed over to Capsuoto Freres with the gang of (mostly) foodie friends, where we celebrated StB‘s exciting news (which is hers to share with the blogosphere, if she so chooses, when she so chooses, ie, not my place to tell). She’d read that this place had amazing souffles, and we were all eager to try the food.
As it turns out, Capsuoto Freres is in the middle of nowhere in northwestern TriBeCa. I’ve been called out on this blog before for what I consider acceptable/convenient in terms of location, but too bad: the street was deserted at 7pm on a Thursday, the cab driver only vaguely knew where it was, and it is at least a 10 minute walk through a dead neighborhood from the train station to get here. The restaurant itself was fairly empty as well, with only a few other parties scattered around (this is a plus though, not too noisy and not crowded).
The hostess seated us immediately after someone took our coats, despite our party not being complete. While we waited for the rest of our friends to arrive, this was placed on our table.
Mini toasts with pate, a gherkin pickle and what I want to say was sweet onion or sweet pepper relish – it distinctly added a sweetness to the whole bite. I really enjoyed mine and was pleased that this should indicate good things to come.
Once everyone had arrived, the wine had been ordered, and we were into our conversations flying around the large table – which, had the place been more crowded or noisy, would have been a negative, as I hate having to shout across the table to hear my companions – we began the wait for our entrees. No appetizers had been ordered, but the wait seemed interminable, even though conversation flowed freely. I was drinking and happily buzzed enough that I should not have leaned over to ask SpB twice “What is taking the food so long?”
SpB’s dish arrived first. Shrimp and scallops on fresh pasta. No complaints but no raves either; I’m sure this was perfectly satisfactory.
HB’s poached salmon with an herb vinaigrette (so the menu says). Quoting directly from our conversation afterwards via BBM: “So there was nothing special about the salmon. It was cooked well but for some reason had a seafood taste to it – as in a not all that fresh seafood smell. The sauce it was in was good but a little heavy.” I asked her if it was typical French then, and she said “No, typical French is better.” (French food is actually HB’s preferred cuisine.)
ShB ordered shrimp and wild mushroom ravioli and told me in the cab afterwards that it was nothing special; the ravioli themselves had tasted rather bland and uninteresting, while the mushroomy stuff at the top (I didn’t sit near her, so I can’t say for sure what it was) was a bit salty. She postulated that perhaps she had been meant to eat the two items together, and perhaps that was her fault, but I think her ravioli could have tasted at least marginally interesting, considering the ingredients.
StB, AB, BB and I all ordered the sweetbreads with mushroom fricassee. AB and I sat next to each other and both of us were overwhelmingly disappointed. Bearing in mind that this was her third time having sweetbreads and my second time, we both mused that perhaps we were spoiled by really good first (and second) experiences. (My first experience here) The sweetbreads were super chalky and mealy, boasting that organ taste that I so do not like. I wasn’t thrilled with my dish, though the accompanying veggies were fine.
BB also found the sweetbreads to be a little chalky, but said this was only her 2nd time having them and she thought that’s how they’re supposed to taste. I hope we go get some really good sweetbreads soon so she knows what they truly are meant to be 🙂
StB’s opinion here.
And onwards to the dessert souffles!
SpB and AB both ordered the raspberry souffle.
StB and I ordered the hazelnut souffle.
The waiters poked holes in the souffle, poured in creme anglaise and then topped with whipped cream.
BB ordered the special, tangerine souffle.
ShB ordered the chocolate souffle.
We pretty much covered the entirety of the sweet souffle menu. BTW – we only ordered this many because the waiter insisted that they were small and that we wouldn’t want to share. I could barely finish mine. In the souffle’s defense, I suppose I didn’t know what a souffle was exactly – I was not expecting it to taste so eggy, though everyone else assured me this was normal. I found my hazelnut souffle to have only one bite that was pretty good, the rest just… didn’t appeal to me. It was more savory than sweet, fairly plain tasting, and nothing stood out for me. Except it tasting like egg.
No one around the table particularly liked the souffles, and at $10 each it seemed like a huge rip off. I was hugely meh on it. Ironically, for StB, the best part of the souffle was the hazelnut pieces sprinkled within; that was the worst part for me, as it would be smooth souffle and then suddenly a hard bit. You know I love textures in food, but this just did not mesh well in my opinion.
Did I mention that though we’d all ordered our souffles when we’d ordered our entrees, they took another 20 minutes to come?
Service was great though, we were never ignored or harassed, and the waitstaff was extremely friendly and cheery.
While we were eating our souffles, this plate landed on our table – miniature poundcake bites and candied orange peel. I liked both quite a bit.
Yvo says: How do I put this delicately? I suppose I can’t. I don’t want to detract from our celebratory dinner, but the fact is, after dinner, StB told me “the food was really mediocre” and I said “The service, the atmosphere, the decor, ambiance – everything but the food was great.” Of the food items consumed, my two favorite parts were the amuse bouche and – you guessed it – the mini poundcakes and candied orange peel. Nothing else was tasty enough for me to even say “Maybe it was an off night.” I feel bad for saying it, as the owner himself even came over to say hi and talk to us briefly, but the food really just… didn’t do it for me. I did walk away feeling positive, if only for the great company, conversation, service, ambiance, but this place is pretty out of the way just for those things. I’d do better to stay home with a bottle of wine and a few friends.