Cafe Reviews

When Plush Comes to Shove

Page 3 of 3

Entrees don't merit any historical mention, either, done in by sloppy quality control. The Velvet Room capellini brings a pleasing chop of spinach, tomato, artichoke heart and roasted mushrooms, but the pasta has been cooked past instant ramen stage. Steak LaBarge, too, is overcooked, charbroiled New York strip sliced in a fan, dressed with Roquefort and topped with a dry jumbo shrimp. I find the accompanying Velvet Room potato to be kind of silly, essentially whipped potatoes stuffed into an inedible cylinder of carved-out potato skin.

I've rarely seen anything as laughable as the crisp potato wheels that come with my tournedos Napoleon, however. The entire presentation is ridiculous: a layered tower of mashed potato, squishy tenderloin filet, dry-as-dust foie gras, a saucer-size moth wing of fried potato, more filet, more potato, another wing, and more foie gras all capped by mashed potato. With its tail of wilted spinach, it looks like a hand-push lawn mower rolled on its side.

I have fewer complaints with the Velvet Room chicken (breast stuffed with ham, mushrooms and artichoke in tarragon cream) or the grilled Arctic char (a salmonlike fish that comes over too-dry shrimp risotto cake with an invisible tomato vinaigrette). They're simply too run-of-the-mill to generate much interest. At least they're not offensive, as is the salmon and shrimp buccalini. The kitchen staffers should have known just by looking at the plate that the seafood was horrendously overdone, and how could they mistake a vat of ceviche broth for the menu's listed lemon thyme consommé?

At least the desserts end on a gracious note. Fresh raspberry cheesecake is pleasingly creamy with a very nice graham cracker crust. And look out, Vincent's, the trio of crème brûlées our table shares is one of the best around -- perfectly creamy, crisp topped and delicate.

I love the mood at The Velvet Room, but its food sure gives me the blues.

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Carey Sweet
Contact: Carey Sweet