The Amateur Pallet
(We know what we like)
By Cecily & Frederick Faux Gras
And Nick & Patsy Fagioli
(The Amateur Pallet, a new addition to the Pawling Public Radio site, will feature local restaurant reviews, by four people who just like to eat. They claim no professional food knowledge, but “know what they like,” and hope their opinions will encourage others to try new and different food pairings.)
What is one to do for dinner on a Saturday night in Pawling? Well, after a few rounds of bridge with our friends, Nick and Patsy Fagioli, we ventured over to McKinney & Doyle’s on Charles Colman Blvd., where we were lucky enough to procure a table on a very busy night.
A round of signature cocktails was followed by shared “small plates” of Louis’ Special Crispy Calamari served over citrus coleslaw with sweet and sour chili sauce, and Artichokes Casino, tender artichoke hearts baked with jumbo lump crab meat. Neither disappointed. The artichokes had all the traditional markings of the well known seafood version, with tender hearts replacing the traditional clam base. The calamari was crisp and not greasy at all, and served over a wonderfully sweet and tangy citrus coleslaw. While Nick and I thought the slaw was a little too “wet”, Patsy and Frederick thought it was perfect. Wet or dry, the taste was wonderfully unique and fresh.
If you are in the mood for a glass, or a bottle, of wine, Andrew Sarubbi, the restaurant’s manager and resident wine sommelier, will help you make excellent wine choices to pair with each course, or just one wine to go with your whole meal.
The house salad, mixed greens with gorgonzola and candied pecans, is always fresh and crisp, and lightly dressed with the house dressing.
Three of us choose a “large plate” from the menu, and one bravely tried one of the evenings special. Black Angus Coulette Steak grilled and finished in horseradish mustard demi glace served over mashed sweet and white potatoes and topped with crispy angel hair onion rings. Nicky reported that his steak was cooked to perfection (medium rare) and the two varieties of mashed potatoes were an excellent accompaniment to the tasty meat.
While we all wrinkled our noses at Frederick’s choice of Pan Seared Calves Liver with crisp hickory bacon, leeks, sherry and balsamic vinegar, and roasted potatoes, he savored every bite of liver, which was cooked as he requested, (medium). Not even the garnish was left on his plate, so we know he enjoyed his dinner.
Patsy’s New England Crab Cake Dinner with the restaurant’s famous jumbo lump crab cakes, a citrus avocado timbale and sweet potato fries, (also served with tarter sauce and cocktail sauce), met her every expectation. Large pieces of fresh crab were incorporated in three flavorful patties. The accompanying sauces and timbale brought out the sweetness in the crabmeat. The sweet potato fries were crispy on the outside, while soft on the inside.
One of the evening’s special entrees was a Chilean Sea Bass with a shrimp sauce, served with a very tasty rice pilaf. The fish was lightly battered and fried, the fish itself firm but moist. The sauce was buttery but light and the succulent bits of shrimp in it were perfect. So often when one orders fish out it has a fishy, frozen taste. Not so at McKinney and Doyle. The sea bass tasted as if it had just been caught that day.
As if our main meal didn’t totally fill us, we moved on to dessert, and never regretted it! (How could one ever regret any thing that comes from the bakery at McKinney & Doyle!)
My coconut cream pie was to die for! Creamy coconut custard with succulent pieces of coconut throughout, a flakey crust, and fresh whipped cream.
Frederick said his blueberry pie ala mode was fruity perfection, and could only be topped if he had picked the blueberries himself. The accompanying vanilla ice cream comes from Henchien’s Dairy, as do all the ice cream served at the restaurant.
The vanilla gelato sundae that Nicky ordered was creamy and flavorful, the texture much like any gelato served on the Via Veneto.
Patsy’s Linzer tart paired a delightful raspberry filling sandwiched between two moist, nutty cookies, which she enjoyed right down to the paper doily it was served on.
Service was friendly and knowledgeable, and for such a busy night, we didn’t feel rushed at any time.
After a heated discussion as to who were the better bridge players, we said our goodbyes, full and satisfied after an incredible meal.
McKinney & Doyle Fine Foods Cafe & The Corner Bakery
10 Charles Coleman Blvd., Pawlng