A basket of warm, fresh focaccia squares were brought to the table -- unfortunately when we were midway through our entrées, and only after we requested it. Water refills were prompt until the bottle ran out; nobody offered to replenish our glasses from another bottle or the tap. Main courses came before appetizer plates were cleared, the salt shaker was perplexingly removed along with the appetizer plates, and our side order of spinach arrived shortly after the focaccia -- and never would have made it at all had the manager, Bernardo Nolfo, not observantly noted its absence from our table. Mr. Nolfo works the room with admirable aplomb, and his servers also carry a professional and amiable spirit; on the other hand, they dropped the ball more times than the Bad News Bears.

Crema Catalana was infused with a subtly soothing dose of anise, but the caramelized sugar cap was as thick as a coaster made of quartz. Tiramisu was creamier and fresher than many versions, and a chocolate "soufflé cake" was the same old reliable dome of dark chocolate with melted interior. Bravo for offering a cheese plate, but a Bronx cheer for the mundane nature of the selections: Gorgonzola, Taleggio, Parmesan, and goat.

Well, shouldn't be surprised: These are admittedly popular, accessible cheeses, and Bice is all about pleasing the public in as unchallenging a manner as possible. If only the final bill was as unchallenging as the service and cuisine. I, for one, would have been much more pleased.

The Bice recipe for success: No surprises of any sort
Jonathan Postal
The Bice recipe for success: No surprises of any sort

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