By Amy McCarthy
By Scott Reitz
By Scott Reitz
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Alice Laussade
By City of Ate
Duck salad ($12.95) is a collection of freshly supple spinach leaves scattered with red onion rings, brisk marinated mushrooms, wads of clean, creamy goat cheese, and tomato wedges that have the promising look of red lushness but don't follow through with the flavor. Moist pieces of fleshy smoked duck were also short on lustiness, stretching across the tongue with a timid wood-fume flavor. But the thick vinaigrette, a green pesto-like substance rendered from puréed mesclun, was delicious in its own subtle way.
Lobster and crab burger ($12.95) was pricey. Inserted in a split toasted and buttered baguette, the expansive thin patty of pulverized lobster and crabmeat crusted with crumbs had precious little sweet, briny flavor. There was none of the luxurious flavors and textures of these upscale sea-floor crawlers, just a vapor trail trace of their opulence. A patty coarsely sown with lush scraps of this flesh that could be chewed and nibbled would have made this sandwich seem more posh, and perhaps create the perception that the price is justified. If you're going to use lobster, show the lobster. It's hard to get excited about something that comes across like shellfish farina.
The intentionally pedestrian stuff really showed well, though. Pommes frites, a side with the lobster crab burger (also served in generous portions with entrées), are thin, crisp, moist, and well seasoned.
Charolais' service is generously -- though not obtrusively -- attentive and gracious. But it's rippled with distracting missteps. A side order of spinach sauté ($5.50) (no, offering only creamed spinach in steak houses is not an FDA regulation) with chewy leaves (a few with brown edges) in rich garlic butter arrived just as our entrées were being pulled. And though we ordered bread pudding ($4.25) for dessert, a crème brûlée was delivered, a misstep that was quickly corrected. Maybe too quickly. The bread pudding had a distracting rubbery texture. Yet despite the texture, which made the jaw bounce like a land yacht with bad shocks, it was still ripe with smooth richness that came mostly from a the caramel sauce and a bright rippled dollop of brilliant white cream.
Maybe that cream was rendered from Charolais cattle, though I fervently hope the British Charolais Society had nothing to do with it.