HVRW Stop 4: Rivermarket Bar and Kitchen - Tarrytown, NY - Where to go if you want to be disappointed
Hudson Valley Restaurant Week tonight took me along the Hudson Line to the Rivermarket Bar and Kitchen. The relatively new restaurant has already been the subject of many poor reviews on Yelp. Common complaints are about the service or the size of the portions or the food, but despite some poor online press, my expectations were still high. Could the place really be that disappointing? Sadly, the answer was yes.
Appearance: Normally, I just stick to the food but there were a couple of problems that need to be talked about. First of all, their address is shown on Google maps as being down the street from their current location. That is not technically their fault but what makes it a problem for the Rivermarket Bar and Kitchen, is that they cannot afford a sign outside to tell guests where the place is or where to enter. My sister and parents entered through wine part, because that is the only place there is a sign on the building. Where I almost walked past it, before I called my sister asking where it was and how do I get in. I just feel like it is common sense as a restaurant or any kind of store, especially a new one, that you would want to put a sign out with your name before you open or at least soon after you open. Instead they have chosen to allow guests to wander around looking for it. (There was another person who seemed loss, who followed me into the restaurant if you were thinking that it was just me getting lost). If outside wasn’t bad enough, inside is just as bad. Whereas the other restaurants lowly played peaceful pop music that I enjoyed, the Rivermarket Bar and Kitchen (RMBK) cannot do that. But if you now assume this means you will have a nice, quiet and peaceful meal, then you are quite mistaken. I could barely hear myself think with all of the chatter. All the conversations in the place sounded like the teachers and parents in Charlie Brown (WaWaWa Waaa). And in case not hearing the people you are with isn’t bad enough, good luck seeing. The restaurant is so dark, that I had a tough time reading the menu. And plenty of other tables were using their cellphone flash lights, which are not only quite bright for them, but when they turn it towards you and is pointed in your eye or reflects off something to your eye, it just makes for a wonderful time. If you want to stop reading now, go right ahead, but now I will move onto the dinner meal.
Food: If you think maybe the food will make the atmosphere any better don’t get your hopes up. For my appetizer, I ordered the Maple Brooks Burratina that came with butternut squash, celery root chips, endive, sherry vinaigrette, and pumpkin dust. On their regular menu they have a burrata but on the restaurant week menu was a burratina. I understand that burrata is not the cheapest but when you order a burrata from a restaurant you expect a whole ball or at least half of one for your money (either of which I have with pasta for dinner sometimes). But not RMBK. They can only afford to give you a quarter of a burrata. Maybe the -ina means barely any but a quarter of a burrata with a salad that doesn’t match it is just confusing. It is like they want you to have burrata but a cheap version for them. Needless to say I ate the butternut squash, the chips, and endive first and then ate the burratina. But even then the burratina was still disappointing, missing most of the ricotta like inside. The burrata was not marinated and did not belong on the plate. On their regular menu, they have a burrata with a bean salad and Tomato and basil vinaigrette. This makes perfect sense as both are italian. But I digress from my confusion and disappointment from the burratatina. Also, If the pumpkin dust was there, it was as invisible as fairy dust.
For my main entree, I had the sustainable Scottish salmon on spaghetti squash (now that’s a tongue twister). First of all, mine included cooked apple slices but my amount and appearance differed from that of my dad, who had the same thing. As a high quality restaurant, every entree should come out as similar as possible. Some differences should be expected but they should not be quite noticeable. Meanwhile I ordered the salmon, medium rare. It was noticeably overcooked. What is the point of asking how someone want’s something cooked if you are going to completely disregard it. The spaghetti squash was nothing special, as it was just spaghetti squash (something my sister and I already had at home, only I actually added ingredients with it to make it better, not just put some salmon on it and call it a meal). Also there was an apple fondue on the plate. I suppose I was supposed to dip the salmon in it or the spaghetti squash but there wasn’t that much and I would have appreciated it being easier to dip the salmon in it, as there was not a significant portion of fondue. The salmon was ok, but due to it being overcooked and the spaghetti squash being lackluster, it was an ok meal with no spectacular taste. It was salmon and spaghetti squash with a sweet apple dipping sauce, plain and simple. Also while I only had a bite of the ravioli that my sister and mom each ordered, the variety of the amount from my mom and sister was noticeable with my sister receiving more. That is unacceptable for it to be that noticeable for all four dishes at a table.
Finally for dessert I ordered the pineapple shortcake. I was expecting a shortcake, kind of like a strawberry shortcake with some cake and pineapple in between with the chantilly cream in between or on top. As you will see in the picture below, this was not what I received. What I got was a biscuit (the shortcake), the chantilly cream messily placed on it (some on top of the shortcake some on the side) and then some pineapple on the side too. Strangely enough the whole dessert was off to the side of the plate and not centered in the middle. This made it appear smaller than it already was. What was even worse, was how difficult it was to eat. The shortcake biscuit was quite hard and it was impossible to cut into with the fork or the two spoons they gave me to eat dessert with (why I needed three pieces of silverware is beyond me). After almost giving up and thinking I was just going to take it home and eat it, I gave up and just picked it up with my hand and dipped it into the chantilly cream. I just ate the pineapple separately, but it didn’t even look fresh. It almost looked like it was from a container because it was not the fresh bright yellow that would be expected. Although due to the dark lights I couldn’t really see that well, so I could be wrong. However, it did taste ok, but was still quite disappointing from my expectations. So the overall the food was lackluster and average.
(Clockwise: Burratina, Pineapple Shortcake, Salmon on Spaghetti Squash)
Service: Where to begin on the service. First of all, they are known on Yelp for their poor service and my dad warned the waitress about what he had read and figured she would try to correct it. However it was not meant to be. First of all, when they poured the water for the table, every cup was half-full (I try to be an optimist).It’s one thing if I am pouring them because I don’t want to spill but why can’t a server pour me a full glass so I don’t need to fill it two seconds later from the water they left on the table. Next shockingly enough, we needed to ask for bread. While the bread tasted like challah, which was good, I have never been to a restaurant where I need to request bread. Normally they will come around and bring you a piece or give you a basket with enough pieces for the table but they did neither. Instead after getting fed up of waiting for bread, my dad finally asked.Later in the meal when my sister wanted a second piece to go with her ravioli, it did not come for a good ten minutes, and by then she was done with her ravioli and had taken the other half of my original piece. Once a server finally came around with a tray of them, he asked my mom if she wanted another piece, she said sure, got a piece and the guy proceeded to leave with a full tray (well minus one piece) of bread. Why he wouldn’t offer the full table bread when it was a different person at my table who had requested the bread. Another noticeable thing was the lack of training of the staff. They were so obviously poorly trained at basically everything they do. This was most noticeable when it came to clearing plates. While waiting for the appetizer plates to be cleared, two servers came around with the main courses for my family proceeded but upon realizing that we still had our appetizer plates, they just walked by the table and then proceeded to walk around the dining room and then back to the kitchen still holding our main courses. Then another waiter finally notice that our plates had to be picked up and the two brought us back our main courses which were of course colder by the time they came back. That is the most unprofessional thing I have ever seen, and was probably the first time I have ever seen that in-person. Finally, just one last example, is the fiasco that was the leftovers. My mom and sister both took home their leftover ravioli and asked for them to be packed separately for lunch tomorrow (as they each needed lunch) but they could be put in the same bag (so two containers in the same take home bag). For some reason, the waiter took this to mean that they could be packed up in the same container. Why on Earth would anyone assume this is ok? In the hypothetical situation that my family did not live all in the same home and that maybe my sister was visiting from the city, and both going back to different houses after dinner, how would they figure out who had what left. Neither counted them, because who would think they would be put all together in the same container. Not only that, we are unsure if we even got my mom’s leftover ravioli. Finally when ordering dessert my sister requested menus, and the waitress was not willing to get them for us and proceeded to recite them out loud. But she definitely missed the memo from my dad from the beginning because she did not check back once during any of our courses, as she probably did not care how we felt. Others came around but with all the problems, what was the point in kvetching to them.
Overall: The food was decent but unspectacular and rather boring and with the terrible service and poor atmosphere, needless to say I will not be returning any time soon.
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