Friday, April 29, 2011

Another Day, Another Discount

Vanilla Cream Meringue Cake – Cipriani (Dolci)
Cipriani Dolci

After our first two all-day eating adventures, we decide, for both logistic and obesity reasons, to start going to – gasp! – one Best Thing I Ever Ate restaurant at a time.  Of course, this new plan will usually mean that we will have to actually order full meals and not just drink ourselves to death at the bar, but we’re willing to take the plunge.

Our first dinner reservation takes us to Cipriani Dolci at Grand Central Station.  With various Ciprianis sprinkled throughout the city, we decide that this location is the least likely to be offended by our barbarian behavior.

As it turned out, they ended up offending us.

Being Restaurant Week (which inexplicably became Restaurant Month), we have a prix fixe menu off of which to order: 3 courses for $35.  And most importantly, Claire Robinson’s SWEET TOOTH dessert, the vanilla cream meringue cake, is one of the choices.

We are seated at a table overlooking the Grand Concourse of Grand Central Station, the perfect location for judging those who are commuting instead of drinking.  Trying to class up her life, Vodka considers ordering a dirty martini, a delicacy she has never tasted, but she chickens out at the last minute and goes with the Sex and the City cliché cosmopolitan.  Ginger orders the same, and we give our three course choices to our waiter.

This is the last that we see of said waiter.

The trouble has begun.
Thank You, Carrie Bradshaw
Our cosmos arrive and we are instantly drunk (they are strong and delicious), as does our appetizer of tomatoes, basil, and vinaigrette (also good).  Over our entrees (risotto and striped bass – both fine), Ginger describes her latest online dating disaster (“So he said, ‘If I teach you French, what will you teach me…?’ and I made some reference to my ability to drink margaritas”).  Before dessert, we want another drink.  Unfortunately, our waiter is nowhere in sight.  In fact, he has not been in sight since we placed our original order – no check-in and, even worse, no inquiries about a cocktail refill.  We’re displeased.

Flagging down a busboy, we each ask for a second cosmo.  They arrive at the same time as our giant pieces of fluffy, beautiful vanilla cream meringue cake.
Beauty in Cake Form
The slice is gorgeous – interlocking layers of vanilla cake and creamy meringue that seem to go on forever.  The tops and sides of the slices feature giant slabs of soft meringue, tinged brown by the mark of a blowtorch. It is light like angel food cake, with just enough crystalized sugar to provide sweetness and a welcome sugary crunch.
Frosting to Cake Ratio = How We Like It
The cake is stupendous.  We now understand why Claire Robinson almost took down Denzel Washington upon learning that he had ordered the last piece.

Licking up every last morsel of cake and cream, and feeling exceedingly more jolly from our rapidly disappearing second cosmos, we attempt to get the check.

No waiter.

We flag down another busboy and ask for him to get our waiter for our check.

No waiter.  By this time, we see him – across the restaurant and continuing to ignore us.

We ask another busboy.  Still no waiter.

By this time, 20 minutes of futile check-getting have passed.
And This Image is All But a Memory
Vodka gets up and approaches a man in a suit lingering around the maitre d’: the inevitable manager.  She explains the missing waiter situation and then heads to the bathroom (which, by the way, is located up a dark, winding stairwell and is way too small to maneuver in successfully after two cosmopolitans).  Upon returning, she is greeted by the manager (still sans waiter) with our check – our second cosmos comped and a 25% discount overall.  Acceptable.

We never see our waiter again. We apparently have this effect on waitstaff.

So in sum, it is a shame that Cipriani Dolci provided poor service, as under other circumstances, we would have been singing the praises of their cake.
This Would Have Been a 5-Star Combo
As it stands, waitstaff should learn not to mess with Texas.  And by Texas, we mean New Jersey.

Cipriani’s Vanilla Cream Meringue Cake: 4 stars


  1. Sucks that the service sucked but cosmos are great and the cake looks soo goood :)

  2. Desserts are always better when you can take a blowtorch to them.