Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Vodka Stinger's Worst Thing She Ever Ate

Cheesecake Lollipop Tree – DavidBurke Townhouse
DavidBurke Townhouse

Vodka Stinger is bitter.

We are not usually hard to please when it comes to food.  We are admittedly not food snobs and far from foodies.  In Ginger Orchid’s own words, “When I say I like food, I mean I like to put things in my mouth.”  Sure, we don’t love everything, but how many truly negative summaries have we given on our Best Thing I Ever Ate adventures?  One.  (Sorry, chocolate pizza).

However, when subpar food combines with high prices, poor aesthetics, and arrogant service, we are not so forgiving.  Vodka Stinger especially. These situations cause the words “disappointing” and “embarrassing” to fly from her mouth at rapid-fire pace.

In a bit of monetary manipulation, Vodka Stinger talks her parents into going to DavidBurke Townhouse for her father’s birthday dinner.  Being on the high-end of the price spectrum, it was not a location that had made the cut for the Best Thing I Ever Ate tour thus far, so Vodka abandoned Ginger in order to get her hands on Scott Conant’s (of Scarpetta bread basket and spaghetti fame) favorite REINVENTED CLASSIC, the cheesecake lollipop tree, with someone else (her birthday boy father) footing the bill.  It seemed like the perfect plan.
We'll Get Back to This Monstrosity Later
Arriving at DavidBurke Townhouse, we are asked instantly if we want to check our coats.  Being generally paranoid about bedbugs and other assorted cooties, we refuse.  Upon entering the dining area, we realize why the coat check is so paramount in the DavidBurkeTownhouse list of priorities: there is NO ROOM in the dining room.  The tables are jammed together so closely that one wrong move could cause your elbow to end up in your neighbor’s Salmon Tartare.  I’ve had roomier dinners at McDonald’s.

Seated (and by “seated,” I mean “squished”), we order a bottle of red wine as we peruse the menu.  There is a lobster risotto special that we would like to split as an appetizer.  And here is where the real trouble begins.

Our waiter, who has already displayed a supercilious, off-putting attitude, scoffs at this idea, stating that such a plan will only work if we each want “one bite.”  Now, call me crazy, but I have never ordered a pasta entrée that was comprised of three bites.  And furthermore, my parents and I have ordered such split pasta appetizers before – at Lincoln, Telepan, and Ouest, to name but a few – with no issues.  Pasta is one of our favorite hors d’oeuvres when we don’t want to weigh ourselves down by having it as our full entrée.

But our joy of a waiter is having none of it.

We end up ordering one market salad, one pretzel crusted crabcake, and one risotto special for our appetizers. WHICH IS WAY TOO MUCH FOOD, and which we end up sharing anyway.  David Burke is known for his “playful” food, and the crabcake, for instance, is comprised of crab meat surrounded by pretzel sticks – cute in concept but blah in execution.  The other two appetizers are also “fine” – nothing special.  Similarly, our entrees are so unmemorable that I can’t even recall what they are – except to say that none of us finished our dishes.  And trust me, we are a finishing family.

In fact, the best part of the whole meal ends up being the bread – a round loaf with a spring of evergreen sprouting out the top, accompanied by butter spread on a salt lick.  It is clever AND delicious.  A combination that the rest of the food lacks.

Finally, it is time for dessert.  By this point, both my mother and I have grown more than weary of our waiter, who seems to think we are there to serve him.  One would have assumed he was David Burke himself from the pretentious attitude he exuded (and based on the food thus far, even being David Burke would not have been something to brag about).

Years ago, we tasted the frozen versions of the cheesecake pops that are sold at Bloomingdale’s and were not wowed by them, but we figured it was because the freezing process took away some of their appeal.

We should never assume such things.
Looks Like a Starbucks Cake Pop
The cheesecake lollipop tree arrives, and while it is a spectacle, it is about half the size of the spectacle presented on Best Thing I Ever Ate (false advertising, much?).  The lollipops look lovely – spheres of cheesecake dipped in three varieties of toppings.  The problem?

The lollipops themselves are BLAND BLAND BLAND.  And worse, the bubble gum-flavored whipped cream is so overpowering in flavor (and not in a positive way) that it completely masks any potential flavor the lollipops have.  (To say nothing of the fact that bubble gum-flavored anything is at heart faulty, as one is taught from an early age to never SWALLOW bubble gum.  The whole thing is counter-intuitive).  But worst of all, it tastes bad.

It is the Worst Thing Vodka Has Ever Eaten on tour, bar none.
Do Not Eat This
By this point completely fed up, I am blatantly making my face into contortions of displeasure.  The manager, who has been wandering aimlessly throughout the meal, but never actually checking in with us, sees this and does nothing.

After my long-suffering father pays the astronomical bill, we leave so quickly that we assume we have knocked over at least three tables behind us.  And Vodka is ready to let someone have it.

Unfortunately, by this point, Vodka Stinger has consumed 2.5 glasses of wine and is off of her game.

Reaching the host stand, I give the useless manager a piece of my mind.  I complain about the food, the waiter, and everything in sight, assuring him that we will never be back.

I then make a sharp left, plotz up the steps out of the restaurant, and end up looking like an angry drunk.  Complaint fail.

Despite my inarticulation at the time, I will never return to DavidBurke Townhouse.  It is a pompous, exorbitantly priced institution that uses “whimsy” as an excuse for inferior food.

If you want a tasty lollipop, take yourself to the bank.

DavidBurke Townhouse’s Cheesecake Lollipop Tree: 1 star

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