My spouse and I enjoyed dinner at Dovetail on a Saturday evening in late May 2016. We reserved our table using the Open Table reservation system (although you can also do so via telephone), and the restaurant called two days prior to re-confirm our booking. Dovetail is open for dinner daily. The restaurant is located on West 77th Street, near the corner of Columbus Avenue, close to the American Museum of Natural History on Manhattan’s
Upper West Side. The dress code is business casual, but we saw several men in jackets and/or ties.
The door to Dovetail was not immediately apparent when we approached, but we knew the address so we paid particular attention. You must walk up a few steps to the host table, or down a few steps to the restrooms (and the private dining room). We are not sure if there is a mobility-challenged restroom on the restaurant/bar level, or alternatively, if there is an elevator to the basement. level. (On the evening that we dined, I was visibly having a bit of difficulty walking, yet no one offered an alternate solution to walking the steps to reach the restroom.) Upon our arrival, one of the hosts kept us waiting in the foyer longer than expected while he checked whether our table was ready. The restaurant space includes a small bar area towards the front that overlooks 77th Street. The noise level in the restaurant on the night that we dined was loud, which was surprising for this type/quality of restaurant. In our opinion, the host seated us in a less-preferred area of the restaurant (next to the large service station and the door to the kitchen). However, we were seated at a table for four (even though we were a party of two) which allowed us more space both at our table and between other tables. (The tables for two located toward the front of the main dining room on either side of the room share a long beige leather banquette, and the tables are arranged quite closely together, so we felt that the worse location but the larger and more widely spaced table was preferable.) As a result, we heard the staff talking amongst themselves throughout our meal (although it was generally service-related, it was not always professional). As for the décor at Dovetail, layered sand terrariums are placed all around the room on shelves and other surfaces, along with fresh cherry-blossom branches. The white brick walls included interesting window nooks filled with dark plantation-style shutters and doorways filled with curtains (despite this being an interior building). Hanging pendant lights in various shapes, sizes, colors and textures and recessed track lighting provided a warm glow.
Dovetail serves contemporary American cuisine and uses seasonal farm-to-table ingredients. The restaurant has been recognized with numerous awards over the years since it opened in 2007, including Wine Spectator’s prestigious Award of Excellence, three stars from The New York Times, and one Michelin star since 2011. Dovetail seats about 80 guests in its main dining room, 20 guests at the bar, and 20 patrons in the private dining room on the lower level. Dovetail offer both a regular tasting menu and a vegetarian tasting menu, as well as 3-course and 4-course prix fixe menus. (Our server was very loose with the course restrictions: we could have chosen all starters, all entrees, all desserts, or multiple choices from each section; it was not necessary to select only one dish from each section of the menu.) On Monday evenings, Dovetail offer a vegetarian prix fixe menu, and on Sundays evenings, the restaurant offers a “Sundae Suppa” prix fixe menu. Dovetail’s wine list is recognized by Wine Spectator’s prestigious Best of Award of Excellence, America’s 100 Best Wine Restaurants 2014 and one of the World’s Best Wine Lists in 2015 by The World of Fine Wine.
Chef John Fraser began his culinary career in Los Angeles and worked for Thomas Keller at The French Laundry as well as in Paris at Taillevent and Maison Blanche. Fraser was awarded two stars by The New York Times, and was named as one of the “chefs to watch in America”; he was the winner of Star Chef’s New York Rising Star Award. Chef Fraser is also the executive chef at Narcissa and NIX, both located in New York City.
After the host seated us, we were served a few amuse bouches: a cold pea soup shooter, a crispy potato tube stuffed with egg salad, and tiny truffle arancini (rice balls); the egg salad was particularly delicious, although the crunchy cylinder was not a unique delivery system for us. Next, thick country sourdough bread with house-made cream cheese doused with olive oil was delivered before we began our appetizer course. We ordered one 3-course $85 prix fixe dinner (that included ourchoices of Hamachi crudo with shitake mushrooms and mint-pea juice; potato brodo [broth] with soft-boiled egg, snow peas, and truffles; and halibut with country ham) and one 4-course $98 prix fixe (lamb tortellini; smashed avocado salad with crispy rice; scallops with chanterelles orange and hazelnuts; and chocolate soufflé with rosemary caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream). Between dinner and dessert, our server delivered a refreshing sorbet palate cleanser. After we finished our meals and dessert, our server offered a box filled with mignardises (six different kinds, including macarons, chocolate bon-bons, chocolate bark, gelee candy); we could pick whichever (or however many) we wanted, and she removed them from the box and arranged them on a slate for us to enjoy at our leisure.
Overall, our meal at Dovetail was lovely, and the food was delicious, but a few minor service issues prevented it from being perfect.