“Found seating; had to punch an old lady out.” That’s the text I received from my sister on our way to meet her and my brother-in-law last night at 87 W 2 – and it was only a little after 6 p.m.
It’s not that the restaurant was overly crowded per se (although there was a nice-sized crowd considering the time), but rather the seating is a little bizarre. Instead of tables or even high cocktail type tables, the restaurant offers a more open seating approach with random couches, chairs and tiny tables, in addition to a few seats at the bar. So if you aren’t able to snatch a seat, you’re left hovering and staring waiting for someone to vacate. And while we had a table, we were one seat short. So as soon as the people next to us starting gathering coats and purses, I jumped up and grabbed a chair (beating out another couple in the process) as if I just won the lottery.
In theory, the seating arrangement is a nice idea. The only problem, that I noticed, is that they are several chairs short overall and that there is a gross waste of space in the center of the room. Instead, that space should be filled with high tops – you may not be able to sit, but at least this way you can set your drink down while you covet others’ seating. Granted, this was my first visit so it’s just an initial observation.
As for the rest of the décor, it’s pretty nice overall. My favorite features include the vaulted wood ceiling, stone fireplace and central wine dispensing system that lets you sample 2-ounce tastes – this contraption definitely adds to the overall décor. What I didn’t care for was the wall above the kitchen, which features giant skulls, question marks, letters, etc. It just didn’t fit. As my husband put it, it looks a bit hieroglyphic-esque and a little elementary when they were probably going for something more sophisticated.
As for the menu, the food is sectioned off by little tease (just for one), to middle tease (for two) to big tease (small meal). The wine is categorized by glass first, then according to type, spice, body, etc. I went right for the dry and bold reds.
We ordered a bottle of the Twenty Bench cab while my sister had a pinot. The wine was great; in fact, I picked up a bottle at Heinen’s this morning ($21 at Heinen’s vs. $38 last night… I just hate that).
For the rest of the accompaniments, we went with the trio of cheeses, including the p’tit basque, purple haze chevre and supreme camembert. We also tried the lobster nachos with lobster cream, chevre and granny smith quesadilla with pear syrup and caramelized onions and the prosciutto and gruyere melt. For dessert, we had the crème brulee trio (vanilla, espresso and bittersweet chocolate) and chocolate fondue with fruit, pretzels and marshmallow graham crackers.
The cheese was great – good portion and nice arrangement. I especially liked the petit basque. My other favorite was the quesadilla. Very enjoyable and something I would definitely recommend. I only had a bite of the sandwich, but that seemed pretty good, too (with prosciutto and melted gruyere, how can it not be?). The nachos, on the other hand, were a huge disappointment – and this is supposed to be a house specialty. The lobster pieces were decent in size, although overly salted, but the rest tasted like soggy chips with a cheese whiz type topping. As for the desserts, the trio was fantastic – definitely a crowd favorite, while the fondue wasn’t bad, but nothing memorable.
Overall, it’s a nice little spot that will surely do well in that area. The next time we’re at Crocker, we’ll definitely stop back in, if only to test the wine dispensing contraption that earned quite the crowd and peaked the interest of many.