Dear Food Diary:
I heard about Bell Book & Candles aeroponic rooftop garden and loved the idea of farming in the city, so naturally it got bumped to first spot on my eating list. I couldn’t wait to taste for their local, organic and sustainable dishes. 60% of their produce comes from their rooftop, how awesome!
Walking into the charming little basement, music was playing on this chilly Autumn Sunday. Pass the bar and a cozy embrace welcomed us into one of their two casual dining rooms. I was prepared to love this place and StakerBoy thought this was a great choice and glad he invited to friends for their birthday brunch.
Everything seemed ok for the first 10 minutes. BUT those warm fuzzy feelings and the expectation of a great meal died out very very fast. One of the biggest brunch disappointments ever. The waiters looked flustered. There was no sense of order. A couple parties left since no one was there to seat them. And flagging down a waiter for anything took a while. A table behind us couldn’t get a menus since at some point the dining room had no server at all and all the customers just looked at each other in confusion.
Coffee took more than 40 minutes to come. Our food came sporadically, but we didn’t even get coffee after 2 appetizers. After asking about it several times, the waitress was apologetic but also looked was in panic mode. They kept telling us there were no clean cups! What?! And it wasn’t even good coffee. And as if that wasn’t enough, we get charged $1 per person for their filtered “tap water”, really?!
Our first appetizer, the Meatballs took a really long time to come. Mind you, during our long wait, there was nothing to munch on, no bread or even crackers (gosh I was hungry). The meatballs themselves were a bit dry and Ikea like, but the creamy sauce on the side saved it from being horrible. Didn’t make out what was in the sauce, since at this point, it was about an hour later and I was too hungry to notice.
The Crispy Fried Oysters came like 15-20 minutes after meatballs, after they brought us a wrong order of raw oysters first! unbelievable. Though these were actually quite tasty. The green chile buttermilk dressing on the bottom was a nice bright kick and the crunch from the crispy potato strings on top made it a perfect little bite. Without a doubt the best thing I had during our meal.
After the long wait… this turned out to be one of the longest bad meals ever! my Corned Beef Hash with two poached eggs finally arrived. One bite and I wish it never came.
The “poached eggs” had raw egg white. There was no way I could eat that. I never send food back, mostly out of fear, I’d rather return the dish and go eat elsewhere, BUT this was by now more than 2 hrs later and I was starving.
OMG!!! when my dish came back, I was like, seriously, is there a chef in there? Anyone who has the most basic knowledge of food, I mean even someone like me, who doesn’t cook much knows that you can’t put “poached eggs” back into the oven to cook the egg white. How hard is it to fire up some new eggs? How can you just serve the one I just sent back? The eggs had a plastic like texture now, I felt it with my finger, it was hard… couldn’t take another bite. And as if the corned beef bits weren’t dry enough already, now that they spent more time in the oven, they were like fake bacon bits, in the worst way possible. At this point I gave up and sent it back and no I didn’t want anything else! Had to grab a sandwich elsewhere around 3 o’clock.
Nothing to sing praises about the other dishes either. Wild mushroom, spinach & goat cheese omelette was pretty regular in taste, but the eggs were overcooked. Even the rooftop herbs couldn’t help this one.
Steak & Eggs Benedict was decent according to our friend. The Bearnaise sauce might of helped.
Stalker boy’s BBC Burger was ok. The patty was juicy and the grilled onions and cheddar were a good addition. I liked it, but nothing I would go running back for. The “rooftop pickle” seemed more like a gimmick at this point than anything truly farm to table.
It’s such a shame when I so wanted to like this place, but it turned out to be the complete opposite. And though some dishes were ok, I couldn’t get over the eggs and how amateur that was. To make matters even worse, our bill was wrong and they overcharged us, so that took a while to fix as well… *rolling eyes*
I also noticed that the menu items from brunch didn’t seem to fully utilize what they grow year round on the roof. A bit it mixed greens and herbs here and there, but no sight of exciting ingredients like white tomato, eggplant or cauliflower etc.
P.S. Chubby’s Rating:
141 West 10 St.