Another Fork in the Road Restaurant Review in Milan: Diner Fare, American Comfort Food and Dining in Dutchess County

Fork it over: Inventive cuisine elevates the diner experience at Milan’s Another Fork in the Road



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fork burgerDiner delights: The Fork Burger is dressed with caramelized onions and arugula

We started out by ordering a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc from the affordably priced, Franco-centric wine list. Since all three of us have spent many years working in restaurants (fine and not), we reflexively wrinkled our noses when our server returned to the table with a tray of pre-poured glasses, setting the open, unchilled bottle on the table before walking away. I worried that this was proof positive of the rumored poor service, but as the meal went on we found the wine service to be the only real faux pas. Though not very attentive, both servers were sweet and patient, and deserving of slack considering they were the only two front-of-house staffers working on that packed evening.

We began our meal with the fresh handmade mozzarella ($7) because I had heard from a number of sources that it is “life-changing.” It was served slightly warm in a pool of olive oil, with a tin box of lightly grilled baguette rounds (from Loaf in Hudson). We found the cheese perfectly chewy, its creaminess balanced nicely by the texture of coarse sea salt and pepper. After several more tastes, it was decided that the olive oil was the real standout. The extravagantly rich dish was too much for our small group to finish, so more than half of it was taken home as leftovers.

Next we moved on to the baby beet salad served with duck confit and dandelion greens ($9); the crispy calamari with black olives, honey, and grapes ($11); and the snap pea salad ($9). The calamari was a favorite — light and crisp, not too chewy, and deliciously complemented by the salty tapenade and cool, sweet green grapes. Both the salads, though undeniably fresh, fell a bit short. As expected, the strong flavors of peppermint, horseradish, lemon, and ginger emboldened the sweetness of the raw snap peas — although we had difficulty detecting anything but the slightest hint of mint. Dressed in goat cheese and fig vinaigrette, the beets were perfectly tender, their tangy sweetness just slightly overpowered by the dandelion greens.

crab saladThe crab salad includes apple, fennel, sorrel and a chili/brown butter vinaigrette

For dinner, I ordered the Atlantic scallops ($22), which were served atop a cauliflower puree and arranged around a bright blueberry and corn salad. The scallops were cooked to perfection — lightly seared on top and bottom, and buttery throughout, not at all chewy — which is a feat in and of itself. Their accompaniment of fresh blueberries, corn, and large chunks of nutty maitake mushrooms was a revelation. “It is a career-defining dish,” Parry says of the entrée. ”It came to me like a lightning bolt out of the sky after I’d worked for 18 hours straight.” Like the calamari, this is an instance in which Parry’s inventive, high-contrast vision goes off without a hitch, the unconventional combination of flavors and textures balancing one another perfectly.

The scallops were clearly the winning entrée. We loved the porcini mushrooms in the rabbit lasagna ($20), but found the rabbit somewhat sweet, and the greens were not quite bitter enough to provide balance. One of my friends ordered the braised Point of View Farm lamb ($22) served with wood sorrel yogurt, mashed green peas, and crisp mushrooms; as with the lasagna the mushrooms stole the show, the lamb being slightly overcooked. Stuffed though we were, we also ordered the corn risotto ($19) to share. We were glad to have tried it, as it was second (albeit a distant second) to the scallops in tastiness. Unlike most risottos, in which the creaminess obscures all other textures and tastes, the oversized grains in this dish were rough and delightfully loose, allowing the fresh summer flavors of grilled corn, cherry tomatoes, and lemon to stand out front and center.

We were all enticed to try dessert when our server mentioned the special chocolate bread pudding, served warm with fresh whipped cream. We were a bit disappointed to find it a bit cloying and not warm enough. The rhubarb pie, however, was served piping hot, with a masterful buttery lattice crust, the rhubarb filling appropriately tart with just a hint of sweetness; one friend declared it “a perfect piece of pie.”

Although there were several dishes that missed the mark, those that hit it did so with such pizzazz that it more than made up for the disappointments. And there was something in every dish that we could appreciate — whether it was the quality of a single ingredient, the mastery with which it was cooked, or simply the bold intention behind the preparation. As far as Parry is concerned, cooking is a lot like making ceramics, at least the way he does it. “With comfort food, nothing is off the plate. I let my cooks and myself have the freedom to do what we want. It’s a mosaic.”

And just like the business itself, “it all sort of comes together.” I agree wholeheartedly.

Another Fork In The Road
Open Thurs.-Mon. 9 a.m.-3 p.m. (breakfast and lunch), 5-9 p.m. (dinner). Breakfast $4.50-$13, lunch $4-$12, dinner $10-$22

» Get directions to Another Fork in the Road in Milan, NY
» Read about Another Fork in the Road: “Best New Diner with a Twist” (Best of Hudson Valley 2009 Editors’ Pick)
» Read about Another Fork in the Road in The Accidental Foodie blog
» Go to http://anotherforkintheroadmilan.wordpress.com
» Go to the Hudson Valley Restaurants Guide
» Go to the Hudson Valley Food & Drink Guide

 

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