Dinner Review: Watercolor Café
by Paula Eisenberg
update: Lunch at Watercolor - September,
8, 2002) Good food and music: two of the things that make life worth
living, and you can find both at Larchmont's Watercolor Café.
Chef Giovanni Flores serves up an eclectic mix of contemporary American,
creative Italian and Pacific Rim-influenced dishes in a cozy, cheerfully
funky Post Road storefront.
Owner Bruce Carroll is proud of recent renovations, including a
new sound system installed to enhance Watercolor's regular musical
offerings. Jazz ensemble or solo piano performers entertain diners
Wednesday through Saturday nights, and contemporary folk artists
appear twice a month, on Tuesdays. "We're getting some amazing
national acts," said Carroll, including Steve Forbert, Sloan
Wainwright, Chris Smither and Ellis Paul. Coming up September 17
is local singer Alistair Moock, and on October 1, "folk legend"
As if good food and music weren't enough, the restaurant turns
into a comedy club on the third Sunday of each month. If you want
to see any of the shows, it's best to reserve a table for dinner
between 6:30 and 7:00, with the show starting around 8:00. "But
you can book a table later in the evening too, if we have room,"
says Carroll. Most Friday evenings starting at 9:00, you'll be able
to catch local saxophonist David Brandom and his quartet. To sample
Brandom's jazz from Watercolor: if you have a high-speed connection,
or for a dial-up connection, click here.
On a recent weekend evening, our party of four sampled dishes from
the regular and special menus. Asparagus spears bathed in a creamy
Gorgonzola sauce were tender-crisp, the cheese sauce ripe and tart.
Roasted sea scallops in a lobster and white wine reduction tasted
"nutty," according to one diner. There were pecans in
the broth, along with shitake mushrooms and spinach, making for
a complex mix of flavors and textures.
Filet mignon and shrimp, a special, arrived perfectly cooked. The
steak, ordered medium rare, was lightly charred on the surface and
deeply pink inside, and the shrimp, which often suffer from over-cooking
in this type of presentation, were crispy on the outside and pleasingly
chewy inside. A side dish of mashed potatoes got raves from two
of us. Instead of new-fangled wasabi or garlic infusions, this was
plain old mashed potatoes like Mamma used to make, tasting intensely
of potato, yet still creamy and non-lumpy. OK, so it wasn't quite
like Mamma used to make.
Pasta is a personal thing. Some like it chewy and some like it
melt-in-your mouth tender. So it's not surprising that the porcini
ravioli with scallops received a mixed review at our table. One
person thought the ravioli were a bit too al dente, while
another liked their resistance to the teeth. All agreed the reduction
broth they were in was tasty and rich, although one person thought
it a tad too sweet. Also a bit sweet was the mélange of roasted
vegetables swimming in the broth.
The swordfish steak, a special, tasted "moist and buttery,"
with a tart-sweet barbeque sauce and fruit salsa. Anyone who has
tried to cook swordfish at home knows how leathery and dry it can
be if not cooked perfectly. "This is possibly the best swordfish
I've ever had," said one member of our party. Chef Flores has
a light, sure hand with seafood.
Chicken sauté, from the regular menu, combined boneless
breasts with a port-wine and sundried cranberry reduction, served
over spinach and Montrachet cheese. As with swordfish, chicken cutlets
can so easily become dry and tough with over-cooking, but these
were tender and flavorful.
Watercolor's signature Tollhouse Pie, studded with chocolate chips
in a brownie-like matrix, could easily serve two. A pallid cheesecake
was neither cheesy nor lemony. Better was the key lime pie, with
its tart citrus bite ambushing the tongue from within the creamy
Service was friendly and efficient, and the piano music provided
just the right background accompaniment, without requiring us to
raise our voices above it.
Main dishes are priced in the $16-$24 range. There are some good,
reasonably priced wines available by the bottle or by the glass.
The house pinot noir was especially fine.
UPDATE: Lunch at Watercolor - September 25,
(September 25, 2003) How is the food at Watercolor one year after
the Gazette's dinner review?
Appetizers at the Watercolor have always been a treat. A smooth,
mildly spicy tomato bisque with mozzarella was a satisfying starter.
Crispy fried calamari were presented with two dipping sauces. The
Thai-style peanut sauce overwhelmed the lightly battered squid rings,
but the traditional marinara sauce was just right, tangy and rich.
A veggie burger with wild mushrooms and a basil pesto mayo, garnished
with delicately fried sweet potato sticks, was a bit overcooked,
but tasty, with good "mouthfeel". The crabcake sandwich
was sweet and crunchy, but it too was overcooked.
Overall, the lunchtime food at this Post Road eatery is adequate
Watercolor Café continues to serve the best iced tea in
town, full-bodied and freshly brewed.
If you're looking for an attractive, reasonably priced lunch spot
in Larchmont, Watercolor Café is a good choice.
2094 Boston Post Road
Lunch and dinner 7 days