Sunday, July 5, 2009

L'Antibes (Columbus, OH)

L'Antibes has been on my 'to try' list for quite some time now. The fact that it prides itself on "fabulous French dining experience" certainly played a role in my escelated expectations. Having heard about its small dining room area, I made sure to made reservations for two for a Friday evening of girl talk/catching up/what have you. I later learned that reservations were absolutely unnecessary as there were only two other tables there during the entire duration of our meal.

I personally found the waiters to be quite formal. Polite, yes. Reserved, yes. As for the menu, I was rather disappointed to find that many of the items listed online were not available that day or were no longer being served. (The stuffed quail appetizer caught my eye, but alas, was nowhere to be found on the paper menu.) In addition, prices of certain dishes also did not match up to the prices listed on the online menu either. [***ETA: The current online menu is up-to-date in terms of offerings and prices.] Upon placing our orders (foie gras as starter and sweetbread as main for myself and crab cake and duck for my friend), the bread basket was immediately brought to our table. The warm sourdough rolls were definitely enjoyable, but I did find the "sea salt" butter to be dull.

Our appetizers arrived momentarily and I have to say that my friend made a better choice with the blue lump crab cake with seaweed salad and whole grain mustard beurre blanc ($16). Generous in filling and bursting with flavor with just the perfect crisp, it puts my torchon of foie gras, fig jam, balsamic reduction and brioche toast ($18) to shame. While it was rich, buttery, and filling, it was also too fruity for my liking. The fig jam was a bit extraneous and the appetizer itself would have been better off without it.

Now onto the second disappointing factor of the night: my entree (Sautéed Sweetbreads, Crimini Mushrooms, Sugar Snap Peas, Pommes Puree, Brandy Cream -- $27), or rather its presentation. Now, having seen pictures of some of the dishes L'Antibes offers both on its website and in various reviews, I was underimpressed with the new take on the dish. While the sweetbreads themselves were full of flavor with the right hint of crispiness, the pommes puree failed to deliver a 'wow' factor and resembled your generic mashed potatoes instead. My friend, however, sang praises of her duck breast in raspberry-cassis sauce, again served with pommes puree ($24) Clearly, avoiding pommes puree is next to impossible here at L'Antibes.

Lastly, and inarguably the most disappointing delivery, was my dessert. Again, a few good-sounding items (such as the lemon curd tartlette served with raspberry puree) had been eliminated from the menu leaving us with about four options to choose from. While I'm not a die-hard fan of pears in general, what was described of the Poached Pear in Gewurztraminer, Honey, and Cardomom, Grand Marnier Yogurt sounded impressive. Moreover, I had seen previous rendition of this dessert at L'Antibes (not knowing that it, too, has changed) and decided to give it a try. Well, the sweet course arrived at our table exactly like it sounded. Poached pear in yogurt. Taste-wise, I wasn't able to detect any traces of Gewurztraminer nor cardomom and found the dessert stodgy overall. $7 poorly spent, if you ask me. My friend, again, made the better choice with the Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse served in a Honey Tulip with Coffee sauce. Just like the rest of our meal, it came out looking nothing like what had been pictured or described.

Given the reputation of a high caliber restaurant, I was highly unsatisfied with L'Antibes. The service, while polite and attentive, leaned towards the impersonal and formal side at times. The ambiance certainly mimicked the formality exuded by the waitstaff. However, the final price tag left a lot to be desired, as new changes are made for the worse.

Rating: **
772 N High St
Columbus, OH 43215

L'Antibes on Urbanspoon

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