It was neither chivalry nor fashion: The row of women along the back banquette at Storefront Company were wearing their dates’ sportcoats because on this cool night, they—or rather, we—were in the line of an unrelenting stream of chilly air. For the first time in my life, I gave in to my septuagenarian instincts and politely informed our server. She politely replied there was nothing she could do about it.
So Storefront Company was not having an especially “on” night. It wasn’t even 7pm, and already it was clear the kitchen was in the weeds. Forty-five minutes after we were seated, our pre–first course—something from the section of the menu marked for sharing—arrived. It was listed on the menu as Onions, and it was exactly that: a few delicately arranged small onions intertwined with slices of potato. The onions could have used more time to develop their sweetness, but even that wouldn’t have provided the pop this dish lacked. This set the stage for the plates that followed: heirloom carrots with dollops of warmed ricotta, sausage-stuffed quail leg paired with a rectangle of polenta that could generously be described as rustic. Pretty plates; predictable, but pleasant, flavors.
It’s when the entrées arrived that I started to seriously question the choices Bryan Moscatello (a Food & Wine Best New Chef in 2003) was making. Lamb arrived evenly medium-rare and tender, but strangely unseared. Just-overcooked monkfish was plated with greasy, mushy fried rice. On my second visit, I dressed for the depths of winter and was, indeed, more comfortable in the room—a slick, stylish space, larger but still vaguely derivative of, from the owners of around the corner. But my body temperature didn’t help the food: cauliflower puree tucked into plasticky agnolotti, an overdressed salad of baby romaine, miniature lamb meatballs that did nothing to merit being remembered.
Dessert appeared ambitious, but a selection of confections was indistinguishable from any corporate, mass-produced product. Still, I would eat a hundred of these chocolates if it meant I could un-taste the parsnip cake, a dense, grainy block set in a pool of sauce that is supposedly made of golden raisins but smacked unmistakably and repellingly of mustard. I was grateful, then, to be handed a little bag of chocolate cookies on my way out the door. But these were not the palate cleansers I was hoping for: They were chewy, dry and only cemented the bad taste left by Storefront Company.