Sometimes you know by just looking at the menu. Last year, when assigned to review Americana 12 at Emily Shaw’s Inn, we were faced with a menu that simply spelled doom. Though named Americana 12, and
festooned with Colonial-ish tchotchki, this restaurant’s menu was a confused pileup of usual suspects in fusion cuisine — wasabi, nan, chorizo, gnocchi, pizza. Owned by a limited partnership of three married couples — only one member, by the way, had been in the food business–Americana 12 was a restaurant designed by committee.
In my review, I noted, ”This lack of a focused concept weakens this restaurant. Is it American or fusion? Rustic or refined? You’ll find no answers in the menu, which is long, repetitive and in need of editing. Americana 12 offers not one cold seafood cocktail, but three, plus five cold appetizers and four hot, including two soups. There are pastas and steaks and nine side dishes, including hot Italian peppers sautéed in garlic and oil, Roquefort potato strudel and vanilla whipped sweet potatoes. It’s hard to find any uniting point of view among these dishes, or one that relates to Americana’s name, décor and setting.”
And that was just the menu — it only got worse with eating. While the restaurant had received a breezy Very Good in the NY Times and a 5 Star rave in the Journal News’ InTown Magazine, we were totally shocked by what we found. Here’s a link to our Emily Shaw’s review:
It was bad, folks—and I mean, really bad. Plus expensive. We couldn’t sneak out for less than $100 per person — and BTW, we didn’t indulge in $140 worth of wine during our visits, as did the Times reviewer. Follow the link — we told you all about it (in five-part harmony) in our restaurant review.
Of course, that’s when the phone calls started — demanding our head on a platter–and the letter writing campaigns, and the letters to our editor. In short, this review caused more grief for yours truly than we can remember ever having to endure before. Despite the barrage, though, our publisher and editor-in-chief backed our findings and no retraction was run.
So let’s just say that Emily Shaw’s was on our radar. We weren’t surprised to hear that Emily Shaw’s Chef Greg Gilbert had bailed—but we were shocked to hear that Chef Rafael Palomino hired him as chef de cuisine at Pälomino?. (Gilbert’s pre-Shaw’s post was at Jackson and Wheeler where he was also partner–he had reportedly walked off the line in a snit at 6PM on a Friday night). Their relationship lasted until two months ago, when Gilbert left Pälomin? to be replaced by a chef straight from Le Bernardin. While Chef Palomino doesn’t criticize Gilbert, he says Gilbert’s replacement “has a clean palate and is winning back customers.”
And Americana 12 at Emily Shaw’s? The website claims that the restaurant had been “on vacation” for the entire month of August, but when we called both phone numbers repeatedly during the week of 9/8-12 they were, according to the phone company, “No longer in service.” Emails bounced back as well. Huh. Couldn’t see that coming. Bloom, anyone?