Though its new chef has a mighty pedigree, North Star in Pound Ridge may have dulled.
North Star’s decor boasts unusual twists, like quotes from famous thinkers scrawled in gold lettering along the walls.
North star restaurant, the casual eatery tucked into the hamlet of Scotts Corners in Pound Ridge, thankfully gives off the same appealing post-Woodstock vibe it had in April 2006 when last reviewed by this magazine. Quotes from rock stars and historical luminaries remain penned in gold around the tops of the walls, and there is still a Magic 8-Ball at the bar, waiting to answer your most burning questions. (“Will Hillary win?” begat “Try again later.”)
The comfortable rustic décor hasn’t changed, but a new chef has been brought in. Franz Fruhmann, who spent time in the kitchens of Bouley Bakery and Lespinasse, more recently worked in our neck of the woods, both at Blue Hill at Stone Barns and under Michel Nischan for the opening month of the Dressing Room. Those are impressive credentials to live up to.
One visit got off to a decent start with a bowl of shelled escargot swimming in a rich garlic confit studded with the sweet and refreshing surprise of muscatel grapes. This was accompanied by a classic salad of slightly toothy assorted roasted beets and crumbled goat cheese drizzled with a candypink-colored raspberry vinaigrette that tasted better than it looked.
Crab cakes looked just fine, but one bite was all it took for us to send the overtly fishy tasting dish back. The waiter politely told us that they might seem fishy to us because they are made only with crab, no filler. We want to taste the sea, just not to that extent.
But all was right with the world starting with the first bite of truffled macaroni and cheese. Is there anyone who wouldn’t love a bubbling hot dish of pasta baked in creamy Fontina, Swiss, and cheddar cheeses and that culinary fairy dust, truffle? That and the hearty chopped salad of carrots, cucumber, celery, chickpeas, apple, and blue cheese might make a thoroughly satisfying meal for lesser appetites.
Though pretty with its bright beets and pink dressing, the classic salad tastes even better than it looks.
More robust eaters might head for the New York strip, a juicy, moist steak with burly beef flavor and just enough chewiness to assure you it’s a steak you’re eating. The strip was topped with an abundant classic creamy green peppercorn sauce, which turned out to be especially well suited to the accompanying fries.
The far less costly pub steak ($20 compared to the $36 strip) was served sans sauce, and was juicy with good meaty flavor. The steak was served with home-style chunky garlic mashed
potatoes and an innocuous apple slaw.
Moist grilled Florida swordfish topped with brown butter was simply prepared and perfectly cooked. Embracing our pleasure in this lovely, clean-tasting fish, on a subsequent visit, we decided to try the snapper in vanilla bouillabaisse. Like the crab cakes, the snapper tasted as though it had been out of water just a little too long, and even the aggressive vanilla flavor in the broth couldn’t tone it down.
North Star’s food is at its best when preparations are simple and clean. Duck breast, like the steaks and swordfish, was seared to just the right degree of moist, juicy doneness. And as was the case with an equally good roast chicken, crisp, mink-brown skin was as pleasant to eat as the tender meat.
Desserts were as uneven as the rest of the meal. Skip the chalky mascarpone cheesecake and a merely adequate apple strudel and indulge your inner child with the star of the dessert category: warm chocolate-chip cookie ice cream sandwiches.
For North Star’s menus, visit our Restaurant Guide.
North Star restaurant â˜…â˜…
85 Westchester Ave, Pound Ridge
(914) 764-0200; www.northstarny.com
Hours: dinner Mon through Wed 5:30-9:30 pm, Thurs 5:30-10 pm, Fri and Sat 5:30-10:30 pm, Sun 5-9 pm. Appetizers: $7-$14; entrées: $19-$36; desserts: $7-$9.
â˜…â˜…â˜…â˜…—Outstanding â˜…â˜…â˜…—Very Good