Recently, we had the opportunity to drop by Chef Dave DiBari’s new Dobbs Ferry restaurant for a sampling of something that is — and we use this word sparingly — truly outrageous.
Fan’s of DiBari’s The Cookery will be well acquainted with “The Whole Pig,” a by-appointment-only dinner spotlighting a full roasted hog and some of the restaurant’s favorite sides in what the website itself calls “gastronomic perversions and barbarism,” all to the tune of $85+ per person. There was no doubt, then, that when The Rare Bit opened, DiBari’s team wanted to do something similar but within the scope of the restaurant’s Anglophile mission statement. Enter: “The Whole Roast.”
This Sunday-style dinner for the whole table is composed of three courses including salad and chef’s choice of appetizer, followed by an insane full rib of beef. Add in sides and dessert and you start to see where the “gastronomic perversions” angle comes into play.
Reservations must be made at least five days in advance, and the cost is a hefty $100 per person, with optional beer and wine pairings for an extra $10 or $25, respectively. Oh, and there’s a minimum requirement of at least six people, so if there’s only four of you you’re still stuck ponying up $600. Let’s dive into just exactly what you get for your Benjamins.
To start off, the table shares a delicious and fresh cheddar-escarole salad with piccalilli dressing. It’s light, the dressing gives it a little bite, and it’s a perfect way to whet your appetite for the coming carnivorous obscenities.
Next up comes the chef’s choice appetizer. We got the pub’s namesake bread-and-cheese-sauce dish, Welsh rarebit. The cheese itself is actually light and fluffy thanks to some crafty aeration, and topping it with yet more piccalilli made for an easy transition from the salad course.
Our entrée was heralded by the arrival of bowl after gargantuan bowl of side dishes. First came an enormous platter of charred broccoli heads and a
children’s swimming pool heaping pile of mashed potatoes, followed swiftly by an equally voluminous tub of carrots slow-roasted in garlic, shallots, and beef fat drippings collected directly from our main course over the previous evening. When we thought we saw a plate large enough for our roast, it turned out to simply be a mountain of savory, flaky Yorkshire puddings. Without a gravy boat large enough to accommodate such a meal, our “Lovely Gravy,” as it’s called, was served in two ceramic teapots.
Pro Tip: Stuff your Yorkshire with your potatoes and then douse the whole affair in gravy.
Finally, our beef arrived, ferried like unto Charon himself across the river Styx of the dining room on its own carving cart. The rib roast is dry-aged for 30 days and roasted overnight at a balmy 130º until it’s perfectly medium-rare. Cut into one-inch steaks that fill most of your plate, this beef is admittedly a little intimidating. However slathered in gravy with fat that literally melts the second it hits your tongue, it is also delicious and a hill we will happily die on if dinner comes to that.
Of course, you probably won’t finish this plate in a single sitting and there is absolutely no shame in taking home a huge chunk of meat in a box with some leftover sides. (Even a few days later it was as tender and juicy as fresh-cut roast beef.) Again, no shame in that.
The shame comes when, in your protein’ed stupor, you are for the third time (and more seriously than ever) considering the social acceptability of undoing your belt at the table … and an enormous tray of black-as-night chocolate comes out.
Chocolate sticky pudding, utterly saturated in caramel sauce and slathered with more of the same, is a blessed if painful way to end the evening. The coup de grâce here is the little dollop of crème fraîche on top. Slightly soured, the topping actually cuts the sweetness of the cakey dessert in a way that even freshly prepared whipped cream never could — meaning if you wait a few minutes you can polish off those last few bites without feeling like you’ll spend the rest of your night breathing heavily and hating yourself.
All things considered, The Whole Roast is an absolute extravagance. However, as far as extravagances go, it is one of the more savory, delicious ones we’ve found in Westchester. For small groups and special occasions, it is a choice we would happily make again in the future. Just don’t mix up the gravy teapots when you order coffee and tea.