Diamond Mills -- September 2012 (dt)
6.14 - 6.9, 6.8, 6.75, 6.25, 6, 5.75, 5.5, 5

We were wowed upon entry – dazzling whiteness, engulfing spaciousness, and those windows ushering the outside in. Overlooking the Esopus Creek and dammed waterfalls, the array of ten window panels, 35 feet wide in total, topped by equally wide arching windows, brings sky and ground together. Two round windows near the wall’s upper corners add another layer of visibility.
               And cream-whiteness envelops, defined by every wall, and nearly a dozen white booths available on three sides, surrounding a half-dozen dark wood tables, one of which we were seated at until Tim negotiated a move to the mezzanine layer, with its own perspective.
               Twenty-one plank steps led to the upper level, separated from the abyss by a metal-strip railing, sturdier than it looked. Our table of eight (Chay and Ken at the ends) overlooked the setting we had just left, with the windows and the view outside as the backdrop. The table’s other side faced a burnished metal wall, sculpted bamboo-like, with several 12-pane windows looking northwestward to a milky sunset and the roofline of Partition Street and beyond. Sturdy and wide wood chairs with a cream-cloth cushion was comfortable the evening through, and we speculated what the industrial-ish, berber-ish carpet really was.
               The steady background semi-din of downstairs, accompanied by servers emerging from and disappearing into the side elevators, then navigating the stairs, built an interplay of both busy and calm.

            And the salad/appetizer course was promising, eventually proving more interesting than the next course (borrowing from the online menu):
---} Lobster Corn Chowder, Avocado, Bacon Relish, Roasted Paprika Oil (Deb K: excellent, rich, could have been the meal; Tim: excellent, almost too rich, half-finished)
---}
   Wagyu Beef  Carpaccio, Arugula, Parmigiano, Horseradish Mustard (Don: excellent)
---}   Baby Greens Salad, Baby Beets, Goat Cheese, Avocado, Pistachios, Herb Vinaigrette (Deb T and Judy: both excellent)
---}   Organic Greens Salad, Sunflower Seeds, Ricotta Salata, Sherry Mustard Vinaigrette (Ken: standard but good)

And then began a bit of unease that could not be ignored the rest of the evening. The entrée menu was an interesting conundrum – enough variety, about a dozen choices, to attract many tastes but, somehow, several of us found little to grab us. Finally (borrowing from the online descriptions again):
---}   Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes, with Roasted Corn, Roasted Pepper & Potato Relish, Spring Greens, Orange Chipotle Remoulade (Deb T: ok crab cakes, sides were better; Don: the same)
---}   Baked Cavatelli Bolognese, Ragu of Beef, Veal & Sausage, Garden Vegetables, Tomato, Fresh Mozzarella (Ken: a very good prep)
---}   Grilled Rib Eye, Vegetable Hash, Roasted Garlic, Cilantro-Chimichurri Sauce (Tim: medium-rare, with a mashed potato sub, sauce on side, he liked; Chay: wished he had subbed for mashed, veggie mash was blah, steak was just ok and cold, and smaller than he thought 16 ounces should be)
---}   Pan Seared Goat Cheese & Ricotta Gnocchi, Parmesan Cream, Prosciutto, Spring Peas, Truffle (Deb K: interesting; large gnocchi, a bit tough, maybe old)
---}   Tavern Skillet Burger, 10 oz Special Blend, St. Andre, Smoked Bacon, Avocado Chipotle Aioli, Brioche Roll, Hand Cut French Fries (Kriss: had to deconstruct the too-tall burger, but good; gave away the avocado)
---}   Stuff Sole Special, crab filling, topped with a large prawn, sided with one oyster, drizzled with oyster sauce (Judy: very good, although the food came out cold)

Presentation showed creativity and flair, for those who cared, and worthy of a restaurant who wants to appeal to the HITS (Horse Shows in The Sun – a nationally renowned competition) crowd.
               And the sharing-types allowed others a morsel, if so desired, good for satisfying curiosity.
               The dessert menu again was a bit of a conundrum – some variety, but difficult for the group. Eventually:
---}   Harlequin Torte: Coconut Macaroon, Ganache, Flourless Chocolate Cake, Vanilla Bavarian Cointreau Reduction, Strawberry Gelee (Don, excellent although chocolate dominated the three layers)
---}
  Pumpkin crème brûlée, scoop of ice cream on side, three triangles of a hard-to-determine-flavor jello, flat bread with baked apple slices (Deb T & Judy; both loved it, bowl of brûlée, although small to some, was just the right size for the tasters)
---}
   Chocolate ice cream (Kriss: standard, although one small scoop was quite underwhelming)

Meanwhile, Chay sipped Black Sambuca, and Ken his white Sambuca; and Tim and Deb K passed. (prices for Sambuca, Chay felt, was exorbitant)

Starting the entire meal was the placement of two tall wire baskets holding white Italian bread, whole wheat bread, and foot-long tube bread sticks encrusted with a pepper that garnered everyone’s attention. A three panel tray held extra virgin olive oil, rosemary-infused oil, and garlic-clove-infused oil – a classy start.
               The drink menu included two bottles of L’Arco 2009 Chianti, a glass of prosecco, and two sodas.
               The wait staff was dressed in white top, black pants, and striped aprons – a nice touch. Service is polished and very good, showing obvious training.  Our original waiter, Courtney, was abandoned upon our leaving for upstairs in favor of Lee—quietly, efficiently, pleasant, a sense of humor, and a nice touch. Thanks, Lee.
               Tall, widening-upward eight inch water glasses were filled from an official looking bottle. Settings included two knives and two forks with linen. Upon arrival of the bread basket, a bread plate with a spreading knife was set.
               The sole centerpiece was a thick glass cube with three rose blooms. Eventually, a small candle, with taller sides was lit.
               Nick, our dessert waiter, added plenty of character, with his story of running into objects with his head, including the lights over the table. Thanks, Nick.
               Lighting was mostly established with recessed lights spread across the ceiling’s banked levels. Three single layer chandeliers, enveloped by a metal gauze globe effect  and set over the main room, almost allowed diners to not notice the recessed lighting. Our mezzanine featured several 1950s-ish three-foot diameter suffused lights.
               Pacing felt good to some, slow to others. Bread & sticks arrived at the fifteen minute mark; appetizers at the hour mark, entrées at the ninety minute mark, desserts at the two hour mark, and departure at the two-and-half hour split. Our switching tables consumed ten minutes.
               Despite all the high notes, the evening’s mood was unsettled by small intrusions—the aforementioned entrée menu, a temperature that was chilly for some, the inability to hear the ends of the table, and pricing.
               The tab arrived -- $120 per couple, including drinks, tax, and tip, a level the Adamses had suggested was likely. Still, the evening of a burger, soda, and small scoop of ice cream is a benchmark for DP8 history.

We started the evening at the Adamses. Tim filled glasses with a Pinotage, a white zin, prosecco, and soda. Judy provided a counter filled with enough food with which we almost could have stayed home – a veggie tray of radish, carrot, broccoli, celery and pepper; a bowl of nuts; another bowl of pineapple chunks; another bowl, yet, of guacamole; a plate of crackers and corn chips to dip.
               We caught up on news – past and present, even though the past was just two weeks old. Included was the impending Adams-Teator trip to France; Deb K’s more-frequent-than-expected westward jaunts; the start of school (sympathy for Chay); the finishing or onset of possible colds; grandkids (spurred by the memory disk on the counter); non-DP8 trips to Saugerties, especially to Krause’s; the sudden development of Diamond Mill; Kriss’ early sense of retirement (unabashed joy); Ken’s work days coming to a close; Ken’s stabbing the veggies with ...; a couple of the men’s eyes ...; our anticipation of a Ken-comment to remember; the setting of dates for the next three DP8 dates; past prices of DP8 dates; and more that has slipped through my synapses.