Mountain View Brasserie - January 2014 (dt)
7.61 - 8, 8, 7.9, 7.5, 7.5 7.5 7.25, 7.25
Mountain View Brasserie once again comprised our stay-close-to-home pick, and once again its efforts attested to our vote as our favorite restaurant. And it is the details, from the exterior half-height Christmas trees still lit (Terri must have paid extra for the fresh coat of snow!), to the warming details of the lobby and the welcoming area, and, of course, to the dining experience. The magic must have rubbed off in bunches because nearly three hours was experienced with nary a fidget from a single soul.
          After sauntering across the full parking lot, we gathered in our usual back corner banquette with two (three?) tables pulled together on a classically cold evening.

The menu, as usual, is the set standard—a half dozen appetizers, three soups, a dozen entrées that cover an ample range, and a half-dozen desserts. It is, however, the evening’s specials (of course, we anticipate Terri’s recital of the list), that garner our attention, with their usual creativity
          Our appetizer/salad choices included:
==> the included house salad, a plate of light greens and fillers (Kriss, Ken: both good);
==> a special - shrimp bisque—a somewhat light but still creamy full base with generous chunks (Don, Deb T, Lynda, Deb K: all excellent);
==> Caesar salad—a MVB classic (Ross, Chay: very good);
==> and an appetizer special - jumbo lump crabmeat cocktail, in a tall fluted glass (Deb K: excellent with a mound of fresh chunks on greens with cocktail sauce).

The entrées caught us with the familiar and special:
==> The sautéed Wiener Schnitzel (not quite French but it is requested so much it is now a regular menu item) always draws at least one of us, with the spaetzle drawing particular attention (Ross, Deb K: excellent as usual);
==> chicken parmesan, a regular, with tomato basil sauce and fresh mozzarella cheese served with linguine (Ken, Kriss: old standbys, especially since they had visited MVB a week earlier, excellent as usual)
==> a special - tenderloin of pork, topped with peach & onion marmalade, with au gratin potatoes and ratatouille (Don: very good, especially the marmalade, even better the next day)
==> another special - seafood risotto, with a lobster tail, four shrimp, four scallops (Deb T, Chay, Lynda: much oohing and aahing over the quality of all the ingredients)
         The only item missed was MVB’s prime rib, depleted not only from a busy New Year Eve schedule but also from a rest-of-the-month vacation arising in two days.

Dessert, as usual, waggled its irresistible finger
==> A regular - the warm chocolate cake, ice cream, cream and strawberries drew one diner (Ross: shared with Lynda, a good comfort dessert)
==> Another regular - Key lime pie (Ken: a well-known for him, and good)
==> A special - raspberry sorbet (Deb T: excellent) (note: Chay & Deb yielded on their selection of this sorbet when one less serving was available)
==> Another special - maple walnut ice cream sundae, with a spurt of chocolate syrup, cream and a star pattern of strawberry slices (Don, Kriss [the usual chocolate people]: a worthy change of pace)

Our evening finished with Terri’s generous offer of an after-dinner drink, an offer accepted by several: black Sambuca (Chay, Deb T), Grand Marnier (Ross), tequila (Lynda, Deb K). Much appreciated by DP8, and thank you, Terri and house.
          Our drink order consisted of a soda, a small pot of Harney’s white grapefruit tea, and six drinkers of a bottle of Anne Pichon Rose de Ventoux rosé and two bottles of Elara Cellars 2009 Napa Meritage. (I should note that wine markups at MVB are quite modest, lower than many other establishments we have frequented.)

Service by Rebecca was excellent again—attentive, good about checking without being intrusive, pleasant. Water was filled regularly, and Ken, by reputation of long standing, had his coffee cup filled consistently. Good service does not happen by accident, and good service at MVB is a testament to the trainer!

Ambiance has been described before so the usual catalogue will depend on past accounts, except for these next few. MVB’s entry table presentation is both classy and warm. The white linened table—each half anchored by a small shaded candle-lit bistro lamp, a plate of lemon and lime slices—sports eight settings of white bread plates with butter knife resting akimbo, three sides of a silverware square surrounding the absent dinner plate, and modest sized water glasses that will be filled upon seating. And shortly after that, two linen-covered metal baskets of bread, bracketed by ramekins of softened butter, all add up to an excellent first impression, one that we have enjoyed over the years.

            And then there was that new hunk of wood in the greeting area—the plaque recognizing Hudson Valley Magazine’s Best of 2013 winner for Greene County Restaurant. Congratulations to MVB.

The final bill came to $115 per couple, ending an evening we found so comfortable. (Later, when I asked my dinner mates how three hours could have passed without an edge of fidget from one person, the consensus seemed to be—MVB is our comfort spot, we were close to home, the flow of conversation trickle pleasurably, and all the right notes resonated. A rarity! And although our scores serve as a reminder, not a critical review, the fact that the second highest score in 134 dinners came this evening must not be overlooked!)

As tradition will have, or has had the last few years, we held no pre-session this evening, instead agreeing to meet at MVB at reservation time. The Monteverds seated first.
           One should note that influencing DP8’s normal course of affairs this past year is our recent substitutions regimen, now that the Adamses have a new permanent address a few hundred miles distant. Add the Monteverdean snowbirding and the former normalcy changes even more. Fortunately, four couples fill in for the count of eight and that variety certainly flavors the mix. And to gussy things up, the remaining six veterans have designated that the third substitution by a couple earns them a certificate of Almost DP8, an accomplishment of some dubiosity, we suspect. Ross and Lynda’s presence this evening, the third with DP8, earned them a certificate, adding to the ranks of the other Almost DP8ers—the Notars and Quinns. Still, the Adamses, upon an accommodating date, fill their usual spot whenever they happen to grace Greene County with their presence.
          And so the evening’s topics took the usual twists and turns, with a Pisano/Burhouse angle. Recent cold weather and a snow storm of a few days ago garnered much of the early attention. More details of the Rhine Cruise from a Lynda/Ross perspective filled another chunk of time, as did retellings of Christmas schedules and visits, of in-laws, grandkids, and other relatives to keep happy (or not, in one case). Chay’s impending June retirement will continue to be a topic, with every event being one of his last ones (last Christmas break, e.g.).
          Other topics included: packing for winter vacation, Florida travels, Adamses travels, skiing, Karneses’ visit to Buffalo, status of pets, Deb’s pocketbooks, changing of local banks, Ben and Terry’s vacation plans, New Year resolutions, visits to doctors, new furniture, Den’s 2014 photo calendars, and so much more. Even the few innuendos that evoked a cackle or guffaw have slipped into forgetfulness.