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Were they cooking and serving my dinner with their eyes closed last night at Brasserie Cassis?
The day’s heat had abated and I took a seat at one of the Plainview bistro’s outdoor tables. Recalling Cassis’s redoubtable Dijon vinaigrette but having no interest in a full-blown salad with beets, Roquefort and candied walnuts, I ask my waiter for just the dressed greens. He shows up with a plate of greens, no dressing. I wait until he circles back to my table to point this out. “I’ll bring you dressing,” he says. “Could the kitchen dress it?” I ask. As I have said (and blogged) repeatedly, you can’t properly toss a salad in the plate it is served on.
When he returns with my salad, it is obvious that that is exactly what someone has done. There’s dressing all over the plate, some leaves are naked, some are sitting under a big blob of vinaigrette. There is so much dressing on the salad, I can’t finish it. Hey, this isn’t Wendy’s; this is a French restaurant. Can someone take a look at the salad before it leaves the kitchen?
Next up, bucatini e palourdes, pasta with clams, pancetta and tomato. I have high hopes for this dish because the last time I had pasta here (also a rather ridiculously named Francophone pasta: gratin de macaroni avec lardons et pois) I greatly enjoyed it. And also, clams and ham are one of my favorite combos.
Well, the idea of this dish was a good one, but the execution? Again, blindness in the kitchen. How else could someone have let this dish go out with big, thick hunks of unrendered pancetta in it? I would have needed a knife to cut them into bite-sized pieces—if, in fact, I wanted to eat a bite-sized piece of pork fat. Chef: pancetta needs to be sliced thin and then at least partially rendered.
Toward the end of my meal, a bunch of guys sit down; they are apparently friends of the waiter. “Dude, you’re outside today,” one of them comments. “Unfortunately,” he replies.
Brasserie Cassis is at 387 S. Oyster Bay Rd., Plainview, 516-653-0090.