Entries in Dennis Foy (2)


Dennis Foy


Note: Dennis Foy closed in early 2009. We found it nearly empty when we visited in 2007, and business never really picked up. Dennis Foy deserved better than that, but his terrific food never really found a following at this location. The space later held a couple of failed Japanese restaurants helmed by Masaharu Morimoto, and is now expected to become Church Street Tavern.


Dennis Foy is a chef who has bounced around a bit, having run the kitchen in Manhattan at Mondrian and EQ (both long since closed), as well as a couple of New Jersey restaurants. Last fall, he opened the eponymous restaurant in the former Lo Scalco space, sprucing it up with his own landscape paintings, decorating the walls in gold leaf and the ceiling beams in bold, saturated colors.

Its arrival was greeted with yawns. Frank Bruni relegated it to a double-review with an unrelated restaurant. Awarding one star, he called Dennis Foy “a worthy but low-wattage addition to the New York dining scene: an ‘if you happen to be’ as opposed to a ‘you have to try’ restaurant.”

The only problem with Bruni’s assessment is that Church Street between Walker and Lispenard Streets isn’t an “if you happen to be” block. No one “just happens to be” there, which perhaps explains why we found Dennis Foy nearly empty. Only about one-fourth of its 60 seats were taken at prime time on Friday night. I fear an Eater Deathwatch cannot be far off.

That’s too bad, because Dennis Foy offers very respectable food in a serene, grown-up atmosphere. Prices are a bit expensive, though it’s possible to spend plenty more in the neighborhood. The menu isn’t very long, with just nine appetizers ($8–18) and eight entrées ($25–35) listed. I suspect Foy’s prospects would be improved by lowering the average price of the entrées—say, from $30 to $25.

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Amuse-bouche (left); Crispy Veal Sweetbreads (right)

The amuse-bouche was a seafood salad with toasted blini and pickled vegetables. We were also offered several choices of bread, all served warm. To start, my girlfriend and I both had the Crispy Veal Sweetbreads ($14), with roquette, hazelnuts, apple cider, and spring onion marmelade. We particularly liked the contrast of the deep-fried sweetbread and the light apple flavor.

Rack of Berkshire Pork

Rack of Berkshire Pork ($30) seemed over-priced, given that the all there was of it was a single lonely pork chop, deboned and sliced. The accompaniments—Serrano ham, ricotta gnocchi, and romaine lettuce—weren’t especially memorable, and the pork was a bit too dry.

My girlfriend was quite pleased with fettuccini with veal and foie gras, which was rich in texture, and served in a hearty portion. I tasted a bit of it myself, and it was excellent.

Rhubarb Cobbler

Rhubarb, now in season, is showing up on menus all over town. We don’t usually order dessert, but perhaps out of sympathy, ordered a Rhubarb Cobbler ($10). We were glad we did, as it was a fine dessert indeed, served warm with heavy cream on the side.

Service was top-notch, though with the restaurant three-fourths empty, it had better be. The beautiful space could be home to a three-star restaurant. It is perfect for a refined escape from a hectic week, though not too many people seem to have figured this out. Perhaps it’s because the food, though strongly conceived and usually well executed, isn’t quite dazzling enough.

Dennis Foy (313 Church Street between Walker and Lispenard Streets, TriBeCa)

Food: **
Service: **
Ambiance: ***
Overall: **


Critiquing the Critic: Pera and Dennis Foy

Today, New York Journal adds a new weekly feature. In “Critiquing the Critic,” we’ll deconstruct Frank Bruni’s latest performance in the Times dining section.

Sadly, Jules Langbein’s hilarious Bruni Digest has gone dark— she has posted only one of her patented Bruni-skewerings in the last three months. I can’t possibly replicate what Jules did, and I won’t even try. I’m afraid I’m going to sound much more sanctimoniously serious than the situation calls for.

To business: This week, Frank Bruni files a double-review of Pera and Dennis Foy, granting one star to both.

The frequency of double-reviews has gone up, and that’s a good thing. There are far too many restaurants that never get a Times review, and far too many others that go years before a re-review. If Bruni is right about Pera and Dennis Foy—and I’m not saying he is—neither one is important enough to deserve a column to itself.

Bruni reminds us, “Dennis Foy occupies the elegant, creamy space that belonged to the excessively self-conscious restaurant Lo Scalco.” That restaurant, I might add, won a Michelin star, but Bruni never got around to reviewing it. Whatever you thought of Lo Scalco, restaurants at that level shouldn’t go un-reviewed.

Today’s headline, “Knowing Their Place and Aiming to Fill It,” has an “Aw, shucks!” attitude. It is never a compliment to tell someone they “know their place.” It’s a bit like the massa telling the slave to be happy about picking the cotton. I don’t know about Pera, but I’m sure Dennis Foy thought he was opening a two-star restaurant. I’m not saying it is two stars, but it’s patronizing to give him one, and then congratulate him for “knowing his place.”

Bruni says that Foy is “an ‘if you happen to be’ as opposed to a ‘you have to try’ restaurant.” The trouble is that almost no one “happens to be” on Church Street between Walker and Lispenard Streets. It’s not a “happen to be” block.

I suspect Pera will be just fine with Bruni’s one-star review. As he notes, “Its jazzy look and feel are unmitigated delights, and jazzy isn’t so easy to come by on its patch of Manhattan, in the shadow of Grand Central Terminal.”

Overall, we are left with a sense that Frank was slumming it this week. Both restaurants slightly bored him.