My boyfriend and I managed to go to Dino and Harry’s in Hoboken for Hudson Country Restaurant week, but found out once there that the $35 prix fixe will last the rest of August. We always wanted to try Dino and Harry’s, but our first attempts were unsuccessful, so we were looking forward to finally try this time.
Like any special menu, the prix fixe list was small but the variety and diversity was large. Dino and Harry’s placed the highlights of the restaurant on the special prix fixe, a way to draw people back in, and continue visiting.
For starters, I had the smoked apple wood bacon with an apple slaw. I wasn’t quite sure what I was expecting when I first read the appetizer option on the website, but anything with bacon is worth a try. But despite that, when our server came over with our appetizers, and there were three thick rashers on my plate, I was surprised. At first I thought that much delicious bacon would be a gift, but it was thick and chewy, porky and didn’t feel cooked enough. The inside just felt like raw bacon, like the stuff you kind of leave on the side of the plate. The outside layers were crunchy and salty, all that you want from bacon, but there was not enough outside to combat the chewy meaty inside. The cool crisp slaw that topped each tranche was there for that reason, but still wasn’t enough to balance the texture of the applewood bacon, nor the saltiness. The apple cider reduction, which actually looked like maple syrup, was meant to help equalize the saltiness with its refined sweetness. Its likeness to one of bacon’s favorite companions, syrup, is a great play on ingredients in a pretty traditional setting. In the end, it was just too much chewy bacon and fat.
My date ordered the soup of the day option for his appetizer. The soup was a gazpacho with crabmeat. A cold soup on a hot day was a good idea, but it was not great, just wet. It was too fine for my taste (I prefer a chunkier gazpacho), so it ended up just being a tomato soup, and the rest of the ingredients and textures were lost. It was smooth and blended, but pretty thin with little substance. Every bite taken that was lacking some of the cool crabmeat, created longing for those bites with the succulent meat. The crabmeat created a different texture and added chew to the liquidy soup. We both wished for more crabmeat and larger pieces other than the fine strings we got.
For an entrée, I ordered the Petit Fillet Mignon, because I can never really pass up steak. It was a very pretty cut of meat, decorated with super sautéed mushrooms and delicate micro greens. The steak was cooked almost just right, and chewed perfectly in the mouth, evidence of a good cut of meat. The steak could have been seasoned a little better but the salty sautéed mushrooms made up for it, and added a new layer of texture, that was the middle ground between the chewy steak and the sparse micro greens. As a side, not on the fixed menu, I ordered the cheese gnocchi, which alone was more cheese and creaminess I could bear, but when the cheese and the steak combined it was delicious, elevating both items.
My boyfriend ordered the ravioli of the day, which was filled with veal and served with a light mushroom sauce. It was extremely fragrant with the earthy aroma of the mushrooms and attractive in the plate. This dish was satisfying in that it was meaty and hearty- the heaviness and density of the mushrooms, combined with the tender beef. The pasta of the ravioli was paper thin, just a subtle shell for the insides and skeletal barrier to the sauce. I much prefer my pasta a little thicker, though I can see the appeal of this thinner pasta, as it would not mask the deep flavors of the filling and the sauce. Despite the small number of raviolis in the dish, the end result was moderately filling.
The desert round was not so great. There were three options, we ordered two, but magically we were able to taste all three. Our server mixed up our order, and brought out pineapple cheesecake instead of the coconut flan we ordered. We tasted it and realized it was wrong and asked for it to be corrected. Both the flan and the cheesecake were overwhelmed with mysterious citrus notes, fruit flavors that we could not identify and were muddled by the sugars and creams of the rest of the dessert. I ordered the sticky toffee pudding, which was not sticky enough. There was not enough of the decadent toffee sauce to saturate the dry dark cake. I wish it came with ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream to give the cake more moisture.
On the whole, the service was decent. We were able to ask questions and get water without asking, and the food was prompt and hot. I just don’t remember the atmosphere feeling very friendly, though it seems as though Dino and Harry’s is a place full of regulars. I would really like to go back to explore the extensive menu and wine list and see what makes the people come back for more.