1 Bridge Street
Irvington, NY 10533

5 Second Summary:

Price Range- Dinner entrees $27-38 (at time of posting)
Ambiance- Pleasant, upscale, and warm
Cuisine- New American, a gourmet menu with fairly commonplace flavor combinations
Hits- Beautiful wine vault, desserts, reasonable pricing for gourmet food
Misses- Execution doesn’t always deliver up
to menu expectations, dishes not always balanced

My second dining experience at One, on 18 December 2008, was with a group much larger than that of my first visit. We were about 15 self-professed foodies, colleagues of mine and their spouses, giddy with the prospect of a snow-induced day off from work and –of course- some residual holiday anticipation.

Beneath an enormous, festive wreath, we were seated at a single, long table along the back wall of a room lit by elegant white tapers. Our 6 pm reservation afforded a relatively quiet start to the meal, and we had the room to ourselves for a good portion of the evening.

My appetizer was a roasted root vegetable soup with caramelized fennel, garnished with a zigzag of lemon crème fraiche and shreds of tarragon. The presentation was lovely, but the execution was unfortunately lacking. For starters, the soup arrived lukewarm; what I hoped was merely uneven temperature turned out to be a disappointing coolness throughout the dish. The taste was also dominated by cream, and very little of the root vegetable

emerged. The lemon was a lovely touch, but not balanced enough. I was aching for a bit more acid. Finally, the tarragon, while lovely as a garnish and with a nice layer of flavor, was too plentiful. Used more sparingly, it would have been a bit more effective.

Roasted root vegetable soup

Five weeks earlier, I dined at One with a friend. We both had a similar soup: roasted butternut squash with a brioche crouton and pumpkin seed oil. That dish was beautifully balanced with the butternut’s thick, creamy, natural sweetness, the salt of the brioche crouton, and a hint of nuttiness. By comparison, the soup tonight was as rich but less flavorful and less balanced.

My second course was a grilled hanger steak with caramelized cippolini and a salad of wilted frisee and maytag-bacon vinaigrette playfully placed over roasted Yukon gold potatoes. The salad played with a nice, although commonplace, combination of bleu cheese and bacon. The menu description did call to mind something slightly different than what actually arrived on the plate; I had expected a smooth, emulsified vinaigrette, but the dish was actually chunks of cheese and bacon. Texturally, there was nice balance between the still partly crisp frisee, the chewy bacon, and soft, salty Maytag; the flavors combined as well as they would if they were infused into a smooth vinaigrette. The frisee, which was textually lovely, lost some of its bitterness, possibly cooked a bit too long. The Yukon gold potatoes underneath were the star of the dish: perfectly seasoned with a just-crisp exterior and soft, hot interior nicely contrasted to the cool bacon and Maytag cheese. The steak was good- flavorful, as hanger steak is, and served au jus. For a hanger steak, which is in many ways my litmus test for a chef, it was reasonably tender; first season Top Chef winner Harold Dieterle’s version remains a peerless and insurmountable fork-tender paradigm to which I compare all other hanger steaks. Although hanger steaks really must be flash-cooked over high heat, the obvious risk is overdone meat; my medium-rare steak was a bit dark for medium-rare but had the right softness. Again, the cippolini onion accompaniment was not terribly original but tasty.

During my previous meal five weeks ago, I had to forego a full entrée after the hearty, filling butternut squash soup; instead, I chose the grilled sugar cane marinated shrimp with a pineapple, mango, and red jalapeno salsa and sweet soy glaze. Once again, the dish seemed incredibly promising: savory, sweet, and spicy. While it was good, the dish was out of balance. The jalapenos’ heat was overpowering, and once again, there wasn’t enough acid. Crisper citrus flavor from the pineapple would have made the dish; instead, it was a bit too round, soft, and sweet since the soy glaze cut the acid. I would have preferred the natural tart sweetness of the pineapple balanced with a little coarse salt… and less jalapeno. The sugared shrimp were lovely, plump, and delivered everything they promised.

Finally, my dessert was a cardamom apple almond cake with caramel ice cream, and a cinnamon “gram.” The cardamom apple almond cake was light, not overly sweet, and nicely paired with a citrus zest. The flavor of the citrus did, at times, overpower the apple, almond, and cardamom. The caramel ice cream was also nicely executed: a delicate hint of caramel flavor, smooth, again not overly sweet, and very milky. The trend I noticed overall at One was a heavy emphasis on the milks and creams, which consistently emerge as dominant in the dishes. A little more caramel taste would have been perfect. The ice cream was served on a triangle-shaped crisp dusted with cinnamon, another highlight of the evening.

Cardamom apple almond cake

In my previous dinner, we shared light, delicious hazelnut madeleines with a trio of dipping sauces: chocolate, mango, and raspberry. I will unabashedly mention that I hoarded the remaining raspberry sauce at the end of the evening and enjoyed spoonfuls of it nightly for the week after this dinner. It was, quite possibly, the most delicious thing I had at One: the very essence of tart, sweet raspberry, delectably creamy, and utterly rich and rounded in flavor. I could put that raspberry dipping sauce on nearly anything, and it would taste good. Although I have a fondness for all things hazelnut, my favorite warm, nutty flavor was completely forgotten in favor of this addictive confection.

Given two separate dinners, One provided good but not exceptional meals.  My understanding from a friend and fellow foodie blogger ( was that the chef had changed, as had the menu philosophy.  In order to attract a larger following, One’s original, more experimental dishes had been replaced with more standard fare.  Earlier reviews indicate the restaurant hit an early peak, the likes of which I have yet to experience there.  Given a location that others (e.g., tapas-based Solera and the naughty Flirt Sushi) have found difficult for a variety of reasons, One might need to step up their game a bit to stay competitive in the tough Westchester market.

2 Responses to “One”

  1. Jen: I’ve come to the conclusion that you should have been a food critic for a magazine or newspaper instead of a teacher.

  2. you missed your calling – you should be a food critic!! Excellent write up!!

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