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“Great lunch”

Freelance Cafe and Wine Bar
Ranked #3 of 20 Restaurants in Piermont
Dining options: Dinner
Restaurant details
Dining options: Dinner
Reviewed July 19, 2012

Met some friends for a leisurely lunch and the Freelance fit the bill. Not a place I can make a "regular" lunch place, as it is a bit pricey, but well worth it once in a while or for special occasions.

Thank rala14
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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64 - 68 of 90 reviews

Reviewed July 9, 2012

After a pretty good experience of Peter X Kelly's X2O on the Hudson, a friend suggested that we try one of the earlier members of the Xaviars Restaurant Group, the Freelance Cafe in Piermont, New York.

Freelance is next door to Xaviars at Piermont - a small 40-seat restaurant that has been highly rated by the New York Times and Zagat. Freelance was opened in 1989 and is described as the more casual sibling of its next-door neighbor. It is also described, by its owners, as a combination of American Cafe Style, French Bistro and Italian Trattoria. Given that the menu also contained Chinese Steamed Buns and - the night I visited - there were two dishes described as Thai, which included pasta, I would describe the concept (and the menu) as "confused".

I chose the Onion Soup Gratinee with Dry Sack and Gruyere. The first couple of spoons were favorable, but then it became apparent that the ratio of cheese to soup (and onion) was just overwhelming.

For a main course I chose the Lime Marinated & Grilled Game Hen with Watercress Dressing. The accompaniment was Garlic Broccolini and Pommes Frites. The Pomme Frites (fried potatoes) were shoestring fries - exceptionally thin. Like the soup, the first couple of mouthfuls of fries were favorable, but then rapidly unsatisfying as the cut was far too thin to be pleasant or satisfying. The game hen was beautifully cooked, but the accompanying mustard sauce seemed to be overpowering and almost clumsy against the delicacy of lime and watercress. The broccolini on the side was ubiquitous and crude. Is broccoli/broccolini really the only green vegetable known to US chefs? It just seemed too ordinary against such a deliciously cooked game hen.

Two of our party had the Whole Roasted Hudson Valley Duckling (for two) and they gave it good marks, apart from the accompanying Turnip Puree that was described as "pureed too much!"

Desserts that we sampled included a Lemon Cheese Cake that was pleasant, but unremarkable. Cheese Cake is a simple dessert and you have to be suspicious when the chef feels the needs to interlace the plate with various sauces in the current, almost done-to-death, me-too style.

The Creme Brulee was, quite simply, disappointing. The custard was very good, but the topping was under-fired, so instead of that expected sugary crunch, you just had a topping with the texture of sand. Creme Brulee is such a classic that you MUST get it right.

Considering the cafe/bistro/trattoria description given by its owners, the pretentiousness of some of the menu descriptions is hard to take. It's one of those menus that looks initially inviting, but then the attempted cleverness becomes off-putting and you can stare at it for ages without anything really looking truly appetizing.

But it's even worse than "pretentious" it's also "intimidating". Instead of the game hen, what I really would have liked to sample was either the Crispy Salmon with Coconut Rice, or the Wasabi Crusted Tuna. However, the chef feels the need to impose what can only be interpreted as an instruction to the diner that both of these items are "Served Rare" (it's right there in the title of the dishes). For my taste, if I want sashimi I won't go to a cafe/bistro/trattoria! I know chefs like to present fish rare and steak cooked no higher than medium rare, and I know it frustrates them when customers dare to disagree. But food is no different that the appreciation of a painting: it is a matter of taste. One man's Constable is another man's Jackson Pollock. Please convince me why I couldn't have had the option of having my fish cooked medium? Even better, is there REALLY a good reason why the server couldn't have simply asked me how I preferred MY fish cooked? Did the chef really have to impose their taste on mine, quite so aggressively?

And then we come to inconvenient: You can't book a table in advance and they only take cash or personal checks (and that information is NOT prominently displayed, so plenty of room for embarrassment and misunderstanding). So, if you feel like driving miles to Piermont, it's a hit or miss affair as to whether you will get a table - and then if you're a party of four and you order a couple of bottles of cheap-ish wine with your meal, be ready to have around $300 in cash somewhere in your pockets - or be that person who, in 2012, still carries a check book around with them!

The dining room is very small and your table may be squashed against the noisy bar. The single restroom didn't inspire confidence. Despite some (fairly old) flowers, the floor was filthy. Not a great sign.

If the meal had been without flaw, then you may have forgiven the inconvenience aspects. But the meal wasn't without flaw. It was ok, but not memorable. Some bits were good, some bits were really not good (the Creme Brulee, for example).

If you are a Piermont local and you have an alternative lined up (in case you can't get a table here), then this is probably somewhere you have fond memories of, and so you overlook its flaws. But as a first-time visitor, it struck me as somewhere where the legend has probably been overtaken by the present-day reality. The Freelance Cafe has been around since 1989, and I would say that's exactly what it feels like: something from 1989 and somewhere in need of a top-to-toe re-think.

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2  Thank CastawayKnight
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 5, 2012

Excellent food, wonderful waitstaff, nice location in the center of town. Come early and get on line before the doors open to get in without a reservation. Make reservations as far in advance as they allow or you may be disappointed. Nice "foodie" experience.

Thank foodie50Ny
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 7, 2012

Ate here twice last week and the food was wonderful. Had lunch Sunday with three friends and we each had something different. The overall rating was 4 chef hats...the highest we give. There was not one complaint among us.

Then, I had the good fortune to go back yesterday and again our lunch was exceptional. Yesterday, I had the endive salad followed by scallops then almond cake for dessert. Today, I am still thinking how great lunch was. I would say the lunch price is reasonable based on the quality of the food that you get. They also make a good mixed drink and have a very nice wine list. But there goes that reasonable bill!

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Thank kathie c
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 13, 2012

service lacked, food was under seasoned.Server took our plate to be wrapped to go, but never came back.
Raspberries on dessert had mold

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2  Thank R P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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