A Winning ‘Horse,’ A Bad Case of ‘Cabin’ Fever

The Missus and I and assorted other parties actually got out to a restaurant for dinner twice this weekend, thanks to her folks being in town.

Saturday, we opted for one of the few high-end options around us, the consistently good Iron Horse Grill, located in the old Pleasantville train station building. We wanted a special-occasion kind of place to mark National Train Day–not to mention our anniversary. We got Little Miss C down early and actually snuck out early enough to enjoy a drink at the bar.

The restaurant has a subtle train theme paying homage to the building’s origins; the name of course refers to trains, there are old train photos on the walls, and even a little Edward train from the Thomas the Tank Engine set above the bar (or was it Gordon?).

We got put in a small room off to the side which features just a pair of two-tops and a big round table for eight or so. Not the best spot in the place, but it did prompt me and the Missus to wonder what the room used to be–the ticket-taker space? A storage room for luggage?

The food was very good–I got a nice sole dish and The Missus got the duck, which featured a very tasty sauce. Owner Phil McGrath is very visible around the place–he stopped by to chat about the dishes, and was even about to take our order before a server wisely stepped in and saved McGrath the trouble (and likely saved his own job). McGrath does his flitting about in a very low-key way–none of this “I’m, Phil, the owner!” nonsense–we only knew him because of a framed review on the wall with his picture in it.

Speaking of framed reviews, The Missus spotted one in the bathroom with a real anachronistic quality–it was about a decade old, and talked about the depressing (and dodgy) downtown area surrounded Iron Horse, full of nail salons, empty storefronts and a crazy person or two. Priusville has come a long way.

I’d love to say we had a similarly terrific experience at Cabin, the recently rebooted restaurant in the cozy lodge on the Greenburgh/Valhalla border. We’d eaten there before and had a wonderful time–ambitious menu, surprisingly winsome ambience, considering the somewhat rundown exterior, and really good service–actual servers, not high school kids.

We went last night with the Mother In Law (MIL), Father In Law (FIL) and of course Little G and Little Miss C. Much like the night before, we got put in the junior varsity room–a dining space in the bar area, where you can’t help but watch golf and local news on different screens, not to mention the constant parade to the men’s room, while trying to converse with your table mates.

We ordered the fried shrimp (or Fried “Shirmp” on the menu…The Missus and TJ are career editors and no menu typo gets by us) for Little G and asked the server to please bring it with our salads. No problem, she said.


To be fair, it was Mother’s Day. But the restaurant wasn’t really that slammed–I’d say it was 75% full when we got there, and everyone was ordering off a prix-fixe menu, which makes life much easier for the staff.  

Well, our salads came, and no fried shirmp. The salads had lovely toasted goat cheese pucks or croquettes or whatever, but none of the four we ordered had the sugary walnuts the menu promised. No big.

Well, our salads were consumed, and still no fried shirmp for Little G. The kids started getting restless. The Missus walked Little Miss C around and I engaged Little G, compelling him to crayon a picture of the new Roary the Racing Car toy MIL and FIL picked up for him on a recent trip to England. Little Miss C was put back in the high chair, got cranky a little while later, and I took my turn walking her around. Little G joined us in a quick tour of the place.

Still, no fried shirmp. The waitress even came by, saw our long-since picked apart salads, and said, quite rhetorically, “The shrimp hasn’t arrived yet?”

Finally, it showed up, and Little G returned to his seat. I occupied a bench about 20 feet from our table with Little Miss C, midway between the main dining room and the bar area, trying to entertain her as her bedtime approached.

Alas, the fried shrimp was hard as a rock, and Father in Law sent it back.

“This is totally unacceptable,” FIL said politely but sternly. “This is hard as a rock.”

Mind you, we’ve been here about an hour and only now were getting the kids meal, with the grown-up meals still in the works. Some frustration poked through.

The waitress took the inadvertent Rock Shrimp and headed for the kitchen. She stopped to talk to what I suppose was a floor manager, about 10 feet from me and Little Miss C. The waitress did a pretty unflattering imitation of my father in law:

“This is totally unacceptable,” she said in a whiny voice through a sneer. “This is hard as shit.”

OK, now there’s trouble.

I don’t believe I’ve ever heard the father in law curse in the decade I’ve known the guy. I also don’t believe I’ve ever seen him be anything but completely cordial to a server, especially a female one who’s half-decent looking. I felt my blood boil as I watched this hack (and inaccurate) impersonation.

Finally our entrees came about an hour and ten minutes after we first sat. Alas, they brought the wrong thing for Father in Law (he wanted crab cakes, they brought a Cape Cod casserole). He told them not to bother bringing his desired entree–we were hungry, and the kids were absolutely done.

It was one of those meals where the entree becomes an after-thought; you just want to finish and get home. Little G’s reconstituted fried shirmp never showed, and we were finished in 10 minutes.

It didn’t quite end there. The Missus and I asked for our chocolate bread pudding desserts to go, while FIL and MIL asked for them to stay. We got the kids up and got the heck out of there.

Alas (yes, another “alas”), all the desserts came to go, accompanied by the check. Then FIL and MIL had to wait another 10 minutes or so for the check to get picked up; when the waitress never came for it, FIL settled up at the bar.

Fittingly, the desserts were a bust too. Granted, no dessert really holds up in to-go form, but the bread pudding was painfully mediocre (neither the Missus nor MIL ate theirs, and I only did because I would eat cardboard if it was smeared with chocolate). FIL’s “berries” dessert featured two strawberries–two, 2–cut in half. Technically, yes, they were “berries.”

In their defense, the Cabin did not charge for Little G’s meal (mind you, he never got his meal), or FIL’s Cape Cod Casserole. That smoothed frayed feelings to a degree.  

As I’ve said, we’ve had very good meals at the Cabin, and were very happy to see a good dining option to all the uninspired red-sauce joints in our area. But last night sure was a dud.

This entry was posted in Little G, Little Miss C, Pleasantville, Priusville, The Missus, Thomas & Friends, Valhalla and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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