Been a while since I’ve done a restaurant review. Since having the young’in we don’t get out as much, and when we do, we’re usually looking for a sure thing rather than take a chance. Last night was a special occasion, and we decided to try out RN74, a relatively new downtown place that had gotten multiple favorable reports from friends.

We were there relatively early, on a Saturday night. The bar was already pretty full, though the dining area was empty. The space is pretty cavernous and as it continued to fill, the noise levels increased accordingly. The atmosphere is semi-train station inspired including an old style rotating board listing the most recent wine purchases. That sign is a feature that they are proud of, but it is mostly annoying. It is loud and they like to feature very expensive bottles that have been purchased. Sort of the equivalent of being allowed to drive your Maserati to your table, too ostentatious for my taste. Similarly, the seating is arranged to make sure the diners can see and be seen. Sitting at a table in the center of the room, I felt much too much on display. It was not comfortable.

The servers and wait staff were excellent: friendly, helpful, and courteous.

The menu is small, not tiny, but you may want to make sure there are options for everyone in your party. I had a couple tough decisions to make since there were multiple things I wanted, but my wife ended up ordering multiple appetizers and sides to make her meal.

I ordered their take on an Old Fashioned for my pre-dinner libation. Not my usual cocktail. This was easily the best version I’ve had. I would definitely order that again.

I ended up doing their pre fixe menu since everything I wanted from the main menu was represented there. Our first course: cauliflower velouté for me and beet salad for my wife were both very good. For my main, I had the Lamb Shank cassoulet which was also very good. My wife had the goat cheese toasts and french fries. The goat cheese toast was ok, if not anything special. The fries were inedible, drowning in salt. We ended up sending back the fries, basically uneaten. Here was one break in their staffing. When the person clearing the table (not the waitress) asked if we were enjoying the fries, as they were the only think uneaten on the table, we replied “no.” That never made it back to our waitress, so we were not offered an alternative.

For desert, my wife opted for the Petit Fours, while I got the Sticky Toffee Pudding. The Petit Fours were horrible. Really bad. We sent them back completely uneaten. The Sticky Toffee Pudding was middling at best, mediocre.

To the wait staff and restaurant’s credit, they didn’t charge us for the things we did not eat, but even so, this was a fairly pricey meal.

All-in-all, RN74 was an uneven experience. The highs were high and the lows were low, but the highs were not transcendent enough to justify their price tag or outweigh the lows. Will we return? Unlikely. Maybe for a drink in the bar. There are enough good options in the neighborhood in and below the price range of RN74 with better atmosphere. So, we will probably not get around to returning.

If you want to check it out yourself: get a booth, not a table; stay off the sides of the menu; and have desert somewhere else.

RN74 on Urbanspoon

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