There’s no doubt about it: Scarsdale Village, with eight local eateries featuring outdoor dining options, is the new European capital of Westchester. Meanwhile, Central Avenue is… still Central Avenue. That being said, it’s worth leaving the village proper (and all the chocolate croissants one could want) every now and then for fine dining at a pretty spot called Grace’s Table, located at 324 Central Avenue in White Plains.
Grace’s Table is part of the restaurant and marketplace team led by the Balducci and Doria families, known for the Balducci’s markets, Grace’s Marketplace, and Grace’s Trattoria. In other words, as soon as I heard the name “Grace Balducci Doria” I made a reservation for dinner. And you should too. The restaurant serves upscale American fare for lunch Mon-Fri and dinner nightly. They also have a private party room in a wine cave on the lower level.
Brett and I arrived about 45 minutes early for an 8:30 reservation, checked in with the hostess, and went to have a drink at the bar. “If you have a table ready any earlier, we’d love to take it. It’s just that the babysitter arrived and we had to escape while we could,” I explained.
“Understood. If you’d like, I could give you this table right here,” she said. We did like. We sat. (There are several rooms to choose from, so you might want to poke around; we were happy to just sit.)
The table next to us happened to be occupied by two couples from Edgemont that I’ve known for years. We chatted for a while and I told them that Brett and I were here on an official culinary assignment. Everyone got very excited and started telling me about their tasty selections.
I perused the menu carefully. I had just come off my juice cleanse assignment, you see, and was trying to avoid foods that might ruin my new health-conscious approach to eating. For appetizers, Brett and I decided to share the grilled baby octopus and the rock shrimp mini tacos. “I would say that the octopus is very tender,” I said, trying to be a good critic.
Brett nodded his head in agreement. “I would say so, too. It’s very hard to cook octopus properly, and this is done to perfection.”
I don’t think Brett has ever cooked an octopus in his life, but I agreed with him nonetheless. It must be very hard to grill one, right? Otherwise, people would be flipping ‘em every weekend in their backyard, like burgers.
For the main course, I had the pan seared sea scallops with white beans and pancetta and Brett had the blackened halibut with chick pea fries and a basil pistou. We tasted each other’s dishes and found everything to be quite yummy. (You won’t get that description from a New York Times review!)
Half way through the scallops, I said, “I would say that there are layers of flavors here.”
“I would too,” Brett added between bites. I snapped a few photos. “Probably real reviewers don’t take photos of their food.”
“I bet they do.”
“And they don’t whip out their notebook in the middle of their meal, either,” Brett said.
I kept writing.
“And their parents’ friends from when they were growing up in Edgemont probably aren’t sitting next to the reviewer, telling them how much they like her articles!”
“The French fries are out of this world!” One of the old folks said, turning around in her chair to face us. “Tell them that in your article! In fact, tell them that the old folks said that their entire meal at Grace’s Table was delicious. And tell them that I don’t trust the New York Times’ review system. They once recommended this awful place in Mamaroneck, remember?” she said, turning to her fellow diners.
“Tell the readers that, when my waitress was busy, another one stepped in to make sure I got a new glass of wine when I needed it. I love that,” said another.
I was so busy writing down their dialogue that I had no time to eat my food.
“I’m going to the ladies room. I’ll let you know how it is,” my mom’s friend told me. “And don’t call me one of the old folks.”
I ate more of my scallops and passed the dish to Brett to finish it off. He’s my closer.
“Good, right?” I asked. “There was pancetta in it, but I picked it all out, sorry.”
The not-old-folk friend was back, with news. “Very nice. Black sink, black toilet, TV…”
“TV?” I asked.
“Yes, but it’s not turned on and there’s no remote, so what’s the point?”
Good point. I wrote it down.
Our dessert arrived just as theirs did. Brett and I shared the chocolate candy bar with salted caramel, candied peanuts, and caramel ice cream. It was insane. (Take that, juice cleanse!) “It really captures the essence of a candy bar!” I told Brett. “Oh, wait, I have to write that down.” We also enjoyed the lemon tart, which was good, but didn’t seem nearly as sinfully delish as the chocolate confection of amazingness.
The couples next to us had the fruit cobbler, which they were very happy with. I don’t really think one can be as content with a cobbler as with a candy bar, but that’s a debate for another time and place.
I’ll tell you what: you go to Grace’s Table with some friends (who may be from Edgemont, although that’s not a requirement), and order both desserts. Then write in and tell me which you prefer. The warm ricotta donuts sounded tempting, too! With several dipping sauces! Ah.
Grace’s Table may be located on Central Avenue, but us Scarsdale village Parisian/Italian/Austrian café types won’t get too snobby about location when it comes to great food, followed, of course, by decadent desserts.
324 Central Park Avenue
White Plains, NY
Columnist and blogger Julie Gerstenblatt writes with humor and candor about her life in Scarsdale, her friends and family, and the particular demands of motherhood and wifedom in modern-day suburbia.