The Sunday of my dog watching weekend was a quiet one. I cleaned up the house a bit, watched some Vampire Diaries and putzed. M. and A. came back in the late afternoon and we hung out for a bit. It was A.'s birthday so we went out to celebrate it. They also wanted to thank me for hanging out with the dogs, which was unnecessary as hanging out with two dogs in the country isn't really something I consider a burden. In any case, M. suggested the Black Bass Hotel because she had always been curious about it. We took a twisty, turny Bucks County drive to get to the establishment, which is right along the Delaware River. It's one of those set ups where the main building is on one side of a narrow road and then parking and perhaps additional rooms are across the street. A very river-country set up. We were seated in the main dining room, which had what I'm sure was quite a spectacular view of the river. It was dark, so it was hard to get the full effect, but the light reflecting on the dark water below was pretty neat. M. and I had cocktails to start, I went with a dirty martini. M. was a bit more adventurous and went with the 'Basstini," which was Earl Grey tea infused Beefeater Gin, simple syrup and lemon juice. I actually thought it had a few other things in it, but that's what the menu says so...Her cocktail was a real surprise. Definitely had Earl Grey and citrus notes. Different, but successful. She and I also decided to try the crab chowder. The menu described it as spicy, but I don't think that was really true of this bowl. I guess my own preference for cream-based chowders made this a bit of a let-down. I didn't ask the question, made the assumption, etc. Still good, but not magical.
For my main course I was drawn to the Seared Sea Scallops with House-Cured Pork Belly with caramelized fennel, potato pave and brandied apricot glaze.
I had no idea what potato pave was, and when I first saw my plate, I thought that the potato pave was actually some extremely fatty form of pork belly. Once I established that wasn't the case, the dish made a little more sense. I would actually preferred more pork over the potato portion. The scallops were nicely seared but still tender. The sauce was interesting.
M. went with the mushroom risotto appetizer as her main course, while A. went with the Coffee Lacquered Duck served with pear ginger chutney and coffee sauce. I think I tried a bite and liked it, but that somehow there was a slight disconnect between what I expected from the menu's description and the actual taste profile of the 'lacquer.' I think that A. felt similarly, but I could be remembering incorrectly.
This was a lovely meal, and I enjoyed having a nice dinner with M. and A. The issue with the establishment itself, I think, was that the prices for the food are definitely a bit high for what you actually get. It's not bad food, but it's not transcendent either. And for $28 (the price of the scallops), I hope for a really special experience - even if I'm not actually footing the bill. Our server was friendly and nice on the whole, though at some point in the meal she became perhaps a little too familiar for the environment. In a diner or greasy spoon I think waitresses can call you honey or sweetie with impunity, but in what is selling itself as a 'fine dining' establishment, calling first time guests by this kind of endearment strikes me as a bit odd. But, again, it was a lovely night and I thank M. and A. for their company and for the meal!