We were at an event at the Wegman's Test Kitchen, which is a very cool space at the back of the Next Door Bar and Grill, but spent all of our time chatting and not eating. So, when that wrapped up around 8, we thought, "Heck, we've already got great parking spaces and it's snowing, so let's just grab a quick dinner here."
If you haven't been to Next Door, it's worth a trip just for the ambience, which always strikes me as fun-loud, active and social. Plus, we've always found the service to be above par and the menu to be full of stuff we'd never typically put together--sometimes it works, sometimes not so much, but it's inventive!
Given it was already after 8 when we sat down, we decided to split everything. We started with Watercress Salad. I love watercress for the same reason I love microgreens ... it's adorable and delicately crunchy. The salad topped a lovely nest of watercress with perfectly roasted pears, added a side of blue cheese, a goodly portion of yummy seasoned pecans, and finished it with a delicious port wine vinaigrette. It really was big enough to split and be perfectly content. I should mention that we shared our intent to split the salad and our entree with our server, thinking we'd just plunk everything in the middle of the table and dig in. We're not proud! Instead, she brought out both the salad and our entree split and perfectly plated separately--loved it!!
After a night of networking, what we really wanted was a good steak. So, we picked the Dry Aged Prime Strip Steak, medium rare. It was served pre-sliced and drizzled with the red beet bordelaise. See what I mean about the unexpected, would I have made a red beet bordelaise reduction? No, I hate beets. Was it good, oh yes! Sweetly rich without being overpowering of the yummy steak. The sides included a delicious, woody melange of roasted mushrooms, including my favs--chanterelles; a lovely potato gratin served like a mini-napolean; crispy haricot vert, love them; and a thick pat of truffle butter--which I immediately moved to the side. Not that I wouldn't have loved to eat it, but I had my eye on a tempting dessert and deferred my gratification. Again, as my husband observed, though we split the dinner, it seemed the exact right portion size.
Which left us with plenty of room to split the Bananas Foster Creme Brulee. Seriously, could anything sound better for dessert around 9:30 at night :) The bananas were crispy, brown sugar heaven; the custard was creamy and delicate with a hint of rum; and there was also nutella and crisp chocolate cookies just in case. Add a wonderful cup of coffee and what more could one ask for?
The vibe at Next Door is hip but welcoming, on the culinary edge without being too pretentious, and there's not a time I've been there when I don't run into someone I know--which makes me think, "It really is the Next Door Bar and Grill!"