Revisited The Gander last night. We had been there last month for a friends and family preview dinner and were favorably impressed. This is the new venture of Jesse Schenker, chef-owner of Recette in the West Village, which has been a favorite of ours for several years.
The Gander is a large, comfortable space, the staff is very conscientious, and the food is quite good. We were seated in the corner table as you enter the main dining room, seen directly above in the picture.
We started with the buffalo sweetbreads, a dish that is also served at Recette, and it was wonderful. We are great fans of sweetbreads, and this is a preparation we will definitely want to copy, even as a summer dish. We also shared the calamari salad, which was nice except the calamari spent just a bit too much time in the fryer. Next we were given an extra dish, spaghetti with clams, and though the clams could have been just a little less cooked, this was an exceptionally tasty dish with great flavor combinations. For mains we had the pork chop and the suckling pig. When they arrived, however, the halibut was offered instead of the pork chop. We pointed this out, and they very quickly produced a perfectly done pork chop, but the abject apologies were such that, had Francois Vatel been in the kitchen, he certainly would not have been long for this world! Despite being very filled, we could not resist sharing a chocolate custard for dessert, and it was just right, rich-tasting but very light.
The wine list is generally pricey but I found a great 2011 Minervois for $40. I always appreciate when the lower end of the list is well-chosen. On our first visit, for the preview before opening, there were obviously a great many oenophiles present, which we deduced from strategic eavesdropping. The wine cellar here is a point of pride, but is wisely stocked to be accessible at different price levels.