It's a work week night and I'm wandering through Hayes Valley looking at the all the new restaurants that seem to have opened up here recently. The day ended on a bummer so I feel like stuffing my face with food that isn't really good for me physically but will be mentally tasty. I call my friend Miss O to join me since she's only a few blocks from here. After looking at a few menus, the fried pumpkin at Dobbs Ferry catches our eye and we hop on in. Dobbs Ferry is a town in upstate New York on the Hudson River and it's where the owners are from, hence the name. Their goal seems to be to bring East Coast sensibility to West Coast cuisine, or something like that. And they are using those buzzwords of local, organic and sustainable, but I'm looking past that and trying to concentrate on what to get off the menu. At least as far as the space is concerned it's exposed brick, wood floors but thankfully none of that subway tile, but still, it has the look of a lot of new places around town--very lofty.
Of course we decide to go for the fried pumpkin and we choose a side of chicken liver pate too.
Panko crusted kabocha squash (it's the green pumpkins you see around Halloween/Thanksgiving) with creamy goat cheese fondue, smoked paprika honey, toasted almonds and frisee. They had a nice crispy outside crust and the inside was soft and creamy without being mushy and it went really well with the goat cheese fondue which was a giant puddle on the bottom of the dish, I wished there was more of it. The frisee was a gave a nice additional crunch and nuttiness with the slivers of almonds but the paprika honey was totally lost and overpowered by the goat cheese. Since I couldn't taste it I won't say I missed it and I still liked this dish, but maybe if it had been more prevalent it would have been too much or I may have liked it even more--who knows.
The chicken liver pate was in a huge bowl with crostini, pickled cauliflower and carrots and bartlett pear jam. I could tell right away we'd need more bread and the server brought it without us having to ask so big points for that. I'll say right off I'm not the biggest fan of pate but I can appreciate the flavor in small doses, I was really only able to eat 3 smears of this but I did like it, especially with the pear jam. That is something I really wanted more of, but we didn't get. Either way it worked well with the pate. If you are into pate at all this the dish for you from the portion size to the jam, which you should ask for more of. As for the pickled veggies, eh, it didn't add much to the dish for me. I realize you need to add some texture and tartness to offset the richness of the chicken liver but for me these were just so so.
For our entrees, as it were, we decided to go fully off the rails and just share a couple of the pizzas.
Crispy bacon, bleu cheese, Asian apple pears and arugula on the first one and hedgehog and oyster mushrooms, mozzarella, marinara and thyme on the other. Both were super thin crust, crispy almost cracker like and I really enjoyed them. They are probably the closest I've had to the ones I enjoyed while I was in Italy as far as type of crust and style. (Though, let's face it, the ones in Italy are still the best I ever had.) The bacon bleu cheese was the better of the two, probably because I not always the biggest fan of sauce. The smoky bacon, the tangy bleu cheese, the sweetness of the apple pears all worked and tasted great together. And of course with the greens on top I can convince myself I'm eating healthy. The mushroom pizza was still good, I liked the earthy mushroom flavors though the marinara was just a little on the sweet side for me but at least it wasn't too much to make the crust soggy like you sometimes get, it was still crispy, buttery and tasty. For the two of us it was a lot of food but I gave the few leftover pizza slices to Miss O who said that even they next day they were still good, which is always a plus. They also have a bunch of good beers on tap to choose from that will go well with the pizza.
This was definitely a place I would head back to. As Hayes Valley becomes a foodie destination it will take some effort to stand out in a crowded field. Fortunately for Dobbs Ferry, I think they have gotten off to a good start and will do well with the crowds the come in for the nearby opera, symphony and ballet. So unless you plan to get there around 5:30ish like we did, make sure to get a reservation before you go, the place will fill up fast.