an awkward evening

Duo Restaurant & Lounge 
72 Madison Ave,
New York, NY 10016
Telefon: +1 212-686-7272

Duo entrance - duonewyork com
After been reading loads of reviews about restaurants to visit not too fare away from our hotel on 42nd Street – loads of options, my eye fell on Duo Restaurant & Lounge. I liked the look of it and the reviews are great.

So after 20 min walk along Madison Ave in the pleasant warm evening we reached the restaurant without any problems. But it was totally empty inside except for two tables taken and some people hanging around the round bar.

I should have known better and looked for something else. An empty restaurant how ever trendy and chic its – not a good sign, but we carry on as booked.

There was no atmosphere what so ever and the staff very pretty and handsome, didn’t really make us feel welcome. There was no warmth to the place or the staff. Had a feeling that the staff didn’t feel comfortable within themselves.

We where handed some ipad type menus, never seen before, but it didn’t give me a kick.
Ordered drinks: Dry Martin and Pomegranate Mojito, which both was excellent.

We both jumped the starters and went for Braised Veal Osso Bucco Tortellini; spinach and ricotta cheese, hon shimeji mushrooms and port wine sauce.
When we got our main course in – it wasn’t bigger than a starter – and not even the half size of what the other guest’s dishes was.

Served in a massive big plate that only had a small hole in the middle, that made it totally impossible to use fork and knife. We got 5 tortellini each in total and because of the awkward plate one of mine escaped and it was swimming in sauce. The taste was fantastic and the pasta cooked to perfection. So the chefs knew their job.

We had a great white – Caimbrae Malborough 2010 from New Zealand, a sauvignon blanc that I can’t find any details about over the net.

I told the waiter that collected our plates about the awkwardness of eating out of those silly plates.

As dessert we both went for Tiramisu – that came very plain presented on and no flavour what so ever. At this time, we didn’t stay much longer, so we turned down the coffee and paid the damage, total $150 – but tip didn’t come to 20%, which is standard in NYC.

During the evening more very trendy people arrived … very chic men and ladies. One of the gentlemen had a black suit with red roses on and another man was carrying a Hermès Birkin bag. I got a feeling that they where both owners to the establishment. There was some private party going on in one of the back rooms.

The place was very lush in decoration and the food tasted great … but there was nothing else there, at least not for us. We felt like it was more of joke. That the back-lit menu didn’t do anything for the atmosphere and with staff that didn’t know how to make their guests feel welcomed or comfortable during the dinner … it all became a very awkward evening.

Maybe we order the wrong main course, but we didn’t feel for anything else what was on the menu.  As you see from the photos I used for this post both food and drinks looks just fantastic – portions looks normal and beautiful presented – nothing like what we had. In my book as a chef all dishes on the menu should have a equal value and presentation, and if that is not possible because of the cost of dish – the dish shouldn’t go on the menu. Not a picky person, but our dish was close to a joke.

But something isn’t right and I should have known better – when a trendy and chic restaurant is being nearly empty in NYC, even if it was on Monday night. Walking back to our hotel other restaurants was a lot busier.

What a pity … for a beautiful decorated restaurant and talent chefs, to get things so wrong.
A beautiful place that tried too hard on the wrong details. And I will not give the place a second chance.

“The belly rules the mind. “
Spanish Proverb

DUO cocktail - facebook com

Photos provide by and thanks to: & their facebook page/ (mary jones)/


54 thoughts on “an awkward evening

  1. I’m sorry you had to pay so much for a place that didn’t deliver and what I think is most important, a place that didn’t make you feel welcome. Looks are ok, but service and flavor should come first in my opinion, and there are plenty of “fancy” restaurants out there that don’t understand the concept of fanciness or service and their food is pretentious and not that great

    • Yes, some restaurants try too hard .. to be to fancy and clever and they fall flat on the basics … one thing for sure the chefs knew what they were doing. Fantastic flavors, the Tiramisu needed a bit more kick.
      Also that one of the other guest’s starter was bigger than our main???? Anyhow I have sent off the post to them by email .. as I always do when I review a restaurant or hotel. I don’t think I will hear anything from them. Owners too busy with their looks.

  2. Does not sound like a good evening meal… I hate paying for a meal and still being hungry .. so that place would not have been on my calling card…

    • Bob, no the staff’s awkwardness made it worst, but the main course was beautiful only badly served.
      I promise you it will be on my calling card neither. *smile

  3. The drink was good 🙂 and the tortellini sounds wonderful in the description so it’s a shame the experience wasn’t better. I hate to pay out good money for a sub standard meal. The place does look super smart, Viveka, but the BEST news is that you’re back blogging again, so, no need to mention the … (ass 🙂 )

    • Jo, sometimes this happen … restaurants can be very temperamental. Happen to me in Vancouver last year too.
      So long there is more good experience than bad I can live with it.
      My ass is playing up today again – driving me nuts, hopeful it will come down for tomorrow and zumba.

    • Ritika, you are so right … but the staff could make it up for the small portion of food this time .. if they had been able to, but it had been more pleasant.

  4. Fascinating! You present it so well it’s like being there. An expensive lesson but you knew how to evaluate the food, the restaurant itself and the whole experience. Once again, “we were there” thanks to your powers of observation and analysis and your way with words. Always something new and interesting in your blog. Well done!

    • Wow, thanks for the fantastic review of my post – me and my Swenglish totally in “overjoy” now. *smile
      I know the business very well both from back stage and about the front line. Many years of experience, bad and good … I haven’t always been that great either, but I have never made the same mistake twice and I have always listen to my customers. Even if I haven’t agreed on everything they have complained about. *smile

  5. Good thing the tortellini was cooked perfectly, too bad about the running sauce though. Maybe you should write on yelp to leave them a review to improve. They may just decide to take away the giant plates lol 🙂

    • Andy, I always send the short link to my post to places I have done a review on … good or bad. Some has come back to me, but none of the thoose that haven’t got that got less favorful review. I hope they will think that dish over – the plate had been okay for a starter or dessert maybe. Sad, because the chefs knew their stuff.

  6. How true, belly over mind lol
    This is like the place I went in Seville, extra chic and fancy, food with potential but clueless staff and they are trying too hard to impress. I wrote a little review and was asked to take it down, of course I didn’t.

    • I always send the shortlink for my post to the restaurants and the hotels that I review – good or bad .. done two so far that wasn’t up to it – none of them has come back to me – but I had a couple of fantastic feedbacks from restaurants that I have praised, but not most haven’t come back to me.
      I shouldn’t withdraw a bad review neither if I done it …. good on you!

    • Terry, I promise you wouldn’t like to eat there and pay that kind of money. My post is about my disappointment. Beautiful place, but it tried too hard on the wrong things.

    • Lori, yes … our food wasn’t even close to the food what the images in my post. Yes, it was a true shame. But the main course tasted very good, but far too small portion. And the staff wasn’t relaxed and comfortable.

  7. That is too bad that you paid big bucks for a measly meal. At least the dishes were done well but maybe if they double the size they will get more people to go there and payoff some of their expenses.

    • I don’t have a clue what they was thinking or not thinking when some guests got normal portions and some hardly nothing. Looking at the photos I found with help of Google they truly know their stuff.
      One thing is for sure that I never had a dinner disappointment in Chicago and I been there 3 times., but that is one of the reasons why I like Chicago so much … the food!

    • Not very often it happens to me .. that I have to write a bad review .. happened in Vancouver last year too.
      Paris .. you never know what expect when you go out for dinner, had more bad meals than great.

  8. It’s always sad when you pay too much and don’t get what you had expected. There is no guarantee even if it’s a trendy restaurant. I wish you better luck next time.

    • Otto, it is not very often I have bad restaurant experience – happened in Vancouver last year, but it was a very awkward experience in overall. Thank you! I will do some great reviews from NYC too .. coming up soon..

  9. I think I value service and then taste for sure…as presentation is important but when you go out then all that matters is service and how happy and content you feel after your food…at that point you hardly remember how it looked

    • Kavita, I totally agree with you .. even if we eat with the eyes first – but no use with fancy and artistic presentation if the flavors and the respect for the ingredients isn’t there. Thanks for the comment.

  10. What a shame, Viveka – especially at that cost! If you were just about the only customers, the waiters should have been falling all over you, making you feel welcome. “A bit of a joke” is not what the owner would like to hear! I think it would do them good to read this, though.

    • Noeleen, there is restaurants out there – that try too hard, because they think they have too.
      The chefs knew their stuff for sure.
      I have sent the link to them … so they can do what they want with my review.

  11. A reminder of how many elements really need to come together to make a positive, lasting impression. You can’t just choose a couple and make them great while the others collect dust in the corner.

    • Wendy, you are so right … but I think we all (8) got the same strange treatment .. I’m sure those chic people around the bar was the owners and their friends.

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