Last night I went out to dinner with my team from work. We were looking for a place near our office, so we ended up at Serafina at the Time Hotel. I had been there once before when it first opened; the restaurant was completely, embarassingly unable to handle the large group that was my extended family. It was sort of a disaster. So-- I was back.
The thing that's heartbreaking about Serafina is that it promises so much and delivers so little. It looks sleek and chic from the outside, but then you get in and it looks like the Cheesecake Factory. It IS Times Square, but still...
And the menu is extensive and appealing. Our group of six, one of the only parties in the restaurant, claimed a table near the wood-burning oven, and we read over the lengthy menu. After placing our orders we gladly received baskets of bread, which looked crusty and delicious but turned out to be chewy, bland, and somewhat stale. The thimble-sized dishes of sprightly olive oil they provided for dipping were certainly the bright spot here.
When the salads arrived, the orders were correct-- dressings on the side and all that--but they were just uninspired. Mine was overwhelmed by corn with a dearth of other ingredients, and AZ's was overwhelmed by "completely unseasoned" chicken (which looked as though it had been poached, not even grilled or anything). There was also a small bit of chicken in my salad, which isn't cool. Meh.
But others indulged. BR went for the chocolate souffle, which I assumed would be, you know, a souffle. Instead, it was a chocolate cake. Not even a molten chocolate cake-- to which BR, being a fellow fan of Finale, naturally compared it. Not exactly truth in advertising there.
JW went for the Tiramisu. It was huge and gooey and he said it was good, but this morning he reported it made him feel so gross he went directly to the gym afterwards. How anyone could work out after that is beyond me, but props to you, JW. That's dedication.
SP went for the nutella crepes. She raved about these, but again, it's just really hard to mess up a nutella crepe. At least they weren't bad, I guess.
Finally, AZ attempted to order a plate of mixed berries. Both the waiter and runner told her no. And AZ was even more pissed, especially after the whole salmon incident. Then when the desserts arrived, the waiter showed up with a plate of berries. Ooookay. Granted, it was one of the silliest, most anemic-looking "desserts" I've ever seen offered in a restaurant, but I suppose it was indeed a plate of berries. I'm sorry, but I can't really give them credit for this. I mean, really.
So- while we had a very enjoyable dinner, talking and relaxing, I just can't give Serafina more than two Offset Spatulas. I've had two dinners there, and it always sounds as though it's going to be really good-- but the service is at best apathetic and at worst clumsy, and the food always sounds better than it is. It's too bad; there's potential there, but it's unrealized. If you're ever forced to eat in the Times Square area, take the walk over to Ninth Avenue instead-- it's worth the time to get some much better food.
224 W. 49th Street, between Broadway and 8th Avenue