By David Minsky
By Nicole Danna
By Sara Ventiera
By Candace West
By Emily Dabau
By Doug Fairall
By Candace West
By Laine Doss
When my special chicken breast arrived, I was mentally and physically ready for it, anyway. It was a subtle triumph. A breast had been split, filled with wild rice and diced Granny Smith apples, and then the whole thing rolled around in a walnut crust and drizzled with Bordeaux sauce. The chicken was tender, the rice al dente, the apples crisp, the crust crunchy, and it was served with a snappy fistful of green beans. The dish was a textbook demonstration of the way textures and colors can play off one another.
Our stuffed flounder ($22.50) wasn't as thoroughly amazing, we thought -- it lacked the pizzazz of the chicken. Pale tender fish was stuffed with more pale and tender shrimp and crab, the whole drizzled with a delicious, pale lemon beurre blanc. It was served with more pale mashed white potatoes and, quite inexplicably, whipped sweet potatoes. It was a dish conceived with 6-month-old infants and toothless crones in mind. In fact, if I were recovering from a dreadful disease and laid up in some wildly expensive sanatorium in the Swiss Alps, it's exactly the dinner I'd want every night.
Being relatively young and healthy still, we'll opt for an entrée with more muscle next time.
Neither of us was mentally prepared for dessert, though. I've never had room for one of the McDonnell team's sweets before, so I had no idea what we were in for. When the tray was brought out, Boylan introduced us to the key lime pie, the bourbon pecan chocolate pie, and the profiterole. Another favorite, warm apple tart, was waiting in the kitchen. We chose the profiterole ($6.50), not least because I've been trying to get the nerve to make it at home for about ten years. I'm giving up that dream -- Victoria Park's is unsurpassable. Desserts are like lovers -- your most recent is always your favorite -- but this profiterole truly breaks your heart. You can take the elements apart -- the desperately flaky pastry, the sweetness of the ice cream, the silky, salty, bitter Belgian chocolate sauce, the hot and cold, the deeply dense and feathery light -- but there's just no describing what it all means when it comes together. Call it beyond reckoning.
There's a little bit of a mystery too in how Victoria Park Restaurant, with its quiet, romantic dignity and perfect manners, has managed to retain our affection and loyalty while its flashier gastronomic cousins metaphorically gyrate on every tabletop. Maybe some mysteries in life forever remain mysterious.