A new restaurant and bar recently opened in Averill Park – the Westfall Station Cafe. It’s in a little bit of a weird location near Averill Park High School in the middle of a partially finished housing development (Westfall Village), but I’d imagine once there are more houses built, it will fell less like a restaurant was randomly plopped onto an almost empty street. In the meantime, there’s ample street parking and a welcoming storefront with white Christmas lights hung in the fledgling trees that look like they were just planted yesterday.
I always like to scope out a new place, and this one in particular has a few menu items that caught my eye. There’s the expected offerings like steaks and hamburgers and Caesar salads, but also a mix of international and regional flavors: things like “Tuscan” nachos, “Argentine” surf and turf with a chimichurri sauce, and “NOLA” shrimp.
On a weekend evening, Westfall Station Cafe was fairly packed with tables and bar patrons, and the noise level definitely reflected that. But even after a few of the tables had emptied out, the din of conversations and silverware clanking was still a little overwhelming. I think if there was a ever a candidate for some wall coverings or acoustic ceiling panels to limit noise, this is it. But volume issues aside, the inside space was nicely bright and modern with a wide open, clean aesthetic.
We started out with an appetizer of chicken fried bacon, which is listed on the menu as a “Westfall original.” The bacon slices are coated in a thick batter and fried, and then served with a choice of barbecue or ranch dipping sauce. You should know by now that I can’t resist bacon, although I was skeptical about this approach.
For $7.50 you only get four slices of bacon, which didn’t feel like the greatest bargain. The batter was nicely crunchy and salty, but everything was very greasy (full disclosure – I know you can’t order something like fried bacon and expect it to not be greasy to some extent. But I think there’s still a way to drain it or fry it at the right temperature to minimize the effect). The barbecue sauce was the better choice of the two.
Overall I felt like this appetizer was something interesting just to try out of curiosity. It was almost like a novelty fried item that you would buy at the State fair just to say that you did it. Would I order this again? Probably not.
For entrees, we tried the blackened chicken breast with a mixed berry brandy sauce and the grilled pork tenderloin with a jalapeno and roasted garlic demi-glace, both served with roasted carrots and white rice.
I don’t know that I would call the chicken blackened, but it was tender and juicy and had a nice coating of spices on the outside. The sauce was the real star of this dish, with a thick consistency and a really striking fresh fruit brightness. It was crunchy with seeds, which I took as a positive sign that there was actually lots of real fruit in the mix, including some chunks of what appeared to be blackberries. The carrots were good as well, with some firmness left in the bite, but the rice in both dishes was completely bland and somewhat of a throw-away component.
The pork tenderloin was also nicely cooked, with a hint of pink in the middle and a perfectly tender texture. Our main complaint about this dish was that the alleged jalapeno sauce was almost completely devoid of spice. There was a little whole pepper added like an afterthought to the top of the plate, but we really wished that the sauce itself carried a more prominent kick.
Desserts appear to rotate with the specials, and there were only two offerings available. We chose a chocolate and peanut butter cake with a raspberry sauce. I wasn’t sure if the fruity sauce would meld well with the other flavors, but it somehow really worked – we devoured this whole thing and scraped the last bits off the plate. The peanut butter layers were light and mousse-like, while the upper chocolate layer was more fudge-like and heavy. Everything went together perfectly.
Final Rating: 6/10. My main takeaway after our dinner was that this place really has some potential. The space is so open and roomy that it would be great for larger dinner parties or special events, as long as they can find some way to address the noise issues. The menu is interesting and diverse, our meats were really well cooked, and our dessert was lovely. But a few execution issues and lackluster dish components could use improvement. I’m also curious to try this place out for lunch in the near future – perhaps they excel more at the casual fare on the menu.