Beef tenderloin with a mild-mannered rub of coffee and brown sugar is sliced thin, plated with wedges of tomato, chunks of not-quite-ripe avocado, and a fruity red mole sauce. The flavors are there, a souped-up version of a summer steak salad. But this is a very small serving for the price: $39. (City Landing’s main dishes tend to be pleasingly human-sized, in general, rather than gargantuan.) The real standout is Brodsky’s take on liver and onions, a swank modernization of an often-stodgy dish. Thin pieces of nicely charred, musky liver are matched with thick-cut, house-made bacon and a pierogi filled with potato and porcini.
The dessert menu leans toward the richer end of the spectrum. A chocolate-caramel torte has a filling that is gritty but tastes good, and the crust is properly baked, as is too seldom the case in restaurants. A blondie sundae seems like a sure thing, but the blondie tastes off, like a maple-scented candle, and the white chocolate-espresso ice cream served with it lacks punch. An oversize chocolate cupcake comes with vanilla filling and topped with piped-on frosting; the cake itself has only a hint of cocoa flavor, despite its rich appearance. There is, however, a nice selection of cheese.
This is Brodsky’s first venture as owner, but it’s clear he learned well at Wequassett. Although City Landing has only been open since the end of July, there is a sureness and maturity to the place. Rather than trying to build buzz or create a scene, Brodsky focuses on fundamentals: service and food that has the potential to appeal to many. In many ways, the restaurant is off to a strong start. Now the meals demand a stronger finish.