By The Diversified Diner for KnoxPages.com
MOUNT VERNON - Unlike any eating experience I’ve had in Mount Vernon was the Alcove. A recent lunch there smacked of a blend of French/Italian décor with Roaring Twenties-like music hopping overhead.
When I made my online reservation my mouth was set for French Onion Soup. Did I say online? Yes. So convenient to go to the Alcove’s webpage and know they’ll hold a spot for me at the time of my choosing.
My first stop was their restroom. I think this area speaks volumes about the establishment’s cleanliness and attention to detail. Although a small room, I admired the shiny subway tile, brass fixtures, fresh flowers, textured wallpaper, and other Euro-touches. After washing my hands I enjoyed a squirt of their Burt’s Bees lotion. Thank you.
The service to my linen-lined table was prompt and quiet. I quickly received a freshly poured glass of water from a stealth server who wasn’t obtrusive. Other servers smiled and I noticed the manager frequently glide through the restaurant lending a hand to carry items or clear tables.
For my taste, the tables were too close together for a confidential conversation. For a large group wanting solitude, or a business meal, the Alcove provides two attractive, private, glass-enclosed dining rooms.
I slowly considered the menu due to its variety and higher prices.
Once I made up my mind and ordered, the server swiftly served my food. I wasn’t disappointed . . . at least with my French Onion soup. It was a hot, not-too-salty, rich broth loaded with onions. Atop was an ample amount of melted Gruyere cheese – but not so much that I dug into a hard-to-chew blob. I’ve sipped this soup around the country and from the Pine Tree Barn to Panera. Alcove’s was among the best. Wish I could say the same for the Caesar salad.
I questioned the price for the portion. A small side-salad with a full-size price. The brown-edge romaine lettuce failed my fresh look test and it was soaked in salad dressing. Umm, not for me. Good Caesar salad gets its strut from a great homemade dressing. This tasted like a bottled version.
I requested a fresh Caesar salad with less dressing. My server apologized and immediately whisked away the old one. This new salad looked greener and crispier but the dressing was barely there. Felt like I was crunching on slightly damp romaine lettuce.
“Dressing” up the atmosphere was cheerful music akin to the optimistic Roaring Twenties. Happy. Not stiff classical.
Not chanting rap. A good balance. Audible without being disruptive.
The Alcove provided quality ambiance, service, and soup. A tad over-budget for me, I’ll reserve it as a special occasion restaurant.
The KnoxEats rating scale is 1 to 5 forks, with 5 being the best.
The Alcove rating:
Atmosphere: 4 Forks
Fare: 3 Forks
Service: 4 Forks
Value: 3 Forks
Overall: 4.5 Forks