The restaurant, Quicksilver, is hard to pin down.
For example, when you enter, you are immediately struck by the decor. It changes at least three times between the ceiling and the floor. At the top, exposed pipes and air ducts are hung with oversized cloth fans, paper parasols and large rice paper globe lights. The inexpensive oriental look changes to an attempt at art deco with the walls done in deep rose, black moire and silver foil accented with wall sconces. An overstuffed banquette with pillows runs along the wall, but the natural oak chairs are country-style bow-back and share the floor with leafy plants and oak and formica tables.
While you are grappling with the decor, the kitchen is grappling with the overly ambitious menu. Sometimes, as with the appetizers, the kitchen wins.
The ample portions of appetizers, such as chicken fingers, ribs and artichoke hearts stuffed with brie, could make a light meal. The cajun chicken fingers are nicely seasoned and served on top of a bed of french fries. The Danish barbecue ribs are sweet and meaty. And although the batter covering the artichoke hearts tempura is too heavy to be tempura batter, the five golden brown dumplings are pretty and satisfying.
Another appetizer, the deep fried assortment of vegetables, seafood and cheese in the fritto misto makes a good accompaniment to drinks.
All the fried food has a tendency toward greasiness, but the ingredients inside are fresh. Less acceptable in other dishes, however, is the tendency to over- or underseason the food.
An example of blandness, the marinara sauce used as a dip for the fritto misto tasted only of mashed, canned tomatoes. The marinara sauce was no better on the chicken parmesan, which was heavy on the cheese.
Again, cheese figured prominently in the seafood omelette, where it had melted into a solid mass at the bottom. The omelette needed to be lighter in texture and livelier, with the addition of some herbs and spices and more seafood.
The fresh, poached salmon fillet was a real disappointment, with little flavor to the fish or the sauce. The chalupa tostada salad was served in the usual crisp, tortilla shell with the expected ingredients, except that the "award winning chili" had no character.
The seafood stew is a better bet, thick with your choice of oysters, crab or shrimp, even though the broth is weak.
The American onion soup sporting an American flag planted firmly in the puff pastry crust, also sported a vinegar taste that the waiter attributed to the sherry, perhaps an overdose of inexpensive sherry. The slight sourness was not unpleasant, just unexpected.
On the other hand, the vinegar was overwhelming in the house dressing. The thick and sweet honey-mustard sauce offered as a salad dressing should be served only as a dip.
Our hopes were raised with the arrival of a perfectly cooked filet mignon and a thin, but large cajun-style, blackened delmonico steak. But a heavy hand with what seemed like tenderizer had destroyed the meaty texture of the filet. And, the delmonico steak was coated with enough salt and spices to preserve it until the spring thaw.
For dessert, pass up the limp, overly sweet apple pie and head for the I.C. Brownie, a rich and gooey hot fudge sundae atop a nutty, chocolate brownie. What chocolate lover would complain of a heavy hand here? From plenty to parsimony: Surprisingly, the double chocolate cheese cake had little chocolate flavor and tasted of cream cheese. The cinnamon peach cobbler was charming in its stoneware bowl, but the kitchen could ease up on the cinnamon.
The service is friendly, eager to please and cheerful, but it needs more support from the kitchen. Even though the menu stays the same for lunch and dinner and the specials stay on for a month, the number and variety of choices may still be too much for the chefs at this 9-month-old establishment. Perhaps a finer focus built around the success of some of the appetizers would tip the scales more in favor of quality rather than quantity.