Arts and Entertainment | Food and Drink

Domain’s upscale food delights, but at a high price

  • David Brann / Senior Staff Photographer
    SQUID | Domain's baby octopus dish is braised in a citrus bouillon and then marinated in red wine, red wine vinegar, and roasted garlic.
  • David Brann / Senior Staff Photographer
    LAND AND SEA | The Surf & Turf features sliced Wagyu beef.
  • David Brann / Senior Staff Photographer
    SMOKY | The smoked trout is soaked in brine and then cold smoked.

Wonderfully decorated with muted metal and wood and softly lit by candles and chandeliers, Domain—in the space formerly occupied by Vareli—has appeared on Broadway between 111th and 112th streets. Although there hasn’t been a change in ownership, the new restaurant brings with it a revised culinary philosophy. It is now an environmentally sustainable restaurant that serves cattle raised and slaughtered with a conscience. 

Domain combines its sustainability mission with a kitchen run by Michelin-starred chef Derrick Styczek. Unfortunately, these features come with a hefty price tag for the gourmet modern American cuisine.

David Brann/ Senior Staff Photographer
TROUT KLOUT | Domain offers a smoked rainbow trout that's native to California.

At the start of my meal, two hand-kneaded pretzel sticks rested on wax paper in a miniature deep-frying basket on the table. I picked one up and broke it in half. It was a little stale, and I wondered if “olive oil puree” was a misnomer, because the dip had hints of garlic and the consistency of melted butter that had been in the refrigerator. At that point, the restaurant was scoring points on presentation, but not taste. 

The surf and turf small plate, which consisted of Snake River farms Wagyu beef and crab meat, was one of the most expensive appetizers at $16. Ordering definitely made me understand why people told me that Domain was pricey. Our starter came on a wooden plate capped with a glass dome. Tendrils of smoke billowed out as the server opened it to reveal the meat and crab. Two pieces of beef carpaccio lay in the center of the plate, topped with hand-shredded crab meat, fresh sprouts, and crisped garlic slices. The beef was fresh and tender, and had rested long enough that it wasn’t bleeding onto the wood. The crab meat was also soft, but stringy enough to complement the beef. 

For my entree, I had the roasted veal with mushrooms and spinach leaves, and my friend ordered the braised beef short rib with natural jus. The fork-tender meat was somewhat overcooked when I tasted it, falling apart and failing to preserve the structure of the meat. The veal came covered in mushroom jus foam. It sat atop a bed of spinach sautéed with garlic. I see where the chef was going with the modern American cuisine label on this restaurant, but the Culinary Institute of America graduate has used primarily French techniques in constructing his menu of pot-au-feu, veau rôti, and sauces that mostly comprise of jus and reductions.

At Domain, you can taste the difference in the materials selected, and the amount of work put into each dish. And though there may be some sticker shock, that may very well be the price that you pay for such good food. Domain’s mistake is serving such fine cuisine in a casual college-town setting. While I appreciate the restaurant’s philosophy of fine dining in a relaxed, no-jackets-required setting, the check made me wish I had dressed up and come for an intimate date or birthday dinner. But I would have felt overdressed if I had—and because dining is almost equal parts hospitality and cuisine, I can’t shake the feeling that the casual atmosphere has somewhat dampened the quality of the superb food at Domain. 

Domain is located at 2869 Broadway, between 111th and 112th streets.

yvonne.hsiao@columbiaspectator.com  |  @ColumbiaSpec

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Anonymous posted on

Not Pricey at all
Appetizers range btwn $11-$16
Entrees range btwn $21-$32
Great Happy Hour Drink Specials & raw bar prices!!

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Anonymous posted on

Not pricey at all. The restaurant is very decent.
And yo, nice try not mentioning on fb that you were going there covered by Spec, as well as all your self-labeled "restaurant adventures". And ALWAYS posing in pics with white guys, and white guys only, it makes me feel like you are using them to "build your status"...Don't get me wrong, I'm not against inter-racial dating at all, it's just you don't have to be so race-conscious. And don't be that desperate. I guess you are still trying to get through your identity-crisis. So much self-hate in your "safe at home" article tho. But girl, you don't really need to try THAT hard to cover up your humble family background and origin. A lot of ppl in Columbia are on financial aid. I don't see them trying to be something that they are not. Just embrace your identity. And you have to know that going to fancy restaurants doesn't automatically make you high-class. Not at all.

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Yvonne Hsiao posted on

Yep, I worked there today and even the staff admitted that the exorbitant prices may have scared away some business in the first month of Domain's opening -- it's great that you've got enough money to say that the restaurant wasn't pricey, though! I quite like the restaurant myself -- yes, enough to work there.

That's a bit unfair, though, to put words in my mouth and say that I'm (let me paraphrase) with white guys to build my status -- really, only in America have I been subjected to this hyperawareness of race, and perhaps got too bogged down in it my freshman year. Learned the hard way just not to be in that mental paradigm. I just went through my pictures, and yes, I think I have quite a few with boyfriends who /are/ white -- but let's not forget also that I have plenty of pictures with friends who are white, brown, yellow, and everything in between, if you must label everyone with a color! I'm not sure what I'm in the wrong for in saying that I have one friend who knows how to appreciate food and happens to be white and I also happen to get along with and like having a meal with.

It's also rather amusing how you say that I try to "cover up" my background -- because I don't, and I've been called out for not covering it up more than I have for trying. Yes, I am a student with an interest in food, and I like eating. Yes, I do get to attend free tastings because I've proven to be knowledgeable enough to write decent reviews. Yes, I see those tastings as adventures because my metabolism allows for me to savor those flavor combinations now, and my future 30-year-old body won't. Yes, I know I want to continue with these dining experiences because I bothered to apply for grants and aid to go to culinary school. So remind me, again -- what am I supposed to be apologizing for?

Moreover, none of these things can be associated with being "high class," so I suggest that you re-examine your conception of what high class means. Just because you have the money to eat at good restaurants doesn't make you able to appreciate food, respect it, or even enjoy it.

Thanks for your suggestion about self-hate, and I appreciate your openness to accept the changing nature of people's personalities. I can assure you that I feel neither desperate nor poor, thank you very much. We're all working with what we have.

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Anonymous posted on

Yvonne, I think the person who made the comment about your being "race-conscious" is actually a bit justified if he/she is friends with you on fb and have read your other articles here. I read your article Safe at Home and the one on Americanized Chinese Food, too. To be honest, they do sound a bit "set in a certain way". I can see where the author of that comment is coming from, though I think he/she is wording it a bit too harshly. I'm sure it must have been a hard transition coming from Taiwan, a place that doesn't speak English, or rather, a place that worships English-Speaking people. I have a Taiwanese friend, too. She moved here when she was 10, but she was still quite "set in her ways" most of the time. She is a very nice girl. Just like you, she is very into taking pictures, but especially with (sadly) only caucasian guys and she posts every one of them with a beautiful little caption on it tirelessly. Some of my guy friends who are asian actually liked her but she ignored all of their pursuits and dated a somewhat below-par caucasian guy during high school. She told me that back home Taiwanese women really adore caucasian men, because they are "good-looking" and speak English. I myself also came across an article a week ago about how there was an experiment where an average-looking Taiwanese guy walked into a bar to pick up two women and they ignored him immediately; then a chubby caucasian man walked in and started talking to the two women and he went home with one of them after 10 mins. I mean, I don't think it's fair for the author of that comment to judge you simply because you pose in pictures with predominantly caucasian guys , since one is conditioned always by one's culture, and in yours caucasian men are the ideal symbols of romantic targets. My asian friends who were born here, to be honest, are mostly not race-conscious at all. They don't really have this "white-supremacy" thing going on in your subconsciousness when it comes to dating or presenting a social image. Most of them actually prefer asians. For you, I guess, this is a somewhat different question. Since you are an international student who just got to our country, you definitely have more of an eager wish to blend in. Proximity to "whiteness" is then the ideal object to show your ability to blend in. I actually totally understand that. I think the person who made that comment shouldn't have been so harsh. It's not cool to sound like that in a public social forum.

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Anonymous posted on

One of those "white-guys" is actually 25% indonesian...just say'in :P

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Anonymous posted on

Yvonne Hsiao
March 31, 2012

I am so small. Stereotypical huge Anglo-Saxon male with his tiny Asian partner. — with Alex Barker.
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Yvonne Hsiao
March 31, 2012

Impossible to look good next to white people like you — with Alex Barker.
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Yvonne Hsiao
May 3

Johnboy attempts to sketch the Asian — with John Mathews.

Yvonne Hsiao
May 3

Johnboy ... sees the resemblance. The Asian sort of doesn't. — with John Mathews.
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Yvonne Hsiao
October 13 · Edited

Let me squint like an Asian — with Patrick Merrithew.
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Yvonne Hsiao
October 13 · Edited

Handsome man feeds me artichokes — with Patrick Merrithew at L'Avant-Comptoir Odéon.
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Yvonne Hsiao
July 15

ASIANSQUINT — with Alex Barker.
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Yvonne Hsiao
July 9
Look who dropped by in Paris last weekend? Was fed some Gateau Basque and stuff.

(You're basically still family, after all.) — with Alex Barker in Paris, Ile-de-France, France.

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Everybody calm down posted on

Yvonne wants a white guy to help her with her life, her career goals, blah blah blah, but what's wrong with that? She is from a very poor family, everyone! So let's try to understand where she's coming from. Imagine this, if you went to high school, culinary school, including college all by receiving financial aid or scholarships, and you are sourrounded by rich asians or rich whites, you are bound to experience some inferiority complex. I mean, yes, her current bf is kind of ugly, but he is rich, so she can rely on him after graduation! Women somtimes use their relationships and marriages to help them achieve what they want but couldn't themselves. I don't see anything wrong with that! So everyone pls calm down!! Yes yes yes, Yvonne is a manipulative bitch, I agree, but so what? If she gets what she wants (for example, being fed free macarons), then I guess she's happy.

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Walrus posted on

^rude, don't call people names

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Hi posted on

I think he/she is being honest, because he/she is actually asking us to calm down and refrain from judgment despite those reasons listed

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Walrus posted on

Also don't be judgemental while thinly veiling it as support; it's still clear that you're trying to be hurtful "Everybody calm down". I am sure Yvonne would be the first to point out that she can take care of herself.

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