Jump to content


participating member
  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by markk

  1. markk


    Helloooooo - you do realize that this is Mario Batali that you're talking about, right? The guy who considers customers a pain-in-the-ass, and who would laugh in your face for complaining about $500 if you had done it in person. Your beloved Mario has one of worst attitudes towards paying customers that anyone in the hospitality business could ever have (i.e. "contempt"), and considering that his method of dealing with in-person complaints is to laugh in your face, you'll probably discover (as I did the one time I had to write to him about a significantly worse experience than yours) that letters go completely ignored. Your beloved celebrity chef is too busy laughing himself all the way to the bank. You write the phrase, "After spending $500 for a dinner in these difficult times,..." - to perhaps the one person in the industry best poised to learn the lesson "Arrogance cometh before a fall". Your letter, if it reaches Mario at all, is probably giving him the laugh of his life. I doubt that there's a "chef" or restaurant owner in the business who could care less about his customers than Mario, or who has a worse attitude towards them.
  2. markk

    Bistro Benoit

    I don't quite see the point. Last I checked, filet mignon was a legitimate cut of meat. It's on tons of menus, and you don't have to be a tourist to order it. I could understand the objection if it were badly sourced or prepared poorly, but you didn't actually taste it. Rather, you seem to be raising a conceptual issue that I don't get. ← I actually think the dish is "traditionally" made with a medallion of Filet Mignon (and is known as "Tournedos Rossini") - and this was a substantial one, with a beautiful crust on it. I'd have preferred to have fresh truffle (can't think of when I would not), and I don't know what they did with the rest of the truffle that they gave us on Christmas day, but this was quite tasty anyway. And to be perfectly frank, I think that actual recipes for "Tournedos Rossini" may (may) call for a slice of foie gras pâté - so having a slice of fresh sauteed foie gras is gilding the lily. My thought is that I wish that they didn't just limit this dish to Saturdays!
  3. markk

    Bistro Benoit

    The "Boeuf Rossini" is Saturday night's 'daily special' on the new menu, which is on their website. We had it about a week or two ago: Sadly, there were no fresh black truffles (as there were on Christmas day), and of course it's not the rib steak they used to use for the dish, but rather a piece of filet mignon. I've had some good experiences at Benoit over time, so I'm taking a 'wait-and-see' attitude and wishing them the best.
  4. I've created topics several times similar to Utenya's here, but using FatGuy's conclusion that the Chinese food in America is something that's been "dumbed down", (or, "Americanized") to please American tastes by the Chinese people who are cooking it in restaurants. So I've always wanted to know (and have asked several times) if this means that in France, the Chinese food there is "Frenchified" to be more appealing to French tastes. While this could be something much (much) simpler than the concept of "fusion", it has always struck me that it could be culinary bonanza. Why, just imagine if the Chinese chefs who found themselves in France eventually resorted to thinking "We'd better throw some Foie Gras in here, or nobody will eat it!" However, for as many times as I've been in France (and Italy, for that matter), I have never wanted to give up the opportunity for a French (or Italian) meal to check this out first hand. I seem to remember that eventually in one thread where I posed this, I got the answers from Gulletteers that the "Chinese" food in other Western countries is as terrible in it's own way as "American Chinese" food is here. But I'm still hoping that some day somebody'll post the story of going for Chinese food in France, and finding it "Frenchified" to please the local tastes. One can dream.
  5. A fabulous book to cook from (even though I am not overly fond of her books as a rule) is "When French Women Cook" by Madeleine Kamman. There's lots of decadent eating to be had from that book! (It's one book I would not want to be without!)
  6. There's no reason you have to resort to eating at the ungodly hour of "before 8 pm"! I recently (sometimes I come late to the party) discovered "Blue Ribbon" on Sullivan St., once an extremely trendy place, and now still thriving, and serving extremely delicious food with a policy of no reservations, but walk-ins until 4 am. And I can attest from several recent visits that the food is delicious and the service is extremely friendly. It has come to my rescue on many Sunday nights, let me tell you. You can check it out on my recent eGullet thread here: Blue Ribbon - food photos and commentary Hope this helps. I realize it's not precisely what you were looking for, but it should prove to be a very pleasant surprise. Why, it's worth it for the Foie Gras alone!
  7. How late is "late"? What time are you looking to dine?
  8. It's more efficient in that way too! I definitely drop more stuff my way than my mother drops her way, but that may be an apples-and-oranges comparison. I do find, however, that without a tray I try to carry too much stuff, which is the root of the dropping problem in my home (which is separate from the inefficiency problem). Yet as much as I carry it's not as efficient as even a half-full tray. ← I'm with bandregg! It might be different if I were smart enough to remember distribute the stuff evenly when I loaded a tray, but I'm obviously too stupid to be allowed to use a tray. So I always wind up with lopsidedly heavy trays that send a lot of stuff (dinnerware and food) crashing to the ground all at once. If nothing else, the crash invariably comes when I try to unload the first item from the tray. In theory, though, I admit that trays are a good idea.
  9. markk

    Bar Boulud

    This past Sunday we attended both the afternoon, and evening (final, closing) performance of "Spring Awakening", and we needed a place to hang out between the shows where we could kill some time and pick at some food, and Bar Boulud came to mind as one of the perfect places to do this. In addition to some of the regular charcuterie, we had both daily specials that were offered; I don't have their complete descriptions in writing, but basically they were a dish of sweetbreads with blood oranges and macademia nuts (and a "foam" whose name I cannot remember): and a dish of home-made pasta noodles with "shrimp" (that's all the description they got) and shavings of fresh black truffle: Both of these dishes were extremely delicious, and vibrant. I don't think that I've had a daily special here ever, in all the times I've eaten here. (I must do more of this!)
  10. markk


    They're in there. mostly hiding under the veal. They were actually tiny little sweetbread "nuggets" that surprised you, but they worked rather nicely. (That actually may be one in the very front of the plate, dead center.) Not what I expected, but as I say, it worked.
  11. markk


    We ate there (for the first time) this past Sunday. It was 10:45 pm when we arrived, and the dining room was nearly full. To start, we both opted for the "DUCK AND FOIE GRAS RAVIOLI with a marsala reduction": and to follow we both opted for the "PANCETTA-WRAPPED VEAL LOIN with glazed sweetbreads, turnips & butternut squash puree": It's very unusual for us to have so few courses, but we had had a large, late lunch at Bar Boulud that included some very substantial sweetbreads as well, and a pasta with generous shavings of black truffle, and we were not in gluttonous moods, though we were hungry. The ravioli were excellent (though there was very little foie gras taste), and so was the veal loin. But there was something hard to put my finger on... the food, while very delicious, was a bit too "studied"; it was as if it deserved top marks for technical execution, but left something to be desired in the "culinary excitement" department. Both dishes tasted a bit more of "rote" than of "spontaneity" (a quality that can exist in a dish that you've made many times before). I'm not trying to fault the food - I'll go so far as to call it excellent, but there wasn't a much "soul" in the food, and it's not place that we're dying to go back to.
  12. For those of you who asked for more, I found another story which I had indeed posted in this thread a few years ago:
  13. I have probably posted this story before, but just in case I haven't, I think it's a good horror story. We were invited to "dinner" by some acquaintances who wanted to thank us for a favor we had done them. When we got there, the wife told us that they had just gotten back from a neighbor's impromptu all-day cookout, and were stuffed! We were hungry (it was the dinner hour), so we very nicely said "that's okay - we really need to get going because we have to pick up something to eat and make it an early night", and the wife said, "No, please stay - I'll order pizza. Is pizza okay?" I replied, "Actually, I hate pizza (which I really do) and I never eat it, but it's really okay. We'll get together with you some other time." Well, after much begging, we agreed to stay. They sent out for one plain pizza, and when it came, the wife tossed it on the table with some paper plates, and yelled out to her husband and two young daughters "Pizza's here." They all came down and took their places at the table. The husband, sitting at the head of the table, took two slices (so much, I guess, for the "we're stuffed!) - but he's always been a person to watch out for himself before anybody else, including guests. Then the 6 year old girl took 2 slices (having learned from her dad - I gather that they hoard food when they see it in that house), and then the 10 year old girl took 2 slices and promptly disappeared into the kitchen. By the time the pizza box came around to our side, the wife announced (with some surprise, actually), "well, there seem to be 2 slices and three of us. How shall we do this?" Then she looked at the youngest girl who had 2 uneaten slices on her plate and said "give us one of those slices" and the girl replied "I put too much garlic salt on them to eat", and when we looked closer, we saw that each slice had nearly a solid quarter of an inch of garlic salt on it. She couldn't eat it, but she was damn sure to mark her territory. Then mom called out to the older daughter in the kitchen "what are you doing?" when the noise of the garbage disposal, and then the sink, stopped, and she came back into the dining room with two wet slices of dough - and she explained "Mother, you know I hate pizza! I scraped off the cheese and put it down the disposal and then washed off the sauce under the sink." At which point, we said that we really did have to leave. Sadly, this was not the worst dining experience we ever had at this particular family's house. But the others are too long to tell.
  14. markk

    Bistro Benoit

    Since I'm unable to edit my post from several days ago, I did it this way so I could add some photos - my photographer miraculously resurrected them from a corrupted flash card! The only first course that's missing is the Pâté en croûte. Here are the medallions of Foie Gras, the Tongue Lucullus Style, the Leeks with Pork Trotter, and the Pig Cheeks with Lentils: But the star of the show really was the Steak Rossini! The cooked-to-perfection steak is presented whole, with it's slabs of sauteed foie gras, and truffles: Then it's whisked away to be carved, and individual plates are set at the table with vegetable and potato accompaniments, black truffle slices, and a bit of Madeira sauce, ready to receive the steak: And the carved steak is returned once again for presentation: (note the small pot of Madeira sauce) And then the first round is served to each diner: As I've said, they scored a perfect score with this one, and I wanted to show the photos. And although this is not the Tarte Tatin from that actual dinner, if I had my way, every meal would end with one of these:
  15. markk

    Bistro Benoit

    I was there on Christmas Day, but since my photographer/partner bungled the photos beyond salvation, I didn't post. I had pre-ordered the "Steak Rossini", about which I have posted up-thread. On a subsequent visit when I asked for it, I was told it could be ordered in advance with a few day's notice. So when I knew that we'd be three for Christmas, sometime in November, I called the manager who told me it could be arranged. He checked with the kitchen, and then very nicely told me that the rib steak for two could not be ordered for three (I explained that badly here - he said that they could not get a larger steak), but that they would "make up for it with lots of foie gras, and fresh truffles". He then volunteered that the price of the Steak Rossini for three would be $100 (the one for two had been $80). I liked it very much the way he volunteered the price, never mind what a "steal" it was. When we arrived on Christmas Day, we were given absolutely royal treatment. We ordered a lot of appetizers (thinking that the steak would not be that big), but without the photos I'm not sure if I can remember them all: it was the Pate en Croute, the Foie Gras medallions, the Leek Tart with the Trotters, and the Lucullus style Tongue and Foie Gras. It had seemed like we were having a slight communication problem with our waitress (although we were in fact not), which I thought was confirmed when she brought the Pig Cheek appetizer, and when I told her we hadn't ordered that, she explained that it was "offered by the chef", and then everything else arrived. And everything was quite delicious. And they outdid themselves with the steak. It was a pretty large rib steak on the bone, cooked to absolute perfection, with three very substantial slabs of sauteed foie gras, everything topped very liberally with slices of black truffle (and I do mean liberally). It was sublime. For dessert they had had a "buffet", which was pretty well picked over by the time we were ready for it (we were the last customers in the restaurant, having started our meal at 10:30), and there was no Tarte Tatin left. I begged the manager who had arranged the dinner to perform some magic and scare up a Tarte Tatin, and he did. And we learned that Schaedelin had already taken over (I thought it was to be after January 1) and was in the kitchen that night. It was an extremely delicious meal, and from the moment we arrived until the moment we waddled out of there, we were treated like visiting Royalty. It was a most successful meal, and an extremely pleasant one!
  16. markk

    Obscene Sandwich

    Sorry- couldn't resist. (I think my sandwich ate your sandwich for breakfast.) I didn't make mine either. (But I ate it.)
  17. markk


    Nonetheless, I would not call L'Absinthe a fine-dining restaurant, just as I would -- to use a more stark example -- not call Momofuku Ssam Bar a fine-dining restaurant despite it serving outstanding food. L'Absinthe is an upscale bistro, like Benoit et al. ← I get the point, and I'm very familiar with all the discussions/debates about what constitutes a "fine-dining" establishment. Luckily, two people I know who happen to know my particular taste in food - "traditional" French food in particular - suggested this place to me, and however you want to modify the word "fine" in relation to it, I am so, so grateful to them for the tip. (When I was in college in upstate New York, there was a local restaurant whose newspaper ad stated quite clearly that they offered: " 'Gourmet' and 'Semi-Gourmet' Cuisine " I made a point of saving it. 35 years later, I still think I have it somewhere.) But getting back to L'Absinthe, I already have more reservations booked so that I can do a thorough exploration of their menu in the weeks and months ahead. Thanks for posting the info on Jean-Michel Bergougnoux, FG!
  18. markk


    I like being pampered and all that, but I think ultimately my feeling is that you can't eat "trappings". I've had some disappointing meals in some highly acclaimed three star places in France (and elsewhere), and some spectacularly, decadently superb meals in places in places less "fancy", and I think that when you boil it down, I care more about what goes in my mouth than what my table is set with. But then again, I have some pretty strange (and antiquated) preferences when it comes to food. I am very thankful that this place was suggested to me! I had never even heard of it before. And L'Absinthe's menu has my name written ALL over it!
  19. markk


    I'm not sure how to phrase this so that it's overwhelmingly clear that I'm not trying to pick a fight with you, but are you saying that "bistro" dining is (or can be) "semi-fine" but not "fine" dining? Sure, I know what delineates "fine-dining", though the lines blur more and more these days, but technically anyway I think that while the place is certainly made to look like a bistro, the presence of things like sauteed foie gras (instead of a terrine), and truffles, and the quality of the food itself, may (I haven't eaten there enough yet) qualify as more than "semi-fine", based of course not on the trappings, but the quality of what's on the plate. And surely it isn't beyond Daniel to serve something like pig's feet with foie gras. So I was just wondering if you're saying that it's "bistro" food that can't rise above "semi-fine", or if you know of better bistro places serving "fine dining" food in the not-traditionally "fine-dining" trappings? (I wasn't looking to get into the "what makes fine dining" debate, I was asking from purely a "culinary quality" point of view.)
  20. I challenged two people whose opinions on food I respect highly to point me to some outstanding French "bistro" (i.e. traditional, old-fashioned) food, and at the top of both lists was "L'Absinthe" on East 67th Street, and since the timing worked out (we walked out mid-performance of a Broadway show where we got a not-very-good understudy in the lead role, and opted instead to get to the East Side in time to try this place). This is a beautiful recreation of a classic turn-of-the-century Parisian bistro: Starters were a portion each of a most outstanding Sauteed Foie Gras: (And I must point out that this superb foie-gras preparation was actually less expensive than the utterly disgusting and inedible version that we walked-out on a few nights earlier at La Luncheonette !! - I won't ugly-up this thread with the disgusting photo of what was served there, but it's at that link.) Back at L'Absinthe now, we snuck-in to the traditional two-course structure a shared "Alsacienne Pizzette", the chef's takeoff on a Tarte Flambee, a thin-crusted flatbread pizza with the bacon and onion that would be traditional on a Tarte Flambee, with the addition of Munster cheese and fresh thyme, and it was delicious: My partner opted for something less rich as a main course, the traditional "Moules Marinieres", an extremely excellent rendition of mussels steamed with white wine (which unfortunately arrived without the "Frites" due to a service mis-hap): I threw caution and sensibility to the wind and ordered the dish called "Pieds de Pord Farcis au Foie Gras, et Pommes, Reduction au Cidre" (Pigs trotters with foie gras, and Apple Cider Reduction) which was magnificent: This was the deliciously gooey and gummy meat picked from a pig's foot, mixed with some foie gras, and stuffed inside a casing (in theory, the pig's trotter casing itself). In retrospect, I wish I had taken a photo of one of the slices cut open so that we could see the shredded meat. It was a most outstanding culinary treat: Dessert was a very nice apple "Tarte Fine" that needed to be a little crispier, but was nonetheless very nice: All in all, an outstanding old-fashioned French meal, and just what we were craving!
  21. Fresh on the heels of our post-theater disaster at La Luncheonette, we decided to be brave and try another French restaurant unknown to us, Capsouto Freres, in Tribeca, after reading many good things about it (and in many of the same places that misled us to believe that La Luncheonette would be a "find"). Only this time we were in for a surprise, and a treat. It's a beautiful old dining room right near the Holland Tunnel in Tribeca: It was anything but full when we went late, but in truth, no restaurants have been full lately (at Insieme, there were only 2 other people eating there) and that made me a little uneasy to start. But the wine list featured not only a reasonably priced Alsace Pinot Blanc ("Jean Rosen", which is pretty much the Paul Blanck product marketed under a different label) but an extremely delicious one - at $27. Then came the test, the terrine of foie gras: and it was quite a delicious foie gras at that. It wasn't as good as the one we just had at Blue Ribbon, but it was significantly better than the foie gras offered as a starter at Benoit. My partner chose the duck confit, and although I would have been shocked if it had come to me with a sauce on it like this, I am told that it was delicious, and the shiny bare bone that was left told me that it was thoroughly enjoyed: I opted for the "Sauteed Sweetbreads with Mushroom Fricasee", and found it thoroughly enjoyable: And dessert was a very top-notch Tarte Tatin: A most delicious (and almost ridiculously reasonable) meal, and a real find!
  22. And so we decided to try a post-theater dinner at Blue Ribbon on Sullivan Street in SOHO - not exactly in the Theater District, but at that hour, maybe 8 or 9 minutes away by car (10 at the very most, and I don't think it took that long). We'd tried to go here in the past but were put off by the long waits. Tonight at 11pm there was no wait and we were seated immediately. The service simply could not have been nicer, friendlier, or more helpful! We began with a generous slice of Foie Gras Terrine for each of us, and I could tell from its appearance and texture that it was going to be a treat, and we (who eat a lot of foie gras) pronounced it "France quality!". Not only was the terrine superb, but I really appreciated that it wasn't served so cold that it was firm - rather, it was the consistency that butter gets to at room temperature, and it was outstanding: To follow we had ordered the "Beef Marrow and Oxtail Marmalade", and the host re-appeared to tell us that actually they had sold out of it, and that he was genuinely sorry. I asked if under the circumstances they would prepare an appetizer portion of the "Sweebreads with Arugula, Wild Mushrooms, and Carrot" and he said that they would be delighted to. What arrived was a very generous portion of a truly delicious dish!: I followed that with a most delicious "Pigeon with Toasted Barley, Sweet Potato, and Apple": And my partner opted for the "Skate with Potatoes, Bacon, and Shrimp" that proved to be as skilfully prepared, and as sumptuous as everything else: It was a wildly successful meal, and exactly what we had been searching for. I would have loved to top it off with a dessert, but everything seemed to have either Strawberries or Chocolate (two things I am allergic to and try to avoid), and though it was a disappointment not to find some type of apple tart, we still walked away thinking that it was a sumptuous and extremely satisfying meal that reminded us of dining in France. We may be old-paradigm people in a new-paradigm world, but for one evening we found exactly the meal we've been searching for.
  23. Man, that is one sorry looking dish - glad you got out with your stomach intact. Thanks for the warning. And you point out something that I don't think a lot (or enough) people do - when trying an unknown place (no matter what it says in Zagat's, on menupages, or in Time Out), we always try to order our appetizers first - that way, when and if the apps suck, we can get out with minimal harm to both our stomachs and wallets. ← Aaaaah.... we didn't order only our appetizers first (though we sometimes do exactly that). They were getting near closing and wanted the whole order. We just called it quits before the main courses arrived!
  24. Well I guess that I meant nothing "non European". I can't have hot/spicy food any more, so that rules out Thai (or at least the Thai food that I love), and we do our "Cantonese" eating at a much-beloved favorite (New Lok Kee) in Flushing, and other Asian cuisines, and the food of other continents doesn't really call to us. We did try Insieme with some very very interesting results that left us with no great desire to return, and last night we ventured a little afield to try La Luncheonette, which we abandoned in mid-meal (see post here). But we're willing to keep an open mind and keep experimenting, so all suggestions are entertained and appreciated!
  25. After spending some time with a lot of the publications and sites that list all (or most) of the restaurants in NYC (Zagat, Time Out NY, Menupages, etc.) to see what little French bistros we might be overlooking that were worth trying, I found a number of encouraging words about "La Luncheonette", at 10th Avenue and 18th St., which I know has been around a long time, and we decided to give them a try for a post-theater dinner. The sauteed foie gras appetizer (and at $19.50 !!) was just about the sorriest thing I've ever been served in a restaurant: It was basically two almost-microscopic scraps of some soggy liver the thickness of a silver dollar that tasted more like overcooked sauteed calves liver than foie gras, and as you can see, it came floating in a bowl of grease (which they said was "the duck fat we cook it in so it doesn't stick") with a good amount of some mystery gravy. Now, we eat a LOT of sauteed foie gras, and when we questioned this dish, we were told "that that's how it's served in France". At that point the restaurant's cat came to play with my legs (I am allergic to cats, and not sure that they belong in a restaurant altogether) - so we got up and left, after making some quick monetary arrangement with them to get us the heck out of there as quickly as possible so we could get to some place that was still open for edible food for dinner.
  • Create New...