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robyn

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  1. We dined again tonight at l'Atelier. Much better experience for a couple of reasons. First - we weren't running late because of a delayed plane. Second - Sunday night isn't crowded at all. So the restaurant seemed more serene and spacious. Third - I think we picked courses we liked better (including a nightly special white asparagus course - better than any spargel course we ever had in Germany). Service was as good as last time - which was very very good. Robyn
  2. Corton (Formerly Montrachet)

    Gosh - you guys are really hung up on transportation. FWIW - last time we took a limo - it was from Manhattan to Staten Island for dinner with a cousin (I have lots of cousins here). When we got to Staten Island - the driver asked us how to get to the house . We didn't have a clue - and neither did he (he didn't even have a map). So it was a miserable ride that cost over $100 (one way). Our last trip before this - it took forever for us to find a cab to take us to the nice restaurant up in the hills at Columbia U. Even then - the guy who drove us there got lost. Experiences like this make one long for London cabbies. I looked up my cousin's son. He is First Deputy Commissioner at the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission. Guess that means if a taxi or limo pisses me off - he can do something about it. SethD - Had I known you were a single dinner in Manhattan - I would have asked you to join us. As it turned out - the second seating at the table next to us was a single guy on business from Toronto. I'm chatty - and we had great fun talking. He even smoked (like I do) - so we went out on cigarette breaks together. We probably won't be in New York for another 5 years. But if you are ever in our neck of the woods - give a holler. UE - three pieces of uni versus one pretty much sizes up this restaurant. There are a fair number of "nobody" people out there like me and my husband who can easily drop $5000+ on a long weekend in New York. We just don't appreciate being treated like second class citizens. Perhaps there are lots of people who will buzz like bees around a hive when they see celebs of various types (most of whom are receiving comps of one type or another) at a place like this. But - in the long run - you won't attract serious diners who do some homework. Robyn
  3. Just FWIW - every restaurant we have dined at since we've arrived (l'Atelier, Corton, Cafe Boulud, Felidia) has been packed. So I imagine any problems that might exist are affecting mostly second choice/second tier less known places. Robyn
  4. Corton (Formerly Montrachet)

    We've had problems with car service in New York in the past as well. No need to get into that. And FWIW - lunch at Cafe Boulud yesterday was $24 (great lunch special). I wrote it up this morning and think it wound up in the Cafe Boulud thread. My write-up of Felidia wound up in the Felidia thread. Actually - I didn't think the cab problem was as important as the "squab problem". Or the one little piece of uni (think it was the uni) as opposed to UE's 3 pieces. Or even the fact that I didn't much like the decor. Like I said - our meal was not bad - but underwhelming. That's the most important thing. I haven't been in New York for quite a while. But when leaving other restaurants in cities where cabs may be difficult - it's not unusual for someone at the restaurant FOH to run around the block to find us a cab. That's what they did at Senderens in Paris last October. At Guy Savoy they had an arrangement with a cab service and called us a cab. Etc. Etc. But New York is a different animal. I can't even get a cab to take me to Conran's late in the afternoon (guess they don't want to get stuck in traffic). OTOH - my aunt reminded me yesterday that one of my cousin's sons is a big deal in the city taxi commission (or whatever it's called). So I think I will start taking down cab numbers when I am refused service. FWIW - you can't see that my husband is wearing a big leg brace when he's wearing pants (which he was that evening ). Although he does have a strange gait when he's walking. I really don't like mentioning his medical condition to strangers (and neither does he). Robyn
  5. Felidia

    We've dined at Felidia before (seems like it's been here forever and it is close to a lot of nice design shopping). Have enjoyed the pasta - not so much the fish. But it is close to the hotel - and - in light of Bruni's thumbs up review a few years ago - we thought we'd have a light latish dinner there (we were still somewhat full from lunch). My husband never met an offal dish he didn't like. So we split the starter of chicken livers prepared three ways. This dish was a real winner - and a bargain to boot ($12). Plenty for 2. Then we split a pasta main (tagliatelle with rabbit) and another offal course (calves' liver). The calves' liver was very good - prepared perfectly. The pasta was a bit too al dente for me - and too salty for me as well (other people who prefer their pasta a little firmer and saltier than I do might have thought it was fine). My husband had 2 glasses of paired wines which he enjoyed. I had a gin and tonic (restaurant didn't have bottled tonic - which I think a restaurant at this level should have). We declined dessert - but were offered a lemon tiramisu on the house (which we couldn't refuse). Nice assortment of Italian type cookies too (most of which we're now eating in our hotel room with our morning coffee). Now chicken and calves' liver aren't foie gras - but they're mighty tasty. And man cannot live by foie gras alone . I understand why Bruni liked this restaurant - and recommend it. Probably - from what I've read - I would still stay away from the fish. Robyn
  6. Cafe Boulud

    We had lunch at Cafe Boulud with my aunt and cousin yesterday. Hard to beat the $24 lunch special. Which is 3 courses - starter/main/dessert - and 2 bottles of wine are also available for $24 each. Three choices of starter and main - two for dessert. We had all 3 starters. One was a somewhat plain salad (aunt) - one was stuffed squid (me and cousin) - one was an asparagus veloute (husband). Three had the fish main (sauteed fluke on a bed of barley) - my husband had the lemon risotto. Three had the chocolate dessert extravaganza (best course IMO) - my husband had the semifreddo. We've been to Cafe Boulud before - have enjoyed the food - and we enjoyed this meal. I wouldn't have been unhappy with it at normal dinner prices. Was obviously more than happy with it at Cheesecake Factory prices. And it wasn't treated like a "special". There was an amuse course - "throwaways" at the end of the meal - and an assortment of nice fresh breads. Excellent service as well. No one rushed us through our meal. One note. The Surrey Suites hotel is under massive renovation. We were seated at one of the banquettes in the alcove - where the sound of an occasional jackhammer was perhaps more evident than in the main dining room. But the main dining room was full and the sound level was pretty high. My aunt (90ish) is a bit hard of hearing - so the banquette in the alcove (which was in general more quiet than the main dining area) was ok for us. The restaurant will be closing near the end of the summer for a total renovation (as part of the hotel renovation). So grab this one while you can. Reservations for lunch are essential (there was a waiting line when we left about 2). There are a lot of good shows at the Met (around the corner) and I think we aren't the only people who had the idea of having lunch at the restaurant and then going to the Met). Robyn
  7. Corton (Formerly Montrachet)

    Lots of questions. Will try my best to answer. I like to eat and prepare squab rare - not raw. But there should be a "crisp" element to it. Skin could provide that. Fat could as well. But my fat looked like yours - kind of like a piece of raw white bacon. I had no problems with the service. Except for servers trying to squeeze between tables. The designers' fault - not theirs. I spoke with a food and beverage person at the Four Seasons today. He said he had dined with others in his business at Corton and had experiences similar to yours. OTOH - he said I was perhaps the 5th FS guest to make comments like the ones I made. So the restaurant is perhaps a "two class" airline. Unfortunate in a city that depends so much on tourists and tourism. The $140 wine pairing was described to us as a "Burgundy experience" with higher priced wines. I'm no wine expert. So I guess you can ask yourself whether you had higher class Burgundies - and relatively expensive wines. The food was not oversalted. Perhaps that was because - in light of previous comments here - I asked that the kitchen prepare the food normally - but not add extra salt before serving dishes. We would add extra if necessary (and it wasn't necessary). The desserts were really dreary (and I love desserts). Is there even a pastry chef in the house? I just tried a bit of the (I guess it was a) cookie we were sent home with. A notch above airline food. They could take a clue from Cafe Boulud (where the 2 desserts on the $24 lunch menu today were really excellent). I don't know who was in the kitchen. The owner was in residence and bestowed his large presence on a limited number of tables (none in our immediate vicinty). Quite unlike Europe - where the chef/owner usually makes grand rounds at the end of service to exchange a few pleasantries (even if everyone has to struggle with language differences). I'm really tired - will try to get a chance to write more tomorrow. Robyn
  8. Corton (Formerly Montrachet)

    The current charge for the tasting menu is $125. We asked a person who I think was the maitre d' for a cab. I think the fat was lardo. Not sure - but it looked the same as the fat in EU's pictures. I don't feel at liberty to share his Flickr link - but perhaps he will post it here. I personally think that part of the appeal of small birds is decent cooking combined with crispy skin - and a suitable saucing. On my part - I use everything from a port reduction to a fowl based au jus with things like various kinds of mushrooms. A piece of fat could be a nice substitute for crispy skin - but not when it is basically uncooked (or cooked sous vide - although I don't recall ever having any kind of fat cooked sous vide). The point is to get something crisp with extracted fat to add flavor. At least in my book. As for all the talk about cabs in New York - I look at it this way. I am spending about $1000 for a 24 hour day/night in a hotel room. When I need a cab - the person in charge of cabs will - if necessary - go up and down the block - and on the cross streets and avenues to get cabs for hotel guests. That is kind of par for the course. Even in midtown where it's relatively easy to get cabs. (Although an extra tip on top of the norm is appropriate for extraordinary service - like getting a cab in heavy rain right before theater time.) If I am paying $500 for a 2/3 hour dinner in a part of town that is basically deserted at 11 pm - I'd expect a restaurant to make the same effort. If I am going to pay Four Seasons like tabs - I expect Four Seasons like service. And you have to keep in mind that I have been in New York many times - am American and speak perfect English. I don't know how many tourists from how many different countries who don't speak good English I've encountered in the last few days. If a place wants to be "tourist friendly" (which New York needs to be to thrive economically) - you don't let tourists fend for themselves on West Broadway downtown near midnight. Robyn
  9. Corton (Formerly Montrachet)

    My husband wanted to add his 2 cents. He thought the dining room was ugly - and that very little thought seemed to be given to its design. Now we both like contemporary spaces. For example - we really liked the design at Blackbird in Chicago (another "white space" - but much better done in both of our opinions). The design here was a "miss" in our opinion. He also thought the bathrooms were very awkward to use. Finally - he had the wine pairings (I didn't). He thought the wine pairing (for $85 - there is a more expensive pairing at $140) was a great value - although one of the wines (served with the fish) was too sweet for the course (might have worked better with the cheese or dessert course). But - in general - the wines were good and the pours were generous. I had a gin and tonic (Plymouth gin - which I like) and Q Tonic (the trendy tonic right now). Not a great pour of gin. I had 2 glasses of champagne ($25 each). Wasn't familiar with the label - but it was pretty good (reminded me of Veuve gold label). A glass of it was included in the $85 wine tasting. Robyn
  10. We dined at l'Atelier the night we arrived in New York (Wednesday). Unfortunately our plane was way late (too late for our original reservation). And when we were finally ready for dinner - the only 2 places open at the bar were in the far right corner - one seat scrunched up against the wall. Reminded me of a sushi bar in Tokyo - very hard not to get to know the people dining next to you (who - luckily in this case - were very agreeable). Our server was very competent in terms of explaining the menu to us (in terms of dishes/sizes of various dishes/etc.). We wound up with 2 small plates - and splitting 2 larger ones. Right amount of food. Some hits - some misses. My husband liked the poached egg with spicy eggplant stew (his dish). I liked the spaghetti with asparagus/morels/poached egg (we split this one - my husband didn't care for it as much). We both liked the quail stuffed with foie gras (which we also split). I didn't care for the crispy langoustine (my dish - too greasy - not enough "crisp"). Pleasant albeit somewhat "squashed" dinner (in terms of elbow room). But this is clearly no Jamin (last place we dined at a Robuchon restaurant). I guess we will have to get used to the feeling of being "squashed" in New York restaurants. The places we dined at in Paris in October were much more spacious. Robyn
  11. Corton (Formerly Montrachet)

    Guess I should say something about the food. Here I have the benefit of UE's Flickr pictures of his meal at Corton (which he hasn't yet written up in his blog). We had many of the same courses - but the size and presentation were - in many cases - different (I don't usually dine with a camera - but this is one case where I wish I did). Perhaps he was lucky to be there during the Beard awards week - when many other chefs were in the restaurant as customers. I'll note that I don't normally do tasting menus (too much food) - but I had late breakfast - no lunch - and was hungry. I had no problem with the size of the meal. For example - our fish course - rouget (which I thought was probably the best course) had a piece of rouget - cooked properly - about the size of my thumb (and I don't have big hands). The presentation of the squab didn't resemble his at all. And - IMO the squab breast was terribly undercooked (or maybe not cooked at all). It did have a little piece of fat wrapped around it - but that didn't seem cooked either - and therefore didn't infuse the squab with any flavor. Squab "sushi" as it were. I found it inedible (most of the other food was ok to good - just kind of underwhelming considering my expectations). Now maybe I just don't "get it". One of my cooking projects the last month has been working with "little birds" (I happen to like them a lot - and D'Artagnan has been having good sales). And a blood red squab breast isn't my idea of a good way to cook a squab breast. Just my opinion. One other quibble. We were a two-top with a four-top to my left. And to serve the four-top next to us - the servers had to squeeze between the two tables. Now as attractive as these servers were - I didn't appreciate constant views of their posteriors. After a course or two - we actually moved our table as far away from the other table as we could. Made us much too close to the two-top to our right. But since the servers didn't have to squeeze in between the tables to serve the other two-top - it didn't really matter. I realize Manhattan real estate is expensive - but restaurant tables should be arranged so servers can service their tables unobtrusively. Robyn
  12. Corton (Formerly Montrachet)

    FOR A $500 PLUS DINNER THEY COULD AT LEAST CALL YOU A CAB. I tried very hard to find an excellent restaurant for my husband's birthday dinner in New York tonight. After reading a lot - I chose Corton. The restaurant was like many we have dined at recently. OK - but not great. Nothing sang. Overpriced for what and where it was. Nothing glam about it either. The people next to us were New Yorkers who were condo president types in south Florida. Think of Jerry Seinfeld's father in the TV series. And there was a big aggravation factor. The cab from our midtown hotel couldn't find the restaurant - and after a $20+ cab fare - left us 3 blocks away. It's a good thing I have good maps - some familiarity with downtown - and a great sense of direction. Otherwise - we would have wandered around in the rain for 20 minutes instead of taking a a 10 minute walk. Of course - this was not the restaurant's fault. But on the way home - after spending over $500 for 2 people - instead of the restaurant calling us a cab (which we requested - it was still raining) - they said to go to 6th Avenue and we would probably find one there. They said to come back to the restaurant if we couldn't find a cab. It is lucky that I still had my sense of direction - and knew that 6th Avenue was Avenue of the Americas (which is what the signs read) - and that we got a cab in 5 minutes (we could easily have waited 20 in the rain). Even in Paris - where cabs are as scarce as hen's teeth - no self-respecting high end restaurant would dump its customers out on the street at 11 pm - especially in the rain. I am especially aggravated about this because my husband has MS. He wears a big leg brace to stand up. And - especially after a long day walking around a city - his walking isn't that stable. I'm glad he didn't fall down and hurt himself. Robyn
  13. What about Cafe Boulud (great lunch special these days)? Robyn
  14. P.S. We are not big fans of steak or steakhouses. And why are the reviews of Providence all over the place?
  15. We've decided to stay in north America this year - doing some closer to home shorter trips than in previous years. New York later this week. And we just booked eight nights/seven days in Los Angeles in July (first trip there in 9 years). We'll be staying in Beverly Hills (Four Seasons). Doing a lot of day trips all around. I'll start to think about lunches once I figure out where those day trips will be. At this point - I'm looking for dinner suggestions not too far from the hotel. Maybe 7-8 miles max (closer would be better) - and not on any freeways. We'll have a car with a GPS - but I don't relish the thought of driving 20 miles or more round-trip at night. We'll probably try to do about 3 big deal dinners. A couple of nights at the hotel dining venues as well (a new restaurant is opening there - don't have a clue what it will be like). Have already decided to try Bazaar (looks like fun). Any other ideas? I was thinking of Ortolan. Hated Spago on our last trip - won't try it again. I like to dine at restaurants with full bars - so Urasawa is out (I like a cocktail before dinner - especially with a $350 meal!). Ideas for smaller deal (but nice) restaurants would be appreciated too. Robyn
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