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Everything posted by oakapple

  1. Yes, I do. Not much for the glitz; would prefer a hole in the wall with good food than an opulent palace with food that is just "meh". I think this is wrong on a few levels. First of all, most diners do attach value to the setting in which they dine. That's why you can't find many holes in the wall serving food the quality of Per Se or Le Bernardin. Although the food would undoubtedly be cheaper in a more humble setting, it still wouldn't be cheap in the absolute sense. Most people who can afford it would rather not eat in a hole in the wall. Of course, if the food is "meh," that is a totally legitimate criticism. But had it not been "meh" — had it been, in fact, excellent — should the alleged "Las Vegas" setting have been held against it? I don't think so. What's more, the Las Vegas analogy didn't really seem all that accurate.
  2. You're probably thinking of Appetite City by William Grimes, the former New York Times restaurant critic. It's an excellent book, highly recommended.
  3. I don't know why you're heaping such scorn on Robin. Why her, and not Jen, Eve, Preeti, Jesse, or any of the other chefs eliminated very early? Robin got lucky towards the end of her run, but she is probably better than those long-forgotten chefs from the first few episodes. Now, as for your question: I believe a few factors are involved. The best chefs do not necessarily want to be on Top Chef. The show requires a very substantial time commitment, with no assurance of getting anything out of it. The conditions under which they live during the shoot aren't very pleasant: big frat-like house, no communication with the outside world, intense pressure. Another factor is that professional cooking is a male-dominated profession. The producers want a gender-balanced cast, which means that some of the women they choose aren't on the same level as the men. It's no surprise that the first four, and seven of the first ten chefs to be eliminated, were women; that the final five include only one woman; and that four of the first five seasons have been won by men. I am not suggesting that men are inherently better at this, only that they dominate the pool from which the cheftestants are chosen. Lastly, the contrived and time-bound nature of the challenges, often with surprises and curve balls thrown in, leads to screw-ups. Robin might not be Paul Bocuse, but I suspect that when she's in her own kitchen, working under conditions she controls, she's better than she seemed on this show. Actually, that is probably true of almost all of them.
  4. As I recall, the OP didn't want "to deal with lines of tourists." At prime times there can be long waits at Redhead. Who they are is another question.
  5. As always Colicchio's blog has the explanation for why Robin went home, rather than Eli. TC said that he liked Eli's dish. He admitted that it wasn't perfectly executed, and that his fellow-judges liked it less than he did. Still, he is the head judge, and he didn't think it was bad. That contrasted with Robin's dish, which all four of them agreed was a disaster. Regarding Toby Young's bon mots, bear in mind that a challenge takes a full day to shoot, and remarks that appear to be improvised could actually be pre-planned.
  6. Based on skills shown and consistency throughout the season, I agree that Kevin and the Voltaggios are the best bets to make the top three. I still think that in a close call the producers would prefer to have a woman in the final. Jennifer is running out of chances to screw up, but she clearly has the ability if she can just get her head straight. In last night's episode, as far as I could tell, the chefs were permitted to cook whatever they wanted. Why on earth did she choose beef, when her specialty is fish? I know there was a tenuous "medieval times" theme, but I'm sure she could have figured out a way to do something in her wheelhouse.
  7. It took a while, but Eater.com has now picked up the story from this thread. The whole industry reades Eater, so at this point it will be pretty widely disseminated.
  8. I don't really think it was a matter of settling down. Sifton isn't new at this, the way Bruni was. Those other reviews are his style, and I am pretty sure we will see more like them. I thought the review erred by conflating the casual bar room and the formal dining room. The message appears to be that the bar room is pretty good and the dining room mediocre, but for many of the dishes it's hard to tell from his review which menu they're on.
  9. The only actual announcement is Sam Mason's post above, which has not been noticed more broady. I suspect that the owners still do not know what they will do with the space, so from their point of view there is nothing to announce. It is well known that Tailor is in bankruptcy, so yes, there could very well be legal issues.
  10. There are only about 10 restaurants in the whole city with a dress code, and pretentiousness is in the eye of the beholder. The folks who eat at Daniel three nights a week—yes, they do exist—no doubt find David Chang's places pretentious. The idea that good restaurants are associated with 'lines of tourists' seems a little strange too. Indeed, the presence of locals, regardless of price, is often seen as a strong indicator of quality.
  11. I think what you mean is that it cannot be fixed without just starting over again. Of course, given their attitude that it had already been done correctly, chances are you'd get the same result. The problem is that risottos generally take about 20 minutes to prepare. So there you are, with everyone else at the table already served. You have to watch them eat, and 20 minutes later they'll watch you eat. That's the problem when just one person sends back a dish (even when it's not a risotto), and the reason why most people don't do it. I once had a service issue like that at Gramercy Tavern, and the manager said, "If that ever happened again, I would re-cook everyone's pasta. But there are very few places that will do that.
  12. you should never have to "order well" to get three star food... Oh, I totally agree, and I hope you didn't interpret me to be saying otherwise. However, there is a meaningful distinction between a restaurant with high ambitions that achieves them intermittently, and one that simply doesn't have those ambitions at all. I would hasten to add that there are many things about Marea that I enjoy (why else would I have been there four times?) -- I am not yet persuaded that it's a three-star restaurant.
  13. I've been to Marea four times now. I've never had any service issues, but the food is uneven, and at its best is never spectacular. There are three Chris Cannon/Michael White restaurants in Manhattan, each with three NYT stars. The four-course prix fixe is $59 at Convivio, $79 at Alto, and $89 at Marea. We visited Convivio last week and found it better than Marea, and it's $40 less. Based on a persusal of the online menus, the style of cuisine seems to be roughly equivalent at all three places. It's not like comparing Perry St. vs. Jean Georges, or Café Boulud vs. Daniel, where there is a pronounced difference. All three offer a Creekstone Farms sirloin, but the prices are $35, $41, and $47 respectively, with Marea being the most expensive. Although Marea was supposed to be Michael White's shot a four-star place, I don't think it approaches that. You can have three-star food here if you order well and if the kitchen doesn't fall into a funk. But of course, it should not be that way.
  14. I am assuming they looked at the calendar and realized they could be up against the World Series, and needed something else they could use as filler.
  15. In an alleged "shocker," E! Online reports that one of the four acknowledged favoritesKevin, Jennifer, Bryan V, or Mike V"got kicked off before the end." This is totally non-shocking. In fact, it's as empty a story as you can get. Since every season of Top Chef has come down to two or three chefs, it follows that at least one of the four must get sent home earlier. I am still on the fence as to whether she is having a panic attack, or if she's just intensely self-critical. But my sense is that if there is any way to save her, the producers would prefer to have her in the Top 3, as otherwise it would be an all-male finale (assuming there's no way Robin can get there).
  16. oakapple


    I assume you mean Bryan. Yes, I am pretty sure he is still involved, and was during all of the recent visits described above. He is a sufficiently high-profile chef that his departure would be well covered in the NYC food media.
  17. You'll probably get better advice if you can narrow down your choices as to cuisines, dining styles, price ranges, and so forth. Obviously with Le Bernardin on the agenda you're willing to spend top dollar for at least one meal, but that doesn't tell us much about your intentions for the other dates.
  18. oakapple

    Per Se

    There is really no way to plan with any certainty that he will be in the restaurant. But Keller doesn't really cook anyway, so it doesn't really make that much difference. There is probably no major chef that has done a better job of developing talent under him. His restaurants don't miss a beat in his absence.
  19. Isn't it actually the opposite? I mean, if you subtract chefs, what exactly is gastronomy left with? The answer, it appears, is nothing. I do agree that gastronomy exists separate from restaurateurs, since chefs need not practice their art in a restaurant setting. But without chefs, what does gastronomy consist of?
  20. But chefs are the practitioners of gastronomy. If they found it insulting to be rated in this fashion, you'd expect a lot more of them to speak up. Gastronomy doesn't exist in a vacuum. It is created by those people, whom we call chefs. By and large, they are pleased to be rated in this fashion—except, of course, when they feel their rating is too low! If chefs don't object, who will? Customers overwhelmingly prefer ratings. That is why you see publications adding them that didn't have them before. The only newspaper I'm aware of that dropped ratings (the New York Post) recently re-introduced them in response to reader demand. If the professional practitioners in this field (including painters and sculptors) held this view, wouldn't it be highly relevant?
  21. I don't have the current Zagat guide, but by looking at the top 25 on their website, Di Fara is the only one. 25-50 has Sripraphai. Out of 50 top restaurants in the city, only 2 are less than $20 a head. But doesn't that strike you as intuitively correct? I mean, it would be passing strange if it were routinely possible to produce food at $20 a head that is just as good as $100 a head. There are exceptions, but generally you get what you pay for. I realize that, for a variety of reasons, the $20 meal may be the one we want on some occasions, or maybe all occasions. The Zagat guide allows you to filter on price, and you can select the highest-rated places at whatever level you are looking for. But to pretend they are objectively as good as those that cost more is, in most cases, nonsense.
  22. Sure it does. I should think that if numerical/star ratings are an insult, the feelings of those to whom the offense is purportedly directed ought to count for something. If there aren't very many of them saying, "I am insulted by this," then maybe it just isn't that insulting.
  23. I can't speak for other cities, but in New York that is untrue. For instance, in the NY Zagat Guide, Di Fara Pizza has a 27 food rating (the highest is 28). Momofuku Ssäm Bar, an extremely casual restaurant, has three New York Times stars. If anything, Zagat tends to give casual and ethnic restaurants higher ratings than they truly warrant, not the reverse.
  24. The proof that this is false comes from the chefs and restauranteurs themselves. Did you hear Daniel Boulud's reaction when he got the third Michelin star? He was floating on air. If he felt insulted, it was a marvellous acting job to pretend the opposite. I do realize that a few restauranteurs have given up their Michelin stars, but this is comparatively rare. Nearly all chefs profess themselves delighted when they receive a high star rating. Obviously the chefs who don't get the rating they expect are unhappy, but any meaningful system needs to disappoint some people. Even then, I seldom hear chefs and restauranteurs saying that they wish the stars would go away; they just wish they had more of them.
  25. I suspect Danny Meyer realizes that, but the old three-star ranking it had clearly wasn't filling the dining room. I wonder how many people even realize that Tabla is a three-star restaurant, aside from people like us who follow these things closely. It's the only one of Danny Meyer's fine-dining restaurants that Frank Bruni did not re-review, and I do not recall even a mention in passing. An enthusiastic two-star re-review (which appears to be what this restaurant is now designed to get) would probably do more for the restaurant than the old three-star review that most people don't even know exists. (Rant: The list of three-star restaurants linked from the NYT dining page includes only those that Frank Bruni visited, not those awarded three stars by prior critics, such as Tabla, Gotham Bar & Grill, Aquavit, La Grenouille, and Craft.)
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