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Deacon

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Everything posted by Deacon

  1. Deacon

    Chez Panisse

    As Monty Python would say, that's not an argument, that's abuse.
  2. Deacon

    Chez Panisse

    Before Shaw gets too riled, I humbly admit that there are more good restaurants in NYC than in any other city in the country, including SF. And if reputation and influence and lineage are factors then ADNY must surely get something--for one chef to get ten (?) Michelin stars total for all his restaurants is unprecedented. But Highlands is good--and even more of a revelation being in Birmingham. I went to Cafe Johnell once, which is a French restaurant in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Stop laughing. But the food was good. Just don't judge the place from the outside: it looks like a barbeque joint from the parking lot. A French restaurant in Fort Wayne, Indiana is like a tap-dancing dog: it's not whether he can do it well or badly--you're just surprised to find that he can do it at all. So I was forgiving and indulgent when they got the sherry wrong. Big deal. Perhaps some sort of handicapping scheme is in order, so that Denver and Dallas and Santa Fe and Tuscon can be judged fairly against NYC. . . .
  3. Deacon

    Chez Panisse

    (I should have included in my previous post that Galatoire's was probably included for the same reasons: historic influence and longevity, in addition to local notoriety.) Well, they said "Best in America" and left it to each reader to define "Best" for himself, I suppose. A list with nothing but French restaurants on it would tend to bore quickly, no matter the technical expertise. Do I also detect a taint of Gothamocentrism at work, perhaps? I thought of it as a list of restaurants (some more obscure than others) that, if you had a teleporter and could go to a different one twice a day for the next month, were the ones that typified American restaurants across the board. Price and difficulty of travel not factors. As in "here are some places that (for whatever reason) you should eat at if you can." And very few can. Is there anyone who's eaten at all fifty? Raise your hand! I thought not. I think the list was geographically and culinarily diverse in the same way that a list of restaurants to try on an upcoming trip would be diverse: to avoid boredom. Nothing but French restaurants, as I said, would get cloying, no matter how "objectively" good they were. You'd get tired of them after awhile. And it's nice to be within driving distance of at least one, no matter where you live, just so you can sample that one. What most surprised me was Highlands Bar & Grill in Birmingham, Alabama (!) at #5. No wonder Shaw was non-plussed: look how many NYC restaurants were passed over. [sarcasm] My God, what's the world coming to when a restaurant in Alabama beats every restaurant in NYC except Jean-Georges! [/sarcasm] No wonder Gourmet Magazine puts a weed up Shaw's ass. But Shaw should really try Highlands Bar & Grill before dismissing it--I thought the food there was quite good. All someone can say who hasn't been there is an incredulous "It CAN'T be that good!" Unless I've miscounted, NYC gets 30% of the top 10, 25% of the top 20, and 16% of the top 50. If Shaw had to make his own list of fifty, would he really put the twenty best restaurants in NYC as #1-#20 on it? (Plus Charlie Trotter's, French Laundry, and The Inn at Little Washington mixed somewhere in there?) Is that really objectively fair and accurate for #1-#23?
  4. Deacon

    Chez Panisse

    Shaw: Don't denigrate history and longevity as factors effecting placement on the list. Wasn't Waters instrumental in starting "Californian" as a cuisine type?
  5. Santa Fe, NM and (I believe) Lake Tahoe. Now that I think of it, Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome Ale is pretty good. Everything by Sam Smith's is worth sampling.
  6. Noche Buena, by Dos Equis, is *reputed* to be excellent. But it's almost impossible to find, and I've always ended up with skunky bottles.
  7. Deacon

    Chez Panisse

    What I should have thought to say the first time *blush* was: It's not necessarily an issue of a fixed-menu being a forced march through new terrain. I don't have anything against them. I'd like to try a meal at Chez Panisse myself--I've coveted dinner there for about four years now. The issue I meant was the idea of making you feel welcome as a valued customer, rather than the recipient of a philosophy of food, or even a guinea pig to get the kinks out of a new kitchen (which is done too often). It's the idea in general that "everything takes a backseat to our artistic purity of vision even the customers themselves." This can take many forms. If it leads to inflexibilty, that's the most egregious problem. I also deplore The French Laundry (and others) for their mysterious and arcane reservations procedures-- ("You must call exactly one month to the day upon which you want a reservation, we seat at 5:30 and 10:15 only, your credit card will be billed if you don't show, also we want two references and a copy of your credit report, and your first-born as collateral, etc. etc. etc.") I hear stories like this and they make me think that if I go there I'll have to eat the entire meal while standing rigidly at attention, except for one trip to the bathroom which will require a signed slip from the owner.
  8. Deacon

    Chez Panisse

    Fair enough, but now that I think of it "Rolls-Royce" would be a better analogy. A friend of a friend owned one (actually, several in a row) and reported that they were nightmares to maintain--constantly in the shop. So the Rolls analogy would be "Here's a luxury item. It's expensive and difficult and hard to obtain, but your friends will be suitably impressed, provided they never find out from personal experience just what a bitch having one really is." Which brings us back to marcus's original post, trying to warn us that the effort to get a table isn't worth all the trouble. I got the impression that, for such a grand restaurant with such a high reputation, the staff weren't as devoted to the customer as they should have been, but rather were trying to standardize the Chez Panisse experience like some sort of foodie boot camp. More and more, it seems, these restaurants at the highest levels almost seem to be something that you have to not only pay a high tariff for, but to actually survive to tell others of your war stories. It's a little, I suppose, like military personnel trying to one-up each other, Navy SEALs vs. Rangers vs. Green Berets: "*I* survived The Herbfarm!" "That's nothing! *I* made it through The French Laundry!" "You're all a bunch of wimps! *I* graduated from foodie boot under Gunnery Sergeant Charlie Trotter! What a hard-ass!"
  9. Most restaurants that celebrities (not celebrity chefs, but celebrities in other fields) are affiliated with are uniformly abysmal. (Pepto Abysmal, probably.) Robert DeNiro's restaurants in NYC (Nobu, Tribeca Grill) and SF (Rubicon) are notable exceptions.
  10. Deacon

    Chez Panisse

    I agree heartily, SG. These places (e.g. The Herbfarm, Chez Panisse, French Laundry, *and might as well mention Antoine's in NO*) give off a vibe that exudes "this is the way we do things here, and if you don't like it, you can stay home--or go elsewhere." Strange attitude for any business in what's after all a service industry. It's like selling you a car and then telling you where and how fast you can drive it. I hate to sound reactionary, but "in the old days," the idea seemed to be catering to the customers' whims, not making them jump through a specific variety of hoops in order to dine. I guess it's the price you pay (in addition to the price you otherwise pay) so that you can say you've eaten somewhere. If I want my stomach churned for fun, I'll ride the roller coaster at an amusement park. I'm not going to pay >$100 per person for the "privilege" of having it churned for me in a restaurant.
  11. stefanyb: Message received. I would've replied directly, but the "cutting-edge software" used by the eGullet overlords won't let me PM anybody, for some inexplicable reason. Tsk-tsk.
  12. What's wrong with Relais and Chateaux? I always assumed, by reputation, that they were a very opulent chain. (Maybe when you get to that rarefied level "chain" isn't the proper word?) ArynT: For $2000 a night you should have your own butler to pour your drinks down your throat for you--and to custom-tailor your formal evening wear so you won't have to lug a tux out to the middle of Adirondack Park. There was a program on the Travel Channel last night about a hotel in Dubai, the Burj al-Arab, with "seven" stars (I thought you could only get a maximum of five), where rooms are "only" $700.
  13. Does anyone have any personal experience with The Point, the lakeside resort on Upper Saranac Lake? I saw the place mentioned on TV. Used to be Camp Wonundra, owned by one of the Rockefellers, I think.
  14. Deacon

    Zagat Guide

    I guess the only risk you're running is disappointing the staff when you show up and you're not Russell Crowe, as they were expecting. I guess they can't legally FORCE you to make a reservation under your own name. (That will probably come later, after some restaurateur complains.) I suppose it ranks with the crank call as an annoyance for them.
  15. Deacon

    Zagat Guide

    I'm changing my name to either James Hoffa or John Gotti. Just for restaurants. I want to see the looks of shock on the faces of the staff at the reservation desk when I arrive. (Maybe "Randall Flagg" would be good too. Just for Vegas. Perhaps "Keyser Soze"?) This brings up an interesting point, one which perhaps Shaw can address. I know it's illegal to give a credit card number that is not your own, of course, to ensure a table, but what about making a reservation under a fictitious name? If you were famous but wanted a quiet evening, you'd make a reservation under a fictitious name to avoid publicity. But what about everyone else? If I wanted to reserve a table as "John Smith," that surely couldn't be illegal, could it--just for fun? What about "Cameron Crowe," though? What about "Russell Crowe"? Where do you legally draw the line?
  16. Deacon

    Zagat Guide

    Good point. Of course, the gut-wrenchingly bad places are the ones you don't return to a second time. They put themselves out of business with no repeat business and bad word-of-mouth before the low rating can be published. And also, the most fitting punishment for a score of 0-9 for food is just to leave it out of the NYC guide altogether. The thing's already thick enough to choke a horse and has tiny type: T & N don't need to include the deadwood.
  17. Deacon

    Worst Beer Ever Tasted

    Schaefer. Mamba Beer. (Anybody remember that? Used to come in a huge bottle?) Iron City Beer. (Olde Frothingslosh. The Pale Stale Ale with the foam on the bottom.)
  18. I would suggest La Madeleine, but that would be unfair to La Madeleine. (I actually like those places.)
  19. Deacon

    The Martini

    Well, to each his own, I guess. Three jiggers of watery gin with a jigger of white wine added is still pretty damn potent in my book. Try a couple in the afternoon when you haven't had any lunch and then tell me you don't think they're effective. The "kosher" martini would undoubtedly be three jiggers of gin in a martini glass--with a garnish of a kosher pickle on the end of a toothpick instead of an olive. Nah, that would never work: the pickle would take up too much room in the glass and you wouldn't have any room for the gin. . . .
  20. Deacon

    The Martini

    I heartily agree, nightscotsman. It's the vermouth (N-P if possible) that makes it a cocktail. The vermouth dilutes what would otherwise be straight gin, and the melted ice from vigorous shaking dilutes it even more. Shake it in a metal shaker until it gets so cold it hurts to hold onto it, which won't take long. Straight gin served in a martini glass is not a cocktail. (No Noel Coward points awarded.) Anything less than, say, 4:1 and you might as well fill a water glass full of the stuff, chug it like beer and then admit yourself into the Betty Ford clinic. If you can still walk and speak.
  21. Who said anything about the rest room? Okay, you've got me there. No credit for using the john for your erotic assignation. Extra points for coitus while standing up in the aisle. Further extra points for coitus with stewardess while standing in the aisle. And for sex in the cockpit with the pilot--well, you win the prize. . . .
  22. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt. (In my defense, they've just released a movie version of this book.) The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. (It was watching the movie that made me want to read the book. Notice a trend?) a ten-month-old copy of The New York Review of Books The Man Without Qualities by Robert Musil. (It's going nowhere slowly, but with a great sense of style. This is what Thomas Pynchon would've written if he had been an early 20th century German instead of a late 20th century American. So far, no movie version available.)
  23. * "seriously" = have eaten at least one gourmet meal in the state. Attempts to get the "regional" or "local" flavor of the state also count. What I wouldn't count is a meal in an airport coffee shop while waiting for a plane, or a meal at some national chain by the side of the highway, or something similar.
  24. Why ANYBODY would have as a life goal to have sex in some filthy, malodorous airplane toilet the size of a phone booth just boggles my mind. Join the "mile-high" club the easy way: drive to Denver and have sex in a hotel room! (Food's better in Denver, too.) I have only visited twelve regions on the list. And as far as eating seriously in them: only one, the US. How about a more interesting question, mostly for our US posters: how many STATES have you eaten SERIOUSLY in? (Count Puerto Rico as one, and the US Virgin Islands, and DC.) I've only eaten seriously in Ohio Indiana Texas Oklahoma South Dakota Pennsylvania Minnesota Missouri Louisiana Alabama Georgia Arkansas Mississippi oh, and Washington, of course. (Refuelling stops not counted. )
  25. Before this thread is permanently archived, let me just add this. I didn't mean my comments to Plotnicki to be personally directed at him. I was sniping if anything at the idea in general of ANYBODY being able to casually and repeatedly pin down wines by specific year and vintner. Wine is so broad and complex a field with so many variables--I do believe that only if your name is Robert Parker or Hugh Johnson could you be so consistently specific in a series of blind tastings.
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