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Everything posted by DutchMuse

  1. Yes, I should have made this request early on. I did tell the people at the other table that their noise was "seriously affecting our enjoying the evening" and for a while they quieted down. Then for the last third of the meal, they got loud (or louder) again. About half an hour into that, I did ask to move, but the restaurant was full and I don't think there was an option to move--no staff ever came over to inform us we could move (the gesture was made by the waiter, and we said yes). But long story short, I should have said something early on and we would have been able to move.
  2. Thanks, folks. I'm seeing (again, obvious, but..) our greatest mistake was in not asking for a different table when the problem started. I put too much hope the restaurant would be able to ask them to tone it down. This is helpful, because undoubtedly, there will be a next time somewhere, sometime.
  3. Thanks; this is a good suggestion. I posted this on a wine board I frequent and folks there also pointed out (correctly) that I should have let the manager know much earlier on and asked to be moved to another table much earlier on. Had we done this early on, it probably would have avoided the disappointment at the end. Based on the same response from the Lespinasse staff years ago, I am curious what folks who have gone to restaurant/hotel hospitality school (e.g. Cornell, abroad) were taught about what the textbook response is in a situation like this. But in the future, I have learned a lesson to let the management know much earlier on in the dinner. It seems obvious, of course, but in the moment, I guess we hoped it would get better (hope springs eternal, I guess, even though baseless).
  4. There are no TV screens in the restaurant. They are in a bar which is quite separate from the dining room. Just so folks get a sense of this as a fine dining restaurant--we had house made ricotta with shaved black truffle, we had a house made bigoli pasta with lobster and shaved black truffle, etc etc and the bill for 4 of us was just under $1,000.00. They have a good wine list and we had a magnum of a second growth 1996 Bordeaux. This is not a dive place and there are no tv's that can be seen from the restaurant portion of the restaurant. Now, after the less than helpful comments above, may I ask others ITB what is the "expected" approach from a fine dining restaurant? This happened to me many years ago at Lespinasse in the St Regis Hotel in NYC and I got the same response: "There's nothing we can do, unfortunately." Is that the "standard" response when this situation occurs?
  5. Regardless of where you sat in the "fine dining restaurant", would that not be the expected response at a place that features a "very lively bar with TV screens and its own DJ later in the evening"? I don't believe so. The bar is in one side of the restaurant and the fine dining on the other side. The restaurant, despite what you may think, is considered fine dining. It is not a sports bar or some kind of similar place. Do you work in the restaurant industry?
  6. I would love to hear your comment on how to handle excessively loud and boisterous diners at a fine dining restaurant. This happened tonight; we had invited a couple to a hip, though fine dining restaurant and the table next to us consisted of 6 drunk diners, 3 men, 3 women who were entirely loud and obnoxious. The restaurant where we were is not a sedate, Michelin *** gastronomic restaurant; indeed, it has a very lively bar with TV screens and its own DJ later in the evening but it is fine dining--we ate in the dining room, not the bar. It is decidedly fine dining, and we had two dishes with black truffles and another pasta dish with black truffles and lobster. It is, by any definition, fine dining with a name chef and operated by a well known restaurant group. Our dinner tonight started at 6:45pm and ended at 9:55pm. The table next to us was so loud, the men were laughing hysterically at the top of their voices, the women encouraging them and also loud, and the women began making sexual gestures around the food. The problem wasn't the behavior of the woman with her sexual gestures--it was the loud talking and laughing of the entire table. So loud, that our guests (he is 28, she is 26) commented that it was ruining their first time at the restaurant. It bordered on ruining our night for all 4 of us; so much so that early in the evening, when I shot daggers at them via my eyes and they realized they were loud, they seemed for a nanosecond embarrassed, and I said to them "You are ruining our dinner; seriously." The ensuing quiet from them lasted 5 minutes, then they resumed. At the end of our 3 hour meal, when they got even more drunk and resumed their profoundly loud laughing and carrying on, we told the management of the loud noise and that it had ruined experience; they basically shrugged as if to say (and I think they actually did say this) "We're sorry about the noise but there's really nothing that we can do. We're not prudes or church mice; indeed, we like the music at the restaurant and love the hip vibe. That our 20-something guests had an issue with the noise also makes a statement. So....those of you either in the restaurant industry or as diners (btw, we are regulars at the restaurant; we go there usually 2 times a week and are quite friendly with the management and chef), what are your thoughts about how this might be handled? Thanks!
  7. I'm one who, historically, read the NYT restaurant reviews religiously. During Bruni's tenure, I'd go to the NYT website Tuesday nights starting at 8PM and look for the next day's review. With Sifton, I have found myself not only not reading his reviews but no longer caring. I'm actually kind of glad to see him go. This discussion continues in the NYT Articles on Food, Drink, Cooking, and Culinary Culture (2011– ) topic.
  8. IMHO best steak in NYC is at Minetta Tavern. Cote de boef is outstanding.
  9. DutchMuse


    Great report and very very encouraging. I must have not ordered just the right stuff; can't wait to go again and "correct" my experience.
  10. Interesting. I have found it, believe it or not, better than the Peking duck I've had in Bejing.
  11. DutchMuse


    Went a few nights ago. Thought it was good but surprisingly not outstanding. Pastas were ok, but I thought I could probably do as well at home. Loved the salume, loved the ravioli with egg (that was the one pasta that was out of sight good). Thought the suckling pig was good but not profound. The fried artichokes were a bit soggy and kind of tepid in temperature. Does anyone have an issue with a single brand of spirit offered? (i.e. Belvedere vodka, Plymouth gin, etc)? Those are fine brands, but sometimes I'd like a different type of gin, but not available here--they have an agreement, as I understand it, with the supplier.
  12. DutchMuse


    What's the update, Weinoo?
  13. Without any question, IMHO, Peking Duck House either on Mott or 53rd. (They have two locations). Best Peking duck in NYC.
  14. NYC is quite large; anyone's list is probably going to reflect the neighborhood in which they live. For me, I like Socarrat in Chelsea, Grand Sichuan International on 9th Ave/24th St., and John's pizza on Bleeker St. Just some places that come to mind.
  15. Does anyone else have a hard time with Sifton's writing style? It just seems....dry, a bit thick, and uninteresting. Also, I found, with the Marea review, a disconnect between the descriptions (text) and the stars awarded. I want to like him and his reviews, but I just can't get beyond the writing style. Anyone else have this reaction?
  16. I had another go at L20 this week. We had the tasting dinner and started and 7 and left at about midnight. At midnight, we were one of about 2 tables left in the restaurant. I'm sure you could do it, but you would definitely be closing the place.
  17. We had a perfectly nice meal here tonight. It was with great enthusiasm we went here, having loved our neighborhood restarant Le Madri in Chelsea (NYC). It was owned by Pino Luongo, the godfather of all Cocco Pazzo type restaurants, of which this is an offspring. Since Piccolo Sogno is a 3 minute drive from our apartment in Chicago, we were excited to go here tonight. The Berkel slicer, with a beautiful leg of prosciutto di parma on it, set the tone for excitement upon arrival. So did the GM making the laps around the dining room. My cocktail was prepared perfectly, as was my partner's. I started with the prosciutto with figs, which was just right--sliced tissue thin, just perfect. My partner had the prosciutto (not parma) with the burrata, which was delightful. I then proceeded to have the "straw and hay" with veal ragu; again, a lovely dish. My partner had the 4 cheese ravioli which, again, were beautiful. For main courses, my partner had the braised short ribs which he said were sadly plain. I tasted them, and I apologize, but the words that came from my mouth were "pot roast from K Mart." Boringly bland. The server inquired as to the dishes, and he said it was quite bland, so she took it back and it was returned 5 minutes later over a bed of potato puree with a jus on top. Better. I had the porchetta which was quite nice. In all, a B meal. I was quite satisfied. I think the restaurant has a lot going for it. But it could benefit from being a bit more adventurous. It is as if we went to Le Madri and selected the "safest" dishes from the menu and offered only those on a given night. Perfectly fine, but I'd like the chef to stretch his (I saw him at the end of the evening, so I know 'he' is a man) muscles. Lots of promise. Now go out the edge a bit and flex your muscles some.
  18. Two oenophile friends came over on Wednesday night--actually they were in Chicago to promote their wine publication (he is the editor, she the publisher) and wanted a respite from their travel and gargantuan meals they've been having as they travel from NY/Chicago/SF/Seattle etc. (they are from the UK where the magazine is published). Thinking of Blue 13, I suggested we go to a local restaurant near our apartment for dinner. They heartily agreed, wanting a quiet, no fuss kind of night. Being wine geeks from the UK, I thought they might enjoy a couple of American wines that might not be easy to find in the UK, so we brought along a 2006 Rhys Home Vineyard pinot, and a 1994 Ridge Monte Bello. We started with the obligatory lobster pizza with a Vouvray they had on their list. Nice, appealing wine which went well with the pizza. The pizza was as always--fun, tasty, hot and delightful. In looking at the menu, I didn't see an appetizer that I thought was a great pairing with the Rhys pinot...so I asked Dan (the host and co-owener) to ask Chef Curren if he might do something with the Amish chicken (maybe over a salad?) as an improv appetizer for the 4 of us. Dan immediately said he would ask the Chef; he came back in a minute and said it would be no problem. What came out was just great--a chicken roulade sort of Nicoise style--a roulade of chicken that the chef stuffed with a black olive tapenade, and asiago and pecorino cheeses. It was served alongside a tomato tartare with a "sunny side up" quail egg on top with a horseradish foam. It was delightful! A really perfect match with the pinot, which is almost Burgundian in style. The chicken with the new world pinot worked very well. For the main course, I had mentioned the pork chop to Dan and thought it would pair well with the Ridge Monte Bello. But the chef had another idea, and it was a perfect pairing and was so good--it was a crispy pork belly served with a toasted brioche served alongside a bacon jam, blue cheese mousse, and a hydroponic watercress salad. "This is better than what you'll find at 95% of restaurants in town" I opined. "I think its better than 95% of what you'd find anywhere" said my friend, the editor. It really was great and it was a perfect pairing with the Ridge. When we went in, we expected a regular meal which we would order off the menu. What evolved was what almost turned into a "quick fire challenge" and Chef really rose to the occasion, totally spontaneously! He and Dan couldn't have been more willing and enthusiastic to create something just for the occasion, even though we hadn't warned them! My hat's off to these guys. I still think this is an undiscovered jewel and continue to be impressed with the chef's talent and creativity. We left the restaurant thrilled at a fun evening with really delicious food and fun wines. It turned into a beautiful food/wine pairing that shows what can happen when when a chef is willing to take a chance with the diners and the diners willing to take a chance on the chef. This one worked!
  19. Open Table for EMP for gentlemen states "jackets preferred."
  20. It was with enthusiasm that I accepted the invitation to join two of my foodie friends for a dinner last night at L2O. One friend had flown in from New York and joined us for a night of enjoyment at L2O. My friends and I are experienced diners, exploring terrific restaurants far and wide. Both have a keen curiosity of restaurants, which they cover in well-followed food blogs. I had been to L20 once before, about a year or so ago. The evening turned into a disappointment for us, both due to structural problems in communication at the restaurant, and in terms of the food. Here are the details: The Setting and Service The room is lovely, albeit a bit corporate in feel. There’s a Zen-like feel to the room, and I found the minimalist feel pleasing. The room was only about a third full of guests when we arrived, and at its busiest, was probably 2/3 full. Our Captain was very attentive and a definite asset to our dinner. Chantelle, our sommelier, was delightful, smiling, highly competent, and fully on top of the wine service. Both enhanced our experience tremendously despite the missteps below. My friends and I debated what to do for the menu, and, when told Chef Laurent Gras was in the kitchen, we asked if the Chef would put together a menu he thought best for that night. Our Captain said fine, and off she went. We assumed we would have some type of tasting menu that we could discuss amongst ourselves. What followed was an insight into both structural problems in communication between the front (FOH) and back of the house (BOH) as well as striking inconsistencies in the dishes the kitchen produced. As the meal began and progressed, we saw that we were each being given a different item, which we hadn’t anticipated (when we asked for the kitchen to cook for us, I commented that I did not like to share my food and we expected we would each have the same menu). Had the dishes flowed properly, and illustrated the chef’s style and some rationale for the entire menu, we would have been happy, but what resulted was an almost haphazard cacophony of dishes, widely disparate in both make up and quality of execution, that had an almost random feel to it. The odd combination and order of dishes prompted one friend to ask if our request that the chef would put together a menu for us was communicated to him was met with the reply that “I communicated it to someone there but I’m not allowed to approach or speak to the Chef.” What? In further inquiry as to what happened, it seems the general manager and Captain were hesitant or fearful of communicating our request directly to the chef, and took it upon themselves to devise a sort of tasting menu. The problem is that the resulting flow appeared amateur at best and random at worst. When we expressed our disappointment to the General Manager (GM), Tony, he replied “the Chef doesn’t do any special menu for anybody, including famous chefs who dine here.” We told him that it was fine not to do it, but someone should have communicated this to us when we initially asked, and we would have then either ordered the standard tasting menu or devised one tasting menu, ourselves, for the table from the menu. The quality of execution of the dishes was like a roller coaster of quality and creativity. As with my one prior visit to the restaurant a year ago, the sashimi first course was served too cold to allow the flavors to be fully appreciated. On this visit, a foie gras served inside a spiral of cotton candy that was both sweet and savory, was brilliant. Perfectly cooked and spiced foie, inside this spiral was spectacular, and was my dish of the night. Unfortunately, it was followed by a kampachi that, visually, looked sad and dry. Tasting it, it was in fact overcooked, dry and quite bland. The kampachi had some kind of accompaniment that the Captain referred to as a type of pita chip filled with some type of vegetable, but they were largely surprisingly devoid of taste and had a texture of cardboard. One friend has the arctic char that was poached in butter, which looked fabulous. “That looks incredible” I said to him, to which he replied “I’m afraid it looks a bit better than it tastes.” The salted cod with caviar was very salty and I actually did not eat my portion and mentioned to the GM that it was too salty. Disappointingly, I saw that I was charged the $25 supplement for this dish, even though I told him I did not like it. Unfortunately, I noticed this after I had paid the bill, and in light of the other problems, I decided not to make an issue of the charge in front of my friends, though it disappointed me. My final course was the smoked ribeye which was good but difficult to eat with the knife served with it. When I asked for a steak knife, I was told the knife I was given (a standard knife with slight ridges) was the sharpest they had. So, we had some dishes that were stupendous (foie gras, for instance), some that were average, and one that I found difficult to eat due to the level of salt (cod). The greatest problem for me and I think my friends, was the notion that the chef was unapproachable and not to be spoken to. At the end, one of my friends commented to the Captain that—given our dissatisfaction with the flow and miscommunication, he was surprised that the Chef never came out to inquire, she replied that the Chef never comes out into the dining room (even though by that point we were the last table, and she confirmed he was still in the kitchen). “He is very focused on the food” was all she kept saying; it almost became a parody. After this jarring experience, I doubt I’ll return to L2O. We saw flashes of brilliance, but far too much unevenness in the execution to make it worth a return visit. Far worse, though, was what I think of as structural problems in communication between the front and back of the house, where the Chef is not to be spoken to (at least as we were told) by the service staff. He may be in a cocoon, but its not to his advantage.
  21. A friend once said to me "Order a wine that shows respect and they will remember you." There's some truth to that.
  22. I'm very surprised--it is my understanding they are doing it now regularly. If it was a slip up, that shouldn't be happening.... I was told they are doing it now regularly and assumed that to be the case. I think its only been recent but if it was last week, then I think you were supposed to have been given one.
  23. I would ask: are you open to being stunned?
  24. Interesting reading, the above. I'm curious in the last 6 months, how many times have the skeptics dined there? I mean, one person protesting after dining there once 18 months ago? Having been a regular at EMP during Kerry Heffernan's tenure, and frequently (as I say above, minimum once a month, usually twice a month), I have seen the restaurant improve steadily almost each month. If you go today, you would, I believe, be stunned by the difference from 18 months ago. It was a good 3 star then, its worthy of 4 IMHO now. Interesting iconoclastic points above, but I find it hard to put stock in some of them as people don't seem to have been there regularly. Fat Guy and I discussed EMP about a year ago, and as I recall, Steve, you hadn't been in a while and I urged you to go back. Let's go there together soon and then post on our experience.
  25. Hi Steve As you know, I love EMP and usually go, on average, once a month or more. To answer your questions: 1. 18 months ago IMHO it was a high 3 star restaurant, now it is a four star restaurant. 2. The food has become more refined as well as the service. They did not have someone at the revolving door turning it for people and the training of the FOH staff it at a much higher level. Daniel Humm's food has become more focused, more refined...at a higher level. And 18 months ago, they didn't have the small caviar tins they give you as you leave. When you open them, an accordion style hand written menu of your dinner unfolds.
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