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Everything posted by DutchMuse

  1. I have done my share of sampling from various NY and national beef/meat purveyors. From Lobel's (my heretofore fav), to Jefferson Market (excellent), Ottomanelli's (excellent/very good) and nationally to Bryan Flannery in Northern California (excellent). But I really reached new heights--might have even nudged out Lobel's--when I went to Florence Meat Market. How could I have missed this place? Its a lot closer to me (I live downtown) than Lobel's. On Saturday, after shopping at the Union Square Greenmarket, I trudged over to Florence Meat Market and bought two, 2" rib steaks, each to serve 2-3 people. The butcher brought out a huge rib of beef, took out a large hand saw, and proceeded to saw. Worked and worked, as the house cat explored what was in my packages from the greenmarket. I ended up with two of the finest, center cut prime rib steaks I've ever seen. Plus, the trimmings (beef cubes and short ribs) that were left over were also given to me, which I later ground at home and used to make hamburgers. Amazing. I roasted the steaks in my convection broiler. One taste and that was it. Steak that melted in your mouth. "This is the best steak I've ever tasted" said one guest. This has made me a believer in Florence. Yes, I love Lobel's. But for now, Florence is my 'go to' local meat market. Outstanding.
  2. I've been very critical of Craftsteak since it opened. As I live closeby, it could be my 'go to' steakhouse, but my dinners up until tonight have been at best, mediocre and at worst, downright poor. The last time I was there, the FOH problems were many ("Sir, your waiter did not come over because the staff member you asked to get him doesn't speak english") and the BOH problems fatal (steak sent back 3 times for being a tepid temperature). But tonight, the restaurant we went to was entirely a different restaurant--read, a different experience. The only flaw was the reservationist answering the phone--said she didn't know "Jason" (service manager) and had no idea if the GM (Richard) was still there. Her tone was off-putting and slightly arrogant. I commented to my partner at home before we went, "I'm getting a bad vibe; let's not go." But, we do live nearby, and were in the mood for a nice steak dinner with relaxed service and atmosphere, so we took a chance and trudged over there. We were very very glad we did. When we arrived, we spotted Jason Nunan--service manager who used to be a manager at Eleven Madison. Jason greeted us and we sat, as is our preference, in the bar area at a window. Immediate tone changed--Jason was on top of things. The wait staff attentive but not intrusive. Justin Spencer, the sommelier, was terrific. He's young, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable. Working on his MW, he is quite versed in wine issues and knows the list front and back. We asked for an old world style red to go with the steaks that would not break the bank--not at the mid $300 price point of many of the Bordeaux on the list. Justin soon brought over a decanter and let us taste the wine blind. The wine was tight but I thought "warm climate" and merlot and tempranillo. Turned out he brought us a 2003 Miserere from the Priorat. Beautiful wine, and at $110, one of the lesser priced wines on the list and after some air, it evolved into a lovely wine. Nice structure, beautiful perfume on the nose, and paired lovely with the steaks. I started with an array of oysters--I asked the chef at the station to select the best for me, and he did. Lovely. I then had the 56 day, dry aged NY Strip from Niman Ranch. Cooked properly to medium rare as I had ordered, the steak was flavorful and tender. The roasted hen of the woods mushroom was great and properly roasted. My partner had the 18 ounce corn fed Ribeye--flavourful and even more tender than my Strip. He had the potatoes gratin, and they were quite properly cooked. Everything was to order and exceptionally well prepared. Assuming this dinner was not "the outlier" then Craftsteak in NY has really grown and transformed. Apparently they have had a total change of staff--FOH and BOH, and it has, without a doubt, been for the better and been effective. Tom C now has a winner on his hands. Just get a new reservationist--she is steering people away with her 'tude. At the end of the meal, Justin came over and offered us complimentary glasses of PX. Nice way to end a night!
  3. Is it common to find ratte potatoes at the US Greenmarket?
  4. Hi Kai I have a few thoughts....first you're going to have a great time in NYC. For most "upscale" (excellent but not elite restaurants), it probably won't be too difficult, especially if you book a couple or three weeks in advance. You will certainly not feel rushed out. Second...for the very elite places (basically, Michelin *** places like Per Se, Jean Georges, etc.) it is more difficult. I'd suggest a month in advance or the earliest allowed by the restaurant. Once there, as with the other restaurants, you certainly will not be rushed out. Regarding the meal in an American diner example you mention--most probably this is cultural. In Europe, it is the custom not to give the check until it is requested. In the USA, the custom (especially in "regular" places like the diner you mention) is for the waiter to just give you the check--people are not accustomed to waiting until asking for it. You aren't expected to "linger" in a diner but you're also not expected to be rushed out. The check is there for when you wish to get up and pay....much of this example I think may be cultural differences. As I say, most regular Americans expect the check to show up and sometimes get upset if the waiter DOESN'T bring it promptly. The notion is, sit there until you're ready to leave, but this way you won't have a problem having the check if the waiter is otherwise busy. A funny story. On a wine bulletin board I frequent, someone from rural America went to Paris. He and his wife ate at Alain Ducasse. After their meal, they waited and waited and waited for the check to arrive (they had not asked for it). They started steaming....finally the wife got up and stormed out and the husband waited. Finally, he got up and berated the manager, saying "Why did no one bring me the check? When the manager apologized and said they didn't know the diner wanted it then, the man said, "What did you expect me to do, whistle like this?" and he proceed to whistle at a very loud, shrill tone in the dining room. Cultural differences can sometimes lead to big misunderstandings.
  5. Most of the true "wine geeks" I know (and I am one of them, too) combine the best of both. We do not rely on scores but rather, our own palates. I have a preference for Burgundies, others prefer Bordeaux, etc. And to find a great QPR wine is even better, and there are many many many examples out there. (Anyone can 'find' a first growth for $500 but to find a terrific wine for $25 often takes more talent). But...many of the best wines out there cost $$$ and one must 'pony up.'
  6. I've seen (and bought) them occasionally from a vendor on Fridays at the Union Square Greenmarket. Does anyone know if they are reliably there on a regular basis? If not, where else could I find them?
  7. DutchMuse


    I'm eager to go back, especially since I've heard the food has improved since my last visit. Candidly, last visit, no self-respecting dutchman would have given the bitterballen a 'thumbs up' and the frites were fair by American standards but unacceptable by Belgian standards. Still......I so want them to succeed. I'll try again in the hopes maybe things are a bit better.
  8. A friend of mine is the GM of a NYT 4 star and Michelin *** restaurant. He says when the NYT critic came in, he always had the staff make one or two minor errors (and he said it was well known what the critic looked like) so as not to give them the idea they were recognized. i think the only infamous exception to this was at Daniel, where, as I recall, they got seated next to the door of the kitchen or something and the restaurant was demoted to NYT 3 stars.
  9. Seriously, does anyone care to hear (read) what Rocco thinks about Ferran or anyone else? I don't.
  10. He must not (consciously or not) want those things....like having a restaurant, being a working chef, etc. He may just want product endorsements. Problem is, that will last about 5 minutes without him having some sort of platform. I mean, even if Tom C is a media personality by now, he does it based on the fact that he has several top rated restaurants. Bourdain has his books. Batali has his restaurants. But what does Rocco have? A once famous chef who went down in flames? That celebrity will last only as long as people remember UP. Once that's over, people will say "Who is this guy?" Unless he somehow springs into fame through another venue (like Bourdain did). But with Rocco's hubris, I doubt the public will embrace him. Just doing commercials for Lincoln Navigators and Bertolli pasta/meals isn't enough.
  11. All the affluent diners in NYC that I knew were well aware of the chef changes at ADNY. These people read and hear from their friends; I think they're more well informed than you might think. They don't just stumble in and expect a great meal.
  12. I thought Rocco's food at Union Pacific was among some of the most creative being done in NYC at the time. But as a harbinger of things to come.....I planned a very special birthday celebration at UP.....lots of great wines and worked with the wine director to make it really great. Rocco was nowhere to be seen. When I asked if Rocco might come by our table that night, the sommelier was silent, and then went on to say that Rocco had started spending most of his time at Rocco's, the name of the now infamous disaster that almost singlehandedly sent his career into a nosedive. The problem is that Rocco has morphed from being seen as a highly gifted young chef, to an inept and narccistic chef, to a spoiled, unlikeable, unsympathetic brat. And once you've made that change in perception, its quite difficult to come back. People in the US love people who have stumbled and get up again, apologize, ask forgiveness. They don't love people who go from being seen as a child prodigy (so to speak) to a self-absorbed guy with attitude. That's really why Rocco won't re-surface successfully. I checked Rocco's website a couple of weeks ago. Looked like it hadn't been updated since 2006. Sad, really.
  13. Your report and take on it is consistent with my experience. Last time I was there the food was acceptable but not much more and the FOH service was shockingly disappointing. We had to remind them twice of a bottle of wine we had ordered, and other things. Boulud clearly doesn't spend much time on this one.
  14. I had a delightful meal at Gusto a week or so ago; Chef Amanda did a terrific job. Very good neighborhood restaurant. The vibe and food are of a neighborhood place. Not cutting edge or profound cooking, but excellent for a place in the 'hood.
  15. Oakapple, great post on the steakhouses on the prior page. I agree with about everything you said, including maybe my being a bit harsh on BLT. I think, sum and substance, if I were going for a great steak I'd go to PL. If its steak & sides, QM. Finally, if its atmosphere with good steak (and great onion rings I might add!) I'd go to Porter House at TWC. By the way....(as a total unrelated aside, mentioning it only because my mouth is now watering from reading this thread).....tonight some of us are having a steak cook-off at a friend's rooftop grill. We're doing NY Strip cuts from 3 producers: Lobels, Luger's, and Bryan Flannery in Northern California. Report to follow on the Cooking section.
  16. Agreed. But who goes to a steakhouse more for the sides than the steak?
  17. I think he can maintain reasonable quality for the crowds; my angst has to do with acknowledging his actual ability rather than his apparent settling for chain like high end places....The Sizzler for the upper middle class and well to do. As someone here said, they've had a successful experience 75% of the time. And that's probably good enough for most people. Its telling, though, that in another contemporary thread, someone posted who is visiting NY where to go for steak, and they included BLT Prime and Craftsteak among their 4 choices. I don't think one poster who replied suggested either Craftsteak or BLT Prime. That does say something. Nevertheless, if his agenda, having sold his name to Jimmy Haber and the BLT Corp, is to franchise the name as much as possible, more power to him. Its just a long way from the creativity he displayed as a top Chef.
  18. Yes, but l'Atelier isn't in every city around you with more on the way. Quality control can be maintained with a few places but....how many cities is BLT in or on the way? 10? More? I dare say, at l'Atelier, you'll have a fine meal more than 75% of the time. 25% "failure rate" (insert your own adjective there) isn't very good, at those prices IMHO.
  19. Its GOT to be that either they didn't re-apply or they forgot. You pay the money and submit the wine list, and that's all that's required to get the Award. There's actually a thread now on the WineSpectator forum board about it....a restauranteur has taken WS to task for no visits; just pay the fee and submit the list for review. They could certainly have the award if they wanted it.
  20. I didn't mean to fabricate something for QM....I meant if 4 can go, you'll have a better table versus a table for 2 along the wall. I probably wasn't too articulate earlier. You don't HAVE to palm them at Sparks, but you'll wait 1 to 1 1/2 hours in the bar otherwise, even with a reservation. Personally I've never cared for the Striphouse...its near me.....but I'm in the minority. Lots of people rave about it and I trust them--its just never wowed me. For me, I'd take Keene's over Striphouse.....but those goosefat potatoes are pretty great at Striphouse.
  21. Well, I hate to hear this. At least Wolfgang Puck has a flagship restauant with some integrity left (the original Spago; Chinois on Main)...but this has gotten ridiculous. When he was at Cello, Tourondel produced excellent food. The original BLT Steak was good. But the spin-offs are almost a joke....I've been to BLT Prime a number of times and it is quite average but certainly not worth the tarrif. A BLT Fish dinner was embarassingly bad (the salmon steak tasted and looked as if I had cooked it at home from something frozen), and BLT Burger can't even come close to Shake Shack. Sooner or later, this will come back to bite him. And its a shame.
  22. DutchMuse

    Del Posto

    No....what was the upshot?
  23. Resto is a Belgian place just outside of Chelsea.....I went there early on and it was so so but a respected foodie friend says it much better now and Bruni liked it FWIW. Better yet would be Momofuku Ssam or Momofuku Noodle Bar. Certainly not quiet and you'd probably have to wait, but it might be worth it. Very East Village....
  24. I live in NYC and am a bit of a steakhouse fiend..... First of all.... *Forget Craftsteak....I live near there. The sides are great but very pricey. The steaks are, at best, mediocre. You will in all likelihood be disappointed by the steaks and a lot poorer for it. *BLT is a scene but not great food. It is living on Laurent Tourondel's reputation though he is a phantom presence at his places. Again, high prices...but indistinguished food. Now.....some REAL steak places: *Yes, Luger's is great and a lot of steak afficianado's love it. Personally, I can take it or leave it. A bit of a 'beer hall' atmosphere; poor wine list, rushed service, etc. I think the steaks are good but not a lot else to recommend it. But some people I respect revere it. *I like Sparks...great wine list, and I think outstanding steaks. Be prepared to wait at the bar an hour to 1 1/2 hours, even with a reservation, unless you palm the host. That's considered the standard procedure there. *You might consider Quality Meats. For me, the 'best' steaks of the NYC steakhouse scene. Try to get a table for 4....the tables for 2 are often rushed and with less stellar service. Excellent experience. *Porterhouse at Columbus Circle (Time Warner) is pretty good...much more 'civilized' but not as good steaks as Luger's, Sparks or QM. *Keene's is a GREAT neighborhood NYC old time steakhouse. Much to recommend it; the steaks are great. The service is mediocre...very old time NYC...but the steaks are indeed great. Long story short....if I were visiting NYC....depends what I wanted...I think I'd go to Sparks with a rez, give the host $50 for a table fast, and have a wonderful meal.
  25. DutchMuse

    Del Posto

    I believe one can have (NYT) 4 star Italian food, yes. Just visit Dal Pescatore in Italy. It is a Michelin *** restaurant where the food (and ambiance, and service) is fully deserving of its 3 (Michelin) stars without question. Del Posto is not remotely in the same league as a place like Dal Pescatore. Del Posto is 90% hype IMHO. How Del Posto ever got two Michelin stars is beyond me.
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