Jump to content


participating member
  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by jimk

  1. Not at the better places. For instance, we know that Danny Meyer takes care of his regular, but I've never felt like a second-class citizen at any of his restaurants (and I'm not a regular at any of them). ← I generally agree, but I seem to recall a review FG wrote of a dinner at Gramercy Tavern where there were a lot of extra courses and off menu stuff being sent out by the kitchen because they knew who he was. (I may be remembering this wrong - if so, mea culpa) ... if I'd been sitting at the next table there's a not-bad chance I'd have found it pretty annoying. We had our wedding dinner at GT several years ago, and have celebrated many special occasions there. I knew Nick back when he was GM and I know Danny well enough to say hello. The folks at USHG know who we are and generally the only "special treatment" we get is a comped glass of champagne before dinner or something along those lines. That's the exception though - definitely not an every visit experience, and that's totally fine. They did do us an extraordinary kindness a couple of years ago when we were celebrating our 5th anniversary, by recreating our entire wedding dinner menu, including wedding cake and wine pairings, for us for our anniversary dinner. It was a wonderful favor for them to do, but not something they owed me as a regular and I'd be just as loyal had they told me it wasn't possible.
  2. FG I think you're the only who is going on about how "democratic" they are or aren't. I'm not sure if Chang even ever said that word. (Eater mentions it but not as a direct quote.) As far as I can tell they had a friends and family soft opening by invite just like every other new restaurant or bar. They reached out to regulars, media, internal staff, etc. They then said to the very same people they invited that going forward "No phone. No favorites. No exceptions”. And thus far (day 2) they have been true to their word. You have stated your position that you don't think this is possible or even a good idea. Most have disagreed with you. It seems clear that we're not changing your mind nor you ours. How about we let this rest now until should the day come that they do get a phone, play favorites, or make exceptions. Then you can tell us all how you told us so way back before the restaurant even opened. Till then how about we stop obsessing over this and give them the benefit of the doubt? If you really want to discuss the merits of special treatment and what people should expect go start a new thread in the Restaurant Life forum. ← Amen.
  3. I think part of FG's point is that when they stop doing that, you'll find a different place to drink. So in effect, you are expecting it. ← And I think Daisy17's point is that FG would be incorrect and that if they stop doing that it will still be one of her favorites ... that the occasional freeby is not what she expects of her favorite place and her continued patronage isn't dependant on it, but that it's appreciated all the same. I think whoever first used the word "entitlement" hit the nail on the head. There are a few places in town where I go often enough that I've become friendly with the owners or chefs. One or two of them is a really tough reservation - the kind of place where you have to dial the phone number 30 days out to the day to get a prime weekend table. Not Babbo or anything, but close. Anyway, occasionally, I have called on someone I know at one of these places and asked for a favor. Maybe once or twice I've asked for a reservation when open table was showing booked. Occasionally, the chef at one will order some specialty meat from his premium wholesaler for me to cook at home as part of his restaurant order. Or they'll let me bring a special own bottle of wine when they don't normally allow corkage. There's a place really close to my building where they occasionally let me phone down and put my name on the wait list for a table rather than make me come in person and add my name - because they get that I live in a walkup. But I don't ask them to do it that often. But the point is, when I ask for these things, I'm asking for a favor. I say please and thank you. And it's cool if they say no ... I even understand if they say no because it's a "sorry man, but we're just not doing that because it's a really slippery slope and we don't want everyone to start expecting it." If they told me "sorry if open table says we're booked solid then we're actually booked solid because we don't hold any tables back for VIPs" I would think that was totally great. I don't think I'm entitled to the special treatment. I don't think it should be a perk for me or anyone else based on how much I spend there. And when if they say no I'm still going to be just as loyal. That's the kind of relationship that I believe not can not only sustain a business model but give us all a much better experience of real hospitality. And I think it's what Chang is trying to do. Maybe it will work, maybe not. Maybe he'll get too much grief from his investors who assumed they'll be exempt. Maybe he'll get so many no-shows that he needs to rework the system. Maybe it will eventually only be 95% egalitarian and not 100%. But I'm really glad to see him trying.
  4. I didn't say that. I didn't say I think I'm a friend and a guest. I said the restaurants treat me like a friend and a guest. Don't pretend you don't see the difference - you've eaten at Danny Meyer restaurants. Maybe you're probably surprised to know that they treat mere mortals as well as they treat those who throw a sense of entitlement around. For the millionth time, having a f&f week (or a press week if you are a stickler for the terminology, since you seem to believe that when other new york restuarants have a friends and family period only friends and family are invited) prior to public opening is not the same thing as the two-tiered system you advocate. Three thousand people (ok maybe I'm rounding that up) have made that point here and you still don't get that it's not the same thing?
  5. 1. I never used the word liar. I said I didn't believe you. If you want me to put a label on it I'll go with "disingenuous blowhard know-it-all" or something along those lines. 2. I don't think of dinner as a "situation" that I need to "take advantage of" and I hope I never do. The restaurants that I love the most don't treat me as a consumer - they treat me as a friend and a guest. I don't expect "special treatment" according to the frequency of my visits, and when I see a restaurant staff fawning over a high-maintenance diner who clearly believes they deserve to be fawned over, it makes me like the restaurant just a bit less. I've read enough of your reviews here to believe you are such a diner. I suspect your book is a treatise on how to create such expectations among diners - teaching them that a meal in a nice restaurant is a system to be gamed - and I think that's a shame. 3. As far as this goes: I honestly have no idea what you are trying to say. 4. I suspect you are the only person here who thinks that having a friends and family week is somehow the same as holding back x seats of a 12 seat restaurant for VIPs on an ongoing basis.
  6. Don't tell me what I should do. See I think this is part of the issue. You don't see yourself as another diner. You see yourself as the guy who is here to tell us what to expect and what to do, as often as not dominating the discussions with your from-the-mount pronouncements of what is good and bad, right and wrong. Frankly, sir, it's not your place to tell me how to experience or what to expect from this or any restaurant. I stand by my earlier comment that you are motivated primarily by self-interest here. You suddenly see that your beloved "new paradigm" might involve a shift away from restauranteurs feeling that they need to coddle friends, insiders and influencers like yourself (only you prefer to use the label regular.) I suspect that Chang has grown tired of kissing the butts of a loud-mouthed high-maintenance self-important minority and that's why this new reservation aspires to "pure" democracy. To save one seat or two for the FGs (or Ruth Reichels) of the world (not that they are in the same category) is to totally undermine what he is trying to do. And I applaud what he is trying to do. And, FG, for whatever it's worth, I think your 9:04 pm post (#303 on this thread) is one of the most obnoxious things I've ever seen on EG and is a perfect example of why I come around these parts far less than I used to.
  7. My objection in this instance is not selfish but theoretical. ← The thing is, I don't believe you.
  8. You don't see why I think they SHOULD have a system that gives priority to regulars? I think I've explained it a few times already. ← I actually don't think you've made a remotely coherent case. It seems to me that you would like them to have such a system because you would benefit from it. I'm a regular at a few places in my neighborhood, and it's never occurred to me that I am owed anything beyond the good food and hospitality that led me to become a regular in the first place. Cheers to Chang for telling FG (and the rest of us) that we can all wait our turn. I'll be eating at Ko on the weekend, and I got my reservation fair and square. Can't believe that anyone on this board would actually complain that they are expected to do the same. I think Chang is sending a message to the those who come in to his restaurant toting the baggage of entitlement ... I applaud him for it.
  9. Thrilled to see this post as my wife and I will be taking the E&O in the opposite direction in a few weeks time, travelling from Bangkok to Singapre in mid-August.. The food looks more interesting than I expected ... Curious to hear your impressions of the food. Standard hotel fare or a notch above? Only a couple of choices for each course, right? But presumably you had different options in front of you for every meal? And what about the wine list? Our itinerary just has us on the train for three dinners but only one lunch on board (our second day of travel we stop for lunch in Butterworth, Malaysia).
  10. I took a decent photo of this one but not sure how to go about posting it. I think I'm possibly not authorized for uploads. Or I'm just not looking for the attachment button in the right place. All the same, here's what my notes say about the dish: Raspberries fondant with wasabi and raspberries vinegar: Cathy's favorite dish of the night so far. Staff suggest eating one bite of the raspberry, then take the spoonful of the vinegar, then eat the other half. Beautiful pure raspberry incredibly balanced to stand up to the tiny dot of wasabi. The vinegar brought it all together. I would have enjoyed this dish even more had I taken the wasabi dot with my first bite rather than the second.
  11. Maybe something to do with the French region, Béarn (béarnaise=from Béarn; the sauce=butter, egg and vinegar). ← That makes sense - we definitely interpreted this dish to be a deconstructed bearnaise. Another dish on the menu we had (asparagus cooked for four different times) was similarly along the lines of a deconstructed hollandaise.
  12. Just got back myself from Europe ... off the plane less than an hour actually. My wife and I were lucky enough to dine at el bulli last wednesday (seated one table away from another NYC egulleter if I'm not mistaken) ... quite a bit of overlap with the menu mentioned above but some other dishes as well. I'll try to post something intelligible in the next couple of days ... needless to say, an unforgettable meal.
  13. jimk

    Yakitori Totto

    How much was dinner, if you don't mind me asking? Sounds like a great meal ... What did you drink? Beer? Sake?
  14. jimk


    It appears that their approach to this "problem" is a rather unexpected one. Was eating at Blau Gans last night (next door to Rosanjin) and noticed that Rosanjin was dark and locked up tight as a drum as of about 9pm. Can imagine there are a lot of restauranteurs who would close their doors on a their first weekend dinner service after going from obscurity to two Times stars.
  15. Congrats! We'll be dining there in precisely 11 days and are very excited. I'll post some thoughts on the meal when we're back. By the way, we've booked into the Hotel Port Salins, a 4-star in Empuriabrava for 85 Euros for their highest room catrgory. Taxi to El Bulli is 30 euros each way, arranged through the hotel. I'll also post here with our thoughts on the accomodations as I don't think I've seen the Port Salins mentioned on egullet ...
  16. Bumping this topic up to see if anyone's been recently. We're thinking of dining here on an upcoming visit to Paris for Sunday dinner ... Can anyone advise where the prices are these days? What should I expect to pay for dinner for two, assuming we both have the tasting menu with pairings? Good value? JK
  17. jimk


    Isn't that what they used to call "Continental" dining? You're quite right, though ... some of it felt like really good London gastropub cooking, some of it felt like family meal at Daniel ... none of it felt like Canada (except for the art on the walls). Part of it is that I don't think there's a "Canadian" cuisine ... we're a collection of regional cuisines. We don't have any iconic dishes - no cheeseburger or apple pie - that scream CANADA at you. And despite the leaf on our flag, a cocktail made from maple syrup evokes a weekend in Vermont to me far more than it makes me think of any of the four Canadian provinces in which I've lived at different times of my life.
  18. jimk


    Glad you had a nice dinner Sneakeater. Our experience at this place a few weeks ago was not as great - some highs and lows, but mostly we left with a feeling of disappointment. Part of it I know is that we had high expectations ... we're Canadian expats and we live in the neighborhood. We ate in the upstairs dining room which was indeed open and took reservations, and I assume it still is. It's obviously very early days for this place, so we expected some bumps. Some things worked both service and food-wise ... We liked that they were only taking reservations the day of - allows some sponineity yet doesn't require long periods in line. The upstairs space we loved - if you're Canadian, you know all about the "Group of Seven," a much-discussed group of Canadian landscape artists. The walls of the upstairs dining room are covered with hobbyist-painter renditions in the Group of Seven syle ... The art was, sadly, the only thing that seemed even vaguely Canadian to us though. Some of the food was good ... yes, they have poutine, but we were unimpressed with it ... It's like they read a recipe but never crossed the 49th parallel to try the dish at its best and most authentic. The Fries were good, but smaller than poutine fries should be. The curds were rather flavorless and appeared to be cut into somewhat uniform cubes rather left in their randonly globular natural state. The gravy had nice flavor but was way too thin - should be thick, not brothy. It wasn't especially authentic, and even accepting that, to my mind for $13(!) it wasn't nearly as tasty as it should have been, and there wasn't very much of it at all on the plate. For what it's worth, I thought Shopsins in the village came as close to authentic poutine as any I've encountered this side of the border. Not spot on, but pretty close. Other dishes were better - my wife had barley soup which was really wonderful - great flavor, really robust, although served in a soup bowl that wasn't well suited to the particular soup. She liked her pigs trotter a bit less ... the dressing was out of balance she felt - too much mustard knocked out the other flavors. The other dish we had was the "veal toungue'n'cheek." Cute name ... the toungue was lovely, the cheek was a bit overdone and dried out. Prices were generally higher than we expected ... the pork chop of all things was priced at $36 ... I can't remember the last time I saw a menu with a pork chop priced anywhere in that range. Some serious issues with regard to the beverage program. We asked for a wine list and were told there wasn't one. Instead, our overwhelmed server tried to tell us that "um ... I think there's a merlot, and a cotes du rhone I think ... and a couple of white ones too!" She had no idea of prices ... we ended up with a bottle of Cuvee Daniel Cotes du Rhone, which was fine, but then were shocked when we saw another server take a wine list to the table that was seated next to us. I can't imagine how our server thought that they didn't have a wine list! Same kid - she was nice but incredibly lacking in both training and experience - had never heard of a Negroni when I ordered one. I understand that there's a learning curve, but you can't charge Pegu prices for drinks (and sell a $36 pork chop) and put your customers in the hands of someone whose last job was at a greek dinner, even if she's friendly and cute. We also heard from that table next to us that their first round of cocktails down in the bar was fantastic, but a second round ordered upstairs disappointed. Finally on beverages, I think it's really a shame that - at least when I was there - there was no sign of any Canadian microbrews ... Sleeman's and Big Rock both get exported to the states and would have been nicer options than Molson and Labatts (plus, to give credit, a few Unibroue options). As I said, part of our disappontment came from our expectations. This place was billed as being inspired by Canada, but - other than the poutine - the menu left us wondering if anyone in the kitchen had ever been to Canada. There are lots of great regional culinary traditions (and ingredients) to draw upon - oysters and mussels from the East Coast, Quebec is known for roast chicken, tortiere (a mixed meat pie), and foie gras among other things, the prairie provinces might inspire something done with smoked trout or venison, Alberta is all about steaks, BC gives you more oysters, incredible salmon ... and then there's the whole First Nations tradition - bannock and goosberry jam anyone? Of course I'm thinking much more literally than a real Chef would ... I would just love to have had Bennett or Boulud (or both) spend a bit of time up there before claiming to have been inspired by Canada. I'll bet you a loonie that they didn't.
  19. I've had this problem more than once at Gordon's restaurant at Claridge's in London. I've often suspected that the kitchen has one version of "rare" for Brits and another version for Americans - our server virtually admitted as much the last time we sent an overdone plate back to the kitchen ... she told us that in her experience, when Americans order rare, they usually mean medium. Of course, as Canadians, we also didn't like that she assumed we were Americans.
  20. The hotels others have suggested (Mercer, 60 Thompson) are veyr nice ... if you'd like a slightly cheaper alternative, I'd recommend the Washington Square Hotel. It's nothing fancy, but it's a great location right on the parker, shortish walk to Union Square, and handy to subway. But only stay there if you can book a "deluxe" room - deluxe is code for renovated, and the deluxe rooms are small but actually quite nice. I live in the West Village and often put my family in this hotel when they come to visit from out of town. A deluxe room will generally be in the vicinity of $200. Biggest rooms are the ones ending in 10, 17 and 18.
  21. I'll add my 2 cents here ... the only place on your list I'd reconsider might be Gramercy on the first night - and I only say might because they're in the midst of a chef-change right now, and April is a long way off. The other reason I'd stay away from the Tavern Room on the first night is the fact that they don't take reservations - same thing goes for Bouley Upstairs ... I love both of these places, but when you're just off the plane and if you don't want to eat too early or too late you're going to find yourself waiting for a long stretch. I agree with those who suggested the Bar Room at the Modern and Savoy in particular for a not-too-formal but still top notch food experience your first night. I'd also add to the list Hearth ... they have three bar seats at the pass where you can watch the kitchen up close and see Marco Canora (an incredible chef and a Gramercy Tavern alum) in action. I think everything else on your list looks great.
  22. Congratulations! Whatever you do, don't forget to respond!! Si ← Already done!
  23. The yes emails have begun. I received an email a couple of hours ago offering me a table in April. This was my first try on an El Bulli reservation ... beginners luck, I suppose ... Very, very excited ...
  24. For what it's worth, I emailed on the 12th looking for a table and got a reply advising that they'd be accepting reservations on the 14th, 15th and 16th. I emailed again, about 2 minutes past midnight in Spain on the 14th, and again just past midnight on the 14th in my home timezone (NYC). I've requested a two-top for dinner, any time in April, and to date have received no reply.
  25. jimk

    Room 4 Dessert

    I went to R4D a couple of weeks ago for the first time and am sad to report I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as I wanted to. Got there 8:45ish on a Friday evening and there was barely a handful of customers at that point ... the place was packed by the time we met at 10:45. Service was really amateurish thoughout the evening, however - there was one server working the counter and making cocktails but she never seemed to leave the area where she was mixing drinks to see if anyone needed anything - even when she wasn't busy, she was just hanging out chatting with the same little pocket of customers. Will later volunteered (we didn't complain) that it was only her second or third night on the job but that he thought she was "doing great"! I disagree ... I was given a menu that was different from those of my companions (and marked up with ballpoint, perhaps from an earlier menu meeting?) and when I pointed it out to the server, she didn't offer to get the the correct one - just told me that if I wanted something from the incorrect menu she'd see if they could make it for me and then she wandered off again. Anyway, the biggest problem was the pace ... we started with cocktails and then a dessert each, and without any effort to linger on our part it was more than 2 hours from the time we entered to the time we left (something along these lines - 20 minutes to get our cocktails, 10 minutes to drink them, another 20 while we tried to get the server's attention to take our dessert order, 30 minutes while they made the desserts, 20 minutes while we ate them, and then another 20 while we struggled to get her attention so we could pay and leave - we weren't planning on staying that long, and if service had been more attentive they easily could have had us out the door to make room for others by 10pm when the place was filling up) ... the cocktails were outstanding, the desserts were interesting - they didn't rock my world, but I respected the creativity that went into them ... food has been thoroughly described here, so I won't get into it. The room was uncomfortable for three of us trying to converse, but they did the best they could with the space ... The server just felt like she'd adopted her service ethos from the Williamsburg hipster bar model. Another off moment was when we managed to request a glass of water - we imposed on a nearby line chef with our request because, again, we couldn't have gotten the server's attention if we'd had a bullhorn and a flare gun. We got our water (the restaurant was packed and sweltering at this point) in the tiniest glasses imaginable - one quick sip and that was all the water we'd see for the night. Will was very friendly and came across as much, much nicer and more normal (i.e. less creepy and pretentious) than what I expected from the New Yorker article. He's clearly a very talented guy, and I hope he finds long-term success here. If I could give him (and his partners) one piece of advice, though it would be to take some lessons from Pegu and staff with professionals who are committed to making customers happy and are as interested and passionate about the food as Audrey Sanders' team seems to be. JK
  • Create New...