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  1. Barry Koslow has taken the helm as chef de cuisine (Drew Trautmann is executive chef) and is doing some nice things.
  2. banco


    My parents and I had an early dinner last Thursday before seeing Faust at the Met. Compass, next door to the Café Luxembourg, is a beautiful, elegant space with a somewhat Asian feel, with (if memory serves) lots of translucent green glass, slate, and dark wood. We were practically the only ones there at first, but more people began to flow in as the evening progressed, though the large dining room was never more than about a fourth full, if even that. Compass offers a very reasonable 3-course prix fixe for $35, which has got to be one of the best deals in Manhattan, but we all ended up ordering a la carte. First came a beautifully executed amuse of tiny morsels of octopus and mussels marinated in ouzu. My parents then followed with a butternut squash velouté, a Dungeness crab salad, and stout-braised short ribs. I did not try any of my parents' dishes, but they were by all accounts excellent. The crab salad was a particular hit, and went extremely well with an Ürziger Würzgarten from the extensive and eclectic open wine list. I had two appetizers (a rare-seared bluefin tuna special with a balsamic reduction, and a warm oxtail terrine with salsa verde and black-eyed peas) and one main (pan-seared halibut with mushroom fricassé, salsify, creamy polenta and port wine reduction). It bothered me that the two appetizers were put in front of me at the same time. The tuna special was the requisite rare but tasted as though it had been reheated or kept warm for too long. The flavors and combination here were nothing special or unique. Overall the dish was competent, nothing more. The oxtail terrine should perhaps not have been served warm, as the heat accentuated the already gelatinous texture of the meat and made it taste, look, and feel more like rillets than a terrine. Again, nothing very special here. The halibut, on the other hand, was memorable: perfectly cooked with a light crust from the sear, the obviously high quality of the fish accentuated and deepened by the choice of garnishes so that everything worked well together and the elements played off each other in the mouth. A Pinot Noir whose details I cannot recall managed to accompany both this dish and my dad's short-ribs to good effect. Aside from the two-appetizers-at-once issue, service was excellent. The bar knows how to make an ice-cold martini without also making it watery, frothy or ruining it with bits of ice. That's not hard to do, but it does show a care and thoughtfulness which, sadly, are hard to find. Just a few blocks from the Met and with dinner service beginning at five o-clock, Compass is an excellent choice for pre-theater dining. Its prices, too, amount almost to a bargain. Still, the food needs some adjustments, above all because it's obvious from the seriousness that has already gone into the cooking that it could be significantly better without a great deal more effort--perhaps just the same kind of care and thoughtfulness that went into my martini.
  3. This is why I love Japan... Thanks, torakris, for this very informative post.
  4. Yes, but I think that perhaps the price will come down if US-Japanese trade in beef becomes less restrictive as the article says.
  5. From Today's Washington Post: "Under an agreement announced in Hong Kong, the United States and Japan will resume purchasing beef from each other... American consumers will be able to buy premium Kobe beef with no restrictions..." Full article here I'd like to hear what chefs and other food professionals think of this development, and if it might lead them to substitute Kobe beef for the "Wagyu" beef and other domestic imitations that have become so trendy on menus lately.
  6. banco


    I was there this past summer for the first time. As for the food, you need not have any hesitations. This is culinary creativity at an almost musical/philosophical level, and if you can get there, you must. Which leads me to your second question. Without a car I believe it would be impossible. The restaurant is located in a very rural area, in the middle of a meadow, off a long and winding forest road. But I'm sure you could hire a cab in Bitche or another one of the nearby towns. At any rate, I recommend doing whatever you can to get there. You won't regret it.
  7. This is probably too late to be of use, but I second the positive assessment of AJ's. We were there in June and liked it. Avoid the place accross the street (I forget the name). It's one of those American beach town "family dining" places with huge portions of mediocre food.
  8. We will be spending two nights in Bratislava later this month and a week in the High Tatras. Can any veterans of these locales give me some tips on good places to eat? I'd welcome suggestions ranging from basic good food and drink to high-end options. I promise to report back, and many thanks in advance.
  9. banco


    My wife and I will be dining at L'Arnsbourg on July 23. Any suggestions from people who have been there recently would be much appreciated. (I promise a full report upon our return!) Many thanks.
  10. dbortnick: This may sound like an odd suggestion, but you might want to try Sonoma, a new restaurant on the Hill, for what you are looking for. I lived for several months in Turin and for a year in Bologna, and have returned to Italy many times in between. Sonoma's pasta dishes are very close to the "primi" you might find in a northern Italian restaurant or Osteria: moderately portioned, deeply flavored, and made with exceedingly fresh local ingredients in season. They are rich and flavorful without being fussy. Their wood-fired pizza is also supposed to be excellent (I have yet to try it myself). Their charcuterie platter is also identical to many such dishes you would expect to find in Italy. Quite a few times at Sonoma I have had olfactory recollections that have transported me back to my time in Italy more directly than any other restaurant I've tried in DC. (The ravioli with scamorza, in particular, was like a time machine.) The rest of Sonoma's menu is also good, but less typically Italian. If you focus on their pasta dishes and charcuterie, I think your culinary culture shock will be much easier to handle.
  11. As someone who recently taught himself to use waterstones to sharpen his knives, I couldn't agree more. It's fun to learn and adds a certain element of pride every time I use one of my knives. Japan woodworker, despite its name, is an excellent place to buy sharpening stones for cutlery as well, with very helpful staff.
  12. Well said. Turning a blind eye to mediocre restaurants just because they are local--and supporting local magazines that give them limp-wristed reviews--is the equivalent of the "Buy American" nonsense that says we should buy poorly made and unreliable products just because they are domestic. Excellence is the product of discriminating consumers, not civic cheerleaders. If the two can go hand in hand, of course, that's all the better.
  13. I had a similar experience yesterday, and I share your enthusiasm for having Sonoma on the Hill. Jared told me their wine bar has about 40 bottles, whereas Mendocino has only about half that. I can't wait to explore the food further.
  14. It's a restaurant discussion, not the "I Saw You" column in the City Paper. Yeesh. ← I agree. Poor taste, and poorer taste for Tom to encourage this kind of thing.
  15. Barbara, Many thanks for sharing your recipe with us. Perfect timing for the grilling season!
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