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  1. Not quite sure if this is the right thread to post on, but I wanted to give a few thoughts on recent visits to Mayahuel and White Star. Mayahuel: After dinner at Back Forty, my girlfriend and I headed over to Death and Co. for some cocktails. The doorman said the wait was about forty minutes so we decided to head over to Mayahuel instead. The doorman there, a British guy, was a lot more friendly than the Death and Co. guy (who, in fairness, appeared to be dealing with an awkward crowd) and found us a seat right away. Once inside, I ordered a Stone Raft and my girlfriend got the Slight Detour. While both were good, the Slight Detour was the clear winner; the mole bitters gave the cocktail a depth and richness. We followed with glasses of anejo tequila. The Don Julio was great. All in all, very impressive. White Star: I'm a big supporter of White Star on week nights. While the cocktail's aren't as quite good as they are at some of the other bars in the Petraske empire, White Star executes the classics very, very well. Considering this, our experience there on Wednesday was like none other. First, Sasha himself was there. Apparently, White Star's been fairly slow on non-weekends and he's trying to drum up some more business by being there more often. We started the night with our go to drinks: me, an old fashioned, her a Manhattan. She swears the Manhattan at White Star is the best she's had. Both were excellent. Things got interesting when we let the bartender, who's name I can't recall, experiment a bit and try out some drinks he's been working on. First he gave us a "tequila old fashioned" which was basically an old fashioned made with tequila and muddled grapefruit. It was fine, but I can't help but think it would be a better drink with the mole bitters from Mayahuel. Then he tried an (unnamed?) drink featuring grapefruit, mint, cucumber, sugar, soda, and bourbon. Interestingly, my girlfriend loved the drink while Sasha deemed it too complicated for his style of bar. All in all, it was a great night in a fairly empty bar. While I wouldn't say that White Star is one of the top five cocktail destinations, it's my favorite spot for dropping in for a great cocktail. Also, on non-weekends, it's much easier to interact with the bartenders there and try a work in progress.
  2. No one here has mentioned the OAD list (Troisgros #1 from what I remember) as a point of contrast with this one as it's composed using "experienced" diners' surveys and not critics'. As opposed to debating the relative merits of the list, which we all seem to agree are limited, is there anything we can learn by looking at the differences between the critics list, the diners list, and Michelin (probably the most objective standard)?
  3. Sorry, the skate is only at lunch. The duck crusted with almonds, sauteed foie, is only at dinner as well. My apologies. ← I originally posted that the skate was turbot at dinner, but that's been said and I can't figure out how to delete a post. So, as not to be totally redundant, I'll add to everything else the smoked squab a l'orange as one of my favorites. It may not be a "signature" but it's a great, great dish.
  4. Any specific items that stood out? ← It's been a while so details are murky, especially since I don't have notes on me, but the spectacular rib-eye (I know that's off limits here), but lamb and pork preps were pretty excellent. More interestingly, it appears that David Lee is leaving Splendido and his chef de cuisine is taking over. Wild.
  5. I found the selection of Canoe as the top restaurant in the city surprising as did many people I know more knowledgeable about the current Toronto food scene then me. I presumed that Splendido or Eigensinn would have grabbed the top spot. With that, it's a big mistake to write off Splendido because you "don't like xyz". Aside from the fact that Splendido has to be serving the best beef in town, David Lee is a precise and talented cook who elevates Canadian ingredients to a very high level. There are a number of dishes on the menu that showcase his deft hand ingredients that are not beef, venison, foie gras or truffles. My last meal at Splendido was superior to any other that I've had in Toronto, including the old Susur.
  6. I would say to do brunch at the Spotted Pig. At night, it's a bit of a scene, but at brunch there are actually a number of families there. Although the menu is different, a few of the classics are there (the burger, the gnudi) and the brunch items are all pretty exemplary. Shake Shack is perfect for a family after the museum. And Pan, you're right about the crepe place on Ludlow. Even at 4 AM I can only say the crepes are ok. And at 4 AM, pretty much everything is ok.
  7. Aside from Bar Boloud, I've had some fun post-Lincoln Center meals at Yakitori Totto. It may be a bit of an abrupt change from the Lincoln Center atmosphere, but if you're used to going to the Spotted Pig, a change it atmosphere doesn't seem to be the issue. It's also a bit more affordable than Bar Boloud (although the charcuterie for two is surprisingly filling).
  8. For a quick coffee and pastry for breakfast I second Cafe Falai on Clinton. Also, Abraco on 7th and 1st serves some of the best espresso around and their small selection of pastries, cakes and quiches are excellent. There is no seating there, however. Ninth street espresso at 9th and C also serves excellent espresso and pastries from Balthazar bakery. For something a bit more substantial, a bagel with smoked salmon and cream cheese and a coffee at Russ and Daughters is one of my favourite breakfasts in the city. On the Central Park front, cheers to the Zibetto rec - I had no idea that it was there and I've been looking for good coffee in that area for a year and a half. Otherwise, for non-Jean Georges, Bouchon Bakery is, unfortunately, your best option. It's good, just not quite good enough for the price. For cookies, Momofuku Milk Bar does excellent, homey and creative cookies. If you're near Chinatown, Vanessa's Dumplings is the best of the cheap dumpling places and also does excellent sesame pancakes and soups. Similarly, Nice Green Bo does really great soup dumplings. Both are dirt cheap. Spotted Pig is great for a mid-afternoon drink. As much as I'm loathe to admit it, Spitzer's Corner at Rivington and Ludlow is good for a late afternoon beer and people watching, although it's not really a pub. Inoteca, right across the street, is a good spot for a class of wine and panini at lunch.
  9. I agree that Black Iron's pretty good. Talking to the counter guy at an earlier visit, he mentioned that they're using a custom blend of grass fed beef. I don't think it's in that top echelon, but it's very good. The new burger at Shopsin's, however, is crazy good. He's using a custom blend of (and don't qoute me on this) ground chuck and brisket from Jeffery's. It was juicy, fatty and had that perfect, charred crust from the flat top. A definite contender.
  10. For dining, Ft. Myers Beach may be the worst food town I've ever visited. For cooking, aside from the dismal produce, you can do pretty well. The fish markets on the other side of the bridge are very good. The Sandy Butler is good compared to everything else. But we all knew that. More interestingly, there is an awesome smoked fish shop on San Carlos Blvd, just across from the bridge. Maria's Smoke House is an ugly, dingy, broken down shack of a place, best located by the decent roadside citrus guy parked out in front. Inside, they serve some of the most worthwhile, interesting, and delicious smoked fish I've ever tried. You can eat in (it's actually not bad out back), or take out, which is what I usually do. Maria's smokes its fish in a style that I'm unfamiliar with. From what I can gather, it's a latin american style (help here). It appears that the fish is first coated with a spice rub, then hot smoked. The final product is closer to a cold cooked fish than lox. The fish varies by the day, but the amberjack has an excellent flavour (although is a bit dry) and the salmon is moist with the perfect amount of smoke. Honestly, it's worth a side trip if you're in the vacinity. And for southwest florida, that's saying something.
  11. Adrian3891


    If you can find a bad review written by Chatto, Kates, Mallet, or Pataki, please forward it to me. And the Toronto blog/board community isn't as developed as it is here. Criticism on the major international food blogs in nonexistent. I think Susur could have benefitted from a closer examination.
  12. Adrian3891


    Both Le Bernardin and Masa closed in their original locations, and the chefs moved here permanently. Among those who've opened NYC restaurants without moving here permanently, the track record is pretty bad—at least in terms of reception. Keller is about the only successful high-profile example I can think of in recent memory. ← Ironically, the other Canadian superstar chef who opened in NYC, Toque's Normand Laprise, was met with praise by at least the Times at Cena. How long did he last even with a 3 star review? Funny how things work out.
  13. Adrian3891


    Not to discount how hard it is to open in NYC, but this seems to me to be the inevitable result of Susur leaving the protective Toronto bubble. He's an immensely talented chef who's not faced a whole lot of criticism in the past. Back home, he could do no wrong, but, not having eaten at Shang, the criticisms that one would levy on the restaurant were pretty predictable based on my experience in Toronto. When it's not on, Susur’s food can be frantic, over-complicated, unfocused, overworked etc. In Toronto, these problems were over-looked. In NYC, during a period where even the best complex food is greeted with skepticism, Susur's inconsistency is deadly. Don’t get me wrong, I like Susur Lee's work. He is responsible for some truly memorable dishes that I've eaten. Despite this, I think he's been protected in Toronto and has never had to address some of the flaws in his cooking. I still plan on eating at Shang and wish Susur all the best. But that doesn't mean that I'm surprised by the critical response.
  14. Adrian3891


    As a Toronto expat (who, sadly, has not eaten at Shang yet), much of what has been said on this board is unsurprising to me. In my mind, Susur has always been prone to some poor conception, haphazardness and overcomplication in his food (the "reverse" tasting menu, which is a bit of a misnomer, is an example of this, but that's another discussion). When it's working, his food uses complication to elevate a dish to pretty high heights, but when a dish is a miss, the complication is perplexing, even sloppy. Susur is a Jazz musician playing difficult music and sometimes it comes apart. I think that the danger when his food is served a la carte is that one can easily compose a menu of 'misses'. His other restaurant in Toronto, Lee, which appears to have a similar concept to Shang would appear to be a bit behind the times if transplanted NY; a little to "fusiony" for a city that appears to have moved a little bit passed that. It's never gotten the acclaim in Toronto that most expected it would get pre-opening. I really hope that Shang settles down as Susur learns this market. From my experience here, there is less margin for error in NY than Toronto and Susur isn't going to get the free pass to make mistakes here that he gets in Toronto. I really hope he succeeds; when at his best, he's a phenominal talent capable of producing food that's competitive with some of NY's best. Now to actually get over to Shang.
  15. I'll modify this one slightly: I'm currently debating between Wallse and Annisa for next weekend. Wallse's winter promotion looks excellent, although so does Annisa's whole menu. Thoughts?
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