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Everything posted by Adrian3891

  1. Blue Hill also fits the criteria nicely. Despite the close tables, it's romantic, keeping a meal for two under $200 is not unrealistic, and the food is impeccable. It's always among my first recommendations for first time visitors to NYC. It gives a visitor a good impression of what American food means right now. I also think that the tasting menu there is a tremendous value, but it'll cost about $300 all in. Another restaurant that doesn't get mentioned too often but is both romantic and delicious is Falai. Again, staying under $200 is pretty easy there. You can also pull the pasta trick there - order it to share and they'll present each person with a nearly full portion. That, with a shared appetizer and a main for each person, with dessert and a moderate wine will clock in just below $200. Staying under $150 there is also realistic. The Momos get enough play and are a must visit. And I don't really understand the Ssam bar for lunch thing that gets tossed around occassionally. It's Noodle for lunch and Ssam for dinner. Period. The Spotted Pig would be fun (especially for an English couple) but the wait could be long. Balthazar is another NYC classic that would be fun for the experience (and the food is pretty good too). Finally, I would say that lunch at JG is a must. Of course, that'll eat the night's dinner budget up. I would follow up lunch at JG with a unique, cheapish, Japanese place like Yakatori Totto or Ippudo. Also, a cheap dinner at Cafe Katja (~$100 for two) followed by cocktails at one of the downtown cocktail dens would also make for a lovely, romantic night.
  2. Off topic for a second. I was in Russ and Daughters the other day and asked about the balik salmon. The counter-guy was sketchy on the details, but did say that the "loin" cut was smoked with the skin-off. However it's smoked, it's delicious.
  3. Agreed. The only thing I can think of is that, extrapolating from posts in the EMP thread, the a la carte menu may be too inconsistent. But this does remain the most enduring mystery of the NYC Red Guide.
  4. Eater has just broken the 2009 Michelin NYC rankings and there are a few surprises (both good and bad): - The big news is that it looks like Ko has been awarded two stars. It appears that Michelin is at least making some effort to try and "get" New York. Does this make Ko the most informal restaurant ever to bag a two star rating? - Masa was bumped up to three stars. However, Kuruma was dropped from the starred list entirely, Yasuda did not garner a star, Jewel Bako and Gari retained their stars and Kyo Ya was awarded a star. - Surprisingly, Babbo lost its star. - Adour and Gilt were both awarded two stars. There were no demotions at the two or three star level except for Bouley which has been dropped for obvious reasons. Here's the full list: http://eater.com/archives/2008/10/breaking...re_now.php#more
  5. I’m surprised by the lack of hype surrounding Nota Bene, the new David Lee venture a stone’s throw away from the new opera house. Surprised but glad as the low key opening and lack of buzz made it easy for my girlfriend to grab a reservation last night. Although it’s been open for less than a week and there are still a number of kinks to be ironed out, the restaurant is already showing signs of the sort of accomplished cooking that makes Splendido the city’s top restaurant. It’s clear upon entering that the restaurant is aiming at the Bay Street crowd. A reasonable move if you consider the paucity of upper-middle restaurants around. The room itself is cold, boxy, minimalist and, frankly, not very appealing. It was also nearly empty. Unexpectedly, the style of service and place setting suggest a far more formal restaurant than Nota Bene is. I assumed that this would not be a white table cloth establishment. Again, the desire to garner a Bay Street crowd can divined from the menu (an extra steak section, a burger, and sides that include onion rings and fries), the cocktail list (drinks that are more expensive than at Milk and Honey), and the expense account wines that pepper the wine list (there were also too few wines under $50). Outside of the CEO-food, the menu is remarkably seasonal and fresh sounding; soups, salads, raw fish, local produce and fish, and Cumbrae meats feature prominently. There also is a refreshing south-western influence running through some of the dishes. Somewhat surprisingly, there was no amuse with the meal. I understand this at lunch, but at dinner, given the atmosphere, an amuse would be appropriate. Breads were among the best I’ve had in the city. Fresh, hot, and slightly sour, they paired excellently with the fruity olive oil. Wine was a 2006 Barbera ($52) that had a good acidity that paired nicely with all the dishes. To start, we ordered a split course of mafalda pasta with mushroom Bolognese and summer truffle ($14). The dish was presented individually, a sign that the kitchen team knows what it’s doing, in portions that were far more generous than a straight split. The pasta itself was precisely al dente and the mushroom sauce was good, not great. It did not bind together the elements as it should have. The summer truffle was flavourless and aroma-less and added nothing to the dish. A good start, although there is room for improvement. My main was the Monday special, a giant Hampshire Durock pork chop served with a tomato-chili-lime-corn salsa ($29). The pork itself was an excellent product – even better than the Cumbrae Berkshire chop I had a couple of weeks ago. It was cooked a degree more than ideal, but such is the nature of restaurant pork (people still believe in trichinosis, I guess). The salsa was an excellent counter point, cutting the fat of the chop with bright acidity. However, the portion was far too big and also meant that the pork to salsa ratio was too high. I am a seriously huge eater and could easily have shared the chop with another moderately large eater and we both would have been full. My girlfriend ordered the suckling pig and boudin noir tart with bacon and truffle vinaigrette ($25). When the sommelier learned that this was our order, he smiled and told us this was his favourite menu item. It was a total home run. David Lee channeled both Martin Picard and David Lee to come up with this one. Here, the giant portion only accentuated what made the dish great (although my girlfriend could not finish her portion). It had the over the top deliciousness of dishes at Pied de Couchon, but a level of technical proficiency found in only a handful of restaurants in this city. The braised suckling pig was as good as I’ve had. This dish is the reason to go to Nota Bene, it’s an instant classic. Desserts ($10) were strong as well. My cherry crumble used top of the line Niagara bing cherries and had a great crumble topping. The vanilla ice cream had good flavour, but the texture was a touch icy. My girlfriend’s lemon yogurt panna cotta with blueberries was similarly seasonal and refreshing. Much needed after the heavy mains. Cheeses looked interesting, especially the two BC cheeses, but we didn’t have the stomach space. Service was professional, courteous, and friendly. It lacked a certain confidence, but that will come as the servers get used to the restaurant. Also worth noting, Otta, the sommelier, is infusing his own alcohols. We were lucky enough to try the vanilla-fig-cantaloupe vodka that he’s been working on. It was excellent. Also, David Lee was in house and greeted every table after their meal. A classy touch. I am certain, that as the restaurant hits its stride, this will be among the best upper-middle establishments in the city.
  6. Contrary to the other two posters on the board, I have to strongly caution against Tapenade. The restaurant served me a caricature of French food. When I was there in the summer, the most ordered dish on the menu was steak frites which, while not dispositive, certainly says something about what the restaurant is claiming as a high-end French experience. Ingredient sourcing left much to be desired. I originally wanted to order the salmon dish that was a "tribute" to Troisgros's salmon with sorrel. Thankfully, the watier cautioned against it because they were using farmed salmon. Take two was an under salted and cloyingly sweet "homage" to Senderen's lobster in vanilla. Nothing else was memorable except for over-salted beef short ribs. They were not memorable because they were good. The wine list was both weak and sparse relative to other restaurants I visited. To be fair, my parents had an excellent meal there the year before, but this was pretty unforgiveable. As to where to go, I've heard good things about Mille Fleurs and Nine-ten but can't comment from personal experience. Based on my meals, Bertrand at Mr. A's serves decent French food with great wines in a spectacular setting (on top of an office tower, outside, over looking downtown). Wine Seller and Brasserie also served acceptable haute French (although the portions were far too large) and has a spectacular wine collection. The atmosphere isn't great there but the service is.
  7. Of course the seared scallop has been around forever. I just seem to remember it becoming, as Lesley said, THE starter in Montreal shortly after CC&P opened. I could be wrong, but that dish really seemed to have an influence.
  8. Of course the seared scallop has been around forever. I just seem to remember it becoming, as Lesley said, THE starter in Montreal shortly after CC&P opened. I could be wrong, but that dish really seemed to have an influence.
  9. A lot of the comments above seem to be evidence to my point. What we have seen in the last year has been the failure or down-scaling of some of the most innovative and highly acclaimed chef driven restaurants in Montreal. That Racha Bassoul decided to convert Anise into a bistro or that the Brunoise boys decided to focus on their brasserie is exactly the issue. The chef-driven restaurants really seem to be struggling. The reason I mentoined Cocagne upthread is not to criticise but to illustrate my concern. As I have said many times, Cocagne is a fantastic restaurant. It serves food that is a stark contrast to what is served at PDC, Joe Beef, Garde Manger and the other large portion, comfort food restaurants that seem to be so popular right now. I have also never seen it full. It's good to hear that Bronte is full - I enjoyed my experience there. I've never been to Nuances or Europea, but it seems that they are less important to the city than Anise. Anise was doing food that was acclaimed all over the continent (Gourmet and The New York Times to give two). I'm sure that Nuances is excellent, I have never been, but I doubt that it is the kind of exciting, personal, food that Anise was. So why can Nuances or Europea thrive while Anise, Chevres, and Area can't? I don't have the answer to this. Also, I lived in Montreal for four years and visit now about twice a year. I have never even seen the Montreal version of Zagat. I think I read that Brunoise was the top rated restaurant in the guide on this board. I was citing it to illustrate the point that Brunoise was not a restaurant acclaimed by the minority on Egullet - it was popularly regarded (all Zagat is is a popularity constest) as one of the best restaurants in town. It's a minor point - the major one still remains.
  10. I don't mean to say that they invented the seared scallop, but I do seem to recall that shortly after CC&P opened seared scallops were everywhere in Montreal. It's like braised pork belly in NYC now, but I don't know who to blame it on.
  11. Sure Zagat is no measure of quality, but that doesn't change the fact that Zagat is probably the most used dining resource by tourists. If someone can supply me with a long, or even short, list of other restaurants rated number one in their city by Zagat that have closed the year after being rated as such due to a lack of business, I will cede the point.
  12. Having been away from the city for the better part of a year and a half, with four visits back, I’ve been stunned by recent developments. Anise closed weeks after a spectacular meal there (the best I had in three visits), Area closed, Les Chevres closed, and now Brunoise is dead. Think about that, four top restaurants, including the one that Zagat rated as having the best food in town. I was at Toque! last weekend and the food was better than ever. At $109 the tasting menu is a steal. Worse meals at major restaurants in other cities will cost at least $50 more and yet the room was hardly jammed on a Friday night (to wit, inferior meals at Splendido, Susur, WD-50, and Citronelle have cost far more). On the Opinionated About Dining survey, La Chronique, Bronte, and Joe Beef are among the most infrequently rated restaurants on the continent (I’ll hope this is because Francophone foodies are plugged in to different resources, but I doubt this). Two of the top five restaurants in the city and what was once the hottest restaurant in town can't even get enough votes. In every other city, restaurants of comprable standing have already qualified. Is Montreal incapable of sustaining fine dining or even “luxury” bistros? Does anyone care? There are even a lack of fine-dining posts on this board. I worry about restaurants like Liverpool House. I love Joe Beef and PDC and Liverpool House, which I have not been to, seems to be following in this tradition. Which I guess should be great, but I can’t help but feel that this style of restaurant is no longer exciting. Yes the food is good and the ingredients are fresh, but too large portions of sloppily plated comfort food just can’t get me worked up. Hopefully, Liverpool’s success isn’t at Brunoise’s expense. So what is going on? Is the golden age of the last couple of years over? What’s new and exciting? La Porte looked interesting when I walked by, is it any good (they’re serving squab, which should be awesome)? What about Duel? It sounds like a gimmick, but maybe it's good. Or maybe we can talk about what good restaurant is going to fold next. My money’s on Cocagne.
  13. I would hardly call the seared scallop dish at CC&P a cliche or a rip off - for most of us, when we first tried it, it was truly inspired. The unilateral sear matched with citrus and anise flavour represented the quality of ingredient and clarity of flavour that CC&P became known for. I also think that the seared scallops at CC&P may be partially responsible for the fact that they are on every menu in Montreal now. Having a signature dish on a menu should be a good thing. Often with restaurants that constantly change their menu, there are a large number of misses and ill thought out plates. It a long time to perfect a plate. A signature dish should be an anchor of consistency that represents the restaurant at its best. If the scallops are no longer doing this, then perhaps there is a problem. Most of the world's top restaurants have dishes that remain on the menu indefinitely, I don't see why Montreal's best restaurants should be any different. Now, the molton chocolate cake is a different. Unlike the poutine, it says nothing about what Picard's restaurant is.
  14. So, I've been to the unnamed restaurant with the seared scallop dish four times. I have had well over 20 courses there and tried over 30. The only repeat dishes that I have had are the oysters, under a different preparation, and the scallops because I ordered them a second time. Looking at the menu at the unnamed restaurant right now, the scallops and risotto are dishes that have never left the menu. They are signatures. The oysters, surf and turf, and one of the fish dishes are also always on the menu but pretty different every time. Everything else is constantly changing and is essentially different from what I’ve had before. In talking with the staff at the restaurant, they are somewhat tied with the aforementioned signatures - they tried to take the risotto off the menu once and there was an incredible demand to bring it back. Given the recent restaurant carnage in Montreal, I hardly think that it is a prudent move for our unnamed friend to go taking these dishes off the menu. Now, to throw a bit of a bone to the contrary, the menu at the restaurant is not quite a vibrant as it once was. The non-signature dishes could be a little more ambitious. But perhaps now is not the time to experiment.
  15. What I've found most troubling since moving to New York is not the prices at places like Allen & Delancy, which aren't out of line with my expectations for what a higher end restaurant in a recently gentrified area should be, but the prices of some of the casual options. The best example I can think of this is Katz's. Coming from Montreal, where the (vastly superior, but that's another thread) smoked meat sandwich at Schwartz's was expensive at $4.95, $14 for a pastrami sandwich is silly. It's the cost of my entire meal at Schwartz's. It's just not an option to pick up a sandwich for dinner on my way home. As a side note, I'd imagine that we're using a biased sample of restaurants here when calculating prices. Of course Eleven Madison's prices are going to rise more than the average - it's an extremely popular restaurant with a great new chef. It's not subject to the same sort of market forces that the smaller, neighbourhood place is - especially if that neighbourhood place isn't in a gentrifying area.
  16. I'm pretty new to the area but the prices don't seem that out of line with what I've experienced thus far. Restaurants in a similar class (a can of worms word?) are all pretty comparably priced. WD-50 is more expensive, Falai is a touch cheaper unless you get app, pasta, and main, and THOR is pretty similar. Schiller's is cheaper by a bit, but it's also a different sort of place. And the cocktails are not cheap at The East Side Company Bar or Milk and Honey. It appears that there aren't as many bargains in the Bargain District as there used to be.
  17. I know it's not really Kobe, but the Cumbrae wagyu was delicious. Great flavour, texture and richness.
  18. Adrian3891


    In the past year, I've eaten at both Splendido (about a month ago) and Susur (last summer). My father has eaten at both restaurants multiple times. Both of us have reached the same conclusion, Splendido is the better restaurant of the two. Given that, I don't think that the Toronto Star review was unfair - Splendido did serve me some dishes with weak elements. Limply flavoured sauces were a particular problem. Looking back at Amy Pataki's recent reviews, she also rates Susur at 3.5 stars although the review is a bit more generous than the Splendido one. I would reverse the two reviews in terms of tone, but the final judgment on both is pretty justifiable. The issue is more that I doubt there is anywhere in Toronto that is serving a 'perfect' meal. Still, Splendido is a very good restaurant and if I had to pick one place in the city to go for a great meal it would undoubtably be there.
  19. In the past few weeks I’ve eaten at both Komi and Citronelle. Before addressing Citronelle, where I had the same menu as Gary, a couple of words about Komi. I know it’s been said, but Komi has to be one of the most exciting, interesting restaurants anywhere right now. Komi is the restaurant to go to if you only have one meal in DC. It’s an absolute joy and is serving a style of food that I have never seen before, call it Aegean. Also, I’m wondering if Johnny Monis has recently picked up the Au Pied de Cochon cookbook – the foie gras croquette, pigs trotter croustillant, and venison brought me right back to Montreal. As for Citronelle, I think that Gary’s evaluations of the meal are pretty much spot-on. Although my meal was excellent, there were a few missteps and ‘huh?’ moments. Take the amuses: the mushroom cigar and fake egg were decidedly mediocre. Actually, the mushroom cigar was a poor opening to the meal. It tasted oily and muddy and not much like mushrooms. On the other hand, the green bean tartar was phenomenal. Served in a slightly larger portion and on its own it would be a world class amuse. With the two other components, the whole plate suffers. The lobster burger was another difficult course. If the dish were served at Central (maybe it is, I haven’t been), I would be raving about it. Served at Citronelle, the burger seems almost discordant, especially coming after the elegant fish course preceding it. None of this is to say that there is no room for playfulness or humor in the dishes at Citronelle. The opera cake and minute steak captured this spirit. The lobster burger was just confusing. Similarly confusing was the squab leg confit served with the minute steak. Under a fried philo thingy it was plainly unnecessary. Dry, kind of greasy, it detracted from the perfectly cooked, lightly gamey squab breast. But, if not perfect, the meal was excllent. The soup, the foie course, the rockfish, the main portion of the squab, and both desserts (I didn’t find the coffee toping on the pannacotta ‘jarring’, I found it delicious) were as good as I expected them to be. The rockfish and the vacherin were better than I expected. The wine pairings were, unsurprisingly, perfect. I also enjoyed the debt the restaurant owed to the past. I don’t see classicism as a tether – in Citronelle’s case, I see it as a strength. One final note, our sommelier for the night was great. I don’t think it was Mark – it was a younger guy who had previously served us at Komi some months ago. Because of the impression he left after that meal, my dad refers to him only as The Sommelier. We were actually disappointed that he wasn’t at Komi last time, although the new guy there is also great, so it was good to see him at Citronelle.
  20. What a depressing shock. Having just recently left Montreal, it's really sad to hear about this. With the closing of Anise and of Les Chevres I think it raises a broader point about the Montreal restaurant scene. What strikes me a strange is that every time I visited Anise the restaurant was full- be it on a weeknight or weekend. It makes me wonder why Montreal has so much difficulty supporting high-end restaurants. Certainly the problem here was not the cooking. Each time I visited Anise (three times over two years), the quality of the cooking improved. Indeed, my last meal there was so good that my mom declared it to be better than a meal we had at Susur a few weeks later (although I would have ranked it just behind). Lesley, you seem to agree that the cooking had not slipped given your favourable review earlier in the year. Barring a precipitous decline in quality, I can't see the food being an explanation. So why are such well reviewed and seemingly well loved restaurants struggling? I have always said that the food in Montreal is superior to that in most other cities I've been to. Not only were the high-end restaurants better- Toque! being as good a restaurant as I've been to on this side of the Atlantic- but also the quality of the neighbourhood restaurant was always very high. To hear that a legitimately great restaurant like Anise is closing is both sad and perplexing. Especially one that was still improving and had already received international acclaim. Just too bad...
  21. Just took a look at the CC&P website (www.leclubchasseetpeche.com). It now features RECIPES!!! Currently there are recipes for the venison and artichoke dish, the scallops (with a video), and the wild mushroom tart. It's more than worth a look.
  22. I'm coming back to Montreal next week and realized it's the season for Ile Verte's salt-pastured lamb. I e-mailed Toque! and found, much to my dismay, that they're not serving it this year. So, if Laprise isn't doing it, who is?
  23. You can't get more quintessentially Montreal than Joe Beef and PDC. And you also can't find two restaurants that epitomize the modern bistro any more than them. In a way, Anise is also quintessentially Montreal in that it combines the city's French aspects with the culinary traditions of its large Middle Eastern and Lebanese population. A few suggestions for the fourth place (noting that I, sadly, haven't been to Montee de Lait): - Have you thought about Le Club Chasse et Peche? It's also a very 'only in Montreal' restaurant and it doesn't have to (although it can) break the bank. Dinner for two can be kept around $200 without too much difficulty. - Au Petit Extra, L'Express, and a whole host of other bistros would be a great option as well. Especially in contrast to Joe Beef and APDC. - What about a BYO? La Colombe, A'los, Les Infideles, and a few others are great. Price wise, the fixed price at La Colombe is around $35 a head and there's no corkage on the wine. The food is really excellent, simple, French market cuisine. It's a pretty amazing deal. A'los and company are a bit more expensive but the food is a bit more elaborate. Hope that helps.
  24. A bit more on Celestin, the food is classical French. The food, while rarely spectacular, is always very good and very consistent. Strong suits are the soups, which often have a well balanced amount of spice, the signature braised rabbit raviolis, and the fish courses. The desserts, made by the chef's brother (who also runs the amazing bakery next door), are probably the strongest part of the restaurant. The atmosphere is sort of an upscale bistro. Currently I believe they are offering large cold seafood platters. It really is one of this city's underrated restaurants.
  25. This past weekend I visited Susur for the first time. It was, in a sense, a much needed meal; my girlfriend and I had recently had some awful experiences at Toronto restaurants. Still, this was really insignificant compared to a positively disastrous dinner my parents had a Scaramouch. Thankfully, the dinner was excellent. My dad, who was making his third visit in two months, claimed it was the best meal he’d had there yet. After the meal, we were offered a tour of the kitchen and private dining room. Susur was in house and made a number of appearances in the dining room. The private dining area was gorgeous and the kitchen was active even at that late stage of the night. Fort he meal itself, instead of giving a blow by blow of the meal, I thought I’d offer some observations about Susur’s cuisine. 1. The structure of the meal was interesting. I am still split on whether I like the ‘backwards’ format. I enjoy that the dishes get lighter in flavour, if not size, as the meal goes on but I think I prefer having stronger flavours later and the climax of a more traditional menu. Also, instead of there being a relationship between courses (like at Toque! in Montreal), the focus was on the interactions of the multiple elements on a given plate. 2. Dishes were composed with reference to various styles and areas of the world. Flavours, techniques and compositions gave the menu a really global feel while remaining very personal to Susur’s cooking. I really enjoyed that. Ingredients were fantastic and flavour combinations were often ingenious. When well executed, such as during the caviar and fish course, a variety of flavour served to accent the flavours of one or two star elements in this case ,house smoked salmon and caviar. 3. More critically, some dishes lacked focus. Often, a plate featured one element that seemed either out of place or was poorly executed. The squid ink ravioli in the Spanish inspired shellfish course was one such element. Some courses were just too busy and not really unified. I also thought that the saucing was fairly weak. But, to be fair, the saucing was hardly the point. 4. To my surprise, while the flavour combinations were adventurous, the technique was rather conservative. There was little cutting edge technique. Not a criticism, just something unexpected. 5. Finally, wines were prohibitively expensive. Thank god I was dining with my dad. Lots of tables were just ordering water and there were few bottles in the below $100 price range. I don’t think that there were any less that $60 or 70. While I wish I could spend over a hundred dollars per head on wine, it just isn’t feasible. A $50 per head wine pairing option would be greatly appreciated. I know this review may sound a little critical, but it was an absolutely wonderful meal. It’s just that a restaurant with such high aspirations deserves a close examination. And, to hopefully alleviate some concerns, the dinner took about 2.5 hours and there were no long waits between courses. Service was great. Our French waiter was really excellent, putting up with my dad’s good natured ribbing after he (rightly) recommended a St. Estephe over a Barolo. I think the joke had something to do with a soccer game played a few weeks ago…
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