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  1. Just thought I'd post a link here to the blog I started for my trip to Vegas. I've got a lot of pictures up of the new Charlie Trotter's, a really exciting meal, as well as Guy Savoy, Robuchon. Thanks! www.fire-and-knives.blogspot.com Restaurant Charlie and Bar Charlie at The Palazzo Hotel A few days before I left for Vegas, I called the Palazzo Hotel to book a table at Restaurant Charlie. I had heard rumors and rumblings that it might be open, but nothing for sure, and I actually had to speak with four people at the hotel before anyone could tell me concretely one way or the other. Suffice it to say that I wasn't exactly sure what to expect when I got to the restaurant, as the data available on the internet was also vague- steakhouse? seafood? casual? upscale? The sign at the door answered the seafood question right away: When you enter the restaurant, there is a bar to the left and another to the right. The one to the right turns out to be Bar Charlie, which is a restaurant-within-a-restaurant. It is a 20 seat bar behind which chefs work preparing 8 and 15 course Kaiseki style tasting menus, which are paired with wine, sake, cocktails, and beer. More on that in a bit. The bar on the right is much more brightly lit, and is a pre-dinner cocktail bar. While the servers told me that there was a very progressive and involved cocktail program going on here, due to my time restrictions (I had to leave for the airport after my meal ) I didn't undertake a thorough investigation. I will say, however, that I didn't see any of what I have come to think of as the trademarks of a top-notch cocktail scene: piles of citrus, hand juicers, dozens of unmarked glass bottles of homemade bitters, tinctures, and other "stuff"- but again- I only had one cocktail all night and I didn't watch it being made, so I will reserve judgment. From the cocktail bar, you walk through a very impressive glass enclosed wine cellar, which I was told will eventually hold 5,000 bottles (they are at about 1200 now, they said). The dining room itself is very spacious, with extremely high ceilings and plate glass windows along the far side which gave the room beautiful light, if a bit of glare as the sun set outside. there was a semi-private dining room in the rear to the right which held several tables and could be closed off with a curtain, and another to the left, which contained only one table that could seat up to 16, I think, and looked really great- like a cockpit, I thought. The decor is mostly beige and browns, with lovely robin's egg blue velvet chairs and banquettes. The theme is very contemporary, and I would say verges on the generic. Thankfully, I'm not alone in that opinion- my captain informed me that plans for a redecoration are already in the works.
  2. skye


    Ate at the bar Saturday. I'm really pleased to see how well this restaurant came out. There's a certain completeness and attention to detail which is evident in the food, the service, the bar, and the room which are very rare in a new restaurant, especially one which is owner-operated, but which seems very in line with the way that the chef does things. To my mind, Mr. Nawab is one of the most well-rounded chefs working today, especially taking into account his relative youth and the fact that he isn't being backed by some massive operation (hotel, brguest etc). All that being said, my only negative experience of the night was sitting at the bar with pink necked stockbrokers stacked four deep behind me, hollering for "Grey Goose and soda!!!!" and "bartender!! bartender!!!!!!", but that will tone down in time. Oh- also- there was so much aggressive shaking of cocktails, cracking of ice, etc going on behind the bar that on several occasions I caught a face-full of spray coming from a bartender, a problem that I've never encountered at the bars at death+co, tasting room, etc. Keep up the good work, guys- that restaurant has all kinds of staying power going on.
  3. skye


    Does anybody else think that's as funny as I do? Beer just came out of my nose I laughed so hard. ← By the way, I blame my poverty on Publisher's Clearinghouse, who never awarded me ten million dollars.
  4. skye


    Does anybody else think that's as funny as I do? Beer just came out of my nose I laughed so hard.
  5. oh, boy. Peaches, basil, smoked paprika, fresh apples.....and on and on and on. These things can even occasionally be satisfactory without bacon. From the "scientific look at flavor" viewpoint, I'd point out that fat actually coats the tastebuds, which can be a very useful tool for the chef-ie, by introducing fat into a dish you can change the order and duration of the perception of other flavors, etc, but if it's the basis of the cuisine, a chef's perennial ace in the sleeve, you're essentially engaging the stomach, which is a natural glutton, rather than the mind, which can enjoy and discern pleasure on so many more levels than just 'mmm, full' a la Homer Simpson. All things in moderation of course. Fatty, salty meals cure hangovers.
  6. Ate here last week and had almost everything. Must say that my overall feeling was dissapointment. Some things were very good, but others were not good at all (ie the foie gras burgers-the brioche buns were absolutely saturated with fat, and the little burger patties were hard and dry. Now, you could say that of course a foie gras burger is greasy, but both of these problems could and should have been addressed in the recipe development stage). To me, a cook who's spent my entire career being told that Joel Robuchon was essentially the everlasting pinnacle of chefdom, it seems that "very good" doesn't really cut it, at least not at this price point. Lots of things were under- or over-seasoned, the lemon/vanilla amuse thingy tasted like soap (am I really the only person who noticed this?) and I'm still waiting for someone else on this board to point out that while the pastrami and the foie gras on the pastrami dish were quite good on their own, together they taste EXACTLY like braunschwieger, which is a nasty flavor that I'd hoped I'd left in my childhood. I feel like new york diners tend to conflate fat with good flavor, and as such I'm not suprised to read everyone's rapturous posts, and also, I think there's a tendency to WANT to like a meal that you've spent $165 on. However, I wish I heard a little more critical eating going on. Folks, for $15 a bite, you deserve to be amazed by every single sensation. Dishes shouldn't start out good, but get too salty as you keep eating, or be overcooked, or be ordinary. The sphere desert sounds like it might do the trick-my dining companion and I didn't order any desserts, preferring to sample as many savories as possibles, so I'll have to go back and give it a shot. I'm not a big Bruni fan, but I think every once in a while he hits a nice line drive, and I predict a massacre.
  7. skye

    Mas Farmhouse

    I ate about 15 things at Robuchon on Monday (no, I didn't pay, thank you very much), and had the tasting menu at Mas on Tuesday. Mas kicked L'Atelier around the block, in every way. Food, service, decor. Give this place another try, guys. This is my new vote for best of NY.
  8. Ugh. If I never again eat a cough drop turned in to cutting edge cuisine, I'll be okay with it.
  9. i was never really sure why el bulli was puting isomalt in there caramel systems.....it would only reduce sweetness a minimal amount....i think they thought it would hold up better amidst humid conditions but isomalt loses that property when mixed with other sugars.....i have good results using it in croquants and such without any texture issues but again i dont think it helped anything..... other than sugar show pieces its not good for much......although i did see someone do something really cool with it this one time.... he put olive oil in a vita prep and let it go full blast....and then carefully poured in melted isomalt......the result was a pate de fruit like texture.....it was almost jelly like.... ← was that somebody Johnny Iuzzini? Because they have excellent evoo pate de fruit @ jean-george that I'd love to know how to make
  10. I went last night. Loved it. I don't have time to give a full description at the moment, but I'll try to get to it later. Al ← still no word?
  11. alright, full disclosure. I worked at Higgins for about 2 months a few years ago (as a paid stage: I just went to Portland for a little while to "chill out", an area in which that city excells). Now I work in an East Coast restaurant >that you've probably heard of< wink wink. I can totally understand not being into a big heaping plate of yummy grub-sometimes I am, sometimes I'm not. But I think that my defense of and total sense of loyalty to Greg Higgins and every damn thing that he does stems from my belief, born of firsthand experience, that he is a living personification of Ghandi's ideal of being the good that you wish to see in the world. NOBODY in this industry is more thoroughly committed to the relationship between our work and ethical living that Greg, and even if the food that he cooks wasn't good (and I ardently believe that it is), that alone would be enough to make me to spend my dining dollars there. I understand wanting to go to Lumiere to have butter poached lobster (Local?? my ass)-I've dedicated my life to that kind of cooking, because I believe that the kind of beauty that we are able to create in super-high-end restaurants is valuable in and of itself. But why compare apples to oranges? this lady's asking whether she should eat at Higgins, not whether it compares to The French Laundry. And the answer is a resounding yes. Now, an important thing to understand about this is that at Lumiere you are paying a premium for all of the labor that they put into their product, and that's fine. At Higgins, you're also paying a premium, but it is for the peace of mind of knowing that EVERY SINGLE ITEM in that restaurant has been carefully, humanely and ethically created, and also that the people who cooked it for you and who are serving it to you are treated respectfully and paid a living wage. Does that make it worth a meal there, or should you pour a few more gallons of gasoline in your car and drive up to Vancouver to get a "decent meal"?? Up to you. (an aside-I would CONFIDENTLY wager $100 that you could walk into the Lumiere kitchen and easily find 25 items that were not locally, organically, sustainably produced. Find me two at higgins and I'll eat my laptop)
  12. Laughing uncontrollably!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Mistral: putting the jagermeister back in fine dining!!!! those are my boys. Why didn't we blog Walla Walla? Gerald, you've got some explaining to do!!
  13. mercy. I swear to god the mistral pics make me want to tell -CENSORED- where to go....If only people understood the magic they produce in that kitchen. Little known fact, folks: You can pay -CENSORED- but nothing on earth can make food taste better than when the cooks who prepared it for you are as happy and fulfilled in what they do as Charles and William. Period. Dining public, start demanding that your chefs play stickball (or World of Warcraft) for a half hour before service!! We can change the world!!!! Alright, Henry. Your fear-mongering has won this round, but you can't stop me from reckless acts of honesty forever!!! edited due to entirely reasonable paranoia- and a 7:30am phone call from a blogger who will remain anonymous. Party on, Garth.
  14. Yup, the kitchen sits right in the middle. A kitchen that sells stale nuts and mediocre produce to any of its clients deserves the criticism it gets. That said, Higgins is, indeed, a somewhat important restaurant, historically, but these days its food is nothing special. I would respectfully disagree. Portland's food scene is growing up, but Portland still cannot come close to Vancouver BC or San Francisco. Maybe in five years...in the last two I've seen a lot of movement forward, much of it driven by the ripe group and by all the money flowing into the Pearl district. But Portland still has no restaurant that can come close to monsters like Lumiere, West, or Manresa. Still, we do have some darn tasty, fun places. Its just a pity I gotta drive seven hours or fly out to get some serious degustation action. :-). ← Sigh...I'm not trying to bust chops, but if we're going to be realists here, alain ducasse wouldn't get very far in a city like portland, because aside from a few nike execs, there aren't that many folks who would throw on a suit and tie for a Saturday night dinner in Portland. Thats why portlanders live there to begin with! So don't get too upset, 'kay? Unsophisticated doesn't mean undelicious or un-technical, or unworthy of local pride. It just means that at Higgins you get great heaping platefuls of scrumptious local produce, instead of tiny, elaborate nuggets of italian truffles and iranian caviar. Okay?
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