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Mayur

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Everything posted by Mayur

  1. Point taken. But I *do* see Esca as being underappreciated in the foodie community in general, whereas I feel like 5 Ninth just happens not to have been mentioned on an eG thread in a while. The latter strikes me as a bit too specific vis-a-vis the idea of "underappreciated." Ironically, I haven't been to Upstairs at Bouley since just after it opened because I'm terrified of how crowded it's likely to be; same reason I never go to Landmarc for dinner, or Tomoe or Ushikawaru... well, ever. How's that Yogi Berra quote go, again?
  2. So what exactly is the criterion for "underappreciated," then? 5 Ninth is packed to the gills every time I've been by; they've even kept me waiting for at least 20 minutes twice in a row for a reserved table. I guess my point is that being lionized on this site is hardly a big deal, in the scheme of things. 5 Ninth gets tons of "play" elsewhere, or it wouldn't be so popular.
  3. Breast of Stone Church Farm duck with swiss chard is *still* on the tasting menu at Per Se, BTW:http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=97465
  4. I got a whole duck at Per Se. It was brought to the table to be presented - and then carved. Served with a lot of other things. Yet I don't think of Per Se as a 1965 restaurant. And I know I couldn't make that dish. Doubt you could either. And if - as you suggest - people get bored by cooking the same thing - why would Thomas Keller and his chefs want to cook the exact same meal for everyone who comes to the Keller restaurants on a given night? So don't tell me it's about boredom. ← Excuse me. I'm not the one objecting to a particular kind of cuisine; you are (namely, modern preparations, or small portions, or non-traditional presentation). I like whole birds just fine, thank you, and am perfectly willing to accept them as grand cuisine. It's the reactionary rejection of tasting portions and the related approach to cooking in your posts to which I was responding.
  5. That strikes me as counterfactual, given my own time living in Spain and related dining experiences. Incidentally, it's not hard to get a whole duck, or poulet de Bresse, or whatever else you like, if you want that stuff. You just have to go to more traditional places. However, times change, for the better IMHO. People get bored cooking the same stuff over and over again, especially when it's easy enough to do from the perspective of technique. I can cook a poulet demi-deuil any day, in the style of Mere Filliard (or, more recognizably to current diners, Bocuse). But who cares? If you don't like cuisine that was created anywhere other than France pre-1965, there are plenty of bistros and old-guard French restaurants out there that will suit your taste. Expecting Michelin-starred establishments to hold with such a trite oeuvre strikes me as simply quixotic.
  6. As for things like texture - well I am a person who likes crispy - bones - well developed flavors. Those food attributes come in large part from cooking things whole. ← Do you think that it's not possible to cook things whole yet present them exactly how you like in a tasting-sized format? If you like bones, that's a separate issue. You may well have a philosophical disconnect with many of the chefs out there, in which case I say more power to you, but also to them. Several chefs (and myself included, as a home cook) really prefer an Asian style of presentation in which you do *not* need to cut up your food. It's often prettier and lends itself to more creative plating.
  7. Also, combining complex flavor combinations in small packages is what "classic" cuisine has been about since Michel Guerard, at least. I take it that you don't like nouvelle cuisine? Or new Spanish food? Or antojitos?
  8. Oh, come now. The point that I made about why Keller prefers an all-tasting format is relatively clear: In Keller's opinion, smaller portions allow diners the enjoyment of exploring new flavor sensations without generating the boredom of repetition. How you can think this means the end of diverse ingredients and differential textures is beyond me.
  9. That was meant to be facetious; I was trying (unsuccessfully, it seems) to make a joke about the resto's original review. I don't think that Babbo is quite up to the four-star level (if they charged $150 a head, I wouldn't necessarily go), but I was rather amused by the fact that Bruni actually decided to mention the music both in his original review and in this article.
  10. No. That's not it at all. Check out the The French Laundry Cookbook, p.14, on the law of diminishing returns. Essentially, Keller wants the shock of delight from that first taste of a dish to be the only thing the diner experiences. So he serves lots of small courses rather than a few larger ones.This sort of thing is why Bruni's article is especially wrongheaded. If one were to take it to its logical conclusion, he'd basically be saying that a chef shouldn't have any leeway to exercise control over the final product placed before the diner. That point isn't even incorrect or objectionable; it's just nonsensical.
  11. I utterly disagree that this is a real problem with the NYC dining scene.First off, I think Bruni is simply wrong on a number of the issues he cites. Getting pushed toward a tasting menu by a server is NOT the sort of experience I have had at any truly great restaurant in NY; it *has* happened to me in Chicago, and in Paris for that matter. The use of the term "chef" (no name attached) is at least as old as the 80s, judging by my dinner at Lucas-Carton then. People have been ceding power to restaurants for decades; it's basically a cliche that a touristy place like Tavern on the Green can have terrible food and service and the tourists will flock nonetheless. Same thing with cafes on the Champs-Elysees, or old hotel dining rooms in London, or "celebrity" restaurants in LA. Second, as I mentioned earlier, his article is a polemic: A simplistic, perhaps intentionally hyperbolic and occasionally misrepresentative rant. One could argue that "the balance of power has shifted between chef and customer," but this is largely a function of the new foodie-ism, specifically the poseur element: Customers want to look "in the know," so they enshrine chefs as deities and cede a lot of power to the establishment. IOW, people have made a religious experience out of dining, and thus have opened themselves up to getting suckered into participating in "fine dining" purely for the experience of doing it (and telling everyone else they're doing it) rather than actually enjoying good food and service for the sake of those things. I don't agree, for that matter, that Jean-Georges Vongerichten or Danny Meyer are actually taking all that much advantage of it; JG is better than it's ever been, IMHO, and EMP at least is reaching a vastly elevated new standard. Third, IMX and IMHO, the dining scene in NY is more diverse and vibrant than it ever has been. For all that too many people are willing to worship at the altar of the celebrity chef, an increasing number of diners is knowledgeable and demanding of high quality. [The fact that Bruni knocks the soundtrack at Babbo strikes me as highly amusing. Everyone *knows* Batali likes playing rock music at his restaurant; it's a famous idiosyncrasy. Plus Frank basically knocked a star off the review just for the music. IMHO, Babbo represents some of the best food for the money there is. That's why most people go; I'm sure there are a fair number of tourists who go because it's famous, but that's always been the case with any number of restaurants.]
  12. $75 a head will buy you an excellent bottle of booze and a LOT of insanely good food at Momofuku Ssam Bar, but the food is certainly not rooted in France or California (other than emphasis on technique and creativity). But it is a fun time! Another option would be to do Jean-Georges or Perry Street at lunch. Blue Hill is also manageable at that price if you order a la carte. The atmosphere at all those places is more sober than "fun," though. [EDIT: Another option is Landmarc. Assuming about $60 a head for food, you'll get a $30 bottle of wine that would cost you $90 elsewhere. The food is quite good, also.]
  13. Well, as with other types of pieces in this vein, Bruni's article is a polemic (not a very good one, but that's a separate issue). Like other polemics, it contains some pieces of extreme exaggeration. I do agree with Bruni that the cult of the celebrity chef is out of control; likewise, that too many diners go to a place like Babbo or Per Se simply to tell all their friends that they've been rather than as actual consumers (i.e., to enjoy the food, decor, and service). That said, the fact remains that highly-rated restaurants in NYC are graded on their food AND service. If anything, I find that the ratio of buzz to actual quality in NYC is much, much better than in any other US city in which I've dined. I'm sure there are lots of diners who kowtow to the chef's whims because they think it'll make them seem like an "insider" or whatever, but there are also lots of diners who respond negatively to bad service or food, and judge a restaurant on its merits... namely, how good a time they have there. For instance, I don't go to Per Se for the simple reason that I don't enjoy dining in a mall, I loathe the idea of calling two months to the day to get a table, and I find the service stilted and almost neurotic. I'd rather go to Jean-Georges, which may be a big-deal high-end restaurant but which, IMHO, delivers excellent price performance, is basically attitude-free, and is truly fun. Babbo, OTOH, I will go to, even though it's packed and the chef is on TV, because the food is just that good, especially at the price. [EDIT:]Another thing to note is that Bruni *really* seems to be missing the point on one level. Namely, people make much bigger idiots of themselves for "scene-y" restaurants or tourist traps, and get nothing in the way of good food and service to boot. Sadly, gastronomy (or the idea of gastronomy, "foodie-ism") has become fashionable in NY (and in the rest of the country, BTW), and attitudes on both the supply and demand sides have swelled to match.
  14. Ametller (right near joe on Waverly just east of 7th Ave) is nice also. There are probably places in SoHo or TriBeCa that aren't "cafes" per se but make a nice place to hang out on a Saturday afternoon. Bread (either branch) isn't too bad in the afternoon, and they certainly let you linger. Novecento (on W. Broadway) likewise. Edward's, Blaue Gans, or Bar Americain in TriBeCa are all reasonably "cafe-like" and allow lingering in the afternoons as well.
  15. Blue Spoon on Chambers Street is quite nice, although they're only open until 6pm.
  16. You are almost certainly thinking of Space Untitled (a/k/a Jonathan Moore) on Greene St. Sadly (I studied many calm afternoons there during law school), it no longer exists; I think it's a furniture store now.
  17. Yes, though Bar Jamon makes Otto look deserted. It's *insanely* packed.
  18. Mayur

    Papatzul

    That's too bad. My forays into NYC are too infrequent and there are too many places that I want to return to or try for dinner that I don't know when I will have a chance to get here. Lunch would have been a perfect intro. ← FYI, Papatzul is opening for lunch as of (IIRC from what the chef told me) this week. They'll also be changing the menu more often, which is a good thing from my perspective, since I've already eaten there four times!
  19. If you're looking for "richness," I'd go with the Gruet Blanc de Noirs, which IMHO is a spectacular Bollinger clone for about $12.99 a bottle (at Astor, anyway). Yes, it only comes in 750ml bottles, but at that price, who cares? Just drink the rest with dinner...
  20. Wow. I'd go in exact reverse of yours and Robyn's appraisals (that is, JG, then Ducasse, then Per Se, with Ramsay's RHR resto a distant fourth). OTOH, the impression that I get from my meals was that Ducasse was at the top of its game when I dined there, and Per Se at its nadir.
  21. Astor, Warehouse Wines and Spirits, and LeNells in Red Hook all have it, at least. It shouldn't be that hard to find.
  22. Och aye, laddie. Do ye na ken ye'll be bringin' the evil eye 'pon the place? Folk from all round'll be howlin' at the doorstep afore long...
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