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Everything posted by Mayur

  1. Made the mistake of hitting D&Co. Friday after having worked for 19 hours straight, so the drinking has been on hold (I think my head was hitting the bar after 1 1/2 cocktails... ). Made the first drink since tonight. Nice and simple: 1.5 oz Laird's bonded 1.5 oz Cocchi Aperitivo Americano dash Bitter Truth aromatic dash clear creek apple eau de vie flamed orange peel Built over ice and stirred briefly. Nice and easy to drink, changes flavors beautifully over the course of drinking, going from sharply bitter-citrusy to oaky-whiskey-ish to wonderfully spicy. Those of you with larger booze-bomb tolerances might take this stirred and up with more like 1.5:1 applejack to cocchi, but it wasn't working for me (although that might still be the aftereffects of my two Coin Tosses). [EDIT: Possible up variation? Need to experiment.]
  2. Congrats to the PDT guys for taking the 2nd AND 3rd places in the Vinos de Jerez 2007 Cocktail Competition! Results were announced last night at the launch event for the Big Book of Sherry Wines (a heck of a party!). donbert's Hudson took 3rd place, Jim Meehan's Rye Witch 2nd. [EDIT: donbert also should have received a special prize for having the only food-based cocktail... ]
  3. It wouldn't be a very lucky dragon in that event, would it? *rimshot*
  4. Well, S&T (and Little Pepper) are IMO in a somewhat different league of fabulosity! FG: Interesting thoughts regarding the individual dishes... and you're right, a side-by-side comparison of the two "sample" offerings is probably out of the question. Perhaps there needs to be a traveling tasting done of everyone's Manhattan Sichuan faves? Given the portion sizes at SG, it looks like it'd need to be a large group...
  5. So, I feel like I'm bearding you somewhat on this issue, FG, but I have to say that I find the fish with roasted chili and Napa cabbage at Wu Liang Ye on 48th St (and yes, they have the same dish) better than its equivalent at Szechuan Gourmet. Same goes for the noodles. It is possible that SG trotted out a better showing for you than for my [equally non-Chinese] self, but I'm just curious as to what a side-by-side comparison illustrates.
  6. Hot milk? I thought the T&J was just rum, hot water, and batter. A sabayon plus spice-infused rum sounds like exactly the right way to go. I might actually do these at one point using that technique!
  7. I'd go with Per Se, then, if only because you are going to be provided with unprecedented spoiling. Jean-Georges is a close second in this regard, as are (IMO) Bouley and the Modern, but at those restaurants, you will not get as many second chances, so to speak. Extra courses, *immediate* replacement of unsatisfactory dishes, extensive (and often unsolicited!) wine pairings, and the like are integral parts of the Per Se experience, as they are at the best Michelin 3-stars in France. JG is different in that the setting is more minimalist, the wine service knowledgeable and accommodating but not necessarily as in-your-face in that the sommelier will entertain conversation and select excellent pairings on request but is not as quick to intervene and/or immediately provide the wine you didn't know you wanted but you love upon presentation, etc. I prefer the food at JG (and at Bouley and the Modern, FWIW) but that's a style issue. Per Se is IMO the quintessential luxury cuisine experience, and consequently, if you're aiming for "astronomical" plus a great experience, it's what I'd go for. That said, it is my opinion that the most exciting dining destinations in NY these days are the downscaled, less luxe options. If you're after something highly foodie-ish, cool, and likely to deliver the best bang for the buck, I'd stick to Momofuku Ssam Bar, WD-50, Tailor, or the Modern, probably in that order.
  8. IMO, it depends a bit on whence you're visiting. Any chance you can let us know? If I had an unlimited amount of money, I'd go to Masa, but that's largely because I'd feel like I were getting the biggest bang for my buck. Masa is *not* my favorite dining experience in NY (for that matter, neither is Per Se), but in both cases, that is a matter of taste. That said, IMO Masa appeals to a smaller subset of the eaters found in NY (*serious* ingredients-focused Japanese food aficionados who are not specifically partial to sushi) than might Per Se. "Best" is of course subjective. Here are my own takes: Luxury eating: Per Se, bar none. "Pampered" and "cosseted" are pretty much spot-on what you're likely to feel. That said, if you've eaten at the French Laundry, I'd skip it, since there are too many other exemplars of cuisine to be found in NY to do Keller's again. (Note that I think Per Se wins for luxury, but not necessarily for cuisine; IMHO there are more exciting places for sheer gastronomic heights.) There are, of course, many other restaurants in this category, but IMO the only other ones worth the single-meal criterion are Jean-Georges and the Modern. Others have their faves; I happen to love Bouley where lots of other posters don't, and lots of other posters adore 11 Madison Park whereas I'm less thrilled. Sheer gluttony: Babbo. Recent reports have indicated some inconsistency, but I've never been disappointed. And man, you will *not* be disappointed at the quantity! Intimate experience: Masa definitely wins out here at the high (oh so high!) level, although you must ask to be seated near the chef. Modern gastronomy: Assuming that you like restaurants in the style of Gagnaire, El Bulli, or Alinea, I'd go with WD-50, possibly being a huge glutton and hitting Tailor afterward for a second round of desserts (or even a second meal; portions are small!). For what New Yorkers are eating and enjoying the heck out of, I'd say that the place to be is Momofuku Ssam Bar. As Nathan said, it is serious industry/foodie central right now.
  9. The Gin-Gin Mule is a reasonably fine drink without the gin (muddled mint, lime juice, simple syrup, and house-made ginger beer, all shaken). Good bitters can really make a number of drinks pop. Some apple cider, lemon juice, a splash of soda, and a dash each of Angostura and Peychaud's is a tasty and refreshing drink. One I really like is a teaspoon of white balsamic vinegar over three ice cubes in a collins glass, topped with tonic and a dash of Regan's orange bitters. IMHO, the biggest problem with making non-alcoholic drinks is keeping the same ratio of sweet to sour to bitter; it's all too easy to make them into sugar bombs, which IMO defeats the purpose of making "adult" drinks rather than just giving people juice or soft drinks. A decent bitters selection, a heavy hand with soda and other unsweetened mixers, and judicious use of fresh citrus all help.
  10. FG, you're on! Start with Mithaas vs. Rajbhog, perhaps? FWIW, that wasn't the point I was trying to make (perhaps rather incoherently!). My point was that "worth visiting" (in the colloquial sense) is much different than "able to overcome the opportunity cost." I think that you're actually implying two theses in this thread: (1) That NJ has plenty of establishments that are amazing and worth the visit for a serious foodie (which point I think is nigh-unassailably valid) and (2) that New Yorkers who don't make the trip are missing out on a fundamental and must-go food experience. Those are two different points, and I think the second one isn't as obvious as you're implying.I spend a good deal of time eating out in New Jersey, and I think that it would have surprised me if there weren't at least *one* best-in-class or must-go establishment that was agreed on here (Cucharamama and Moksha make two, at least). However, I also think it's fair to say that many of the other "compelling" reasons to get out to NJ for food are eroded by the opportunity cost of having everything that NY has to offer within easy distance and public transport. As I said. If it were the case that I had a better array of Chinese restaurants in my neighborhood than in Chinatown (which is kind of impossible given regional variation and the fact that Chinatown is at my veritable doorstep), I could see the logic for never leaving. As for shopping, etc.: I was merely pointing out that shopping isn't *additive* with the other elements you listed. Mitsuwa is worth the trip (A Amano pales in comparison with UPN and the Arthur Avenue places, IMO), but it's worth the trip for being best-in-class and/or unique. The Ironbound is actually an interesting one. I'd love to hear about a really good Portuguese place or two that beats the best in NY (not hard, as you point out, given the lack of Portuguese restaurants...) I know that when I go for Spanish or Brazilian rodizio, I'm going for family atmosphere and cheap prices (and not having a car would kill the latter) rather than for quality. And eddie: How does one get the fabulous meals you speak of at BLU? Call in advance and request, or do you need to be a friend of the house?
  11. And I'm taking issue with that list of places to begin with, given that neither Mithaas nor anywhere in the Ironbound definitively trumps equivalents in NYC, period. Hence why I made the list I did. But YMMV. 4, 5, and 6 don't actually follow logically, and clearly don't rebut a simple thesis put forth by the New-Yorkies: Namely, that there isn't *sufficient* reason to travel beyond the city's bounds unless a compellingly unique experience presents itself. BYO, slightly lower price point, supermarket availability, whatever... that stuff don't cut it. Either it needs to offer something that's flat-out better than its equivalents in NY, or it needs to offer something that isn't available in NY. That's pretty much so far as it goes.
  12. Here's the problem, FG. Adding those up isn't really yielding an impressive collocation of specimens. So far, we have:Moksha Santouka (arguably soon to be superseded by Hakata Ippudo) Cucharamama Hot dog places Tomato pie places There appear to be three major requirements for a food destination outside NY to be "worth it" as articulated in this thread: 1) Opportunity cost is sufficiently low. This is the subjective one, since people can experience any and all of the range of opportunity cost depending on preference. Some people can side with Sam Kinsey in supporting the proposition that NYC already has enough great places that need hitting before venturing beyond the city limits, others may see trips to NJ as more worthwhile, perhaps due to combining a food trip with something else. 2) Place must be one of the following: a) Best in class. Simply the best of its kind in the NY metro area, and thus worth going to if only to worship at the culinary shrine. An Alinea, Arzak, or Michel Bras of its (sub)genre. b) Something simply not found in NYC. A super-high-end Alan Yau Cantonese place would fill this bill, as would a truly stellar Vietnamese restaurant. So far, the contenders have been hot dogs and pizza (neither of which would be worth it *to me*, anyway, since they're convenience food, and for which you have to go with the best-in-class argument in any case, since NYC has plenty of examples of both), or TWO (count 'em) restaurants, both of which are aiming for best-in-class rather than unique. Given the situation, it's hardly surprising that you're getting pushback on this issue. (All due respect to the Mehtanis, but as to SM23, it's a joke compared to hitting Pegu for drinks and Tabla for nibbles, or even Tabla for both; and Ming may be more opulent than Tangra Palace, but the latter has IMHO better food for cheaper.) [EDIT: Stupid formatting brackets!]
  13. If you want to get ever so slightly fancy: Do a spiced applejack, bourbon, or rye shot. Easiest way to manage this is to take the bottle, pour off a little (for a night-before-Thanksgiving old fashioned, for example!), and then add some spiced simple syrup and perhaps a dash of bitters (Fee's Old Fashioned for the win, or even just Angostura). This gives you a nice, clean-but-potable drink that won't burn too much, but will still make a non-cloying shot.
  14. IMO, the ideal bar should have an indoor/outdoor private back area (similar to what PDT in NY has, but slightly more elaborate) where people can smoke with drinks in hand, but where Mother Nature, rather than the bar's own HVAC system, can filter the cigarette smoke. I happen to really hate the fact that people can't smoke and drink at the same time any more at NY bars (with a number of exceptions that I can count on one hand). I agree with Alchemist that it sucks for both bartenders and customers to be immersed in a sea of tobacco smoke willy-nilly, but having the option to smoke without standing on the sidewalk (and abandoning one's drink) would be nice.
  15. But would it have girls? Okay, going away now...
  16. Mayur


    For Lillet Blanc? Dry vermouth (Noilly works best) plus orange bitters (50% Regans/50% Fees, or better still all Angostura) does a reasonable facsimile IMO.
  17. You have good points there, especially regarding the ambition of the offerings at Moksha. As I said, I'll have to try it, but I take your word. The point about going off-menu with more ease is an interesting one. I certainly have felt that it's easier to get more authentic Korean food as a non-Korean in Northern NJ than it is in K-Town. Curious as to why that's the case.
  18. MHO, Saravanaas does vegetarian S. Indian better than Moksha, but fair enough. To be honest, I haven't had much of the non-veg stuff there, because the family is vegetarian. I'll try again, and if it beats Chola for non-veg S. Indian, you've got a winner! (Ironically, my earlier statement regarding inconvenience doesn't apply for me vis-a-vis Edison, since all I have to do is walk downstairs and climb into a waiting car on a given Saturday afternoon and I can be there. Plus, grocery shopping for Indians *is* actually almost worth the trip.)
  19. Chengdu 1 loses the Pepsi challenge vs. S&T or Little Pepper, IMO. This is really a very difficult topic. Once you factor in the five boroughs, NY has exemplars of pretty much any cuisine one can really get in the US with the lamentable exception of Vietnamese and (possibly) high-end Cantonese and some other regional Chinese cuisines... but those aren't available in NJ either! (And I'm not convinced that between Chinatown Brasserie, New Tung ti Fung, Gum Fung, Ping's, Fuleen, DSGG, and Oriental Garden, we don't at least have the dim sum and seafood portions of Cantonese covered.) I think that the problem is that when discussing options that require substantial travel, you really have to compare the best with the best. Even if the overall average quality of Korean restaurants in Fort Lee is better than that in K-Town (and I have no idea if this is the case), if there's a *single* resto in K-Town that's as good as the best in Fort Lee, then the reason to travel fades. The analogy I always use is to Intelligensia in Chicago. Do I wish NY had as good a coffee place with as strong a presence (multiple branches, etc.)? Hell yeah. Do I think I can get as good a cup of coffee at Grumpy or 9th St Espresso? Yes. Will I travel to Chicago for Alinea, or an Italian beef sandwich? Yes. A cup of coffee? No. That's a bit extreme, but I think the analogy holds to a certain extent when talking about driving to NJ. We have family in Edison, for instance, and my father goes there every other weekend or so. Even having tried the best that Edison has to offer, he still ranks Devi (for N. Indian) and Saravanaas (for S. Indian) up with Edison's best. Are the overall prices cheaper in Edison in some cases, and the trappings better in others (e.g., Moksha vs. Saravanaas)? Yes. Is it worth the trip? IMO, no. Ideally, one travels to NJ (or wherever) for two reasons: Local color, and something truly unique. I do like going to Portuguese or Brazilian places in the Ironbound for that reason; family atmosphere and not really comparable Portuguese places in NY. Likewise, I do think there's a price point at which travel makes sense... though I'd argue that comparing a $50/head high-end dinner with a $150/head dinner is actually probably at the wrong end of things. The point at which I'm willing to spend on Blu (and yes, I've been there) and take the trip out to Montclair is unlikely to be ahead of my willingness to throw down $135 at Tailor or $120 at Annisa or Blue Hill, any of which experiences I'd consider superior and at which I'm getting actual wine service and pairings rather than just trucking along a bottle. OTOH, I am happier spending $35 on a rodizio plus drinks in the Ironbound and watching some soccer matches with families than blowing $100 at Porcao. YMMV.
  20. Actually, I'm a moron.So, I call for 2 on the 15th; however, in the interim before getting the call back I check with the g/f and find out that we have a conflicting engagement... so I say no to confirm. Rather than immediately inquiring about a future date, I let it hang until I can consult further with the g/f regarding schedules. I then call later that day... to find out that the next available seating is December 27th. So I'm SOL (no way are we in town over Christmas anyway). My guess is that we'll probably make it some time next year when the price is $250 a head, the waiting list is backdated four months, and the cooking is being done by Waldy's commis. Urk. That said, I hope you got a call back, and have locked in a seat!
  21. By me, Dean & DeLuca on B'way and Prince and Raffetto's on Houston St. between Thompson and Sullivan both have them.
  22. Too late for someone cool. I just booked for 2!
  23. Mayur

    Per Se

    I must disagree... if only based on a comparison with TFL, which I and everyone I personally know who has been to both prefers *as a dining setting* to Per Se. But the block is an important part of the setting. Check out Bryan Miller's 1986 review of LB, which opens with a discussion of the restaurant's "location in the Equitable Building [which] commands notice." (Incidentally, street location vs. location within a building are two very different things from a design and architecture viewpoint anyway, so I'm not convinced we're not talking apples and oranges anyway.) First impressions are a very, very big deal. Moreover, the entrance is not so much of a real bypass. Compare, for instance, with Le Grand Vefour or Jules Verne, both of which have less annoying entrances than Per Se.FWIW, I don't consider this an essential part of my issues with the restaurant, in that I would never specifically not recommend Per Se to someone on the basis that it's in the TWC. Moreover, it has been established that Keller originally wanted a proper street-level entrance that completely separated the restaurant from the rest of the mall, and didn't get it. I will differ with you on your characterization of the current nature of that route (walking into a mall and taking an elevator to the 4th Floor does not constitute "bypass[ing] almost all the commercial activity in that mall" for aesthetic purposes, and incidentally I have encountered wine tastings right in the middle of the hall blocking my way to Per Se's door *twice*), but I agree that it's not all that interesting an element of the place to talk about, in any case. So why don't we move on?
  24. Mayur

    Per Se

    This sounds an awful lot like an ad hominem argument to me. There is a reasonable amount of architectural and design studies writing out there to support the idea that 4 minutes is plenty of time to garner an impression from a landscape, urban exterior, interior, or otherwise.
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