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Posts posted by Sneakeater

  1. Yes, only a limited number of tables on Opentables.

    Cool, fortunately i've got a few dates to pick from so should hopefully get something :)

    Don't get TOO excited.

    Many people's experience is that this gives you TWO chances to be told there's nothing available.

  2. I just meant that Italy, because of the novelty of its restaurant culture and its long adherence to tradition rather than innovation in cuisine (neither of those is meant as a pejorative, BTW), lagged behind other countries in developing a "name" chef culture (that is CERTAINLY not meant as a pejorative). Sure, there are a few superstars -- but for Italy, Davide Scabin is pretty famous for a chef.

  3. I think what weinoo was getting at, in his initial post, was not "restaurants with chefs who should be better known," but rather "restaurant with chefs who are invisible."

    I doubt anybody goes to combal.zero without knowing who the chef is. Anyone interested in food who could identify that restaurant could also identify its chef. Maybe he's not as famous as Massimo Bottura -- but he's still the reason people go to his restaurant.

    Contrast that with a place like Le Grenouille in New York. Or -- a much less respected place -- 21 in New York. Who knows who the chefs are there? People don't go to those places because of their current chefs.

    I think a current good restaurant in New York that comes close to this is Minetta Tavern. Diehards know the names of the chefs there -- but they're not really the draw, and I'll bet on any given night most patrons couldn't name them.

  4. And the most important position is that of the maitre d'hotel; in the old days, the maitre d' started in the back and worked his way to the front.

    I think this is a major recent change in the way patrons relate to restaurants.

    Back in the day, everybody knew that the guy you had to know was the maitre d'. The maitre d' was the public face of the restaurant; he was the one who could get you in and get you seated. The chef was just someone who worked there.

    There was a time, not so long ago, when the various maitre d's at the top restaurants in Manhattan were celebrities in their own right. Much much more than the chefs were.

    Now that's changed. To the point where, when Daniel Boulud tells the following story (as he loves to do), it's with a sense of how funny it (now) is:

    A few years ago, Puff Diddy -- a Daniel regular -- took Jay-Z to Daniel for Jay-Z's first visit. Daniel visited their table several times: he doted on them.

    "Is he the guy you have to know?", Jay-Z asked Diddy.

    "No," Diddy answered, gesturing toward the front desk. "He's the guy you have to know."

    Daniel may think it's cute -- but as with so many other things, no matter how much the mainstream might condescend to them, the rappers have a better sense than most people of how things really work.

    PS -- For Italy -- which is just developing a "celebrity chef" culture -- Davide Scabin is as "name" as chefs get.

  5. I dunno. SHO and Adour are on my radar. It's a kind of food and ambiance that's hard to get in the City these days, unfortunately. (Not that their food is similar; just a level of "fanciness" and accomplishment.)

  6. And what's interesting about each of those places is that Minetta is an order of magnitude better than any and all of them.

    (I can't think of a time when the second or third-best steak in New York WASN'T at a steakhouse. This is a significant and interesting new development.)

  7. So, to recap, people interested in eating great dry-aged prime steak should disregard Minetta, even though it has the second- or third-best steak in the City, because:

    1. The decor is interesting.

    2. Service is friendly and attentive; and

    3. If your dining companions don't want steak, they have interesting choices and aren't stuck with second-rate salmon.

    Makes sense to me.

  8. I would never have expected a restaurant in a Midtown hotel to be cutting edge. (How long did Paul Liebrandt last at Gilt again?)

    What I thought Ma Peche would be was Chang's attempt at a "straight" restaurant. And given that Tien Ho is not only the best chef to have come out of Momofuku, but IMO one of the best chefs in New York period, I found that an interesting prospect indeed.

    The disappointment is that, instead of Chang's take on a "straight" restaurant, they've given us something more like Ssam Bar Lite.

    With Chef Ho running the kitchen, it could never be bad. And in truth it's very far from that. It just isn't particularly interesting.

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