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Everything posted by Vadouvan

  1. Lets start with the usual disclaimers that no one is being slammed for liking food that others may not like since EG has gotten oversensitive post 2006, we do taste things differently but the one place in all of cuisine where you cannot hide behind perception, smoke and mirrors is broth. There also is the issue with Pho of what I call the "cost per satisfaction index" which relates to how much you pay for food vs how hot and filling it is based on a reasonable amount of deliciousness. Reasonable amounts of deliciousness however do not provide transcendent meals and pho properly made should make you close your eyes and feel like you are in a street market in Hue. Went to Pho Saigon last night with 5 people and ordered all the reference Vietnamese soups. We all reached the same conclusions. Was it decent food. Yes. Was it delicious. somewhat. Is it anywhere as good as the same soups at Cafe Diem. NOT remotely by *ANY* stretch of the imagination. Here is why. The food is very sanitized meaning the soul of Vietnam is absent from it. The Pho Ga at Saigon is made with boneless skinless chicken breast which is just simply unacceptable for Vietnamese food. The pho ga at diem while a slight pain in the ass to eat is 10 times more delicious due to leaving the chicken on the bone and including thigh meat. This is IMHO the best soup in the city period. The Bon bo Hue was just not even bon bo hue, not spicy, no pork broth, no fresh ham hock, no depth of flavor. Pho Bo was just OK, muddled flavors, no clarity. Pho dac biet which typically has a ton of umami just had no life in it. The best broth at Saigon is actually the chicken soup broth but the BSCB kills the soup. Again the food is not bad food, it just isn't really Vietnamese to the degree that a concerted effort has been made to tune it towards western sensibilities. The people at Diem barely speak English but if you make an effort to meet them halfway by googling the soups and find out which is which, you can simply order by numbers. Pho Bo Pho Ga Pho Dac Biet Bon Bo Hue It is all on the web. Katie Loeb you can have your blood cubes replaced by beef short rib cubes at diem. Cafe Diem still rules is flavor is the reason you like Pho.
  2. Sorry. The Prime Rib is in no way the best steakhouse in the country. That is just way too bold a statement, most people can easily pick 5 places in 5 seconds that are better. All the Craft, CUT and BLT places are better and those are not even the best.
  3. The restaurant has "Issues". ?????????????? It has been open for (count 4) FOUR days.
  4. Katie I would not even focus on who inspired what if the product is good. I went for lunch at 2pm with 3 people yesterday and while food operations should not be judged by one visit, the burgers were terrible and the experience and effort to go get them was just pointless. 2 of us ordered regular burgers, 1 veggie burger. All 3 were super dry though medium was requested. The most annoying things were both beef burgers were split in half I assume to check the internal temperature which is the most unforgivable move in hamburger cooking. In addition to that we waited 21 minutes for the food with 8 people in line, even worse the 7 people who came behind us got the food first. Upon being asked why, the gentleman at the counter said that since they cook the veggie burgers to order, orders with veggie burgers take longer while the beef burgers are precooked. The French fries were not good at all, I am not sure I completely agree with Holly that they should hand cut them based on space, there are good Frozen fries on the market, these just were not them. At one point one of us had to run back to the car to stop us getting a ticket while parked on 6th street. At the end of the day, the burger was not good, the fries were not good, you risk a $45 ticket unless you park 3 blocks away and walk and pay almost $10 each for slow-fast food. I am not quite sure why you would not just walk into any Mcdonalds where at least based on yesterday the food is way better.
  5. This is why they call them "no win" situations. In cases like this, everyone is best served if they just follow rules. Everyone would also be better off if someone made a reasonable compromise. Restaurant while not obligated could have shown concern without breaking any laws. Guests could have taken it upon themselves to find the quickest remedy. Conventional wisdom say's... If you went to a neighborhood restaurant with your dog, you clearly live within walking distance. If at said restaurant the situation under discussion here happened, if I was the diner I would ask the waiter to put a hold on the food, send my wife or girlfriend into the restaurant while I walk the dog home and walk right back for dinner. If I was the restaurant owner, I would pre-emptively suggest the same thing. Show's enough concern, everybody is happy. Asking patrons to vote is not only absurd but intrusive. Who wants their dinner interrupted to vote as to whether pets can come in ? What if you are allergic to pet dander. Pets are cute but it's a lifestyle choice people make at some risk of adjusting access to certain places. You cannot be angry if an apartment building denies you entry if they have a no pet policy. Other diners did not help them suggest they get a pet. Would it be different if it was a patron smoking outside (even though smoking is now banned). End of story.
  6. Well my intent is certainly not to disparage Mr Brescd, indeed I can see how I myself would have higher expectations of Oceannaire thanks to the excellent window dressing they are engaged in. It's like the emperors new red lobster I mean c'mon all the condiments are on a lazy susan on your table. only hookers in Amsterdam do a better job of window dressing. Katie is correct, there is no reason why quality has to be dependent on "high-end", in fact I find most high end places to be offering diminishing returns because there is so much flourish, the food does not get better, it's just more expensive to cover costs. Real estate is the biggest issue, realtors/property owners in places like nyc see the specific economics of restaurants as opposed to other retail. Even the new Northern liberties Mall is being cleverly marketed as "the piazza" and thus using that to justify an absurd $35 per foot. with that kind of rent, aint no fish but a filet-o-feesh in Philadelphia.
  7. Retail mail order is always a rip off. Restaurants buy wholesale but you are right, it's kind of absurd to pay more than it is to have it cooked at the restaurant to cook it yourself.
  8. Since you specifically asked...... Your Expectations are inconsistent with the kind of places you are going to. You should go to better restaurants and consider starting to avoid soulless national chain restaurants.
  9. Jeff, David. I believe you are talking about the "Deckle" ? At the volume they deal with, they probably just have the Ribeyes butchered without the fat cap. Most good steakhouses have custom butchering wholesale deals to reduce waste. This would make sense since they buy the meat from Allen Brothers. Allen Bros does sell the Deckle on it's own since they figured out they can make a bunch of money from it. It is amazing csv. Lets meet up and do a tasting next week. Here it is.... Deckle Steak -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- David agreed, UTrust is the best steakhouse in Philly, nothing comes close except perhaps Barclay Prime. Best meat,Best sides. The NY strip and Ribeyes are definitely the best of those cuts in the city.
  10. Funny Dave, when I read it I immediately thought of the dinner I had at Fontainbleau last week as the name is similar to the owner of Hakkasan. Fontainbleau I tried the confit at fork last night, it was quite good. PM me, I need your e-mail.
  11. Yes TF is a very good chef. Ellen "Yin" is the Owner.
  12. Vadouvan


    Agreed Phil. Had a Pisco Sour there this weekend with Doc Sconzo. I think we both agreed it was very watered down, not enough pisco or lime or sugar and way too much egg white. Serendipitously enough Doc and I agreed the best Pisco we ever tasted in north America was at the Peruvian pavillion at the Fancy food show in Javits last summer. I think tropical drinks don't do so well in philly restaurants in general because restaurant groups start to quantify them to meet Bar cost percentages. Cost efficient maximized drinks are very different from solid cocktails. Same reason for those glycemic index havoc wreaking drinks at alma de cuba. I am going to have to agree with Mrs Brescd, piscos were no bueno. The food looks absolutely fabulous though, I am looking forward to dinner there later this week.
  13. Reading the Butcher and Singer Review last week, Mr Laban mentioned at the end that he would be reviewing a restaurant called SOUL in chestnut hill. Google reveals this : SOUL Restaurant But upon further search parameters, I found another link. Seems the principals of this restaurant are in a major network TV reality cooking show hosted by non other than Marco Pierre White starting this spring on NBC. Marco is one of the best chefs ever which means this is huge, Gordon Ramsay used to work for MPW. The link is Here. This ought to be interesting. The best cookbook ever was White Heat.
  14. Sir. That's quite simple. First of all, since zagat is an aggregate review, it is only as important as the frame of reference of the reviewers. The problem thus becomes the reviewers exposure to said cuisine based on authencity. The authencity argument never gets traction because it's been difficult for those who have expectations of authenticity to explain the concept of western-dilution of ethnic food without coming of as elitists or labeling naysayers as Philistines. It is however a legitimate argument, the message just needs to be crafted carefully. First of all, if you go out to eat at the Olive Garden and you enjoy your Penne Arrabiata, fantastiic. No one should be able to tell you under any circumstances that you did not enjoy your Penne. YOU can not however say "Olive Garden makes the best Penne Arrabiata" because you take your opinion outside of personal satisfaction and opinion into the public domain where it's shot down quickly. Now that is a fairly benign example, the same argument get's much more complicated based on the level of saturation and familiarity of said cuisine within the American context. Say we move the argument to Indian or Thai, now it's a bit harder to tell someone who says Buddakan or China Grill makes the best Pad Thai or Tiffin makes the best Indian food that they are barely scratching the surface of a clue. On the Buddakan issue, virtually all western interpretations of Thai, Vietnamese and Japanese Food are 30% sweeter than non-western versions. Certainly enough to change the flavor completely without even getting into acidity or tartness. Tiffin is even more complicated. The benefit-value index with Tiffin has a lot to do with delivery. If you are starving and anyone delivers passable to mediocre Indian food to you reasonably warm and you have a microwave, have never eaten Indian food in India, London or Murray Hill, you will be pretty happy. It's not that the food is bad, it's Not bad. It's just barely Indian as far as depth of flavor. Now obviously I am not professing everybody fly to India, Thailand or Japan so they can claim to know what the real deal is, all I am saying is that it explains why an aggregate review like Zagat is useless for people with expectations of authenticity such as yourself if the reviewers are under the impression that what they are eaten is authentic. Even a simple thing as Pho Dac Biet or Bon Bo Hue, people rave ad nauseum about vietnam,pho-cali, vietnam palace, all 3 places are like beef flavored water with noodles in comparison to Cafe Diem in South Philly. All but 1. However I will be there wed night. Matsugen at JG's Website Correct. You don't get anything you are not paying for. While restaurant week is a good deal, it's basically a cost effective banquet from the restaurant's perspective. You only truly experience a place when you cough up your dinars when it isn't restaurant week. Again there are fabulously delicious restaurants with no michelin stars, all those probably no stars because of comparative ambition. Batali's place Casa Mono still makes the most compelling case for tapas in America's reviewed cities so far and it has no stars. Perhaps Tinto would then need to be compared to The Jaleos in DC, Bethesda and Arlington. Not consistent with Starr's volumetrics as far as revenue. As for Casino Developers, no reason to. They can just fund and build it and lease to operators while taking percentages off the top rather than deal with the day to day BS. That's what Vegas did with Guy Savoy and Joel Robuchon.
  15. Your immediate thought is correct sir. This perhaps is better effectively explained by elimination instead of selection. There are multiple reasons not to go to places like Table 31,Butcher and Singer, LBF, Lacroix, Fountain, Del Frisco, Palm, Capital Grille, Susanna Foo. I agree with Buckethead's Boring conclusion of Table 31's food. If it was not owned by Perrier, it would not quite be on the radar screen as much as it is. Although you have basically answered your own question, if I were in your shoes, the only 3 choices in Philly would be : Barclay Prime Morimoto Vetri Barclay Prime does not actually sell any kobe beef. They still do have the two best steaks in the city which would be the Gachot/Gachot Ribeye and the Australian Tajima New York Strip. Also best sides and sauces of any Steakhouse in Philly. The Seafood dishes are also not steakhouse afterthoughts as you see virtually everywhere else. Morimoto I would go for the most expensive Omakase with wine pairings and restrictions. By restrictions I mean give them restrictions. I usually say Omakase-no sushi-no items on the menu. Vetri on the other hand you can drink yourself silly with Gajas and Sassicaias in addition to the very good food. Yup Vetri it is.
  16. That would be conventionally wise deduction however the fact that customers think the food was not good and thus had no inclinations to finish it is actually mutually exclusive of the question of if the portion size is sufficient in the first place. Obviously since Evan Shacke has had multiple meals at Per Se and clearly not only understands the concept of a tasting menu but also has a visual barometer of portion size. Putting a plate of food in front of him, concieveably he can look at the portion sizes based on number of courses and say it's too small but subsequently upon tasting eat conclude the dish does not work and is unappetizing enough to have no further interest.
  17. Michelin Stars as a whole are effectively irrelevant in the United States because the bar that was set in Europe was lowered to accommodate restaurants. Michelin also focuses on trendy centers of commerce and skews its choices of cities to reflect famous chefs to give them (Michelin) commercial credibility. It makes no sense to go from New York skipping the entire continental USA to San Francisco while ignoring Chicago and Boston unless you just want to get the French Laundry in your guide ASAP. Furthermore to then skip Chicago for Los Angeles is absurd. It has in essence become a commercial enterprise that lacks any logic within the continental USA. Outside of the 3 Stars in Napa and New York, there is significant incongruity in the 2 and 3 star rankings. New York Places like Anthos, Etat Unis, Jewel Bako, Jojo, Perry Street and the Spotted Pig would have zero stars in any European city. Even if were were to make the case that Jewel Bako should have 1 star, clearly anyone who know's what they are talking about understands that Yasuda Sushi is a far superior restaurant in all respects than Jewel Bako. Back to the original question, using the same barometer of ambition and excellence, there probably would be no restaurant in Philadelphia that would have 3 stars based on the original goals and standards that Michelin set in Europe. Places like El Poblet, Mugaritz and Can Roca blow away anything in Philly and those are only 2 star restaurants. Possible 2 Star in Philly would be Vetri obviously because of it's ambition and special chef driven nature of it's food. One could not make a case that Vetri would have 3 michelin stars because again, places like Gambero Rosso eclipse Vetri in all respects. Le Bec Fin would be a 1 star at best because both it's food and service are antiquated. However with French-Bias which Michelin has shown in the past, it may get 2 stars but certainly wont be based on it's merits. Same reason places like Jojo or Perry Street in NYC are on the list. Really IF you had to choose another Jean-George restaurant by all means they should have chosen Matsugen. Makes no sense. The Fountain is an overpriced glorified hotel restaurant that is excellent with service but light on culinary creativity, again totality of ambition, 1 star. Lacroix by Michelin's own philosophy would have no stars unless you believe in smoke and mirrors. The restaurant is named after a chef who currently has nothing to do with the restaurant(fact), the food does not even reflect the culinary vision and philosophies of Jean Marie Lacroix(fact), and in recent years has actually made a transparent attempt to infuse the techniques of Ferran Adria as it's main focus with mixed results at best(fact+conjecture). The whole aspect of saying you are who you clearly are not hurts immensely add the fact that they now hand out $25 lunches and $35 dinners with wine discounts. 19 XIX on the other hand would make a case for 1 star precisely for the same reason. The food is good enough as is the service and atmosphere and they are who the say they are with a named chef who can make his case as to his culinary vision. At the end of the day, Michelin stars as I said are meaningless in the USA, it's all PR and Marketing which means $$$ for Michelin, all they are trying to do is sell as many guides as Zagat which is even more useless as a basis of picking restaurants. There are excellent restaurants on both sides of the Atlantic with no stars but the bar should not be lowered for inclusion based on commercial gain. If you are coming to Philly, eat at Vetri, Osteria,19, Matyson,Barclay Prime, Zento, maybe Amada.
  18. Hey DAGordon, I believe Veracruzana is now on the GI list ? That makes the Taco al pastor at Taco Riendo the winner by two horse lengths no ?
  19. Professor Fenton. Good to see you at the market. Here is the deal, "Sous-Vide" or if you prefer the term "CSV" (as you say which is correct) is a transparent step in praparation. The meats will in virtually all cases be seared afterwards, all it allows is more even temperature along the cross section and perhaps some textural improvements. A pan roasted steak can be cooked sous-vide but it still needs to be pan roasted with a quick sear and butter basting at the end (rather quickly however). A butter poached lobster cooked sous-vide for example is still butter poached except at very precise temperature due to using sous-vide. In essence it just overly using technical terms unnecessarily. The argument that it isn't less appropriate than terms like "broiled" or "fried" would require it to be translated from French to English first thus the phrase "In the pouch" sounds silly on a menu. A silly statement translated into another language is still silly and falls under the general misuse of French.
  20. Judith. It's a slightly complicated issue. In order to legally cook "sous-vide", you need to get clearance from the health department and start a very complicated HAACP (google it) plan documenting every detail of the process daily. The sort of cleanliness standards required to do sous-vide properly make 95% of all restaurants below par. That being said, the concerns are storage and cooking temps that may be in complete conflict with FDA cooking guidelines in some cases. Philadelphia Health Department as far as I know has no actual HAACP guideline for sous-vide therefore it is up to individual operators to come up with one. Fact is they do not even have enough inspectors to handle basic violations before even attempting to delve into extremely detailed scientific data. Cooking fish sous vide I think is totally out of the question for the HD becuase the temp is just too low, however it is the best technique for such things as butter poached crustaceans. Sous-vide would be superflous at Amada, there is nothing on that menu that benefits from SV. So "Legally" speaking, it is "NOT" legal. Astute diners can tell what has been cooked sous-vide either visually or texturally based on what it is exactly, either way the term "sous-vide" even if allowed does not belong on a restaurant menu. It's a technical term that is subject to one or more finishing methods.
  21. Vadouvan


    Good work Percy. While I don't doubt the flavors since I respect your opinion, I am struck by the fact that the food looks like a high school home economics class as far as presentation goes for such an ambitious operation, seriously that cheese plate is from an episode of what not to wear .......but at the end of the day, taste is everything. How would you compare the flavors to talularama.
  22. Strikes me and I bet others that it may be slightly unfair and perhaps contradictory to say a restaurant's food is "underportioned if "You left full". Does the extra food on the plate that you dont eat after you are "full" which goes in the trashcan offer a better value to the dining experience ? Dimitris is also the single most overrated restaurant in Philly that is essentially price driven but the food is average at best. It's just cheap food under the guise of being "mediteranean". Cochon for example charges slightly more and has way better food. It's a 30 seat BYO, it does not seem any more cramped than matyson, django or pumpkin.
  23. Best of Philly is mostly irrelevant Phil, people have their favorite places and one list does not change anybody's mind. It is good to see Katie recognized though especially with full blown Apothecary madness in town. Blog's looking great Phil, nice work. Now take one for the team and go try brunch at Tinto will you ?
  24. Sir Jeffrey I just ate there, though I am hesitant to critique anything anymore just because "it is what it is " This place is especially irritating and frankly an insult to Philadelphians. Do we really need another restaurant that is a fascimile of a restaurant by a famous chef who isnt actually here and installs a ChefDeCuisine who tries to "bond" with the locals by putting pretzel and tastykake inspired items on the menu while cooking solidly mediocre food. Last time I checked Philly is a town of "philadelphians" not "Philistines".
  25. To be fair Holly, they simply could be closed between 3 and 5 and not serve ANY food like virtually every other restaurants. The fact is restaurants of that size need time between lunch and dinner service to do a variety of things like Clean the kitchen Changeover the staff Restock and reprep food Therefore for that time period, hot line items cant be served. Lots of bistros in France do "Apres-midi" so it isnt unheard of. Parc also intends to start serving breakfast very soon which puts it under more pressure and so it makes no sense to do an all day lunch service. Kitchens do need time to recover. Any entity doing 800 covers a day can hardly be considered "prima donna wussies"
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