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Everything posted by murkcury

  1. Coming to Paris on Sunday Feb 28. Looking for some lunch recommendations (two people). Ideally hoping for creative bistrot food. Anything open where we can get a table more or less last minute? Thanks in advance for the help.
  2. Not at all, unless you want a specific side dish. The food is not served strictly 'a la carte.' Each plate includes a protein and garnishes. Given our appetites, it was plenty.
  3. My girlfriend and I ate here on a recent two day trip to London with no prior knowledge of the restaurant (it was recommended by our concierge). We were both quite pleased with the experience. The decor, while it won't be for everyone, is fun and different. At times it might border on overly hip, but the food and service prevent it from fallling into the category of lackluster trendy restaurant. Service was friendly and professional. We felt a bit rushed at the beginning, but when we slowed down the pace of the service followed suit to a T. As for the food, it was simple, but very well thought out and skillfully executed. Ingredient quality was, as one would expect, quite high and the kitchen thankfully showed the restraint that one should with such products. Minimalist carpaccio (large plate of beef and drizzle of mustardy vinaigrette). Perfectly fried soft-shell crabs with tarragon mayo and lemon. Satisfying duck ragu and fresh pappardelle. Top-notch mackerel with little more than olive, tomato and crushed potatoes. Like I said, simple, but the preparations were exact and the seasoning was just on. The wine list was good, not great. All in for two glasses of champagne, two entrees, two mains, two glasses of wine, one dessert and two coffees I think the total came to 130 pounds. Cheap dinner? No. But for food and service of that quality in London it seemed quite reasonable.
  4. Made it in on Saturday (first table) for the first "Thank You" night. I'm always hesitant about being over zealous on an inaugural visit, but Tailor has me really excited. REALLY excited. The space is nicely thought out. Well designed, cool, comfortable, but not overdone. Interesting details throughout. Once I saw the menu I was curious to try everything offered, alas it was one salty and one sweet plate per. Had the duck tartare and snapper (believe it's listed as mackerel above) for salty. Both spot on dishes. Great balances of flavor, color and texture. Everything that should have been there was. For sweet had the tomato, peach, ricotta and the blueberry, black olive, yogurt. Again, perfectly thought out and expertly executed. Truly enjoyable to eat. Cocktails sounded slightly bizarre/esoteric on paper, but once they hit the palate they seemed rather classic in nature; classic with tiny little twists. They were, of course, delicious as well. Amuse bouche of shiso gaspacho was clean, bright and refreshing. Petit four of yellow plum tomato gelee was outstanding (especially enjoyed the arugula garnish, nice little touch). Service was warm, helpful, and friendly, albeit slightly green (obviously forgiven given the unofficial nature of the meal). Overall the staff seems well-informed and well-intentioned. Very excited to come back for a more thorough taste of the menu. Just worried it won't be so easy once the good word gets out. It was a long wait, but I think it should take off. Good luck to the whole team.
  5. The review was indeed positive and the staff at ssam bar should be quite pleased. They are putting out great food at the moment.
  6. here's one vote for echire butter. also, torchon is the french word for (kitchen) towel and in regards to foie gras torchon it refers to the item in which the foie gras is wrapped thus resulting in the cylindrical shape.
  7. 'Unwritten rules in the restaurant industry.' Slippery slope Holly. As I stated WAY up-post an 'unwritten rule' of the industry applies to the sentence 'we'd like to cook for you.' It means, 'we're going to give you the soigne treatment and you aren't going to pay full price for it.' As soon as they take choice out of your hands with no mention to price there are certain reasonable expectations on the part of the diner. What happened at James consitutes a grave violation of this rule. It's true that a new restaurant deserves a little slack, but as soon as you start charging huge prices you kind of become fair game. Just because I pay x dollars now and not three months from now does not mean that I am not entitled to a quality meal.
  8. I see you have been spoiled by Mr Robuchon..... ← Very true. Very true indeed. That said, one of the first dishes I learned to make in a competent fashion was a more traditional (ie, more potato than butter) potato puree, courtesy of none other than bigboss.
  9. Frankly, the best way for friends to stay on 'good terms' is to not rip them off.
  10. well to my eye it simply seems a bit more meat and potatoes and a little less abstract. food that sounds slightly more recognizable and approachable on paper to the average philly diner.
  11. I need to chime in on this experience (of which I was a part). As a member of the party that shared bigboss' meal I too have some opinions on the matter, both relating to the food and the dining experience in general. First and foremost I would like to say, that based on my first impressions of the space, I was excited. By no means is it a fine-dining establishment, but it feels like more thought and effort has been put into the space than the majority of philly eateries. It's a comfortable space and I love to think about the potential that their big bar/lounge offers. The private dining area, where we ate, is a nice secluded room which would be great for bigger parties (8-12) out to celebrate. The decor and design, while simple, are pleasant. Like I said before, it looks thought out. We were presented with menus which seemed interesting enough. Progression of dishes from smaller plates to pastas and mains. Rather routine in format. None of the food really jumped off the page, but the prices seemed about what one would expect. Firsts from $8-$14. Pastas from $14-$18 and mains from $22-$28. More or less standard pricing for this type of philly restaurant. We were informed that they offered three tasting menus as well (five, seven and nine courses), but no further details were volunteered. Our server told us that a tasting menu had been prepared for us (as mentioned by bigboss members of our party friends with the owners and cooks) with no mention of scope or price. He simply asked if we had any restrictions or allergies. Now, this was a table of five industry professionals who were here because of close relationships with the management. Granted, there are no hard and fast rules that apply in these situations, but there are certain reasonable expectations that one can have. This is not to say that we came in thinking the meal was going to be free. Far from it. But to tell a party of professionals/friends that they are cooking for you and to then charge them for every single dish (including coffee) of a tasting menu is amateurish. I understand this is a business. I understand the economics of restaurants. But $90 for a mediocre tasting menu at a new (certainly not fine-dining) restaurant in philly is absolutely absurd. ABSURD. Now, I don't think the food was awful, but it was mediocre. Perhaps it's due to the young nature of the restaurant. Perhaps their concept of cooking is different from mine. Whatever. Some dishes certainly showed potential. Some elements were well executed. The proteins were all well cooked and well seasoned. Other components, though, were dreadful. The risotto was par-cooked (and nothing more). The smoked potato puree was coarse, chunky and somehow watery. It tasted as if someone roughly mashed potatoes and doused them with water from a hookah. No trace of dairy. No hint of butter. No tease of smoothness. In general every dish lacked a necessary element of acidity. Oh, and nothing seemed to be served hot (or cold). Each dish hovered in some strange range between room temp and warm. All in all it was not what were expecting. Desserts were, overall, quite good, with the exception of some strange overly intense chocolate pate served on fried bread. Again, I'm not ready to say the situation is hopeless. I think with some changes the majority of dishes that we had could have been quite good. The ingredients were of good quality and some of the techniques used seemed sound. The space is pleasant. The china is interesting. The service was attentive and efficient. There are people in the kitchen who have a clue. Whether their advice is being followed, that's another story. Based on my meal, I would say no. At the end of the day it was simply a disappointing meal. I don't really know what else to say.
  12. Was in town yesterday and stopped by snackbar again. The menu has changed a bit since I first went. Apparently now it more accurately represents what the crowd wants. Regardless, everything is good. Cheese-fry soup was new. Nice comforting (albeit slightly unexpected) take on a downmarket favorite. Really liked the escargot cassoulet. The maitakes with verjus were great. Good texture. Solid flavor. Wasabi-pea caramel apples are always good. Had all of this plus a refreshing glass of riesling at 4:00. Sometimes you're hungry and it's not time for lunch or dinner. Glad that someone out there understands that people want to eat when they want to eat. I wish the whole crew continued success and they can be sure that I'll pop in for a drink and food any time I'm in the area.
  13. I made it into Death & Co. last night around 9:00 and was pleasantly surprised to find it sparsely occupied. Maybe two or three people at the bar and seven or eight more at the tables. Personally, I liked the decor. It just seemed to work. The wood, dark accents and New Orleans-esque candelabras go well with good cocktails (then again, what doesn't go well with good cocktails?). I was expecting a slightly more extensive drink list, but I imagine they are in the process of finalizing their menu for the official opening. Then again, like any good purveyors of quality cocktails they were more than willing to take special requests off the menu. I sampled the Devil in Dress: rye, now ubiquitous home-made ginger beer, lemon, mint and raspberry and the Sipping Seasons: Laird's Bonded, VSOP Cognac, Vt. Pure Maple Syrup, bitters and a cinnamon swizzle. Both were very well executed. Great balance of flavors. Nicely thought out drinks. I was pleased with the service. Staff was friendly, knowledgable, approachable and accommodating. Based on previous posts and the press this place is getting online I see it blowing up and becoming an absolute nightmare (in terms of crowds and waits) Weds-Sat. Fortunately for me, I'm off on Mondays and Tuesdays so I have a chance. It's also nice to have another complement to Pegu. Congrats to the owners on their venture. It's a well conceived idea and I wish them much success.
  14. Oh so true. Even more so given the fact that it is, to my understanding, a union hotel. French kitchens in Europe and Asia are a far cry from those here. American cooks, especially in the eyes of our foreign colleagues, are soft, weak, lazy and spoiled.
  15. The rumor mill is churning and if there is any truth to what I am hearing then we are all in for a BIG surprise...cue suspense building music.
  16. that will certainly be interesting. i only wonder whose menu(s) are going to fall under the microscope.
  17. Again, I'm not sure if the portions that we enjoyed on this particular day will be indicative of the actual plates served for their prix-fixe lunch, but I found them to be rather generous. I would consider them full a la carte size. A three course lunch left me more than sated (I even left some of my mignardises untouched). In terms of richness I'm not sure I can either confirm or deny what you've heard. Based on our limited sampling I would say that balance won over. In terms of potential sources of richness, I found the butternut veloute (amuse) nicely restrained where it easily could have veered off into the land of over-enrichment. I did, however, find the cauliflower cream served with the langoustine/chicken first course to be a bit rich. Perhaps a little too much cream and not quite enough cauliflower. Still, in the context of the dish it worked. Main courses exhibited deep flavors but nothing particularly overwhelming. We aren't talking spa cuisine, that's for sure, but, at the same time, it wasn't a heavy or weighty meal.
  18. Shared the same menu as Vadouvan and came away with more or less the same impressions. Decor: While not necessarily done in 'my style,' the find dining space is quite opulent. Nice china. Thumbs up for the swivel chairs. Plush carpet puts them in the running for four stars from the NYTimes (everyone knows that carpeting, and not food, determines four star reviews). Bathrooms were...interesting. Kind of felt like a cross between an ocean liner, a 747 and the changing rooms at your local banana republic. Service: Quite professional, consistent and polished, especially seeing as how they are on day two of the soft opening. I was impressed by the attention to detail. Again, as V noted, they all seemed, by some inexplicable way, to be the same height. Bizarre. Food: Nothing revelatory. Nothing groundbreaking. Everything, though, tasted really good. Amuse of butternut squash veloute was beyond reproach. Nice judicious hand with the truffle oil. Sweetbread appetizer with artichoke, cepe and sauce perigord was as it should be (a compliment). Langoustine and maple chicken appetizer was good, but not greater than the sum of its parts. Turbot with sauce civet was good. Again, the fish seemed a little lost in the strength of the civet. Lamb was perfect. Perfect temp. Pefect jus. Perfect accent with the confited shoulder. All in all a great dish. Again, this didn't break any new ground, but it was executed as well as one could ask. Desserts were pleasant, if not a little on the sweet side. All wine pairings were admirably selected and presented in impressive, albeit old-school, fashion. Decent selection of mignardises. Bonus points for the la colombe coffee. I would die if I were subjected to another dose of Illy pods in a fine dining establishment. Overall I left incredibly impressed with my experience. It far exceeded my early expectations. There is always (in my mind) the worry that a big name chef is just mailing it in with expensive ventures abroad in new markets. My early meal at GR shows that Mr. Ramsay is taking this project fairly seriously. Definitely a welcome edition to the higher end of the NY dining spectrum.
  19. Everything looks and sounds great. I can't wait to get down and try it myself.
  20. While I only made it to the first day I really thought it was a well conceived and well organized event. It was a lot of fun to see guys like Ken Oringer, Susur Lee and Wylie Dufrense focus on the demos as intently as I was. Makes you realize that, in spite of stature, prestige and experience, we all do this for the same reasons. The same interest and passion makes all of us, whether recent culinary school grads or world famous chefs, tick. I'm sorry I didn't catch the foie gras demo. If I had known we could just wander in... Good times all around. Already looking forward to next year. And yes, Matt, the northeast is the place to be.
  21. Zagat is a great guide. It has more or less up-to-date addresses and telephone #'s. Oh, they sometimes tell you if a place is cash only.
  22. Well, I went tonight and between myself and my two companions we tasted the entire menu. here are some highlights: Croquetas: corn and onion with a delicious saffron aioli. Grilled squid and heirloom tomatoes: very nice way to close out summer. smoky, charred squid and sweet/tangy tomatoes were a great match. Soft cooked egg with serrano ham, rice cracker breaded asparagus and smoked cheese: great dish. texturally speaking it was a great mix with the soft, unctuous egg, the crisp asparagus and a nice frothy mousse of the smoked cheese. good balance of flavors. Stuffed squid with short ribs and lentils : good dish. tasty lentils. a return of the nicely charred squid. in my opinion, though, the short rib filling was lost in the mix. it didn't stand out in any way. it really needed a flavor spike to make it stand up to the squid. Pork belly with shimeji mushrooms, pickled jalapenos, charred scallions and sherry gastrique: another standout dish. wonderful, intense flavors. after this and the tortilla i left a HUGE fan of the pickled jalapeno. it does an amazing job of amplifying the tastes around it. i only wish the pork belly itself was a bit...stronger? believe it or not it was kind of second fiddle to the mini symphony going on around it. it might have stood out a bit more with the simple addition of some salt. still, a great dish overall. Grilled strawberries, ginger granita, basil mint: loved the granita. it was ginger in its strongest, most unadulterated form. it might have benefited from a little more sweetness on the plate, but i appreciated its forcefulness. Overall I greatly enjoyed the experience. Everything was solid, if not quite good. Some dishes could have used a heavier hand with the seasoning, but that's life. Cool space. Interesting ideas. Good service. One needs to eat a lot to leave full, yet, perhaps it is a good thing to leave a restaurant every once in a while with room to spare. I'll be back.
  23. The whole problem is that Bruni (and I think it started before his tenure, it just wasn't quite as glaring) has lost sight of the meaning of the ratings. One star is supposed to denote a good restaurant. Two stars, very good. Three stars, excellent. I seem to recall that back in the day it meant something for a smaller, more casual, less ambitious restaurant to simply appear on the radar of the NYTimes reviewer. One star signified a serious achievement for a neighborhood restaurant. What Bruni has done is throw the system out of whack. Instead of using the good rating (one star) as a benchmark, he's pushed his de facto average up to two. Now when I see a one star review I think of it as punishment. It's the same as grade inflation in the US. A C is supposed to be average, but god help some poor kid if he brings home straight C's. Bruni's inflationary tendencies have also abolished any consistency in the realm of inter-category reviews (i.e. small, neighboorhood joints v. higher-end, more ambitious). He's trapped himself. Little Owl and Le Cirque are on the same footing? Dressler and Gilt (rip) as equals? Um, I think not. It's a real shame because it distorts the public's opinion and ends up punishing a lot of undeserving restaurants and chefs. Here's my solution. He should be forced to issue a public apology for his lack of restraint and, like the central bank of a third world country, devalue his currency to bring the basis back to reality.
  24. Had dinner at Upstairs tonight and wanted to comment on the meal and respond to one of the above comparisons. First, the meal. I had only been by during the day and never experienced the space at night. It's really crowded. And loud. Literally, elbow to elbow. Oh yeah, it's a little warm too, especially when they seat you next to the stove. Seems like they intentionally opted for a quieter hood system. Frankly, I might have preferred the noise of a functional hood to the inane conversation in my right ear...anyway, I digress. The food was good. Nothing great, but satisfying at the price point. Bread service, however, was excellent. Four different types (that we sampled) but I enviously spotted a couple of different breads at adjoining tables. Olive/herb loaf, poppy seed, levain, dried fruit. Incredibly fresh, good crust and impressive depth of flavor. A highlight of the evening. Started with chicken liver tartine/crostini and calamari salad. Calamari was done on the plancha (my favorite way to enjoy squid) and had the nice char and chewiness that one would expect. Served with mixed greens and avocado. Needed more salt and acid. Chicken livers were fine. Cognac, raisins, herbs (aforementioned bread). No complaints. For mains my friend and I had the halibut with shiitakes, hon-shimeijis and corn in a lemon-thyme sauce as well as the bigoli with CT Berkshire pork ragu. The halibut was straight-forward, but good. Mushrooms were nice and earthy but the corn (shouldn't this be peak season?) was kind of lost in the mix. I was looking forward to a sweeter, more assertive presence. The ragu was pleasant but not exactly what I was expecting. The pasta was perfectly cooked and the ragu, which was enhanced by a scattering of chanterelles, was fine, but it was sausage. Here I had foolishly been looking forward to an interesting mix of tasty local porcine parts. Actually, in retrospect, that's what I received, but in ground form. A little more honesty in the description would have been welcome. I was a little taken aback by the wine list. For an informal and inexepensive restaurant (at least as far as the food goes) the wine offerings were rather obscene. Very few bottles under $50. Almost no half-bottles. Weak selection by the glass. Even the cocktails were grossly overpriced at approx. $14 a piece. Having just come from Pegu Club there was no way I paying as much for a mediocre drink as I was for my entree. So, while the food was good and the prices more than reasonable (portion sizes were also more than adequate) the wines/spirits were a joke. Oh, and they really push the wine. I must have been asked by at least three servers and the host if I wanted to order wine (I did, and I regretted it). Can't even understand why a restaurant with 20 seats needs that many servers. Oh well, I might go back if I knew it would be quieter. It would also be fun to see the man himself at the stoves. As for the comparison of Upstairs and L'Atelier, it's rather off the mark. Yes, they both share a similar concept with the open kitchen, but that's about it. At L'Atelier the kitchen is THE focal point of the experience. The restaurant is literally built around the kitchen (yes, the NY Atelier is slightly different in that it offers table service but the spirit is the same). At Upstairs the kitchen is just kind of there. Also, the food at Upstairs will never be confused with the food at Bouley. It's really basic and stripped down. Is it good? Yes. But it's not fine dining. Not even close. At L'Atelier, while the food certainly isn't as involved as the food of Jamin or the Mansion, it isn't that far from what one would expect of a fine-dining restaurant. The components are pared down, but the quality, flavor, presentation and artistry are still there. Oh yeah, it's also about three times as expensive. Just different entities altogether.
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