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Everything posted by murkcury

  1. Absolutely a legit knock. It is entirely inexcusable for a restaurant to provide a sub-par experience simply because of the time. If they are open for business at a certain time and are willing to seat guests (and take their money) then they have a responsibility to provide that guest with a full experience, regardless if it is 5:30 or 9:00.
  2. murkcury

    Pegu Club

    Dropped by Pegu tonight and I can concur that the Gin-Gine Mule is indeed tasty. As was the French Pearl (gin, pernod, lime, mint). All the flavors are so clean and fresh and amazingly well balanced. Truly superior cocktails.
  3. Fear not my co-admirer of beautifully marbled beef. I know you know. It was more for the benefit of our potentially less informed e-gulleteers since so many people, notably supposed professionals, regularly misrepresent said delicacy on their menus. Knowledge is power and knowledge of japanese beef is delicious power indeed. btw, the wagyu tri-tip is indeed a smart way to go. if one can subject it to the wonders of sous-vide cooking it becomes a surprisingly affordable way to enjoy wagyu beef.
  4. Not only must Kobe beef come from Japan, my dear Vadouvan, it must come specifically from Kobe. The restaurant that currently employs me features a Kagoshima beef ribeye (Kobe style in the American sense, yes, but not Kobe beef). At least it comes from Japan. Wagyu is American (or Australian in certain instances, I believe) and should not be confused with Japanese beef. Traditional Japanese breeds? Yes. Japanese Beef? No. Delicious? More often than not, yes.
  5. How could I miss Rick Bayless?! Damn World Cup. France didn't even have the decency to win...
  6. Il Laboratorio is fine, but Capogiro is leagues beyond in terms of quality (and originality). This shouldn't even be open to debate. Mind you I am speaking for 'fresh' Capogiro as one would find at the two shops in Philly. I've never had the packaged product. Their gelatos and sorbettos have better depth of flavor and a richer, smoother more pleasing texture than anything at Il Lab. Besides, they lay claim to my favorite ice cream of all time: goats' milk with rosemary and honey. The best.
  7. murkcury


    That's very true. I couldn't agree more. In fact, the whole point of these types of restaurants is that they should, under no circumstances, be destinations in and of themselves. They are for the nights when one doesn't have reservations somewhere and doesn't feel like cooking. They are suited to last minute, spontaneous meals. They fill the late night void otherwise bereft of options. Unfortunately these places are too few and far between and as a result it makes it difficult for us as a dining public to take them for granted, when, in an ideal world, this quality should be essence of their existence.
  8. murkcury


    The irony of that thought is that those are the kinds of restaurants of which we need more. Solid, dependable, well executed food. Food that doesn't shoot for the moon. A chef who isn't trying to reinvent cuisine. Restaurants like that can be found on every corner in every city, town or village in France, Spain, Italy, etc. Sometimes we need a restaurant whose ambitions are less lofty. New Yorkers need to put more value on these simple, yet satisfying, establishments.
  9. Little Pete's at 17th and Chancellor. Shake eats like a meal. Besides, you can get a grilled cheese to accompany it at any hour of the day.
  10. It's true that restaurant critics need not have cooking backgrounds. In fact, it's preferable. If they did 94.3% (please accept my hyperbole as this figure was NOT factually confirmed) of reviews would be devoted to the overly harsh criticism of imperfectly executed food. That's what cooks wiil do. They do, however, need to understand food. It's imperative. They need to understand ingredients and preparations and flavors. Just as writers who review books, movies or cars need to understand their milieu(s) so too do food critics. No one is going to ask me to fill in for Thomas Friedman when he takes his next vacation and I would hope that the same holds true for food writing vacancies. Yes, sometimes outsiders are able to adapt to the job after some time. Take Frank Bruni. As much as I despised him at the onset of his tenure as the NY Times restaurant critic (I think his previous position was as a writer or editor in the Styles section) he has made strides in the right direction. While I still don't view him as a great restaurant critic, he is becoming a better food writer. Don't rest on your laurels Frankiepants, there's still a lot of work to be done. That said, I don't think he should have ever been given the job. While his reviews are now serviceable, they do not make up for a year of utterly irrelevant, off the mark, inane commentaries. As bad as his reviews were, however, at least the man could write. The reviewers we're dealing with A) know nothing about food and B) couldn't write to save their lives. It's a sad state of affairs when unqualified individuals such as these hold so much sway over whether some restaurants make it or fail.
  11. Interesting you should mention sweet potato fries. I too felt the same way, until recently. Ventured by Mantra on 18th and Sansom (former Patisserie Yann space) a couple of weeks ago for a drink. At this time the liquor license wasn't in full effect (not sure if it is now) so we needed to order food to get a complimentary beverage. Ended up having some kind of asian glazed ribs (not bad) that were served with...crisp sweet potato fries. Yes, crisp. It stuck out in my mind because, until that moment, I had NEVER recalled eating crisp sweet potato fries. Group's consensus was that they were dredged (flour?wondra?). Whatever they did, it worked.
  12. Frankly, I've never understood the dearth of good french fries. Does it take time to make french fries correctly? Definitely. The investment, however, is well worth it. There is simply no comparison between hand cut, blanched and quickly fried frites and their sorry, soggy, insipid imitators. Well, to be fair, some bad fries are overly crispy. What makes this all the more annoying is that the secret to good fries is no secret at all. It's tried and true (not to mention known to all). We're not talking about a task that requires skilled hands. Shame on anyone that serves a steak frites or hamburger and doesn't make good fries. It's inexcusable.
  13. As bad as the location is you can't blame it entirely for the failure of BDV for the simple reason that there are several restaurants within one or two blocks that have had long-term success in that neighborhood. True, a couple of them are not culinary destinations (theater, theater and more theater crowds) but a place like Esca seems to be a destination restaurant. BDV's lack of success was based on a confluence of factors, one of which was location.
  14. It's a terrible location. When I'm thinking of going out to eat I don't usually say, 'let's head to Port Authority.'
  15. There were apparently staff members involved in certain illicit after-hour shenanigans, but said shenanigans did not include sex on the bar. The concerned employees were dismissed for their improprieties. Sorry to rain reality on the fantasy parade. Again, it's a shame that Bistro will be remembered for this and not Laurent's approachable food.
  16. It is a shame that things didn't work out better because the quality of food was above and beyond anything else available in the neighborhood. Not everyone can walk in off the street without a reservation and enjoy the cooking of such a supremely talented chef. Even as a former employee it's hard for me to diagnose why Bistro never made it. In the long run I think it was a combination of elements. Location. Sure there are lots of people, but the majority don't appreciate great food and the neighborhood doesn't draw NY'ers as a dining destination. The obvious counterpoint, however, is Esca which is perpetually packed and only one block away. Space. The space, no matter how you approach it, was awkward (from both the standpoint of the kitchen and the bar/dining room). It simply wasn't well designed. The decor was also lacking. PR/Marketing. Funny that everyone knows BDV for the alleged orgy (sorry folks, it never happened) but almost no one knew that, at least for the last six or seven months, Laurent Gras was behind the stoves. Um, Laurent Gras in a Times Sq. bistrot? People should have been lining up out the door for that opportunity. Why didn't more people know about that? All in all I just think it was an ill-conceived venture which is what sets it apart from the rest of the Batali/Bastianich restaurants. Every other restaurant they operate seems to be well planned, well designed, well funded and well promoted (certain issues regarding Del Posto not withstanding). This was just the black sheep. Or, maybe what they say about cursed restaurant locations is true.
  17. We all seem to be in agreement that 'fine dining' in Philadelphia is more or less done. That, of course, is a certain text book definition of fine dining. It is the style of food and service that chefs like Jean-Marie Lacroix and Georges Perrier brought to Philadelphia. They must be given credit for propagating this movement and instilling certain expectations in the Philadelphia dining public and several 'generations' of cooks. Just because we think the time for 'fine dining' (as it was) is passed doesn't mean that certain elements of it can't live on. That's the challenge. Synthesizing the high standards of service and elegance that we associated with fine dining with a new style of food and overall dining experience. When I go out to eat I want great, creative food but I also want to be comfortable (not jacket and tie comfortable). I want professional service. I like interesting china and real stemware. I enjoy having the services of a sommelier. I find enjoyment in canapes, middle courses and mignardises. I like certain (not all) flourishes of fine dining. One can have a great meal at a byo, no doubt, but there needs to be a variety of experiences available to the dining public. I, for one, am strongly in favor of smaller, creative venues that adopt certain elements of fine dining service but remain approachable. More formal than the standard byo but less stuffy than traditional fine dining establishments. There is a happy medium somewhere out there and I believe that is the challenge for the next generation of Philadelphia chefs to find.
  18. Elvios pizza in both Lincoln and North Conway is surprisingly good (for Northern NH). Their claim to being the best pizza 'north of the Bronx' overlooks a little pizza town called New Haven, but their pies are good. I always enjoy the Yankee Smokehouse, but for me the experience is always improved due to the nostalgia factor (yearly summer trips to the White Mountains were always capped off with a trip to the happy pig place). Besides, they have a great motto.
  19. The departure of chef lacroix will certainly have an impact on the food. The bigger issue, however, is that the kitchen has too few good cooks who actually know what they are doing or care about it. Their turnover has been mind-boggling in the past two-three months. Yes, chef's presence kept everyone operating at a higher level, but if your line cooks and sous chefs are relatively inexperienced and don't make the grade ...well, draw your own conclusions. I guess what i'm trying to say is that if standards have slipped recently there is more than one logical explanation.
  20. I agree 100% with matthewj and vadouvan. There needs to be an 'alternative' source of revenue (i.e. liquor). Based on the physical limitations of the space I think that food almost needs to take a secondary role as revenue stream. Turn it into a bar/lounge with high end cocktail/wine service and serve good, but simple (i.e. not high food costs, not labor intensive) smaller plates. Of course one then needs to deal with whole liquor license situation... Perhaps another method would be adding a take-out aspect with better quality prepared foods. Think of all the more affluent residents in the neighborhood. Again, though, one runs into the space issues, both in the kitchen and where a take-out counter could be situated. Making that space work for a restaurant is going to require some creativity. Good luck to the next venture.
  21. I use the Bodum Santos at home (5 cup, smaller model) and think it makes a good cup of coffee. Besides, it looks cool and it's really fun to watch it in action. Still, the most important element is a good bean and a la minute grinding. Don't skimp on that because no coffee maker in the world can redeem a bad bean. A burr grinder is definitely recommended. I have the Bodum model and find it to be more than adequate.
  22. Thank god. Bruni finally nailed one. First time I've ever been in full agreement with one of his reviews. By no means, however, is this redemption. It's just a step in the right direction for Frank. Lest this come across as a post on Bruni though, I feel that Carmellini and his staff should be congratulated on a job well done. They definitely deserve three stars.
  23. Yes, the Mansion was definitely open in '05. Del Posto, on the other hand, another restuarant nominated in the "best new" category is a bit fishy. In fact, I remember reading the nominations on the night they were released and this glaring bit of self-enriching political favortism jumped out at me. I think Del Posto had been open for a week or two at that point (certainly not enough time to be judged, for better or for worse). The Beard Awards are all too often a joke. When you're a member in good standing (i.e. Batali/Bastianich) life is good. For outsiders it's impossibly unfair. This, is not to say that the winners don't deserve their accolades. For the most part the nominees (and subsequent winners) are all highly talented individuals. The system, however, is the problem. Play by the rules and win the approval of the club, you'll win. Do things your own way, good luck.
  24. murkcury


    It isn't even a question of 'the rumor mill'. Susur Lee and Angelo Sosa were advertised as consulting chefs. It was in the pre-opening promotional material. I'm sure they were each well compensated for their efforts. They had to know what they were getting into with Starr and I'm sure he wasn't paying them for their anonymity.
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