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Everything posted by murkcury

  1. IML, Ian pulled my shots at Grumpy. Very cool dude.
  2. Made it to A Voce tonight for a last minute (and late) dinner. Gotta say, it was one of the best meals I have had in a long time. Previously on this board there was a debate as to whether it qualifies as 'Italian.' Hmm, who the hell cares. I sure don't. The food, regardless of category, speaks for itself and it speaks very highly at that. Started with the now ubitquitous duck meatballs. Every bit as good as everyone says. Rich, meaty and oh ever so slightly gamey. Tempered beautifully by the sweet cherries and smooth, silky, mellow celery root puree. Carne crudo was, in this iteration, a quasi Italianified steak tartare. It was, as tartare should be, fresh and punctuated by a nuttiness courtesy of walnut oil, i think. Garnished with shaved parm and a simply adorned arugula salad. Straightforward flavors, but good. We opted for one pasta dish, but it was certainly worth it. Spaghetti with ramps, American speck, peas and favas. What can I say but near perfection. It was wonderful. Al dente pasta, salty and smoky speck, rich parmesan sauce, essence of allium from the ramps and a little punctuation of spring in the form of peas and favas. Just great. Think of it as a carbonara for spring. Possibly my favorite dish of the night. From the pasta we moved on to the octopus with lemon and pepperonata and the veal tongue with frisse and lentils. The octopus was quite tasty. The chewiness was nicely contrasted by a charry crunch courtesy of a quick grilling. With the pepperonata I was expecting something along the lines of an agrodolce, but it turned out to be more of a riff on piperade with a little smoke and heat. Good combination. The lemon, though, was a bit distant. I was amazed by how tender the veal tongue was. I'm not sure how they did it, but it was great. The earthy lentils were piqued by just the right amount of vinegary (probably sherry) acidity. For a fish dish we tried the steamed black bass in Ligurian shellfish broth. The bass was very nicely done. Broth was verdant and herby and light but full of flavov. There was a wonderful theme of spring with new potatoes, more favas and crunchy snap peas. While not the best dish of the evening it was, on its own, quite good. Almost refreshing. Finished up with the roast veal for two. I have to admit I'm not a veal person (the people I was with wanted to order it) but this could get me to change my mind. Perfectly cooked, incredibly tender and loaded with flavor. Absolutely the best veal chop I've ever had. Oh, we also had a contorni of mushrooms. Mixed wild mushrooms. Earthy and rich. Great flavor. Desserts were good as well. Chocolate pannacotta was an idealized state of chcoclate pudding. Tiramisu, yes, tiramisu, was great. Bombolini (little doughnut holes) and chocolcate sauce were light, airy, yeasty and satisfying. Had a cheese plate: pecorino toscano, robiola la bosina and gorgonzola cremificato. All very good, especially the robiola. Nice selection of condiments: fig compote, toasted walnuts, green tomato mostarda, and honeycomb. It was truly an amazing meal from start to finish. Props go out to AC and his crew. The kitchen is just clicking. Service was very professional and courteous as well. Beware, contrary to so many new NY restaurants there is no pretense. It's just good, uncomplicated, straightforward, delicious food. If you don't look for that in a dining experience I can't recommend it. If you eat for taste, though, give it a try.
  3. Cafe Grumpy in Greenpoint. They too have the Synesso Cyncra machine (quite amazing to behold) and they source their beans from Victrola, a roaster in Seattle. I sampled a straight espresso and a macchiato. Both were exceptional. Espresso exhibited wonderful crema and a remarkably smooth finish. Very well rounded. Not the slightest hint of unpleasant bitterness. Macchiato was the same with the added layer of lactic sweetness. I realize it is out of the way for most nyers, but if you're in the area, check it out. It's worth it.
  4. Took a chance on Ansill last night as a last minute idea. I definitely thought there would be a wait at 7:30, but much to my surprise, there were several empty tables and we (dining companion and myself) were seated immediately. I never made it there before when it was Judy's, so I'm not sure what changes they made to the interior, but I liked the space a lot. It's comfortable, not terribly noisy and simply adorned. I could definitely see myself sidling up to that bar and doing it like a real tapas place. Anyway, on to the food. The wine list is certainly approachable. Seems to have decent range in scope of wines and lack of gouging in the price department. They'll also let you taste any of the wines they offer by the glass to help inform your decision, which I find to be a nice touch. There is a decent selection of beers, but were in a wine mood. Tasted two, a Vouvray and a Viognier, went with the Viognier. Started with the fluke ceviche with apple and mint. Not the best ceviche I've had. I would have preferred that the acid and mint play a more prominent role. Too muted. Aside from the fish having a nice texture the flavor was dominated by shallot. It just took over. Balance in ceviche is difficult as this dish proved. Still, it was relatively refreshing. We followed that with two crostinis: bone marrow and mushroom. Bone marrow was great. Super rich and creamy. I think they would be better served by a more favorable marrow/bread ratio, but that's quibbling. It also need a heavier hand with the fleur de sel. Again, quibbling. Mushroom wasn't as good. Nice mix of trumpets and chanterelles served room temp. I assume they were sauteed and deglazed with vinegar (probably sherry), but since they were room temp the vinegar was a bit too strong. Overall, though, good flavor and texture. From there we moved on to the sweetbreads. Delicious. My favorite dish of the evening. Nicely crisped on the outside. Smooth, creamy and nutty on the inside. Served with pancetta and mushrooms (again, chanterelles and trumpets). Nothing fancy, it was just perfectly done. Really tasty. We had an order of the mustard spaetzle on the side. Again, straightforward but good. Shirred egg with truffle proved to be my second favorite. I really appreciate that they were judicious with the truffle/truffle oil. Too often people start throwing it around with loose a hand. This was just right. Earthy and funky, but not overpowering. Sometimes subtlety is the way to go. Granted, I would have preferred a less subtle portion of foie gras, but for $11 you can't complain. It was another perfectly executed dish where every ingredient played an important and useful role. We were still hungry after that so we added an order of cheese (delice de bourgogne) and one plate of the oxtail terrine. The cheese was good as was the terrine. Skipped dessert (capogiro was on the agenda). Total came to just under $100. The press has been good so far and I can't argue. It was, overall, a solid meal and precisely the kind of place Philly needs. If you go hungry and plan on filling up it might cost a bit, but it's worth it.
  5. Not to belabor the already lengthy debate at hand, but I now feel compelled to add my perspective. As heated an argument as this is I don't think there is a clear answer. It really is a synthesis of many valid points raised above. First and foremost, and it pains me to say this, Lacroix (as 99.5% of American restaurants) is theoretically run as a business. With that goes all the unfortunate American nonsense of the customer always being right. Does it make sense to allow children into a supposed fine-dining establishment? Absolutely not. No way. That's part of what separates a diner from a high-end restaurant. It's not all about the food. It's also about service and ambiance. Crying children certainly detract from the latter (you pay for more than cooks and ingredients). What makes this difficult, though, is that one needs to rely on a certain level of responsibilty and decorum from the part of the guest. The onus is on the guest to operate with good judgment (i.e. do not disturb other guests who are paying a significant chunk of change to enjoy a fine-dining experience). The first logical step is to get a damn babysitter. That failing, remove the kid from the premises when temper tantrum time arrives. It should be common sense. Alas, common sense is all too uncommon these days. Knowing how Chef Lacroix operates there is little that could be done in this situation. His first thought is ALWAYS (unfailingly) to the guest's experience. Let me check that, guests' experiences. If a complaint was made through the proper channels (i.e. to a server, manager, etc) and no accommodations were sought (i.e. change of table, comped course, etc) then I believe the complaining party has a claim. Waiting till after the fact, then sending a fax, it's just pointless. No one in the front of the house working under Chef Lacroix could EVER turn away a guest or ask a guest to leave. It would simply be suicide on their part. It's a tricky balancing act of trying to give each guest the best possible experience without diminishing the experience of another. When the lack of judgment on the part of other diners ruins that for someone it's a damn shame. But it happens. As for bad tables, again, this is a business (like it or not) they exist. The restaurant is there to make money, not give everyone the best seat in the house. You want a great seat every time? Go to Per Se. Go to Michelin 2-3 stars in Europe. Oh, also bring your Amex, cause it's going to cost three to five times as much. That's the price one pays. I hate to see this debate turn acrimonious because it has indeed raised valid points on both sides of the argument. I really think it has done a great job of highlighting some of the difficulties associated with the service aspects of American fine-dining.
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