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  1. Sorry – as a more substantial post -- I was considering a return visit to L'Atelier. Had a very so-so experience wrt the food itself back right when it first opened back in fall of 2006. (Over the years, I've gradually tempered my desire to try out exciting new restaurants during the initial settling-in periods, and figured I should give L'Atelier another try. In practice, so much has changed over the years wrt menu, chef, etc, that it probably is utterly unfair to base any of my current decisions on that long-ago, one-off experience.) Fwiw, my visit was not bad; rather, very few of the dishes blew me away, nor did some of the Robuchon "classics" seem particularly well executed or emblematic of particularly French-ified cuisine. From a sample size perspective, I ordered a large % of the savory menu, focusing on what subjectively seemed to be the most interesting/promising dishes. I recall being particularly underwhelmed by some of the dishes containing seafood tempura, but beyond that, nothing really comes to mind. Nothing was bad or inconsistent that I can recall. I was rather impressed w/the pastry -- managed to try (I mean consume the entirety of, not just split/take small, perhaps unbalanced samples of others' desserts) the majority of the desserts, w/subjective judgment re: which ones were most "interesting." At the time, I remember thinking something along the lines of how, ignoring cost completely, the experience would have been strictly dominated by a visit to some of the other NYC French institutions (if seeking haute french, which is obviously not the goal or design of L'Atelier) or Degustation (if seeking masterful small-plate, multi-multi-course tastings w/a more modernist slant – again, I realize, not the L’Atelier experience either). Wanted to see if anyone had more recent comments on the overall experience, or specific dishes when I go back this time around. The most official (and I hope, somewhat current) menus are at the bottom of this page: http://www.fourseasons.com/newyorkfs/dining/l_atelier_de_joel_robuchon/ Was definitely going to get the Discovery menu this time around and supplement w/dishes that ppl either seemed particularly fond of, or are part of the L’Atelier “classics” set – any opinions from others wrt what these might be? (I assume that the menus from the link above are at best an approximation of what the true current menus are, so I’d rather just solicit specific expys from others, especially if there ar cyclical/seasonal items that are not reflected on the online/possibly outdated menu) As for pastry, it isn’t entirely surprising that much of the menu remains constant, albeit w/flavor variations – I’m definitely looking forward to that portion of the meal. Thanks in advance for any advice that ppl may wish to offer...
  2. Tomorrow (Monday, oct 11th) is Canadian thanksgiving. I was led to believe by friends living in the states who grew up in montreal, that it isn't much celebrated in Montreal. From the other board, carswell says: "Are you talking about Canadian Thanksgiving (Oct. 13) or US Thanksgiving (Nov. 27)? In any case, neither holiday is much celebrated in Quebec, especially by francophones (individuals and establishments). The fact that the holiday falls on Monday, a day many restaurants are closed, further complicates matters. There are bound to be a few places that offer a traditional Thanksgiving meal -- and as the holiday approaches, we may hear more about them -- but don't get your hopes up." Is there Thanksgiving-specific stuff worth doing/eating, or are we just better off food crawling the more casual options (chocos, schwartz's - wonder if they sell pieces of their whole smoked turkey?, bagels, etc)? many restos are closed on Sunday and Monday anyway, so I was thinking of hitting Bistro Laloux. (my original plan had been to do casual stuff + la chronique + bistro laloux on Mon and Sun, since the latter two are open on sun/mon, but already went to la chronique yesterday night)
  3. Awesome! Great to have another fine dining possibility, especially one that is casual in atmosphere but serious about their food. In addition, I hadn't realized (at least from their website) that they offered a tasting menu, so that really amps up my interest. Aromes' reviews were invaluable when creating my preliminary list, but my half-serious worry had been that as Americans who don't speak fluent french, we'd be tagged as second-class citizens and get sub-par treatment. In general, I had been worried that there'd be some discrimination ("Américains qui ne parle pas français! Bah!"), but having been in Montreal for a day and a half (well, technically 3 days, I suppose, if you count the two hours on friday we spent deplaning, going through customs, and then getting to our hotel), I haven't gotten that vibe at all. I think I was overweighting the stereotypical "Americans in Paris/Europe" scenario, but the vibe we've been getting has been very friendly and positive. So far, on the food-only side: 1.Our original plan was to hit APDC late on friday night (or Schwartz’s if we hit really bad delays), since our flight was scheduled to land ~9pm. Unfortunately, we failed to realize that the line at customs at such a prime time would kill about 1.5 hours, so by the time we got our luggage, made it to the hotel, etc, we were too exhausted to go out. Ended up ordering room service -- I had a fairly tasty (and unusual, at least to me) smoked lamb sandwich, and surprisingly deft variation on asian slaw. Definitely inspired me to further explore the smoked meats genre beyond just Schwartz’s pastrami. In general, I'm always a huge fan of lamb in its less common forms -- eg, lamb rib (not riblet), treated or bbqd as if it were a pork or beef rib -- something I've had at ko, but not seen elsewhere. I think Fatty Cue has it too, but never tried it there. My Other Diner attempted to order a burger, medium rare, but was told that “by law, we can only serve our burgers well done – but it still tastes pretty decent” 2.Went to XO Le Restaurant for brunch – we were both starving by this point, and XO was literally next door. It’s a bit annoying that their menus are really not available on their website/there’s literally a comment on the English version of the website that says, “call this number about our menus,” but the brunch was great. – started with a quartet of larger-than-amuse-bouche-portions (mini steak salad that was a play on the standard blue cheese, candied walnuts, grapes type; fried oyster w micro-something and aioli of some kind – where oyster, despite frying, still displayed a very strong and sweet flavor; a beet preparation; and a remarkably tasty bean/cabbage/bacon soup that I’m not doing sufficient justice to in my description) – you then get to choose two half-entrée sized selections – my seafood risotto was excellent – subtly flavored, but the shrimp and other more delicate seafood items were all perfectly cooked (ie, super-juicy, not at all overcooked, close to “rare,” if you will), which I assume meant separate cooking, and then final addition to the risotto itself (while taking into account further cooking due to placement in hot risotto). French toast was outstanding as well (and not just the conventional brunch French toast), and made copious use of maple syrup in multiple forms. My Other Diner also had a excellent pasta that was a riff on spaghetti on carbonara – Finally, the duo of desserts were extraordinary; unfortunately, when I asked whether it would be possible to order additional desserts a la carte, I was told that they did not offer the full-on dinner desserts at that time of day, and only had the less value-additive stuff (standard ice cream/sorbets, fruit salad, etc) 3.Dined at La Chronique last night; had the tasting menu w/some additions from the regular menu + their 5-part mini dessert sampler, which they were more than happy to do for us. Bottom line -- an outstanding experience – also got to taste quite a bit of unpasteurized cheese as well. Superb value too, coming from a NYC fine dining perspective/price point. Size of the place does not lend itself well to seating logistics – while they definitely didn’t overbook us, we did have to wait close to 20 minutes past our reservation time to get seated. Staff was very apologetic, offered free pours of champagne, etc.
  4. Oh, APDC is definitely happening - it just might not be as trivial to do a walk-in seating for 2 as I originally thought. No matter - a late night or 5pm seating is totally doable.
  5. Wowza - thanks for the advice. Sounds like that might be the final nail in the coffin for me and Toque -- even though it sounds like it often still lives up to its (past?) potential, it also seems to have huge consistency issues from meal to meal/diner to diner -- so given the availability of other fine dining options (and limited mealspace), I feel like I should just drop it from the list.
  6. Thanks to everyone for the input. So my main takeaways thus far are: 1.APDC: reservations may be more important than I thought, though maybe picking the right day of week/time of day might help. I was originally planning on doing a super-late friday night walk-in (I think they're open till midnight on fri) and dining w/my fiancée at the bar. sygyzy, I’m hoping that your experience was affected by wanting/being schedule-restricted to dine at a non-crazy-late hour? Due to uncertainty wrt international travel, plane delays, etc, I wanted to avoid making a firm reservation for the day of arrival – at the same time, since we’re getting into Montreal fairly late on friday, I figured there’d be a pretty narrow range of places a)open that late b)that I should use a precious fri night dinner slot on In addition, I figured if APDC was booked solid till midnight, we’d return there at 5pm on a weekday or something like that. Maybe hit up Chloe for chocos if my APDC trip happens at a non-circa-midnight hour… 2. Travel within Quebec (outside of Montreal) is definitely a possibility; unfortunately, neither of us have driver’s licenses (no DUI’s /vehicular manslaughter in our past – it’s a function of where we grew up), so a drive to Ottawa is pretty much a nonstarter. A day trip/overnight trip to Ottawa or Quebec City might still be doable/worth it – not sure what the best way to do this would be. I’m leaning towards the train (reservia.viarail.ca) at the moment, and Ottawa over Quebec City (for nonculinary/generic touristy reasons, but also because it’s closer). Syzygy -- would def appreciate any comments re Atelier that you feel like adding here, or offline. 3. Restaurant Toqué is probably not as over-the-hill as some (random anonymous people on the internet) have claimed, and is likely still worth going to. 4.Add Le Club Chasse et Peche, and possibly Joe Beef to my list, while bearing in mind that these are both “heavier” dining experiences (the former more formal, the latter more casual). Well, time for me to fire up my high school French + figure out what to get at APDC in addition to the plogue à Champlain
  7. Not sure that I’ve got much to add here (others in the momofuku ko thread seem to have a pretty firm lock on originality/eloquence), but here’s my two cents regardless: I had my first ko lunch experience this past friday (9/17/10), and it was amazing. I found it to be of a significantly higher order of quality than my ko dinner experience earlier that week, which was itself excellent (and drove me to snag the lunch reservation two days later when it fortuitously opened up). The selection that I enjoyed was quite similar to the one that The Food Doc described in far greater detail above (unsurprising, given that we lunched 2 days apart). While some of the items were completely identical, like the lamb rib bento box concept, #8 on Food Doc’s list (or at least the description that I heard matches the posted description perfectly); basically the same -- like a British Columbia oyster (I’m assuming due to daily freshness/availability) in place of the Kumamoto oyster in the oyster stout amuse; or else a signature item (the shaved foie gras/lychee/Riesling gelee/pine nut crunch) that I couldn’t get enough of; it looks like there was a decent amount of tweaking over just those two days (and/or adjustments for market availability). 1.Service comments: I personally didn’t find service/ambiance at ko to be an issue, but I enjoy a variety of different service styles. For instance, at the other end of the spectrum, I’m fond of Eleven Madison Park and greatly enjoy the service there (and don’t much mind fancying up when I dine there). In contrast, going by what I’ve heard about ko and my experiences in other parts of the momofuku empire, I took full advantage of the casual/eclectic atmosphere – I specifically changed into a comfy short sleeved shirt, drawstring pants (expansion potential!), and flip flops for lunch, and also brought a viscoelastic foam pad that I folded over repeatedly to pad my stool during the 3 hour gorgefest (I think in the real world, people use them as bath mats or college dorm mini-décor). If I had one of those portable “seats” that unfold to provide instant back support, I would have brought that too/instead. At the same time, I can also see why people, especially those coming in with perfectly reasonable expectations of what a two star Michelin restaurant experience usually is, may be unpleasantly surprised, or get an indifference/condescension vibe (which I personally didn’t). I also suspect that this is much more likely at dinner; the degree of interaction/energy level was far higher at lunch vs dinner, and there was definitely a casual warmth factor that was strongly and actively present at lunch. Somewhat obnoxious patrons were jokingly humored, etc etc. People who asked questions at dinner definitely weren’t ignored or insulted (as some have claimed), but unless you actively engaged the chefs with questions, there was a much greater degree of brusqueness and “end of a long day” vibe. It’s not an issue of A-team vs B-team (at least when I went) – the set of people there for dinner and lunch were almost entirely the same – they just seemed less time-pressured and generally less tired (as most people would be at noon vs close to midnight). Another dinner patron, when asked for food allergies/preferences, stated that he didn’t want any eggs (and obv had not stated this during the reservation process) – this was handled with aplomb, as far as I could tell. 2.Food comments: -There’s very little overlap between dinner and lunch (besides the foie); the only thing I can think of was the lamb rib, but these were parts of drastically different preparations and presentations. -Overall, the creativity factor seemed sig higher at lunch vs dinner, even after adjustments for more time/room to play around; there were a few items at dinner that were “meh,” but not really any at lunch -One exception to the lunch >> dinner rule -- I think the lamb rib at dinner was really outstanding. As part of the (necessarily) smaller, bento-box concept at lunch, I think it lacked the same degree of tastiness and fattiness (but again, this probably 1.worked better in the context of the more restrained bento box theme and 2.was an inherent limitation due to the need for smaller, and (thus?) less fatty lamb rib(lets?)) -I found a few of the sashimi-ish fish preparations less exciting, but not by any stretch of the imagination bad; this is probably a personal taste issue [eg, Sushi of Gari (more creativity) >> Sushi Yasuda (more purity of ingredients/subtle quality) for me] -My main source of sadness would be the lesser emphasis on (and obviously, limited facilities for) pastry/dessert vs more conventional high-end restaurants. This is unlikely to trouble other diners, but I also have an immense appetite* (especially for sweets). When dining out at a new/promising restaurant (or a seasonal adjustment to a restaurant I really love), I will frequently consume 3-5 desserts to start (all the interesting ones on the dessert menu**), followed by the tasting menu (w/a few a la carte savory items tacked on), and then the tasting menu dessert(s), assuming they don’t overlap w/the regular desserts. -Non alcoholic drink options are _really_ limited (sparkling water, Q Tonic, and coffee – no dr pepper, even), but that’s something I’m pretty used to – there are only a few restaurants that have the interest/wherewithal/service-levels to do really interesting non-alcoholic beverage pairings for me (custom non-alcoholic cocktails, etc). Most people dining at Ko probably won’t be affected at all by this issue. Bottom line: I can now see why some people choose to dine at Ko dozens of times a year. I’m not quite at that point (yet), but I’ve booked another lunch reservation for 2 weeks out, and would have booked one for this week had I been faster. If there were a full seasonal menu change, lunch at ko would rank higher than anyplace else in NY in my book. As a inevitably flawed, apples and oranges comparison, I probably enjoyed my ko lunch more than my extended tasting at Per Se, even if the ko experience was severely less luxe, and there were more misfires. I’m trying to adjust for the huge service/ambiance differences; as I mentioned before, I like both ends of the spectrum, and more importantly, both experiences are similarly lengthy tasting menu driven meals. That being said, I think it’s also a fairer comparison for me personally, because the dessert menu selection at Per Se is also compressed (though not nearly as much – I was able to snag the additional desserts off the vegetarian menu, and an extra dessert off the standard tasting menu, and the mignardise selection is insane). This is also w/cost insensitivity – were one to tack on the bang for the buck card, ko would place even more favorably. Notes: *-When my dining 2nd flaked out on me and I had trouble lining up a replacement, my (rejected) counterproposal to ko to avoid the partial cancel fee, was for me to pay for and consume 2x the tasting menu. **-Café Boulud is a challenge.
  8. I'm planning a visit to Montreal from October 8th-16th that will be very food-focused, with an emphasis on high-end, contemporary cuisine. While I definitely plan to hit Montreal classics, like various Montreal bagels, Schwartz’s, poutine (at APDC?), etc, those parts of my vacation probably doesn’t need as much structured planning/reservations/etc, is easier to research (often, there’s consensus wrt 1 or 2 places that do the best food product X), and making the “wrong” choice is less costly (in terms of time and money). My current ordering (w/lots of influence from aromes’ reviews, as well as traditional reviewers + egullet/chowhound), in roughly descending order of interest, are; 1.XO le restaurant 2. Restaurant Laporte’s 3.RAZA 4.La Chronique 5.Laloux Bistro 6.Nuances 7.Toque (I’ve heard many reviews stating that it’s long past its prime, though aromes’ experience seemed to differ) There are some strategic decisions involved – eg, most of the above are open for dinner only from Tuesday-Saturday (La Chronique and Laloux Bistro aside). Can anyone comment on my choices, whether to reorder them, what I should add/subtract, etc? Background info: I’m from and live in New York City, and (like so many others who follow egullet) live for food. I have a tremendous appetite –for the ethnic exotic and the outré, as well as quite literally for quantity (APDC sounds amazing), and a super-strong sweet tooth. To give this a bit of context to the appetite/sweet tooth comments (these are mostly NYC-based, since I’ve never been to Montreal before), I: -often go to ChikaLicious and order all of the desserts on the menu -when going for dinner at a new (or favorite) restaurant, frequently order all of the “interesting” desserts on the menu a la carte (i.e. no molten-chocolate-cake equivalent, usually 3-5 in total), before doing the chef’s tasting menu + a few a la carte savory items thrown in -used to go to Room4Dessert (before it closed) and did the same + cheese and whatever savory-sweet things Will Goldfarb had come up with (this would got me closer to my limits) Overall preferences (focusing on the high end only, since that’s what this post is focused on): I prefer complexity/modernity to tradition when dining on the high end, i.e. “I wouldn’t want to eat at Le Grenouille, but I’m still very fond of Le Bernadin – that being said, I still like Momofuku Ko (at lunch) better.” On the avant-garde/molecular gastronomy side: I like Corton a lot, but have been repeatedly disappointed with WD-50 (having sampled their menu extensively over several sittings). I also enjoy restaurants like Gramercy Tavern, Gotham Bar and Grill, and Blue Hill as well, but not quite as much. Degustation is one of my favorite restaurants, but it’s hard to book on short order, even for a pseudo-regular. If I had to choose from the top restaurants in NYC, I’d actually prefer Momofuku Ko (but only at lunch) over Per Se -- I've found Masa enjoyable, but almost boring compared to less traditionalist (and also less pricey) high end sushi houses. [it definitely wouldn't make my top-10 or even top-25 _personal_ favorites list]
  9. Anyone know _for sure_ if they're open tonight (sunday)? I tried calling them, got Tailor's vmail... edit: Having read the rest of the thread, not sure if they're still in a)no liquor license mode b)reservations only mode tho the lack of answering is not a signal of closedness, i guess...
  10. has anyone tried to make reservations at, or dined at, Degustation very recently? I ask because I've been trying to call the 212 979 1012 number since yesterday, and I keep getting a ring, and then a busy signal. My initial thoughts, in descending order of probability: a) I'm having odd cell phone service issues on my end b) Rosh Hashanah vacation? c) another closing in the Lamb restaurant empire. Of course, a) Tried calling w/my girlfriend's cell phone (T-Mobile vs Verizon) -- same deal b) Possible, but seems unlikely c) I was under the impression that Degustation was doing well financially, as well as culinarily. Anyone else with a more recent data point, or else, a landline and 30 seconds to spare? Thanks much...
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