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marcus

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  1. Sadly, the end of an era.
  2. I do understand your point of view. However, for me L'Impero has for a number of years been a primary touchstone restaurant, indicating whether I will find common ground with another person's opinions. I still have a strong recollection of spaghetti with a tomato basil sauce whose flavor was totally flat, and sliced venison, overcooked and with zero succulence.
  3. Another inconsistent and troubling US effort from Michelin, although there is improvement over 2006. I am reminded that in the past, it has taken Michelin about 4-5 years to get a new red guide mostly right, in Italy they have never gotten it right, however, in the process they have generally taken a low profile, awarding few stars, rather than the plethora of stars awarded in NY. It also seems clear, that on average, the NY ratings are pitched about one half star higher than they would be on the continent. In the plus column most particularly is the demotion of Danube, the most glaring mistake among the 2006 2-3 star selections, which has been downgraded to one star. Other changes in the one star area show a slight improvement, although adding A Voce, although not a bad restaurant, seems misguided. Devi, may possibly be the best Indian restaurant in NY, but I have eaten there a number of times, and always leave mildly disappointed. On the other hand, it is better than Tamarind, which continues to receive one star in London. I am pleased to see that L'Impero and Union Square Cafe, both in my view prime exemplars of NY mediocrity, despite many predictions, did not receive stars. However, there remain many odd inclusions. The most notable omission is arguably Sugiyama. One might make a case for Blue Hill, although I wouldn't, but to my taste, Hearth is a clear step below. It should also be noted, that reading between the Michelin lines, the food quality level for receiving 2 and 3 stars appears to be invariate, however, for one star, the category of the restaurant is a factor. This can be used as a justification for awarding a, in my opinion proper, star to Peter Luger. I have never eaten at the Spotted Pig, so I can't comment there, but it appears to be a similar situation. There is thus nothing inherently inconsistent in giving one star to both Craft and, for example, the Spotted Pig. Of interest are the 43 bib gourmand restaurants (under $40) introduced this year. I am familiar with somewhat more than half, and it's an odd collection of winners and losers. On the plus side are Cho Dang Gol and Saravanaas, my personal go to local restaurants when I am looking for authentic and savory asian ethnics. There are also interesting choices that show valid recognition of how NY is different than Europe, such as Katz's and NY Noodletown, which are so funky that they couldn't even get into those guides at all, let alone get a bib gourmand. There are also a number of good, if obvious choices, like Sripraphai, Pearl's, Mary's, etc. However, there are also: El Parador, Golden Unicorn, Home, Nyonya, Vatan, which are retro restaurants which long ago may have made a culinary statement, but have now been long since supassed by many newer and better arrivals. Blue Smoke and Dinosaur, only illustrate that NY does not have any good barbecue, and Jaiya, a Manhattan offshoot of the now defunct Queens restaurant, which never measured up to the original, is now so bad that I wouldn't have eaten the last meal that I had there for free.
  4. My guess is that based on decor, service and cleanliness, Katz's did not qualify even to receive a single spoon and fork, and was excluded from the guide on that basis. Whether one agrees or not, this is consistent Michelin guide methodology. The most famous example is l'Ami Louis which as far as I know has never been listed. The purported story is that Michelin considers the narrow steep staircase down to the restroom to be unacceptable.
  5. I have been a frequent user of the Michelin Red Guides since 1964, and I have been awaiting the New York guide with great anticipation. As I have been staring at the ratings, I find that my initial negative reaction is becoming somewhat tempered. On the plus side, they have made a substantial effort to be more flexible. Examples are Peter Luger, and I believe the Spotted Pig (never been). Giving Peter Luger a star, with its outstanding steak, but cardboard tomatoes, awful shrimp cocktail, mediocre sides and minimal deserts, represents a real departure for Michelin, and one that I applaud. I also applaud them for recognizing that the empires of Meyer, Nieporent, and Batali are not built on culinary distinction. On the negative side, they have allowed their desire to make an immediate marketing impact in New York compromise their historically conservative approach, and their standards. -In the past, Michelin has introduced the guide slowly, often no 3 star restaurants and few 1 and 2 star restaurants the first year. By the third or fourth year, they would have expanded the starred list, and have gotten things pretty much right, although one can make the case that they have never gotten it right in Italy. By jumping so aggressively into New York, they have made a number of clear mistakes, commission and omission, which may create a target for their detractors. Most glaring is Danube, which in my opinion barely deserves 1 star, if that. -By the standards of the European guides, the ratings are clearly inflated, I would estimate by one half star on average. For their existing user base, this may cause a significant negative reaction, with potential impact on their brand. As others have pointed out, Michelin is Eurocentric, and is weak in its ability to evaluate Asian restaurants, which for the NY high-end, particularly means Japanese restaurants. This is a universal problem, not specific to the NY guide. However, my bottom line is that despite any of the above, they have produced the best, by far, cuisine oriented list of the top 39 NY restaurants. They have largely penetrated beyond the hype, the cutting edge restaurant designs, the people scenes, and the places that offer solicitous service to insecure diners. For New Yorkers, and for visitors, this guide will be very useful to those who are focused on getting the best food available. It must be recognized that this is not a guide for those seeking the quintessential "New York" experience. To me, this has always come across as a justification for why less is more, why it's good to be crowded into a loud restaurant, where one is expected to eat quickly, and accept that one only VIPs and regulars are well treated. At the same time, looking at this list of top 39 creates a palpable sense of disappointment. Is this all that there is? Are any of these restaurants world class? Is New York a great restaurant city for serious dining? For me the answer is no.
  6. Just a few years ago, one of the major travel magazines rated it the best hotel in the world.
  7. There are many who believed that Crayeres had not deserved 3 stars for a number of years. I would describe this as a deferred demotion, waiting for Boyer's retirement, rather than a perfunctory one.
  8. I have to admit that I ate 100% of what was served to me at both Gagnaire and El Bulli, the difference being that I enjoyed Gagnaire's food much more. Although both of these places can be described as avant garde, I don't see any direct similarities. I would guess that any attempt to compare these restaurants directly would probably come out looking like a non-sequitor.
  9. A tightrope to be sure, but it is a question of where you draw the line. The key is that the actual ratings can't be compromised. They could, arguably, give him a heads up that ADNY is not measuring up at this time to their standard for 3 stars. It is well known that they used Daniel Boulud as a consultant for planning the NY guide to be issued later this year.
  10. Ducasse is known to have close ties to the Michelin organization which, as we know, is involved in a major evaluation of NY restaurants for their upcoming guide. I would speculate that it is input from Michelin, rather than anything by Bruni, who is a lightweight, which may have caused him to act.
  11. What people may be losing sight of, is that in the days before aquaculture and the depletion of the Atlantic salmon, Wild Atlantic salmon was considered a significantly superior food fish to the Pacific salmon, and sold for a premium, at least 15-20%. It was fatter and had a fuller and richer flavor, perhaps almost like prime beef as compared to choice. Even today, farmed Altlantic salmon has certain qualities that are superior to the Pacific salmon, although typically wild Pacific salmon does have significantly better overall flavor than any farmed version. However, we do need to keep in mind that comparing wild Pacific salmon to farmed Atlantic is not purely an apples to apples comparison. One can still find locally caught wild Atlantic salmon, in season, in certain restaurants in France, Les Pyrenees in St Jean Pied de Port in the French Basque country is an example, and it remains a revelation.
  12. I agree in part, also based on a single meal. The day that we had lunch there, a weekday in early June, the restaurant was largely empty, only 2 or 3 other tables. Everything was well prepared, but the food just didn't grab me in any way, and we had the specialties, the pumpkin filled pasta and their famous duck. On the other hand the service was extremely polished, even choreographed. I believe that it was technically the best service that I've ever seen at any restaurant, ever.
  13. I am a major disbeliever in Zagat, but the one rating that is credible is the popularity rating. Popularity, as opposed to Zagat's other ratings, is not an evaluation of a restaurant, but rather a statement that people are making about themselves. It is based on people listing their 5 favorite restaurants.
  14. Nobu has its ups and downs, but it is a serious restaurant, and the vast majority of people who go there are not looking for celebrities. I'd advise you to give it a try and then tell us what you think about it.
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