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Everything posted by sickchangeup

  1. I wouldn't be surprised in the least if achieving a 3rd Michelin star didn't factor very heavily into both the execution of, and timing of, Chef Boulud's considerations in going ahead with a renovation at Daniel. How could it not? Bruni was enamored by it, could work the same magic with the Michelin inspectors. Right, because new upholstery is exactly what the folks at Michelin should be focusing on. I take it you are the #1 fan of their NY Twitter feed too?
  2. I wouldn't be surprised in the least if achieving a 3rd Michelin star didn't factor very heavily into both the execution of, and timing of, Chef Boulud's considerations in going ahead with a renovation at Daniel. How could it not? Bruni was enamored by it, could work the same magic with the Michelin inspectors.
  3. That sucks. Haven't lived in Philly since graduating some 10 years ago, but I still remember those wild mushroom dumplings.
  4. sickchangeup

    Per Se

    More on Benno leaving: NYT
  5. sickchangeup

    Per Se

    Yeah, that is a weird one. The wine ones were $325, but included tip from the looks of it. These appear not to.
  6. sickchangeup

    Per Se

    Anyone going to this event? Thinking of going, but the wife isn't a beer fan. I checked this morning, and they still had seats, so hoping to still get in. PM me if you're thinking of going and want to meet up.
  7. What did you and your kids wind up eating? No pictures?? And yeah, despite a few service issues - which you likely wouldn't have had at Per Se - a lunch that cheap and at that high a level might just be impossible to beat in this city.
  8. This is good news: A reliable source tells me the Gourmand changes entirely with the season. The same source tells me they are not "jacket preferred" as I wrote (which I got from their opentable page), the EMP website in point of fact does not address it at all. So apologies for that.
  9. I swear to God, one time this lady was wearing what amounted to "Hamburglar" pants at Le Bernardin. So unfair... Whether it bothers you or not, it's at least accurate to say that EMP is the only non-Masa 4 star that goes with the "jacket preferred" vs. "jacket required", and thus likely to be the least formal.
  10. We can easily enough agree to disagree on that. I found no difference in spirit or length of meal, or anything else appreciable for that matter between the 8 course menu at LeB and the 11 course at EMP. All things equal, I prefer to try 11 things vs. 8 things, sure. But they both seemed the same in style to me - "here is our best, enjoy!"
  11. Well, here's Achatz's take on what I'm semantically referring to: "So when I arrived at Trio in 2001, I suggested that we make that "VIP" experience available to everyone who was interested in it. The Tour menu was created. It was the entire repertoire of the kitchen. Twenty to 30 courses in length, it was the "kitchen sink". By making it available to everyone we had covered our own butts. If a table noticed a neighboring table receiving a course they did not, it was for the simple reason the elected to not order the menu that the course was on. But more importantly, we now made our "best possible" experience available to everyone. This worked...most of the time." This is generally how I perceived these extended menu's to work. And Per Se lists no menu's, but you can certainly call them and ask for the extended menu, and get it - anyone can, you just have to pay more - same as LeB, Daniel, EMP etc...
  12. I don't think this is right. Le Bernardin, Jean Georges, Daniel, and Eleven Madison Park all offer their top tastings to anybody who is willing to pay the prices that are clearly marked on their menus. per se is the exception. ← Nah, per se is the same - anyone can ask for it. I meant to stress VIP "style" - i.e. what they would drag out unrequested for VIP's, not to suggest that only VIP's can order them.
  13. That category being just literally the category of restaurants that are "4 star NYT"? Or that category being a restaurant generally of the same caliber independent of NYT? The first statement is irrefutable. The other, oh yeah, you have a fight on your hands :-) (and that fight will have nothing to do with personal preference, I promise!) p.s. By way of fact, and to assist in the discussion, LeB lists 8 courses for it's extended menu, Daniel lists 8, JG 7, EMP 11 and Per Se doesn't list anything, but from experience and reports, the extended menu starts around 14 and can go up from there. I think it's generally fair to refer to these as VIP style menus, although I think that only Alinea comes out and says "here it is, you can buy yourself in as a VIP for $X", enjoy.
  14. Very nice report. Course for course, that's exactly what I ate as well. I agree with the large tomato slice, it was a little intense and tomato "jar"y. I think I enjoyed the lobster dish more than you did, and enjoyed the halibut a bit less - I felt the sauce should have been considerably tighter, it was really drippy and wet, and the radishes didn't seem to make sense either. Did you feel awkward at all with the "smoke" dish? At Per Se it's two halves of a globe, so when they remove the top half, the smoke rises from the bottom bowl. At EMP it was just a large bell jar that went to the felt, and all the smoke pretty much remained in there after the server "unveiled" it. Made for an akward moment as the server kind of tried to tilt the jar and get the smoke out, while I tried to lean in to glean some aroma from the smoke. I was told the middle layer of the caviar dish was a Sturgeon Panna Cotta. Did you also leave with the sleeve of pates de fruits? Seeing the legit Julep cup I am kicking myself for not having ordered one, I should have known they do it properly there... The real question (to me anyways) is how do we know when to go back for a different menu? I don't really have a desire to eat these dishes again, but would go back for a different 11 if it were available.
  15. Anyone else find it interesting that Bruni praised Marea's pasta ("The fusilli with tomato, octopus and bone marrow at Marea is a revelation") in one of his final columns, praised the Chef ("and an example of what makes Michael White such an inventive, intuitive master of pasta"), yet didn't review them when he had ample time to do so? I get the feeling he would have had to give them an unfavorable star rating if he had been forced to file (for various issues discussed), but chose not to - hoping they would get a chance to iron out the kinks. That he didn't want to hurt them? Anyone else have another interpretation?
  16. Hmm... It occurs to me that I am running upstream into a crowd of people that feel quite differently, and people who's experience and knowledge in the cocktail arena runs circles (many circles) around my own. This could be rough... To answer your first question, the two cocktails that stood out above the others at my most recent meal were off-menu, so I can't tell you every ingredient. But one was made with Genever Gin and a generously wide slice of lemon peel (not a classic Martini however). The aroma was really enveloping, floral, clean, beautiful - made me sad to finish it. It reminded me of the way many fine dining kitchens refine and present their food - find an ingredient, enhance the flavor in a subtle yet classic way (in terms of it's flavor profile), present it beautifully and make sure it tastes delicious. The devil really being in the refinement and the small details, repetition vs. independence I guess. The other standout drink was a take on the daiquiri concept, where green chartreuse was flamed table side before being introduced to the cocktail, once again giving the main alcohol (in this case rum) a more subtle rounded overall enhancement. I detected hints here and there that they were paying attention to new trends (one drink contains a single big square cube of ice as a simple example), but somewhat cautiously incorporating them into classical things - not dissimilar to Humm's cooking approach perhaps. The service level from the bar is also incredibly high, which doesn't matter to the taste of a cocktail, but matters some in the overall experience of the meal. Like I said, the barkeep tends to walk out to the table a few times to check in, and my comments generally play into the direction of things for further courses. Probably helps that I always dine early and tend to order the more expensive menus for dinner when I go. By way of contrast, and this is a gross generalization of (in the case of PDT) an impression gathered over 2 visits and about 15-20 cocktails (groups of 4 each time), the cocktails struck me more as being the realization of independent intellectual exercises ("Let's put Benton's bacon into bourbon") rather than something that began with a deep respect or understanding for the particularities of the alcohol itself and evolved from there off the shoulders of years of experience and generations of tradition. It seems less like the way a classically trained chef would approach ingredients, incorporating years of formal learning, slowly finding spots where they can evolve their own cuisine to depart from the classical methods, and more the way younger talented cooks might approach food - more aggressive, experimental, fast lane kind of stuff. When the stuff works, and it's done to your tastes, it's fantastic. You mentioned up thread that when you found that one guy working at that one bar, it was awesome - but too many challenges in finding that one guy led you to give up, cause you were back on less certain ground with the general crew. Ironically, I generally don't mind this approach and in fact sometimes seek it out, when dining. But in the case of PDT, and perhaps generally cocktails, I personally felt like I landed into too many cups of someone else's evolution as a bartender (I have a vague recollection of a cocktail that sought to enhance bitterness of an ingredient, and accomplished just that), a few too many misses, to make me prefer it as a cocktail destination outright.
  17. The cocktail experts above have put this place in the 3rd category, but everytime I do a cocktail pairing (barkeep's choice) at EMP I am blown away by how good they are, how competent and serious the program there is. This would presumably be placing your food requirements above your alcohol requirements, but I'm not aware of any fine dining program in the city that even comes close to touching it. I also don't understand why all Meyer bars are lumped into one sum, EMP's crew seems vastly superior (for example) to USQ Cafes barkeeps. FWIW, the best cocktails I had were off-menu items, and for my money (and to reveal how far apart from this crowd my tastes truly run), better than anything I had at PDT for example (I sat at the bar at neither place in my visits, seems important to note, although the bartender at EMP came to pour/check in a few times throughout my meals).
  18. Have you done the 4 cheese yet? The char and the pungency of the cheeses goes really well together, elevates the whole group as a whole I found.
  19. If you keeping adding peeps, you're inching into Per Se East Room (private room) territory, which might be the single finest table in all of Manhattan. Cost-wise, there is a fixed minimum cost involved, but you're getting closer by the minute it seems.
  20. Man, this is probably the toughest question for me to answer, as these two at lunch are literally my favorite meal experiences in the city and I go to each as frequently as I can (the decision on dinner wouldn't be nearly so close for me). For purposes of background, Per Se is to me the best restaurant in the city. JG is, to me, 2nd best - there is a significant gap in my estimation, but those don't show so much on a first visit. At the heart of the issue is that JG's lunch is such a huge exceptional value, it's so deeply discounted, that dollar for dollar, it may actually be the better choice. It's insanely cheap, order the Tuna Ribbons and stop to consider that this is a $14.50 dish at a 3 star establishment for a second. Then add in the amuses, and the mignardises and it's crazy. In my perfect world, I'd visit one this weekend, the other next... forever! In my perfect world I'd also be quite wealthy and commitment free. I'll add these points to your evaluation: You would need to order 4 courses and dessert at JG to match the amount of food you will be served at Per Se for lunch. I would also add (and this is particularly important for lunch I find) that non-alcoholic drinks are included at Per Se. So you can ask the house to do a non-alcoholic beverage pairing, finish with a cappuccino, and not pay a dime extra. Seeing kids get that huge Grand Cru glass filled with Navarro Vineyards grape juice makes me laugh everytime. The same non-alcoholic pairing would cost you extra at JG. In JG's corner is also the fact that they will do half pours of wine for you, so consider that too. The final thing is the environment. I've had issues "fighting" my way through Nougatine at times, having people poke their heads into JG, and with the crowded lone bathroom stall at JG. It's not exactly peaceful on the weekends, it's nice but not special occasion nice IMO. Per Se is, by contrast, an absolute temple with an amazing park view that really makes an occasion feel more special.
  21. I would focus on a signature amuse that just kicks ass. I can't tell you how many times I've returned to BLT just cause of the popover/chicken liver amuses. Of course they have some very nice sides too, the stuffed tomatoes and hen of the woods are money everytime. The steak? Well, needs more aging and flavor certainly, but like I said - I still return. I'm not sure having wagyu is necessary myself for a venture starting out. Could be pricey inventory that just get's lost in these times. Also, the system you described sounds like STK to me, not craftsteak.
  22. But isn't the Salon a la carte? So you get to choose what you have, right? Or, are you saying that the Salon menu has changed every time you've been in? That makes sense since the dining room menu changes every day. ← I think Seth is referring to his experience as a regular diner - the house brings out a selection of canapes and little extras each time, and they are different every single time (even something as signature as the caviar canape, you stop getting O+P). But yes - as a person living in NY, the reason I make Per Se my go to restaurant is that I get to eat new things every single time I go. In fact, it was the previous GM's mission to ensure that if you visited 100 times, you would experience something new that 100th visit (one assumes the new GM carries the same mission), a theory I am in the midst of testing out. It's also why I like Degustation FWIW. Back to EMP, I was really hoping the Gournmand menu was that. I check their online menu's every few weeks, and go back in for the lunch tasting once it changes, which isn't a ton more frequently than the seasons change. I was a bit dissapointed to learn that the Gourmand may not be new each time, but I'll have to chat with the folks there to know for sure. When a menu is online, it's easy to know when to return. When it's not, it's much harder, which is a shame cause the Gournmand is the one I want to return for. p.s. and yes, JG is for me the exception to the rule, I'll eat there every chance I get and gladly repeat many dishes over and over.
  23. I'm very surprised--it is my understanding they are doing it now regularly. If it was a slip up, that shouldn't be happening.... I was told they are doing it now regularly and assumed that to be the case. I think its only been recent but if it was last week, then I think you were supposed to have been given one. ← I got one. I was actually a bit dissapointed in some ways, cause I was hoping the Gourmand was a bit more freestyle, i.e. I could return relatively soon and eat something different. With this 'there's a menu, but there's no menu', I'm not sure when to return for another go. edited to add: Also got a sleeve of pates de fruits, with 4 flavors. Was very nice.
  24. I was informed by the staff at EMP that this was the first time it had ever happened - have not fact checked that myself though.
  25. Although I find myself stuck in the middle here, and am not in the "anti-4-stars-EMP" camp by any means, I personally object to the fact that they serve PLENTY of meals that arguably aren't even 3 stars - specifically the 2 course lunches. This NEVER happens at Per Se, JG, Le Bernardin. Everything that leaves those kitchens are 4 star quality, they constantly strive for the very very top every single time you visit - even in the salon at Per Se for example. They prove themselves from the second the door opens to the second the door closes. If you go for the dinner tasting or Gourmand, EMP is - in my estimation - a 4 star restaurant. Any other meal leaves some doubt. Some meals leave little doubt that it's not a 4 star restaurant. That's what bothers me. They are capable. But they don't hold themselves to it 100% of the time (and potentially, a very small % of the time)
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