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Everything posted by sickchangeup

  1. I would add Ippudo Ramen to that list, it definitely is a foodie experience and I have never taken anyone there who failed to love the place. There will likely be a wait to be seated, but for some apps, ramen and alcohol, maybe even dessert and you should fall in under $50/pp. Of course for just the ramen itself you can clock in at $20.
  2. A couple of weeks ago, me and my wife visited the French Laundry for the first time, and with the assistance of the folks of Per Se, were able to arrange for an extended tasting menu. After being connected to TFL's private dining director, we settled in on a $500/pp menu that pretty much satisfied what we were after, which was to taste as much as we could (in a single seating) of Chef Lee's food in the same manner that we've been fortunate enough to do with Chef Benno's food at Per Se. At first I was a little worried about the value within the suggested $500 price tag given that it was past truffle season, but these fears proved to be unfounded. A few technical notes: 1) I am not a photographer (perhaps the exact opposite), a point which will become painfully clear in the photos to follow 2) Due to the somewhat spontaneous process and custom menu, we were not given a menu. We were told we'd receive one later, but it doesn't look like that's gonna happen, so forgive me for the lack of complete information on some of these dishes. 3) We were definitely understood by the staff to be the "Per Se" folks, whatever impact this may or may not have had. I'll summarize general thoughts, differences & conclusions in a separate post later on, what follows is a photo essay of our meal. At the right place Amuses involved a glass of bubbly, gougeres and salmon cornets. The gougeres had a cheesier crust, while the cornets had a stronger salmon flavor than what we were used to. This would become somewhat of a theme. Green/Young Garlic Veloute Delicious, I love starting my meal with these veloutes, the size of the veloute bowl is perfect for a wake up. Oysters & Pearls The oysters here were again quite strong in flavor, the sabayon a little less cohesive. Hard to be disapointed with this dish, even if we've had it a number of times. Fluke Sashimi, Compressed Apples, Radishes, Orange Slice This was our first canape, and the first dish to deliver on the promise of trying Chef Lee's food. Although the photo isn't great, you may be able to notice that it looks like there are 4 slices of fluke stacked on top of each other, which is the case. What was surprising was the thickness of the slices, and also the fact that they had been glued together, I couldn't separate one piece from another. Very interesting dish to eat. Bacon wrapped Shad Roe, Avocado Puree, Marzano Tomato In a word: Sensational. In several more words, one of the better dishes I've been served, every item worked. The bacon fat diffused any sort of fishiness, and alternating between the savory tomatoes and the cool avocado carried me through beautifully. White Truffle Oil Custard, Black Truffle Ragout A classic and delicious, but one we've tried a number of times before. “Rouelle de Tête de Cochon”, Asparagus, Sauce Gribiche The most refined take on this dish I've eaten, surpassing most recently versions sampled at Ssam Bar & Benoit. The perfectly crunchy golden shell was stuffed with head fat and cheek meat. Salad of Hawaiian Hearts of Palm, Compressed Asian Pear Hand Cut Tagliatelle, Black Truffle Sauce, Microplaned Black Winter Truffle Sorry for the awful photo. We were very surprised to see this dish, my wife's favorite, since black truffles were out of season. Once I sampled the truffles, I understood they had been frozen (were still quite cold until stirred), probably why they were microplaned and not sliced. Still, this was awesome, the truffles still very fragrant. For an out of season black truffle experience, this absolutely hit the spot. Olive Oil poached Cod, Squid, Chorizo, Peppers, Fava Beans, Saffron Broth This fish was insanely perfectly cooked, each flake just yielded under gentle pressure and peeled off and into the broth. But this dish was an enigma, cause despite knowing that chorizo, squid & saffron work beautifully together, and despite the perfectly cooked fish... I just didn't like it. The squid and saffron were overpowering, the chorizo failing to yield and blend. I don't get why I didn't love this dish. Louisiana Gulf Prawns, Scallop "Spaetzle", Garden Beets A second sensational dish. Not sure if you can notice, but the prawns weren't 100% cleanly peeled, some form of connective tissue or shell remained and imparted an amazing flavor. This was like shell on salt & pepper shrimp with all the flavor of, but none of the unpleasantness of consuming, shrimp shells. The spaetzle was a scallop mouse that had been ... "spaetelized". At this point we took a break to go into the garden across the street for 10-15 minutes. Hudson Valley Foie Gras, Silverado Trail Strawberries, Pistachio Powder/Crumble, Balsamic Jelly The story here were the strawberries, man were they good. Great great compliments to the foie, the strawberries were not too sweet, they pair perfectly with the balsamic jelly on their own (also not too sweet) and the pistachio kept things savory and added texture to the mix. Wonderful conception. Caul wrapped & Stuffed Quail Leg I had read a review that compared this to the sweet Chinese Buffet style steam tray chicken dishes that we all dread, and while I do see that angle, the craftsmanship and ultimately flavor/temperature of this dish warrant higher regards. This is an immaculate roll up, the caul fat really adding a lot of moisture and flavor to the quail breast meat stuffing. Norman Rockwell moment for our Kuroge Beef from Shiba Prefecture Kuroge Beef, Morels, Garden Peas & Carrots, Pommes Maxim, Potato Puree A $100 supplement off the tasting menu, this was a monster piece of wagyu, just enormous. It was fatty, perfectly cooked and just loaded with flavor. I was probably just as excited to be served pommes maxim, which I've read about in "Under Pressure", but which I don't believe they make at Per Se. Given how good the regular calottes dish is, I don't think the $100 price tag is worth the difference, but man.. I'm happy I've eaten this at least once in my life. Vermont Cheddar, Sour Cherries, Black Truffle Sauce Grapefruit Sorbet & Jelly Coffee & Donuts "Gateau Au Chocolat Avec Bavarois Praline" 17 courses in all, with mignardises to follow. Before closing, I did mention a note on value at the start that I would like to wrap up here. The regular menu is $240, and if you add in $30 for Foie, at least $50 for Black Truffle (likely should be even more due to out of season status), $100 for beef you already get to $420. Add in the bubbly, the 4 canapes and the C&D, and I left feeling that this was excellent value for the money, that I had been treated like a regular even if I wasn't one at this particular restaurant. Our reservation was for 12:30, and we left close to 5:00pm.
  3. sickchangeup

    Per Se

    If Corey Lee's timeline is any indication, we should probably expect Chef Benno to remain at Per Se through the end of the summer, but that's just a guess.
  4. From Chef Dan Barber: "Asparagus hit last week and they’re almost on every dish. If you don’t like asparagus, you’re probably not going to love Stone Barns this week." link So there you have it.
  5. sickchangeup

    Per Se

    Just got back from our first salon visit, and overall my impressions align pretty closely with the review given by Alan Richman here (save for the main dining room comments). This surely isn't bar dining, and the ridiculously ample space you get when dining in the salon is something I would also not call Per Se Light, but rather Per Se proper with less courses and at a lesser cost. We chose to visit tonight cause my wife was uptown already for a few drinks and had had some canapes, while I had eaten a big lunch - in other words a full multi-course meal was definitely not in the books for tonight, and we got a later start to dinner than usual. We arrived around 8:45 or so and were promptly seated. Our meal went as follows: Gougeres Salmon Cornets White Asparagus Soup with Mint Oil (comped) Avocado Mousse, Pistachio Oil, White Sturgeon Caviar (generously comped) Bread & Butter (3 each of Baguette, Potato Sourdough & Alsatian Rye) Me: Crispy Skin of Fillet of Pacific Moi Wife: Russet Potato Gnocchi with Morels Both: Calotte de Boeuf Grille Me: Snickers Dessert Wife: Selection of Sorbets (Coconut, Passion Fruit, Strawberry & Majari Chocolate) Mignardises To drink I started with a glass of Moscato D'Asti (bubbly) before asking for a cocktail pairing of 3 drinks at their discretion (went: Vodka, Chartreuse, Lime & Egg White then Gin & Tonic then a Dark Rum, Fentinmans Ginger Ale & Caramel Bailey's cocktail). Given the salon seating and the lower cost, the cocktail pairings seemed like a great choice over a single inexpensive bottle of wine (most cocktails clock in around $15 or so). As an added bonus, the bartender works the salon floor, so you get the chance to engage him directly. My wife had Apple Cider, then Green Tea. The bill total came to $250 for the two of us, including tax & tip. Against my expectations, I felt perfectly comfortable dining off the couches, although I suspect they will be switching out some furniture regardless after Bruni's lone negative salon comment being directed towards the same. In Richman's review it seems he got the same asparagus soup and a langostine course comped (he sat in the same seats we sat in tonight we were told). I'd guess that - him as a reviewer, we as regulars - got an extra course than we would have otherwise. From reading other reviews it seems many meals include an extra here or there, be it soup or dessert somewhere. I would also note that eating one of each of all three breads with butter goes some ways towards filling in for an extra course. The two best tables are in the front, one facing outwards (overlooking Central Park) and the other facing the dining room (where we sat). It was actually quite fun facing into the dining room, checking out all the people arriving and departing, doing some people watching. With so much space to ourselves it's hard to compare the value of our meal to most fine dining restaurants around town. For example, this was cheaper than EMP, less food certainly, the best (or coddling if you're Bruni) service in town, a great deal more luxurious and yet relaxed (the obvious 3 star Michelin rated cuisine/kitchen/cache aside). Or perhaps take Ko, remove over half the courses, add in ample seating and the fact you can walk in, and I think the premium in food:cost ratio is well justified to the point where this will definitely retain a spot in the (fine dining, not cheap meals) rotation for as long as they make it work.
  6. What I gathered from Eater was that Masa is just like Per Se. Per Se is $275 (including the 20%) and Masa is $480 (including the tip). If you want to tip more, and many do, then great. If not, they're all set, there is no obligation to tip even a $1 more. This is how I would, and will eventually, treat Masa when I go. I gathered this from the fact that Masa diners claim they are pre-warned over and over about the inclusion of a 20% mandatory service charge, and informed that no more money is necessary over the $480 (just as Per Se does with their $275 - although Per Se makes this abundantly clear, even writing the famous "Service Included" on the check) UE's experience is different, and having not been warned verbally, once again makes it seem (as Eater alarmingly reported) like they are extorting their diners due to the poor wording on the bill, which puts it at odds with the verbal information relayed at booking/confirmation time, and makes people feel the need to unnecessarily tip even more money. In the end just a really poor job by Masa, obviously leaving a poor taste in the mouth of a subsection of their diners.
  7. You mean the chef who wrote a book on cooking sous vide, that modern, scientifically based cooking technique? ← Ha - all kidding aside, sous vide is 30+ years old at the very least, not sure it has anything to do with "molecular gastronomy". They do use a lot of meat glue in that book though, I will give you that. I was referring to this interview I'm just surprised that 9/10 of the top restaurants in the world (still need confirmation on that fact) are now "molecular gastronomy" joints. Seems a big deal to me.
  8. I don't know enough enough about all the restaurants referenced to answer this question, but would it be correct to say that Per Se is the top restaurant on the list that does not follow the style of food preparation commonly (desirably or not) described as "molecular gastronomy"? Or perhaps the top restaurant on the list whose Chef de Cuisine is philosophically opposed to the movement as a whole? In fact, would it be the only one in the entire top 10?
  9. sickchangeup

    Per Se

    The Lounge is getting a review from Bruni tonight/tomorrow: http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.com/200...ant-reviews-11/
  10. I understand your rant - there is nothing necessarily less memorable about eating a bucket of seasoned boiled crabs, muscles, clams, corn, sausage etc... with a loaf of fresh baked sourdough bread, butter packets, cold beer and a bib off of a communal wooden table overlooking some dock somewhere in the Northwest of the US than there is from enjoying a sublime extended tasting menu from Per Se. Your examples are just as agreeable. I do have several reactions though: To compare the two as RESTAURANTS is IMO sheer folly, and I'll do my best not to completely butcher this argument on behalf of places and people with 1000x my grey matter in this area. First, I'd say there are any number of kitchens that can prepare the type of meals you personally cherish the most as guardian of "gastronomic connoisseurship" - in fact I've eaten at a number of "best ever" lobster shacks in the N.E. over the years, and found them - under ideal romanticized conditions as you've laid out - to be just as memorable as you state. But note that you fail to identify single establishments, and rather just lay out broad regions and types of joints, implying correctly that some number of them will do the trick - what they do is (purposefully) not rocket science, even if it's capable of being quite memorable. By way of contrast, the restaurant experience of El Bulli is simply not at this level, there is only one such place on this planet, and it takes a particular man, in a particular place, willing to sacrifice a certain amount of profit, able to draw a certain amount of young talent, to be able to provide it. It is a far and away more complicated dining experience that simply cannot be duplicated to the same extent by any other restaurateur. But it also goes beyond the uniqueness of the experience at many restaurants on that list. Speaking in defense of a place I know better than El Bulli, Per Se (by way of example) has managed to tap into so many different memorable experiences in the course of a single meal, let alone over several visits, that when you compare it to the more... singular experience of the restaurant types you describe your argument just doesn't hold up. Take those truffles away from those Piedmontese restaurants you love so much, and I'm guessing you lose something memorable. Ask that seafood joint to make you steak and chicken instead. Take the lobster away from the shack. What are you left with? At Per Se, the answer is still a memorable meal cause it's simply staffed with some of the most talented cooks in the world, it's simply one of the worlds finest restaurants. Heck, I've seen an entire 9 course+ gluten free meal at Per Se and DAMN it made me drool. Bruni handed them 4 stars on the strength of a totally vegetarian meal. Their entire menu changes at every single table for every single service, all according to who is dining, and even potentially to what it is you want to eat that night. THAT is an amazing world class restaurant that is worthy of being the #6 restaurant on the list, and I don't see how you can equate a restaurant with the operational capabilities to deliver experiences of this nature to the ones that you outlined in your post. On a separate note, the other thing I personally didn't find agreeable was this: Not sure if this was your intent, or if I'm off the mark, but you come off as incredibly condescending and for some reason even angry towards a whole group of people that I'm sure you would otherwise consider your peers if you met them in due course at said lobster shacks over a beer. It's barely worth noting were you not the sage of a place like eG.
  11. Peter - I've been following your posts with great interest, thanks so much for taking the time. Me and my wife will be visiting Korea for the first time this summer, this is all very edifying!
  12. Anyone have any recent tips for getting a reservation? Is it still very difficult?
  13. I think the fact that the awards are generally congruent to the collective perspective of people who dine at a global level adds somewhat to it's validity. This isn't a situation where the list goes up, and people react with a "wha???", this isn't a situation where the NYT reviewer loves Italian food, so every Italian joint get's at least 2 or 3 stars - in general people know Ramsay is struggling, that Per Se & Alinea are at the top of their game right now, that the Spanish chefs are not a fad, or at least not one that has lost even an ounce of steam etc... Are there exceptions? Of course, but they don't seem criminal in any sense. As for what a man like JG thinks, I would be interested, cause I would expect the French to care the least about this. Their standards are set to French restaurants, their bellwether the Michelin report. I imagine this means much less to them than to a chef like Achatz, who lacks some of the validation and reaffirmation provided by the likes of Michelin, NYT etc... (for which undoubtedly they would score 3 & 4 stars respectively). One other thing of interest is the fact that restaurants post Relais & Chateaux and Michelin plaques outside their establishments, but not this Top 50. And I can understand why - look at TFL. One year they are in first, then they slip and slip and slip, and pretty soon you have a plaque validating the opinion of a ranking that has, in essence, given you a pretty serious slap in the face by ranking you behind your little brother and a former apprentice. There is no real large divide like there is between being 3 stars and 2 stars Michelin, it's far more volatile, real time, and perhaps even accurate in some sense. Short of being El Bulli, and who knows in 5 years, I'd be a bit worried about having this out front.
  14. The herbal emulsion was creamy too. It was tangy and slightly sweet. I'm imagining the buttermilk emulsion to be a dairy equivalent - maybe even more like white gazpacho than the herbal emulsion. ← I got to try this dish and was surprised at the level of spice when I had the buttermilk emulsion on it's own. If you just dredge the fish through, eat a grape and some herbs, it's barely noticeable, but if you just take it in pure it's got a lot of heat. This reminded me of the raw fluke with sriracha buttermilk and poppy seeds at Ko, although it's definitely not as good. Lunch was in fact almost an exercise in deception. The halibut & almond milk with the chilli oil poured all over it looking angry as hell? Not a single ounce of heat (kind of a weird dish in fact). The buttermilk emulsion that looks peaceful as day? Spicy. The Jalapeno that come served with the arctic char? Might as well have been green bell pepper. The tomato compote in the new tenderloin dish? Very spicy. Although now that I look at the photo of the menu, it does say "Grilled Beef Tenderloin and Crunchy Potatoes, Tomato Compote with Chillies and Garlic", so I guess that one was my fault... This dish also comes with sauteed spinach that has basil leaves mixed in so you can't really see them, but can definitely taste them. Not sure I liked it, but its in the running for most filling dish I've had for lunch. Only other change to the savory menu was the veal, which I don't really ever care to eat. On the dessert menu, the Harvest dessert is off, which contained my favorite Armagnac-Prune Jam (accompanies the donut hole), replaced by a new rhubarb dessert which while cute in some sense has even less substance than other lunch desserts. We were offered fresh fruit for the first time, which we accepted - I got a plate with sliced kiwi, mango, pineapple, oranges, cantaloupe & a couple raspberries. My wife got a selection of berries (black, blue, straw & rasp) which came with non-sweet whipped cream. They were good, but I'll probably hold off until further in the season to order them again. Alas, still no morels on the lunch menu...
  15. /menu.html should do the trick :-) (creative, I know)
  16. Wow, great trip. Sorry you had to experience Corner Bistro, it definitely stands out by far as the worst place on that list! Would you ensure a dinner visit to Tailor if you were to repeat the visit? That's pretty elevated company with the Momo's, JG, Ippudo, Katz & WD-50's of the world, curious if you felt it managed to hang, and if you'd repeat it over again if given the choice to switch it out.
  17. The menu has been updated to the menu that I was offered: http://www.adour-stregis.com/menus/Current_Seasonal_Menu.pdf
  18. sickchangeup

    Per Se

    It's conceivable, depends on whether the thought of skipping a meal is foreign to you or not. Also matters some if you like to eat late and the time of your lunch reservation. If you take the last seating, you'll be sitting down at 1:30 and leaving just before 4:20 (staff meal time) stuffed. If eating at midnight is your thing, then by all means you'll be able to eat afterwards. I think I did this last time, we wound up at Balthazar for a (really f'ing good) burger just around midnight. If you go earlier, then you might be leaving at 3, at which point eating by say... 9 isn't a crazy idea. They do give you florentines (haute take on a granola bar I suppose) when you leave, so you have something sweet to munch on later that evening if you don't mind the idea of skipping dinner.
  19. It was my first visit to Adour, so I can't really make a big deal out of much. On the factual side, we arrived at 7:30 on a Friday, were warmly greeted, led to our table from which we observed that the next youngest couple in the entire place was likely in their 50's, a good 20+ years older at least. The average age was honestly somewhere in the mid 60's at that point. As the evening went on, a group in their 40's, another young couple here and there walked in, but I didn't expect the sight we had when we arrived. The dining room itself is apart from the hotel lobby, but at the same time it's hard to forget that you are eating in a hotel. The room is quite dark, but nice. Several private rooms and dining enclaves surround the main dining room, the nicest of which they call the "vault room", for it's the room where someone apparently must, or at very least can, rent out one of many wine lockers to the tune of 6 grand a year. Unfortunately the vault room also seems to require a large number of diners, as it's one large table. Onto the food, our amuse was pretty weak, it was a small segment of the Parmesan Crusted Cannelloni that was on the menu as an appetizer the week prior (it's still listed on the website menu right now). This conceptually bothered me for some reason, just seemed very lazy. Three breads were offered, an olive, a baguette and a whole wheat. The first two were forgettable, the last one a delight - surprising since the first two types are my favorites (EMP's baguette being my fav). The butter was a black olive butter. The menu did have some new dishes (at least from what's on the website menu). For apps there was a steamed asparagus and braised morels dish served with a lemon sabayon. There was also a spring garlic veloute served with watercress and frogslegs. Interested in trying the new chefs food, and also going for the "pepsi challenge" to JG's similarly structured dishes, we ordered both. I also ordered the hold over (from the previous chef) sweetbreads meuniere with egg purse app. The garlic soup wasn't great, not reduced enough to my taste, but there was plenty of it. The asparagus & morels were excellent, the lemon sabayon quite lightly drizzled, the asparagus artfully arranged. The sweetbreads were deliciously funky and came served with a poached egg and warm brioche which were good. The veggies accompanying the dish were cut into small thin triangles, adorning the egg & sweetbreads. It was beginning to seem clear that artistic design was a primary concern of this restaurant's kitchen. For mains I had a new halibut dish that was topped with a razor clam shell stuffed with a minced razor clam gratin of sorts. Underneath the fish were 2 sauces, one surrounding the other making a very artful presentation. My wife had the butter poached lobster which was just gorgeous to look at. Neither dish blew away on the flavors, but both were quite good. Dessert was 2 apricot souffles that arrived looking like a million bucks. We were in temporary heaven until the spoon literally hit something solid after I buried it into the top of the souffle. UGH. Large slices of apricot?? In the middle of a souffle?? Who does that?? So frustrating. We threw our spoons down in semi-disgust, eager to dive into the tremendously generous mignardises of macarons! 8 of them! 4 banana, 4 raspberry. These were f'ing good. Between a couple of the macarons and the amaretto ice-cream that accompanied the souffle, all was temporarily forgiven. A quick word on service (the thing I am least comfortable talking about after 1 visit): There does not seem to be a set standard here, the proverbial strong voice at the top directing behaviors & movements to within a certain spec would seem to be absent. Servers definitely had their quirks and mannerisms, good in some cases, bad in others. All in all, I preferred my meal here to my meal at Bouley. Beyond that, I can't really say with any level of certainty, except to say that I'll return once more during the summer when the new chef should be comfortably settled in. There was a lot to like, if you can somehow figure out the most beautiful dishes on the menu ahead of time, I'm certain that photos of this food will be gorgeous. But at the same time, this wasn't a flawless "blown away" type meal either. As far as I can tell, this place (unlike ADNY IMO) seems to have been fairly reviewed to date, even if it may still be improving.
  20. I'm gonna keep up my tradition of posting barely legible menus: This really is an exciting time of year to be visiting restaurants. The kitchen today was SUPER on point, every dish was flawless - I wonder if cracking into a new season juices up a kitchen staff? I'm really starting to appreciate the sea trout dish, I actually missed it about a week back and booked this lunch just to eat it again. The transient tartness of the lemon foam, the fattiness of the fish, the crunch of the fish skin, the ever slight heat of the horseradish and finally the enduring saltiness of the eggs. Incredibly enjoyable micro-progression. Unfortunately with the seasons, sometimes you lose an old friend. The halibut with honshimeji and lemongrass consume is off the menu, leading to some sadness as we contemplated how long we'll be without it. UE captured a few of these dishes last weekend, but I didn't see the pea soup on there. It's a really nice presentation, you receive a large bowl with a big cloud of parmesan foam in the middle. The soup gets poured over the foam, and you see croutons getting knocked about as the two meld. Really nice mixture, visually and flavor wise. Is it reasonable to expect the morels & asparagus to transition to the lunch menu at any point this season?
  21. Something about truffle infused vodka, not truffle juice, so I'm guessing it's homemade and they have it stashed away somewhere. It's kind of got it's own mini highlight section on the cocktails page, was on the menu as of Friday, although I didn't dare ask if it was available...
  22. Anyone shell out for the $48 black truffle martini?
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