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Everything posted by ellenost

  1. My favorite NYC restaurants are: Eleven Madison Park, Bouley, Momofuku Ko and Per Se. EMP is closed on Sundays. Bouley, Ko and Per Se, while open on Sundays, may not have availability on such short notice; you will need to call the restaurants directly. Ko reservations are available only via their website (no phone calls).
  2. I agree with you 100%. A few weeks ago I had another great dinner at EMP (also loved the artic char and the duck). Service cannot be surpassed! As much as I adore Per Se, EMP provides a wonderful dinner at half the cost (and that's why I've had dinner at EMP six times in the past year and Per Se only once). My sister and I are taking our mom to EMP for lunch to celebrate her 86th birthday next week.
  3. Sounds like you need to make a lunch reservation (the onigiri and pickled vegetables are served only at lunch; I have always considered them a gift from the chef--much like the food gift from Per Se). I look forward to your review. I don't think that the food at Ko is traditional Japanese or Korean (which may be why the name translation is not exact either).
  4. Thanks for a great recap of last night's delicious dinner. I was there too! I had an early reservation. I really loved the lamb dish. What I have always found great at Ko is that they can take things that I don't usually like (sweetbreads, trout, apricot) and do something so wonderfully creative that I enjoy things that normally I would never order; to me, that's the sign of great cooking. Since you must be their #1 patron (last year Sam told me that there was someone who had eaten at Ko more than 30 times), you should remember the "butter bomb" that had been served with the beef carpaccio at lunch. That was my favorite--I wish Peter would return it to the menu! I can reconfirm that service continues to be both professional and friendly. Have you had the lunch recently (within the past 2 months)? I'll try for another lunch reservation at the end of August/beginning of September (I try to space out my visits to see the evolution of the menu).
  5. The onigiri is given at the end of the lunch only (along with the jar of pickled vegetables). Ko started the gift of the onigiri at lunch earlier this year. Uhockey had reported about this in his blog, and I said "hey, I never got this". Sure enough when I returned to Ko for lunch in the spring, I received the onigiri too.
  6. I do think you need to at least consider the possibility that, in light of your extended patronage of David Chang's various restaurants, you are recognized by staff, and are probably getting better service than the average patron would experience. Practically all restaurants (from the local diner to Per Se) have extra level(s) of service for their regular and best customers, and it would be naive to assume that David Chang and his team are immune to this. Indeed, my sense is that Chang and his minions are particularly adept at recognizing those whom they wish to pamper. At this point, you are getting the very best they have to offer, perhaps delivered so smoothly that you are unaware it is not offered to everyone. This is not, of course, to suggest that everyone else gets routinely bad service, but it undoubtedly happens sometimes. I have found the service at Chang's restaurants highly unevenneither consistently good nor consistently bad. I have visited them enough times that I think I can draw some conclusions about this, but not so often that I am recognized. One of the key reasons for my continuing patronage at Ko and Ma Peche (haven't gone too often to Ssam Bar or Noodle Bar) is that from my very first visit to Ko (which was my first Momofuku restaurant), I was treated very well. The staff didn't know me, I am not famous (don't look famous or rich either), yet they, from my first dinner, treated me with great warmth and professionalism--that's really all I can hope for in a restaurant. The front staff at Ko has changed quite a bit over the past two years, and many times they have never seen me before, yet they are always professional and friendly. Since on a number of occasions, I dine solo, I am able to observe how the guests seated near me are treated. I am pleased to report that I have never observed any guest at Ko being treated any worse than me.
  7. There was a piece (where I can't remember, or maybe it was from the waitstaff at Per Se directly) that Chef Keller did not want his guests disturbed by needing to flag down their waitstaff looking for their bills. The waitstaff very politely (sames as at Ko) places the bill on the table with a comment that this is not meant to rush the dinner. Perhaps Chef Keller has changed the practice at Per Se in the past year (I dined at Per Se last August and was presented with the bill--same practice for my previous four visits). You mention all restaurants that I have frequented; I know their practice of not placing the bill on the table unless requested--same as at Eleven Madison Park. A funny (well, at least to me) story was when I dined at Ducasse's restaurant in Monte Carlo with my mother ten years ago. We couldn't find our waiter for at least 15 minutes and were in jeopardy of missing our ride back to our hotel (well, it really wasn't funny then; it is now). If I know the restaurant's practice of placing/not placing the bill on the table without asking for it, it doesn't bother me. Ko has the practice (as did/does Per Se) of placing the bill on the counter/table.
  8. Seth: I take it you've never dined at Per Se since the waitstaff at Per Se always places the bill on your table before you've asked for it. I found it a bit odd the first time I dined at Per Se, but I don't anymore. That's why it doesn't bother me at Ko. There was a recent thread on Chowhound about a diner at a top restaurant being unable to get his waiter's attention (or anyone else for that matter) to get his check. We all had great fun giving him suggestions (including calling the restaurant from his cell phone). Given the choice, I'd rather have the check available for me to pay when I choose than waste time trying to get the bill if I were in a hurry. Chacun a son gout!
  9. FDE: Everyone gets asked to show a copy of their reservation. Since there are only 12 seats, the staff at Ko wants to make sure that the person dining is the same person who made the reservation. As you correctly point out, obtaining a reservation is somewhat difficult. Ko wants to make sure that people aren't selling their reservations for a premium, or that someone hasn't created a cottage industry of obtaining reservations for others as a side business (I could retire from my job as an attorney and make more money getting people reservations at Ko since I seem to be pretty lucky at their online reservation system). Since you were seated on the end (which are great seats), there really wasn't too far for you to walk to your seats for you to be escorted--maybe 5 feet. If you were seated further back, you would have been escorted. Finally, Ko (same for Per Se) doesn't want its guests to have to flag down a staff member to ask for the check. They hand it to you, but they are not rushing you out of the restaurant (certainly not for the lunch since there is only one seating). I have sometimes sat with the check already paid chatting with another patron for a half hour and not felt rushed out the door. I think you may have misinterpeted a few service issues. I hope you feel better about your experience now that you know that you were not being treated curtly.
  10. FDE: My comments are definitely not directed at you. They are recent general observations of rude behavior that give New Yorkers a bad reputation for being pushy and arrogant. Many years ago I moved from NYC to the suburbs of Detroit, and there was an immediate apprehension from my new co-workers that I would live down to the stereotype (I made sure that I was as polite as my new Michigan friends). When I returned to New York, after having lived in Michigan for 4 years, I did (finally) recognize the infamous New York stereotype. Even though it's been more than 20 years since I've returned to New York, I still (thankfully only occasionally) see the ugly New Yorker emerge from people, and it's usually in expensive restaurants, and I am deeply embarrassed for the rest of us.
  11. I have also traveled extensively worldwide, and pride myself with having a sophisticated palate having dined in many Michelin 3-star restaurants (and some amazing lesser known restaurants). The sad thing that I am finding is that (especially at Ko and Eleven Madison Park) is that many diners behave outrageously rude to the staff with demands that are beyond childish. Just because one is paying top $ for a meal, does not entitle them to treat anyone in a restaurant so shabbily. I had an exquisite dinner at Eleven Madison Park this past Friday, and towards the end of my dinner, a husband and wife were seated next to my table. The wife behaved so outrageously rude to the EMP staff I was offended. The EMP staff didn't blink an eye and accomodated this woman's every demand. I truly felt sorry for the staff and left an extra big tip to show appreciation for all of their hard work. Since I dine frequently at Ko, I have also seen behavior to the staff that brings rude to a new low. And then these same spoiled brats post on this site and others that the service wasn't good. My answer to these spoiled brats is "grow up and behave yourselves!". I've always found that if I treat someone with respect (whether it is in a restaurant or in the supermarket), I get treated wonderfully.
  12. Actually, I dine quite frequently at Eleven Madison Park too (most recently this past Friday night). When I lived dowtown I used to dine more often at Bouley. While I enjoy trying new restaurants, the one thing that can ruin a great meal for me is poor service (something that I've experienced at Daniel--shocking I know), so through the years I've concentrated my dining on a few great restaurants instead of trying the latest hot spot. The reason I dine so frequently at Ko is that every time I've dined there I've had wonderfully creative food with attentive and friendly service. Your early arrival at Ko should not have mattered to the staff since I always tend to arrive early for my reservations, and I've always found the staff incredibly welcoming (I found this to be the case even from my first dinner at Ko--that's why I dine at Ko so frequently). Counter seating dining in NYC is a growing, yet still small movement in dining. I enjoy it since I find it fascinating to watch a great dish being prepared--I'd love Per Se to offer this type of dining too.
  13. If you've noticed, you're in a very distinct minority of patrons at Momofuku Ko. I've dined at Ko(both lunch and dinner) more thant a dozen times during the past 2 years, and I've always found the service very professional and friendly. I'm having dinner again at Ko this week, and I am certain the service will continue at its usual high level.
  14. ellenost

    má pêche

    I've always been treated very well at both Ko, and now, Ma Peche, so I wasn't "surprised" that I was given the choice of seating (I thought it was nice especially since the restaurant became completely filled 15 minutes later). The funny thing is that Daniel Boulud's restaurants are heralded as tops in service, and yet when I've dined at two of his restaurants (Daniel and db Bistro Moderne), both maitres d' tried (unsucessfully) to seat me at some of the worst tables even when the restaurants were empty. This is the reason why I spend my money at David Chang restaurants and not Daniel Boulud restaurants. I also find the food at David Chang restaurants (especially at Ko) to be light years superior to Daniel Boulud restaurants. In fact, I wouldn't even go to Daniel for free. I think the prix fixe reservation system at Ma Peche is filling the restaurant. $25 for lunch is a great deal for midtown. I expect to return to Ma Peche on a regular basis.
  15. ellenost

    má pêche

    Just returned from another (my third) great lunch at Ma Peche. I made a reservation for the prix fixe lunch (very easy to make reservations on the Momofuku website), showed up a bit early and was greeted very warmly by Colby (their maitre d'). I was given a choice to sit at a table, the communal table or at the raw bar. I chose an individual table. It was very nice that I was given the choice. I chose (upon a good recommendation by my wait-person) the squid salad and the steak frites. The squid salad is terrific. The delicate squid rings work beautifully with the cilantro, fish sauce, scallions and pearl onions. I was "gifted" with a pork spring roll (I was having difficulty deciding between the squid salad and the spring rolls). The spring roll is served cold in a soft (not fried) wrapper with large chunks of very tender pork and julienned vegetables. Nice dipping sauce of (I think) hoisin and peanuts. The steak frites were great! Smaller portion than the regular menu, but plenty for me (four very thick slices of medium rare beef). The beef had a nice crust and a very "beefy" taste. The rice fries are wonderful. Dessert was a "taste" of cereal milk panna cotta and crack pie. For $25, this is a great value, and I'll be returning regularly for the prix fixe as well as the regular menu. Since Ma Peche is only 2 blocks from my office, it is a very welcome addition to the midtown dining scene. Service was very attentive.
  16. You should try Sushi Sen-nin on E. 33 St. between Park and Madison for what I remember to be excellent (though pricey) sushi. Another place I enjoyed is Artisanal on E. 32 St. between Park and Madison for enjoyable French brasserie type cuisine and the best cheeses.
  17. Great report! It's across the street from my office, and now that my company no longer has a cafeteria, I'm sure I'll be trying the Plaza Food Hall for lunch (in addition to Ma Peche).
  18. Based on your encouragement, I'll be trying for another reservation for early June.
  19. I'm a native NYer, and bought Mike Colameco's guide. It is a bit out of date, but I find Mike's reviews to be very interesting and enjoyable.
  20. Thanks for providing the updated lunch menu at Ko. I need to make a return visit (almost 2 months since my last lunch visit). Glad to see they have made some changes while keeping some of my favorites. A little disappointed that they have substituted chicken for the duck entree. I notice no more lobster dish; looks like they've substituted the soft-shell crab. I love ordering a nice 1/2 bottle (or sometimes a full bottle) of German Riesling; I have found that the Riesling pairs beautifully with all of the dishes.
  21. ellenost


    My sister and I took our mother back to Bouley to celebrate Mother's Day. Our mom hasn't been to Bouley since the relocation, and we thought this would be a nice treat for her since Bouley has been a long time favorite restaurant of ours. When we arrrived, the very charming maitre d' took our coats and told us that he had a very special table for us that would take a few moments to get ready. We sat in the lovely seating area marveling about the beautiful orchids lining the front window sill. I have never seen such a beautiful collection of orchids (except in the Botanical Gardens). After no more than 5 minutes (we were very early for our reservation--great taxi driver avoided all traffic from my sister's apartment in Gramercy Park), we were shown to our table that gave us the best view of the entire restaurant. The room was filled with the most beautiful floral arrangements (all different). To our delight, our captain was a welcome surprise. George had always taken great care of us when he was at Bouley and Danube, but we hadn't seen him for a few years. We hope he stays a long time at Bouley. Bouley offered a 5-course tasting menu (with choices) for $95. We first started with a lovely amuse of a parfait (bottom layer cheese , topped with a tomato gelee, topped with a little quenelle of basil sorbet. All flavors were wonderful separately, but the real magic was when I dipped my spoon to the bottom to get a little of all the flavors on the spoon at one time. For the first course, our mom and I both chose the "Spring Garlic and Almond Soup, Parsley Root and Parsley Puree with Roasted Black Trumpet Mushrooms". All the flavors worked beautifully. My sister had the "South of France Jumbo White Asparagus with Roasted Local Pencil Asparagus, Spring Garden Herbs, Bail Dressing in a Comte Cloud". My sister was "swooning" over this. She very begrudgingly let me have two tastes. The asparagus were wonderful (I've always loved white asparagus), and the comte "cloud" was perfect. We all had the "Porcini Flan, Live Dungeness Crab and Black Truffle Dashi". Both my sister and I have had this course before, and have loved it. Our mom loved it too. There seemed to be more crab than flan. This remains a winner of a dish. We followed this with the "Organic Colorado Rack of Lamb, Roasted with Grains of Broccoli, Cauliflower and Special Spices, Soubise of Cippolini, Confit of Vine Ripened Cherry Tomatoes, Black Truffle Sauce". The lamb was removed from the bone, and must have been an inch and a half thick. The lamb was a perfect medium-rare and very soft and flavorful (not gamey at all). There also seemed to be a black olive sauce on the plate that since I dislike olives, I skipped. There was also a potato puree that was mixed with a cheese that had to have been the best potato puree I've ever had. We also received a side dish of two potato purees (the first was a traditional potato puree; the second was green in color--my sister believes it was mixed with leeks. Both were excellent. Our pre-dessert followed: "Coconut Soup, Organic Yogurt Sorbet, Tree Ripe Pineapple Granite, Ten Exotic Fruit Sorbet". This was perfect. All of the flavors worked beautifully for a refreshing dessert. I would have been thrilled to have this as a full dessert. For the real dessert, our mom and my sister ordered my usual favorite: "Hot Valrhona Chocolate Souffle, Vermont Maple & Prune Armagnac Ice Creams, Chocolate Sorbet". They loved this (as I usually do). I chose a new dessert: "Organic Quark Cheese Souffle, Raspberry and Strawberry Sauce, House Made Mint Ice Cream". This was a lighter dessert and very refreshing. George brought our mom an autographed menu (which is how I am able to recount the menu). Needless to say this was a truly memorable meal. Our mom, my sister and I look forward to our next dinner (or lunch) at Bouley. Bouley continues to be one of my most favorite restaurants. I hope you all get a chance to have as special a meal at Bouley as we have had at Bouley.
  22. Great report and photos at Sage. Will definitely add it to my list of restaurants to try when I return to LV.
  23. ellenost

    má pêche

    Ma Peche is now open for dinner 7 days a week. Menu looks very similar for lunch and dinner. I can't tell whether the prices are the same.
  24. ellenost

    má pêche

    I was having a particularly lousy day at work, so I took myself to Ma Peche for lunch (two blocks away from my office--this is going to be very bad for my diet). I arrived at 12:30, and the nice maitre d' said while there would be a wait for table seating, I could have a seat at the raw bar immediately. Decided since I sit on bar stools at Ko all the time, no problem sitting at the bar for lunch today. Happy to report very padded bar seats. Small bar area (4 seats). Very attentive service. Finally met Corey Lane (Service Director); Corey is a "doll". He kept checking in on me to make sure everything was okay. Margaret who took care of me, was also very attentive. I sent my regards to Chef Sam (who always took great care of me when he was at Ko). I couldn't decide what to order (everything sounds great). I decided on the Asparagus salad with crab and egg yolk (and the tiny potato chips that are served with the egg and onion subise at the dinner at Ko). Everything worked wonderfully! Flavors were great, and the textures were great. Very generous portion too! Glad I didn't also order the fluke and pineapple (next time). I also ordered the pork ribs with lemongrass and caramel--delicious! The meat was very flavorful and tender. The meat fell off the bones. I was "gifted" with an order of the chicken and morels pate with pickled ramps. This was excellent too and a very generous portion. Needless to say I was very full at the end of lunch. Also received an oyster as another gift--very fresh and tasty. Made my way back to the office, and had a chocolate chip/marshmallow/cornflake cookie for dessert that I had bought from Milk Bar yesterday--really addictive! Bottom line: Ma Peche is a great addition to the midtown restaurant scene. You know I'll be back to try the rest of the menu.
  25. I recently returned from my annual visit to LV. I tried two new restuarants (Twist and CUT) and returned to my long-time favorite: Alex. We had very high expectations for Twist, and perhaps I ordered the wrong dishes, but I was a bit disappointed. The food is excellent, but a bit too fussy. There were a number of amuses; all were good, but none were memorable. I started with the foie gras degustation since I love everything foie gras, but this was a bit too much even for me. There were four different preparations, and probably one too many. The seared foie gras was a very generous portion and perfectly cooked and delicious. The foie gras terrine was another generous portion, but a bit too sweet. The foie gras croquette was cute. The foie gras custard with lentils didn't work for me--a bit too bland, and the lentils didn't add anything for me. I ordered the lobster tasting, which again had one too many components. All were tasty (although 2 of the dishes were very similar in taste). There was a funny tasting white mint broth that both my sister and didn't care for. While our captain was the model of professionalism, one of the waiters was a bit too casual. I was almost too full for dessert, but since I knew I probably wouldn't be returning any time soon, I decided on the Kerala: tandoori apple, caramel cinnamon ice cream and mango salad (yes, once again one too many components). The apple and ice cream were very good, but the mango salad didn't add anything. The wine list is very expensive. The German Riesling that we ordered could be had at Lotus of Siam for $100 less. My return visit to Alex was perfect (as usual). This was my fourth dinner at Alex in the past 2 1/2 years, and every time is sensational! This time I ordered the tasting menu (which is not what is currently listed on the Wynn website). We asked our captain if we could change the foie gras preparation to a seared foie gras preparation since the foie gras preparation on the menu was made with pork and my sister doesn't eat pork. No problem. We started with some delicious amuses. Our first course was a scallop crudo with celery salad, purple rice and caviar that was a delicate way to start the evening. This was followed by poached lobster quenelles with cabbage, ramps and crayfish--another delicate winner. We then had the seared foie gras that was perfect. This was followed by the Amadai (I believe this is a Japanese fish). The Amadai was served with crispy sweet potato, littleneck clams, horseradish and a red wine jus. This course was delicious. My favorite (after the foie gras) was next: Japanese Wagyu rib eye (that was even better than the Japanese wagyu ribe eye at CUT). The beef was very flavorful, and the richest and most tender beef I've ever had. The beef was served with fava bean puree, hon shimeji mushrooms and snap pea salad. The palate cleanser was a coconut-ginger tapioca with calamansi gelee that was nice. The dessert was a vanilla napoleon with berries and mint oil, that was just what I wanted after a big and delicious meal. Service was flawless (as usual). Our parting gift was a package of the best macarons ever (yes, even better than those at Per Se). I look forward to many more return visits to Alex! Our final dinner was at CUT at the Palazzo. We were shown to a large booth even though there were just two of us. Service was very attentive. The pretzel bread and foccaccia were marvelous! We skipped appetizers since we wanted to concentrate on the beef. My sister and I shared the American kobe-style rib eye and the Japanese wagyu rib eye that the kitchen split for us. We paired the beef with sauteed onions (great), sauteed spinach (also great) and the fries (very good). I preferred the Japanese rib eye, and my sister preferred the American rib eye. This was a great way to taste two different yet similar cuts of beef. The crust added a nice texture and great flavor to the beef. Even though I didn't need dessert, I chose the coffee semi freddo and donuts that were wonderful. Definitely plan to return to CUT on my next visit to LV. In summary, great visit to LV (beautiful weather, great shopping, and great food!).
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