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Everything posted by gastrodamus

  1. my friend and i attended alexandre gauthier's 7-course dinner at ssam. we didn't participate in the $75 wine pairing but got a bottle of gruner veltliner, which paired nicely with the first 5 courses. the breakdown: 1st course: une tasse d'eau de mer - seawater w/seaweed poured into a bowl of black sea bass, oyster, chervil, basil. this had a lot of dimension. flavors took a few seconds to develop, starting with the saltiness of the seawater followed by the black sea bass and greens. the seawater tasted like broth toward the last few slurps. a great start. 2nd course: cornichon grillé - grilled pickle topped w/lardo & tarragon, taramasalata w/carp roe, though our server initially told us cod roe. this was the least interesting dish of the night, but it was an introduction to gauthier's playful, asymmetrical plating, which also created an unfamiliar visual tension. from this course forward, the sauces hit the lip of the plate or stems jutted well past the edge of the plate. 3rd course: gnocchi de pomme de terre - yukon gold gnocchi, lemon butter sauce, parmesan, a big fat comfrey leaf that covered the 2 gnocchi pieces. the soft gnocchi combined with the leafy comfrey created an interesting texture. the sauce tied the ingredients together. two sides of the gnocchi were seared to add a little bite. my favorite dish of the night. 4th course: cuisson douce turbot - slow cooked turbot, cucumber, dill. again the texture combo was very apparent. delicate, light and perfectly cooked. 5th course: poulet rôti - roasted chicken stuffed with trout roe, crispy skin, don't recall the beans nor the leafy green (dandelion?). i cut into one of the pieces of the chicken and bright orange roe spilled out. very cool. i'd love to see this dish with salmon roe as the muddiness of the trout roe didn't quite pair for me with the chicken. the meat was juicy and the skin, super crunchy. palate shocker: honeycomb & a squeeze of lemon - good transition between the last entree and dessert. 6th course: prune d'agen - plum, grape skin, maple syrup sugar, don't recall the puree. simple and pleasant. enjoyed the tannins from the grape skin with the plum. both of us got an unintentional seed. 7th course: glace badoit menthe - peppermint & badoit sparkling water sorbet, raspberries. this was intensely minty like eating toothpaste but in a good way. loved the minty, tart, sweet and creamy combo of this dessert. despite a couple of ingredients that didn't work for me, i found gauthier's techniques innovative and appreciated the new flavors and texture combos. he offered a unique experience and there's little doubt that he'll soon be graduating from his "rising star" title to something bigger at la grenouillere.
  2. for this friday in midtown, private dining might be the best way to go for a group that size. try adour alain ducasse, benoit also by alain ducasse, and alto. all of these are walkable and should be within your budget all in. 3-course prix fixe will be the easiest. just inform the event planner that there will be a vegetarian. hopefully one of the above can accommodate your party.
  3. great review. congratulations to mr. humm and the staff. my friend and i are planning on the 5-course next week, but now i'm considering the gourmand. any recos?
  4. I predict that after the first actual fight, they start taking names for the front. If you're waiting for seats at the bar, do the bartenders at least take mental note and make sure you get bar seats if you've indicated you want one? ← i didn't ask or notice if they were taking keeping track, but i'd be surprised if the staff hadn't already refereed a heated argument or two. i can definitely picture a mixup escalating into a fight, especially on the weekends. it's also bad for the diners who have a table as all eyes are on them as they near the end of the meal. a walk-in list would ensure civil guests. well, as civil as they come.
  5. my friend and i walked in at 7:30 on the second night dbgb started offering the full menu at the bar. as sneakeater posted, the hostess informed us that the front is first come first serve. they don't take names, which means the diners are left to fend for themselves for a seat. i'm not a fan of hawking in the first place, but it seems odd that one of daniel's spots would allow this–perhaps to stay true to the rambunctious brasserie vibe? luckily we saddled up against the bar right away. others throughout the night weren't so lucky as they anxiously waited for others to wrap up. i also noticed two girls taking up a 4 top, their designer purses snagging up the adjacent seats. unless i misunderstood the hostess, dbgb should seriously consider keeping a list of the walk-ins. by the time we started ordering, we acclimated to the noise and felt comfortable at the bar. both of the bartenders were great. we ordered: octopus la plancha w/crispy panisse - well prepared and tender. the coiled end of the tentacle had a lot of flavor. fried egg and asparagus w/duck proscuitto - simple, delicious, a must. roasted bone marrow - great presentation; the entire length of the bone split in half, i'd guess just shy of a foot. gilles verot fromage de tete - the bartender said it's slightly different than bar boulud's version but i really couldn't tell, which i suppose is a good thing. tunisienne - spicy lamb & mint merguez w/lemon braised spinach, chickpeas. excellent. the frenchie - not nearly as pretty as the pics online, but it's one flavorful burger. well-seasoned, juicy and balanced. fries were slightly soggy but still very good. kreik beer-cherry sundae - prob should've gone with the souffle but this came highly reco'd. it's good but it's not a $9 dessert. besides the sundae, the price is very fair. nice beer and wine list, good service, plenty of interesting and well-prepared items on the menu. the crowd is tolerable in the front, but i'm making a reservation to dine in the back next time.
  6. i don't know if our table got carried away but we spent $70/person. i suppose we ordered a lot for three. i agree with the slow service but we enjoyed ali's jokes, like the way he refers to the duck dumplings as daffy duck. excellent dish, btw. lamb cheeks, lamb testicles, brain, heart, liver and veal sweetbreads are about as tasty as offals get. i agree w/BryanZ's assessment of the dishes tasting similar, but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing as it never felt like we were eating the same dish over and over. we also had sardines, duck dumplings and cow hoof adding contrast in between the offals, which i think helped reset the palate. ali told us that if we were to give him an advance notice, he'd prepare chicken heads, which apparently he and his brothers used to fight over as kids.
  7. though far from real stats, the dining room was full during lunch on march of 2008. i remember calling a few days in advance to reserve a table for 6. second seating for dinner for 4 wasn't exactly easy to book last summer either but i think it was for a saturday. completely agree with your take on the pate w/foie and truffles. i wish they'd offer a degustation de charcuterie of sorts. i'm amazed by how perfectly cooked the protein is at l'ecole (can't imagine how many students must have been reduced to tears for overcooking protein). the lamb chop i ordered is easily in my top 3.
  8. Exactly. If the restaurant offered the identical food, with counter dining on bar stools and hard rock blasting out of the iPod, Allegretti would be praised as a genius. ← i dropped in for a quick bite last tuesday. i didn't have time to change so i called ahead to ask if t-shirt & jeans would be de rigueur. i was rather surprised to hear that would be just fine. they were playing decent music in the dining room at just the right volume. the staff was friendly and made me feel at home despite my attire. it seems as if there's been a shift to accommodate more casual diners or perhaps it always has been more approachable than one may think. i ordered: taste of nice - marinated baby artichokes, pissaladière, zucchini blossom beignet, baby radish on bed of tapenade, brandade niçoise, vegetable farçi. spectacular starter, especially the zucchini blossom. niçois ravioli as entree - braised oxtail, swiss chard, parmesan, orange beef jus, orange peel confit. you can single out each ingredient and the resulting flavor combination is amazing. it's nicely balanced and i didn't find it heavy as adam platt suggests in his review. i've seen alain's simplified recipe for this dish but it'd be far more economical to just dine here rather than spending hours and hours to recreate it at home. highly reco. roasted carrots - cumin, parsley, light orange buttery sauce. i'm not a big vege guy but i enjoyed the side of sweet carrots. orange chocolate crepe cake - w/chocolate gelato (out of hazelnut that night). great ending. allegretti should be high on everyone's list. i had a fantastic dinner. everything was perfectly-cooked and well-executed as kennethT writes. i think there were only 2 or 3 unoccupied tables when i left, which is pretty good for a tuesday night. the price is more than fair for the quality. plus their $39 3-course prix fixe seems to be a great deal. unless it's a special occasion, i'll wear a collared shirt next time but i'm keeping my jeans.
  9. Has anyone been to Perbacco lately? As of the last time I went, this would probably fit the bill. It may be slightly on the loud side at times, but small, cute and very inventive. It was totally chef-driven and the food was special in its employment of creative ingredients and techniques, while still staying pretty true to its roots. ← went back to perbacco tonight and it's still as solid as ever. full house around 9:30. your description is very accurate. take their creme brulee di parmigiano reggiano with aged balsamic vinegar for example. daring but still true to its roots and ingredients, not to mention delicious. it's a common theme applied to several items on the menu. the noise level isn't too bad and i enjoy the casual service/vibe. they also accept reservations now and are on open table. i don't consider babbo to be loud once you're past the crowded bar/walk-in area. don't let that deter you. even with the music, i don't have any issues conversing on either floor. my experiences have been nothing less than spectacular though it has been getting mixed reviews, especially more so these days. i recommend ordering adventurously instead of the pasta/traditional tasting menus. a smaller, chef-driven place that i recommend is sorella. i believe weinoo suggested it in the italian wine bar thread. i consider it one of the more unique italian options in the city and the food just resonates with me. however it's closed until the 28th as i discovered at the door last week so hopefully the timing works out.
  10. correct, the new number is rather useless for nonmembers and shouldn't be distributed. plus they still ask for your key.
  11. if 'inoteca doesn't work out, here are some possible options: chiyono has a $30 3-course deal. could probably snag the long table but i'd call this evening. dinner and sunday brunch only. i vaguely remember reading that gabrielle hamilton likes to dine here after her shift. i booked a party about your size a few months ago in the private downstairs room at aroma. we were able to order a la carte instead of the $65 prix fixe. ask for allene, the events manager. i was upfront with my party's budget and she was very accommodating. without wine, we could've kept it around $40. might be worth checking out. then there's always koreatown. kang suh has a private rooms upstairs that could fit 10. just don't order too much galbi or bulgogi and you should be fine with the budget.
  12. ditto. just frequent the restaurants that resonate with you. get to know the staff and tip well, but that goes without saying. this piece is over-the-top and most of the suggestions seem too eager.
  13. all solid recos. i also suggest gottino, aroma and the automated clo in TWC.
  14. momofuku ko is currently my favorite restaurant but keep ssam as a backup. babbo, corton and blue hill should be on the list as well. the sommeliers at the aforementioned are sharp. i thoroughly enjoyed wd~50 but it tends to get polar reviews. for kaiseki and sake, kyo ya is a must. for sushi, yasuda. skip megu. the bbq joints here are not what i consider unique to new york. the quality and taste simply don't measure up to the midwest. for something you can't get elsewhere, natashaH's reco for katz's is spot on.
  15. it's too bad your experience was marred by a couple of entrees but i truly feel that lupa is one of the great restaurants in nyc, especially when you factor in service, quality, the extensive wine list and of course the value. i enjoy lupa's saltimbocca though one time it was unevenly salty. i've seen this dish rolled up like porchetta at another restaurant so it's safe to assume there is more than one way to present this dish. i've only had the pork shoulder twice there, once from the regular menu and the other from the prix fixe with a different sauce (ginger & tomato?), and on both occasions, i remember it being really tender. don't recall it being too dry as others have experienced. degus has been on my top 5 since it opened and i've yet to have anything less than a spectacular dinner there. i'd also recommend jack's luxury oyster around the block next time you and your wife are in town. a bit more casual but solid nonetheless. as far as rooftop bars go in nyc, they're all overpriced and none of them excel in drinks. you're literally paying for the view and to be surrounded by rather an annoying crowd. it might be more worthwhile to explore the cocktail scene instead.
  16. i agree that the original wondee is one of the best in NYC. SE wrote about the secret menu, which now sits on every table and i think has changed a little bit since. they also offer a raw shrimp dish that i enjoyed but it's not for everyone. if you love raw garlic, it's worth a try. i reco their mieng ka na and pork kra prow with a fried egg. wondee siam 2's secret menu isn't as extensive but they deliver. the portions seem to shrink in the to-go containers and some dishes aren't as well prepared as the first location. it's still pretty solid. haven't heard great things about the newer locations.
  17. that's too bad. i went back a couple of weeks ago and had a great dinner even though the offals offerings had been diminished to mere two items.
  18. I honestly haven't seen it get that response. Everybody I know considers Pastis a tourist/B&T shitshow that they'd never go near. And I think that for tourist/B&T shitshow, it's food is remarkably good. ← if you live in new york long enough, you'll inevitably end up at pastis most likely against your will. the crowd is awful and the food is just ok. you compare pastis to say a place like 26 seats, it is highly overvalued.
  19. Shhh. Don't know if I agree about Katja, which I have enough trouble getting into, and which I've posted about any number of times, as have a few other food board denizens. ← i'm retracting katja! glad it's getting attention. haha. yes, to each his own.
  20. ← agree. degus and arguably JLOB are def undervalued. allegretti (since bruni's review anyway), kuma inn, falai, bacaro and cafe katja do not get the level of attention they deserve on culinary boards.
  21. completely agree w/nobu, but my experiences at babbo have been nothing less than spectacular, though i admit the desserts aren't all that exciting. luckily my dinners haven't been affected by its unevenness about which i hear more and more. peter luger is another overvalued restaurant. i know many would vehemently disagree. on the flip side, i'd love to see a peter luger burger joint.
  22. early is 6-7:30, late is 2am (1am on weekdays) onward; for me at least. btw, the only places you need reservations are milk & honey and PDT. i only attempt death & co on a weekend if i can get there by 6:30. otherwise what kathryn says is very true. sometimes they call back in 10 mins but usually they call when you've already gotten comfortable elsewhere. i don't recommend going to PDT w/o a reservation on a weekend regardless of the party size. i've seen too many couples get turned away at the door. as bryanz says, skip apotheke. mayahuel is a newcomer worth trying. i've yet to have any issues getting in. there is no dress code at most places. just avoid the extremes: uptight biz attire (tho suits are not uncommon on wkdays) vs. cap, shorts & flip flops. the patrons tend to be everyone in between, leaning toward the trendier side. no hats for gentlemen at milk & honey and little branch.
  23. waverly inn. i think the food is well-prepared but pedestrian. last i went, they still had tuna tartare on the menu and while i enjoyed their mac & cheese w/black truffles (i think off the menu these days), the kitchen is not doing anything innovative. great service however and our server was very generous with the black truffles. of course you go here for the scene, not necessarily for the food.
  24. gottino serves breakfast & lunch. the menu is very reasonable and they offer daily wine specials that should keep you and your friend within budget. you can piece together a solid italian meal and still keep it light on carbs. the patio is a bonus, though dining at the bar is just as enjoyable. great staff. the new mumbai joint off of bleecker is aamchi pao but i know nothing about it.
  25. i should add that the atmosphere and service at these thai joints do not compare to your original list of restaurants. food is the focus.
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