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Everything posted by Pan

  1. Steve Plotnicki: "Again this isn;t my assertion. But would you go to a 3 star restaurant that serves fresh oysters, a nice salad with dressing. a grilled steak and fresh fruit?" My answer: No. I would consider paying 500 Euros for 4 people - as my family did at Grand Vefour for what really was a pretty cheap 3-star lunch - for such a meal to be a horrible, inexcusable ripoff. To the quote from balex: I would argue that cheese can itself be a quite complex blend of flavors. The chef may not have created that blend of flavors, but the diner benefits from his/her expertise in choosing what one hopes are superb examples of particular cheeses (just as the chef didn't grow the grapes or make the wine, normally speaking - and wine can be complex, too, or not). Also, while a green salad is itself more or less simple (depending on the presence or absence of various fresh flowers, e.g.), the vinaigrette can be complex - or not. I don't think that the sublime green salad with mushrooms and hazelnut oil that I had at Michel Vignaud (on my first visit there) was incredibly complex, at least not in terms of numbers of ingredients, but the fact that the substitute line chefs abjectly failed to duplicate it the second time demonstrates that, even in more or less simple preparations, balance of flavors and careful treatment of materials can be of very great importance. I also think that while fresh fruit by itself doesn't seem to me like a haute cuisine item per se, a terrific fruit salad with wonderful sorbet, perhaps in a liqueur of some type or other, can be a splendid, refreshing dessert after a big gourmet meal. I know I ordered such a dessert somewhere on my trip to France last summer, but I forget where. Clearly, the experience of eating the fruit salad with sorbet was not as memorable as some other things, but it was very pleasant and satisfying at the time. I will say this: I have a pretty strong memory of the macedonia di frutta con gelato that I liked to eat at my favorite gelateria in Siena. Was it haute cuisine? I guess not, considering that it was served in a place where you could get a triple cone of gelato for something like L. 4.000 in 1994. (The macedonia was considerably more, though I forgot how much. L. 12.500?) But it was great artisanal food, and had a blend of sweet and sour fruits and the different ice cream tastes I chose to have added to that wonderful blend of top-quality Italian produce. Of course, Italian food can't be haute cuisine anyway, right? (Never mind, Steve, I'm not arguing that point with you and do understand the criteria you've been using.)
  2. Pan

    Jing Fong

    For dim sum at Jing Fong, the best bet is to sit as close to the exit from the kitchen as you can. Also, don't forget that there are some nice items that don't move and can be bought at a counter. I don't remember whether all of them are fried, but some are, and I particularly like the friend agar-agar with water chestnuts.
  3. I went after work at Brooklyn College today with a colleague. Nina's right: It's a zoo on weekends. I had my heart set on sharing a calzone with Matthew, but it took a long time before Dominic could get to us, so we shared a mushroom slice. It's not as good when it isn't hot out of the oven, but it was still tasty. For our calzone, we got prosciutto with artichokes. The prosciutto, in thick chunks, was delicious, but I don't think the calzone was quite as good as the porcini/onion calzone I shared with Nina, BklynEats, and ahr on Monday. But it was still excellent. I think that part of the difference could have been that Maggie wasn't there today. Still and all, the food was excellent, and Matthew was delighted and plans on returning. I have to say I'm not sure I'm in a rush to return on another Saturday, though. Nina had the right idea, going on a Monday.
  4. Pan

    Les Ministeres

    All I can say is we clearly ate at different times and the food you received was no good, while mine was. Either that, or it may have deteriorated since June. Or I guess it's possible that our tastes are different. As far as their being much better, there's no doubt about it. I did, after all, go to Grand Vefour on my trip!
  5. Pan

    Jing Fong

    Bux: You and perhaps DStone are probably thinking of Silver Palace, which used to be on Bowery just south of Canal. It become Nong Khanh or something recently. I went once for dinner and liked it. Now, I'm not sure what's in place of the former Silver Palace.
  6. We think this gets points in both Gault Millau and Michelin for being authentic Auvernois cuisine. It's not cheap, and not all the dishes are worth ordering. We went in somewhat ignorant of just how heavy, pig-based, and offal-specializing Auvernois cuisine is. If that's what you want, you stand a good chance of eating well at this restaurant. I enjoyed the blood pudding with apples appetizer very much, and from what I remember, my brother had some kind of bean casserole with bacon (which he didn't realize would be in it), which was also nice. Their beef stew, which I had for a main dish, was too tough and gristly, not worth ordering. Their sausage with mashed potatoes and cheese dish is very popular. The waiter comes with the melted cheese and whisks it over the mashed potatoes with a big spatula. It's a big production. We didn't have any, so I can't tell you how it is, but if I did go back, that's what I'd order for my main dish, most likely. It's clearly a down-home place for exiled Auvernois, but it's not cheap for what you get there, despite its getting a bib gourmand from Michelin. And make sure to have plenty of roughage on the day you eat there.
  7. We happened upon this place when the cafeteria at the Musee Rodin ran out of food completely and we had to find a place that was still open at what ultimately turned out to be 3:20 or 3:30 P.M. Here's the info: 30, rue du Bac Paris (7e) Tel.: 01 42 61 22 37 The slogan in the topic description is also from their business card. The room is a beautiful Beaux-Arts ballroom with brass railings and crystal chandeliers. Their lunch special was inexpensive and a very good value. You get kir or cardinale with the meal. We enjoyed their gazpacho very much, and their magret de canard cooked with morello cherries was really tasty. I forget what dessert was. We went a second time on our return trip to Paris, showing up at a normal lunch time. I enjoyed the food that time, as well, but the other three members of my family were convinced that the food had been better the first time, so they reasoned that it might be better to show up off-hours, when the kitchen can devote itself to you completely. Regardless, it is a very pleasant restaurant. No Michelin listing, though it seems to me that they probably deserve a bib for value.
  8. Pan

    Jing Fong

    I've never had dinner at Jing Fong, only dim sum. A Chinatown resident I know said their dinner was very good but expensive. Was it expensive? That's lousy about the tip-stealing, but I'm not really that suprised.
  9. No comment on Brixton. I have yet to have the pleasure of visiting London (or any other part of the U.K.). But the South Bronx is mostly Hispanic (at least the parts I know), and Harlem is gentrifying. I know blacks, whites, and Japanese who live in Harlem. They tell me rents are becoming expensive there, too. I think you have to look outside of Manhattan for ghettos that are nearly fully black. Bed-Stuy and Brownsville, probably.
  10. Maybe that's because you live in the East Village. I see way more interracial couples of all types here than on the Upper West Side, for example. I forget where you lived before. P.S. I've mentioned my last girlfriend a number of times. She's a chocolate-skinned Torontonian originally from Guyana and of Indo-Caribbean background. I am pretty light-skinned, even for a white (for those who aren't members of the KKK, et al., and consider Jews members of the so-called "white race"). No-one ever made any kind of racial remark when I walked hand-in-hand with my ex-girlfriend, for what it's worth.
  11. Heck, I dimly remember when it was 20 cents (I was 5 and didn't get charged at that point), and I more clearly remember a fare of 35 cents, which lasted a few years. I measure inflation by looking at the rises in subway fares! The last increase was from $1.25 to $1.50. You're right; it was $1.10 _years ago_. P.S. My parents remember when it was a nickle.
  12. I now realize that I was thinking of Semur when I wrote that Saulieu was a "lovely little town." To get to Semur, one drives on a bridge over a stream, past fortifications with a crack in them, and there's a wonderful cathedral on the hill in the centre-ville. We went off the Autoroute to stop at Semur on our way to Dijon and went off to visit Saulieu on the day we drove in stages from Autun to Orleans. We did indeed visit the basilica of Saint Andoche in Saulieu. It was in the process of being restored but was nevertheless open for visits. Here's a link to a fine page (in French) about the basilica: Saint -Andoche. There's a second page, too; just press "Page suivante" at the bottom of the page.
  13. Thanks for the info, Bux. I do recall discussions of Brenner's book. We stopped in Saulieu. Lovely little town!! But we didn't stay there, and it sounds like we may have missed an opportunity for a fine meal there, except that my father undoubtedly wouldn't have been thrilled. :| (That's a sort of smirk there.)
  14. I didn't visit any winemakers, nor did I stay in Chablis; we were staying in Auxerre when we made our first trip to Vignaud and stopping for dinner to break up a long trip from Autun to Orleans the second time. This wasn't a vinicultural trip, but an artistic trip. We were there to see Romanesque and Gothic churches with great tympana and such-like.
  15. It's Italian. Now, THAT is funny. Before looking at it, I was thinking exactly the same thing: It's Italian. And I think the rest of the thread so far has covered the details well. Frankly, I'm not disturbed by the formality, but I like the more informal Italian restaurants a great deal. Informality in Italy only goes so far, however. Italians dress very nicely; even those who wear jeans carefully press them. And just look at the clothes people wear for the nightly passeggiata! I think we can chalk most of these differences up to cultural differences. Americans are generally more informal and want faster service; Italians in the regions I've been to (from Campagna to Tuscany, but mostly in Tuscany and Umbria) tend to be more demonstrative than either the French generally or the Americans, but love to linger over their meals, joking with their friends; French people are generally more restrained than either Italians or Americans (except when watching soccer games in bars, etc.) and have more formal etiquette than either Americans or Italians, but share with their Italian neighbors the custom of a relaxed pace for meals. Anyway, that's my oversimplified summary. But not all Americans are so informal, either. I discussed this a little yesterday evening with Nina and Brooklyn Eats. They both think it's inappropriate not to really dress up to go to the opera (I guess this was covered in some earlier thread); I say that, as a musician, when I go to a concert, I'm off duty and don't feel like dressing as if I were performing. But I'm getting off topic here...
  16. It was the best of times; it was the worst of times? No, not quite. Rather, it was a wonderful time and then a very disappointing time. My parents, brother and I went to Michel Vignaud at the Hostellerie des Clos in Chablis (Rue Jules-Rathier, Tel. 03 86 42 17 11) twice, about 6 days apart last June. The restaurant was given one star by Michelin and 16 of 20 in Gault Millau. Our first meal there was splendid, and we couldn't figure out why it hadn't been awarded more stars by Michelin. My brother and mother thought it was better than Grand Vefour; I thought Grand Vefour (the food but especially the overall decor and choreography of the service) was superior, but not drastically so. My brother and mother and I split only on whether the restaurant deserved 3 or 2 stars. My mother got the lobster salad as an appetizer, and this was at least as good as the lobster salad at Grand Vefour, if not better. I got probably the best green salad with mushrooms and hazelnut oil imaginable (though the lobster salad was better than my green salad!). My brother had a salad with foie gras, IIRC, which was very good. My mother got a terrific magret de canard cooked with kir, just a great dish, perfectly cooked. My brother and I enjoyed a fruity modestly-priced white Chablis (much better than the typical California Chablis, of course) that had been recommended by our friendly sommelier. (We were impressed that he hadn't tried to sell more expensive Chablis, but chose as his favorite one of the less expensive ones.) The cheese course was good and quite worthwhile, though distinctly inferior to the wonders at Grand Vefour, and I forget what the dessert was, though I liked it at the time, nor do I remember every dish everyone ate. I do remember that excellent pates de fruit were brought to us. But the other thing was that it was a lovely, relaxed, rustic location, and the service was also relaxed, though attentive. On our return visit, things were drastically different. The mushrooms in the lobster salad were full of water as if they had just come out of the bottom of a basin, the rest of the food was clearly inferior to the first meal we had there, and the service was disorganized. We sent the salad back. They comped us for the salad and made a different one for us, but it was still inferior to the first time. My brother inquired at the front desk of the hotel, and was told that all the line chefs were absent that day. I don't know much about the functioning of a restaurant's kitchen, but my brother explained that, while the sous chef prepares whatever can be prepared in advance in the morning (marinades, stocks, and certain other kinds of sauces, e.g.), the line chefs are the people who actually cook everything to order and compose salads. (Perhaps those of you who are more knowledgeable about the inner workings of this type of kitchen would like to comment further and correct anything I wrote that's incorrect.) So if all the regular line chefs were off, it's no wonder that nothing functioned properly. So the conclusion we came to is that the greatness of a restaurant may depend as much or more on great line chefs than on the chef whom the restaurant is named for. We also had to wonder whether the one Michelin star Vignaud got reflects an average between the restaurant's 2-3-star days and no-star days.
  17. Gnocco has one fabulous dessert: A chestnut cheesecake, IIRC. Otherwise, the food is good but I got the idea on a couple of visits for dinner that nothing else compares to that chestnut dessert. The one meal I had a couple of years ago or so at I Coppi was wonderful. I've also had only one meal so far at Il Bagatto, and it was very good. I went to lunch at Il Covo del Est once (it's on the northeast corner of 13 St.), and it was _very_ salty and not worth going back to. Have you tried Col Legno, Lavagna, or East Post? I think both are good, though I much prefer the sedate ambiance at Col Legno (yes, it's a little salty, too). I'm looking forward to whenever the next time is that I go back to Lavagna. I've had meals ranging from solidly good to excellent there.
  18. Complaining about a dish or throwing the complainer out? In either case, I suppose style counts heavily. I was reacting to throwing someone out for complaining about a dish, but I take your point. If someone ranted and raved and yelled strings of obscenities and threatened to come back with a .44 and shoot the whole crew, that would change things a bit.
  19. GJ: Please fill me in. I'm quite suprised to hear that they threw you out for complaining about a dish. That sounds like highly unprofessional behavior. Beachfan: Seconded on Miracle Grill. I haven't been there for several months, but I like their brunch very much and recommend it to most people other than those from California or the Southwest.
  20. Pan


    Glad you liked it, Bux. I've got more posts coming, some about restaurants that have Michelin stars or/and mentions in Gault Millau.
  21. I went to Kiev late one night when I was ill, awake, and hungry. Not to put too fine a point on it, it sucked! Pasty, watery, tasteless potato pierogis! I'll never go there again. At this point, I think that Kiev is inferior to Veselka, and I'm not high on Veselka.
  22. Pan


    I live in the East Village, and Yasube has to outclass all Japanese restaurants in this neigborhood that charge anything near their prices by a country mile. I'll give you an example: I went to Jeollado about a year ago, I believe (maybe it was two years ago; I don't remember). It's a Korean/Japanese place that also seems to style itself a specialist in sushi. I thought their Korean food was pretty good though not consistently amazing, and I tried some sashimi that my ex-girlfriend loved - tuna IIRC. She thought it was great. (Another friend of mine also ordered sashimi that she thought was great, by the way.) It was unfishy but tasted like nothing, just texture. I didn't mind it but I was unimpressed and remarked that perhaps it was like wasting pearls on swine. And though it was dinner and not lunch, the bill had to have been close to $40/person.
  23. Looks like 3rd St. and 6th Av. I wonder if that's the one that's actually east of 6 Av. on the south side of 3 St. that I've liked and thought might be called Ali's.
  24. Pan


    That's "laksa," Stefany (though I can't answer for how a non-Malaysian place might misspell it). Asam laksa has fish and shrimp paste (belacan) in it, but no shrimp. Just out of curiosity, what ingredients could you pick out in Shopsin's version of laksa? Did it have tamarind or lime juice in it? Was it full of hot pepper? Did it have coconut milk in it? (asam laksa doesn't) Was it very salty? What vegetables were in it? Any cucumber slices? Any pineapple slices? Any fish? Was it very fatty? And what type of cuisine does Shopsin's say it cooks?
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