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Everything posted by DaleW

  1. DaleW


    We recently went to dinner at Caravela in Tarrytown with another family. Food was mixed- my chicken macau was very good, my wife's zarzeula not very good. Most seemed satisfied. As we split check (a diner-style slip with prices for 7 appetizers, 7 main courses, 7 coffees, and 2 desserts), it seemed high to me, but I didn't want to seem cheap by adding up 23 items(ego mistake). It nagged at me that bill seemed so high. When I went to Zagat for restaurant website info next AM, I saw the following review: "Reviewed by sylviap469112 on 05/21/2007. Member since March 2003, Total Reviews: 15 (Bound Brook, NJ) Watch your check! We had a party of 13. When the check arrived, it had 4 lines - each with an amount - one for appetizers, one for entrees, one for desserts and one for the bar that totalled $1002.00. Feeling that the bill was "fixed" we asked for an itemized bill as one would receive in all other restaurants. The manager refused sating it would be too much work. After requesting a third time and standing over him, the bill was $220 less! No apoligies! Nothing! I wonder how many people have been ripped off without catching the dollars padded into the check! " Uh oh. So I researched prices online. I knew exactly what everyone had, but didn't know prices on the 2 desserts (fruit tart and chocolate cake). But unless they were $46 each, we were ripped off. I wrote a polite letter to the restaurant; faxed and mailed it. I asked for a chargeback (based on $10 desserts, and changing tip to 15% from 20+%, as mistake made me less happy with service). No response (I provided phne, fax, and email contacts). No chargeback, so I have initiated a dispute through American Express. I want to be generous of spirit, but have to believe management/owners are part of this. This is a restaurant that has been around at least 15 years, hard to believe that ownership would use the scribbled handwritten bill method rather than a modern POS system unless they want to take advantage. Even an adding machine tape would lessen the chance of mischief. Just a word of warning (my guess is they are more likely to do this with large groups, harder to cheat on couples,etc.).
  2. DaleW

    1960 Vintage

    Probably in order: Taylor Fonseca Dow Cockburn Haven't had many of the normal big names, like Grahams , QdNoval, etc. Might post a question at Roy Hersch's "For the Love of Port" site.
  3. DaleW

    1960 Vintage

    The Krohn colheita is probably pretty good. But there's plenty of '60 VP around too. I'm a 1960 vintage myself,and have tried multiple '60 Vintage Ports. They're not rock stars, but no bottle has been dead at all. I am down to one bottle of the Fonseca, which I'm saving for 2010. I also have a bottle of BV George de la Tour Reserve, but that's much riskier. Sherry-Lehmann has some '60 VPs, though prices have risen sharply since I bought mine. I think Crofts for $175 and Fonseca for $225.
  4. I am very sad to hear this. I never met him, but conversed with him on the alt.food.wine and nyc.food newsgroups for years (pre-eG). Always a patient and erudite voice.
  5. Brad's suggestions are pretty right on. I'm not a total quercophobe, but agree too much oak is not conducive to great matches. Some sort of big red-meat (rare if your client will agree) dish is best with the tannins and oak of the Leonetti. Kistler's chardonnays are all pretty oaky, but well-done. Lobster with drawn butter is the fallback, but I like Brad's scallop idea. Another good match (with an Aubert, similar style to Kistler ) I had recently was a polenta with shrimp and chorizo. I also am not familar with the David Anderson PN, but one might assume it's in line sylistically with the other two. A Kistler PN matched well with a smoked duck and mushroom risotto at same dinner as the polenta. I would normally prefer a low-oak pinot with duck, but the oak did well with smoked duck,and the starch of the risotto seemed to soften the oak and tannin of the big CalPN.
  6. DaleW

    Italian wines

    Craig, wouldn't you put Marcarini in the very good, if not great, category? Or is their something about 2001 I don't know? I just ordered some Brunate and 1 La Serra for $40 each from Zachys, maybe I goofed.
  7. Too bad about Blue Hill. Equus certainly has nice setting, unsure if price will be much better. I went to a wedding at Le Chateau in South Salem, I've heard mixed reviews on the restaurant food, but I actually thought for big event catering it was quite nice (5 years ago). Another possibility might be Harvest in Hastings. Great views, nice big room. Food isn't especially inventive, but usually pretty good. I personally have never been too pleased with Chart House. Under no circumstances go to Rudy's Beau Rivage. Truly bad food.
  8. DaleW


    I certainly enjoyed my one meal at Blue Hill/SB. Chiboust on Main Street was also good on one visit. I've actually had some good food at Lago di Como on Main, but it's been a while (and interior is so dreary it's hard to recommend). Caravela has decent Portugese/Brazilian.
  9. First of all, I made a mistake in original post. It was Sat night not Fri, and we had called Fri AM (and then Fri night and Sat noonish). To be fair, I should say the waiter was otherwise reasonably attentive. Obviously management sets pricing, and the other waiter on the patio also did not give pricing on specials (tables are very close together, I heard his spiel to 2 other tables). While it was the $65 that steamed me, actually the Beaucastel error is the most egregious. I checked my bottles of 2000 Coudoulet this morning, they're clearly marked Côtes du Rhône - it would be impossible to make an honest mistake here. And I believe the Perrins's negociant CdP is clearly marked as Perrin Les Sinards, not as Chateau de Beaucastel! I figured that if they were charging $9-10 for a glass of Pine Ridge Viognier/Chenin, $15 Beaucastel was unlikely! Indeed I should have asked re price of special. But Betsy ordered I guess I didn't want to look cheap in front of my wife. Ah well, live and learn.
  10. (note: I occasionally post on eGullet wine or NY board, but often read others if traveling- thanks for all your expertize!) Had a bad experience at a Laguna Beach restaurant, and I'm curious as to whether others find this as over-the-top as I do. We spent 10 days visiting various of Betsy's relatives in California (wedding at Tahoe, various cousins in Bay and Sacramento areas, and ending up in Laguna at her grandmother's for a few days). Decent meals in Tahoe/Squaw at Plumpjacks and La Lanterna in San Mateo, and better than decent at Bistro Jeanty in Napa. In Laguna we mostly ate in, but we took the opportunity Friday night to have our one dinner for two. We'd visited some Laguna places like 5 Feet on previous visits, wanted someplace different. Someone on a website (here, I think) had praised French 75 , a "bistro" in Laguna. Part of a group of restaurants by someone named David Wilhelm. Betsy called Th. for a reservation, left a message asking for 7 PM. When we got back in, there was message saying we could have 6:30 inside or 7 on patio. She called back, left message saying 7 on patio was fine. We got another message, asking us to confirm time. She called back, spoke to a live person, confirmed 7. We arrived at 7:04, gave name. Lady at desk asked if we were sure we had made reservation under that name. Yes, 3 times. Receptionist gives us a look, but seats us. They bring winelist, but no menus. Menus appear (quite)a while later. Waiter recites specials. I order the shrimp appetizer and short ribs, Betsy a salad and a "surf and turf" (my words, not theirs)special. I order a half of 2001 Lafond Sancerre, and a half of 2000 Ch. Coutet (a St.Émilion, not the Barsac!). Nice bread with some kind of truffle mayo. The wines arrive. Um, that's a 1999 St. Émilion. Well, ok, even if it's a lesser (cheaper) vintage, the 1999 might be more ready than most 2000s, right? I approve opening. First courses arrive, the shrimp aren't the tastiest I've had, but at least not overcooked, and in a quite good cognac/roasted tomato sauce. Betsy enjoys her salad (which includes nice manchego). I notice other tables have nicer Spiegelau/Riedel glasses, but I am not going to complain- I understand that they might reserve for people spending a bit more. As smoking people at next table leave, we're still hoping for a good night. Main course arrive. My braised short ribs are tender, and sauce is good, though meat itself is a tad bland (maybe they could have braised it in that sauce?). Betsy's lobster tail is very good. But as she cuts into filet, she realizes waiter never asked how she wanted. Medium-well meat. She's unhappy, but says since she didn't specify medium-rare she doesn't feel she should send back. Waiter brings dessert menu. I'm not a dessert person, Betsy says she could have dessert, or we could walk home via beach. I confess to having eyed a real deal on wine by the glass menu. 2000 Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Chateau de Beaucastel for $15.25. But Beaucastel for $15.25 seems unlikely, as mediocre vintage of Silver Oak is on list for $25. I ask waiter, "this is really Beaucastel, right, not Coudelet de Beaucastel?" "Yes, Beaucastel." "Really? Seems inexpensive" Some hemming and hawing, then "Well, it's Chateau de Beaucastel, not Beaucastel, it's the second-tier". That makes no sense, but rather than determine whether it's Coudelet, the Perrin negociant CdP,or what, I just ask for the check. When it comes, I gulp. The price for Betsy's small filet and lobster tail is $65!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Now, I guess we should have asked. But my assumption when waiter recites specials is that they are in the range of other main courses (which in this case went from $20 to $36). Now, with beef and lobster, I expected it to be a bit more- $40 maybe, and I wouldn't have been totally shocked at $48. But $65 for overcooked meat and a lobster tail? This is a "bistro" on Coast Highway- for the special and her $10 salad Betsy could order a tasting menu at some top NYC places! I started to ask for manager, but again, I hadn't asked price. We decided to try to salvage our night by walking on the beach. I tipped 15% of the pre-tax (inflated) total, instead of my usual 20+. I did circle the $65 and leave a note how ridiculous this was. Ended the night with a nice walk rather than a confrontation with manager. Am I off-base feeling this is a total ripoff? Despite the reservation glitches, we went into dinner with high hopes. I wasn't upset by the vintage switch on the Bordeaux, that happens a lot (I do feel the listing for the CdP borders on fraud). But am I only one that feels that if a price is not given for a special, it should be "in tune" with the other specials, not almost twice as expensive as the most expensive thing on the menu. Curious as to others' reactions. I'm sure some will say I should have argued re price then and there, but I was trying to salvage our only night out alone. I'm betting that they feel they can get away with this because it's a resort town, and they're less dependent on repeat customers.
  11. DaleW

    Pfalz wine tasting

    I'm no Pfalz expert, but Müller-Catoir is my favorite producer. But Kurt Darting is one I buy most (good, if not as good as M-C, but very inexpensive). Biffar, von Basserman-Jordan and Burklin-Wolf are some of the other names. Lingfelder's bird label QbA is often a good value.
  12. If you don't mind some sweetness, the Renardat-Fache Cerdon de Bugy someone cited earlier is a very nice, very different lightly sparkling wine. Hard to find, but good deal at $15-18. I like the Pol Roger Brut Rosé (down to my last '90), but that's getting into more expensive territory ($45-55). And like Craig I consider it a bit "macho" in the Champagne spectrum.
  13. I'll second the Cantalupo "Il Mimo". Good stuff. The Chivite rosé from Spain is very nice for its $5-6 price. I like the Cerdon de Bugey ,too, but it's a wine to itself- not your typical rosé.
  14. DaleW

    What a surprise

    This one I really don't get- spending ad dollars at WS gets one better rankings in WA? Wow. (going offtopic of Jim's original post)I personally don't subscribe to or put much weight on the opinions of WS. But I do think it's a bit unfair the constant implication that their scores are bought. The only analysis I ever saw of this was a statistician on one of the boards (I think WCWN) who did an analysis of WS ads vs. scores. He could find no correlation. He did find, if I remember correctly, that there was a small (but possibly significant) correlation between being selected for highlighting and ad dollars (in other words, if Corporation X and Corporation Y each had a $11 Cab scoring 87, the one who advertised more might be more likely to show up as a Best Buy). I think they're more incompetent than corrupt. (back on-topic) I think it's ridiculous to reduce wine to a number. As ridiculous as reducing art or music. I saw a great exhibit of a local artist's landscape oils the other day. Am I supposed to say " well, it's a 86, I prefer El Greco's A View of Toledo, a clear 97". I can quantify "Sweeney Todd" vs. "The Marriage of Figaro"? I saw both last week, loved each. I'll guarantee you on a sunny day's picnic I'll prefer a good Tavel or Riesling Kabinett to a 99-pt Aussie fruitbomb.
  15. DaleW

    NYC wine merchants

    Vino is the place across from I Trulli. Nice, but indeed expensive. Same thing with Italian Wine Merchants- if you want collectable Italians with impeccable provenance and aren't price-conscious, it's the place for you. Chambers St. has a small Italian section, but usually interesting mostly traditional producers (in Piemonte the 2 Mascarellos, etc.). The Champagne section has some interesting artisanal producers, especially the Thiese imports. They also have interesting bubblies from the Loire, Bugey, Italy, etc. Generally Garnet and PJs vie for best prices in town, sometimes Astor. But haven't bought much Italian at either. Gotham and Garnet tend to have the most inexpensive (under-$20) Champagnes from the small houses. Outside the city (but I think both delivering for free if $100 order) you might try Zachy's or Rochambeau. Zachy's everyday prices are high, but sales can be good deals. Last month '98 Marcarini Brunate Barolo for $33, they've had good closeout prices on the unhyped '95(but good imho) & '96 (not an ager, but good ones tasty now) Brunelli. Rochambeau has good everyday prices on a lot of Tuscans and Piemontes (though they tend to stock more new-wave producers, there are some traditionalists too). Wine Library and Gary's in NJ seem to have a lot of Tuscans in their mailers. Hope this helps,
  16. Another thing about the Marcarini wines is the value, at least by Barolo standards. I've picked up '98 & '99 La Serra and Brunate at prices that ranged from $33 to $40. Certainly not cheap, but not bad prices for wines that have the potential longevity and clear quality these do. Thanks for the explanation of the Lasarin, I saw it offered by my local and wasn't sure what it was.
  17. Jim and Rieslingfan, nice lists. I should try the Zenato Lugana and the Meyer again. But where are you finding the Weinbach Theo for under-$20?!?!
  18. DaleW

    Malolactic Chardonnay

    Thanks for link, Craig. Montelena is probably my favorite CA Chardonnay on a year-in/year-out basis. Though my impression was they used a little new-oak, and that in some vintages they put 10% or so of the Chard thru ML. I actually don't mind the full-ML, toothpick in a glass style on occasion (Kistler et al) - if I don't have to have with my meal.
  19. $17-18 in Westchester, NY (Rochambeau and Zachys). But why would anyone buy this?
  20. OK, how about : Burgundy: Lafarge Bourgogne Rouge Bachelet Cotes de Nuits Villages Bruno Clair Marsannay or Savigny Gagnard Chassagne "Morgeots" 1er (rouge, obviously) OR St Innocent Temperance Hill (might find 7 springs or Freedom hill for $25 if lucky) Patricia Green 4 Winds Ponzi CA: I agree with the Saintsbury Carneros suggestion. Maybe David Bruce, or someone from Santa Barbara?
  21. DaleW

    ISO advice on Burgundies

    PS I've had a couple of Magniens and Raphets at tastings, but never bought any. I'm certainly no Burgundy expert. So maybe I'm wrong and they are cult producers. But still think those prices are high (Michel Lafarge, one of my favorite producers, has a very good basic bourgogne wine for $17-18, and his passetoutgrains is $12).
  22. DaleW

    ISO advice on Burgundies

    I think 2002 has a good rep going in, but those prices seem steep to me. Michel Magnien and Raphet are , I think, ell-regarded but not real top-rank producers; but that is the most I've EVER seen a bottle of Passetoutgrains go for. And $35 is extremely expensive for a basic Bourgogne (and since when is BR a village?). Lastly $50 for a 1er Cru Chambolle might be reasonable, but is Bussieres a 1er? Anyone know? "CuveeUnique"makes me wonder if its a non-1er monopole. Denver is a big city, and I'm sure there are some good wine stores. I'd solicit opinions, and give a couple a try. Developing a relationship with a quality local retailer is the best way to start learning in my opinion.
  23. My favorite rosé Champagne has been the 1990 Pol Roger. The 1993 wasn't as good IMHO, though (I haven't tried the '95 yet). The Michel Freres cremant that CDH mentions is indeed good QPR. Katie mentioned Brachetto. I like too, though I find the Banfi (only one I see ) overpriced at $20 - a fun simple wine that should be $10-12 for me to buy. Another sweetish (though not as sweet as the Brachetto) rosé that's really quite good is the Renedart-Fâche Vin du Bugey Cerdon. Cool, fun, wine.
  24. I'll have to join the Napa chorus. I like some, but there are so many mediocre $30-60 wines to defy belief (I don't drink enough cults wines to comment on the $200+ ones!). If your question had been on the appelation/subregional level, I might have voted for Montalcino. Though as Craig noted there can be good values in Rosso, and I do buy some Brunellos, the number of $50-100 Brunellos that don't seem to cut the grade compared to good Chiantis like Felsina is pretty high.
  25. Nice article. I like this producer, though I've never had the Rosso. When the '97 Brunello release started, I picked up a bunch of the '96 La Rasina BdM at about $22 bottle. Not a Brunello to age, but over last 2 years drinking very well.
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