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oakapple

Adour at the St. Regis

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Have only ever eaten there for lunch - what is the crowd like in the evening?

I haven't seen any recent reports. A couple of weeks ago, on a Saturday evening, it was perhaps 50-60% full. However, it was still early days, and the staff claimed that they were deliberately spacing things out, so that the kitchen wouldn't get overwhelmed while they're still wearing training wheels.

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Have only ever eaten there for lunch - what is the crowd like in the evening?

We were there on Saturday night. The room was maybe 70-80% full.


Arley Sasson

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Has anyone eaten here recently? Is there anywhere else you would recommend over it in teh same price bracket?

As we saw it, Adour was charging three-star prices for very boring food. I have only one data point to go on, but at this point I would recommend any other three-star restaurant in town—Eleven Madison Park, for instance.

Marc, am surprised that you didn't like it as much. As mentioned earlier, the food is not particularly creative, but I haven't seen or expected that at other AD restaurants. We had the truffle tasting menu, so maybe it was representative of the rest of the a la carte menu.

We left with the impression that the restaurant is positioning itself as a competitor to an Atelier of JR, but at a lower price point. Especially taking into account the price of wine at both places.


Arley Sasson

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Have only ever eaten there for lunch - what is the crowd like in the evening?

I haven't seen any recent reports. A couple of weeks ago, on a Saturday evening, it was perhaps 50-60% full. However, it was still early days, and the staff claimed that they were deliberately spacing things out, so that the kitchen wouldn't get overwhelmed while they're still wearing training wheels.

I believe she was referring to EMP. The crowd is, umm, dinner-like. It's more casual than the food dictates but the room's grand if a little cold. Really one of the very top tables in NYC.


Edited by BryanZ (log)

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Have only ever eaten there for lunch - what is the crowd like in the evening?

Adour is not open for lunch.

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yes i was asking about the EMP crowd not adour -sorry it wsan't very clear. I am just wondering where best to go when visiting from the uk in spring. We have already done Per se/Gordon Ramsay but then our top end (or restaurants where we spend the most) restaurants have been more "ethnic" nobu/megu etc and this time we want to go somewhere "classic" for a special occasion but we are all still in our 20's/early 30's so don't fancy being the youngest by too great a margin - whilst i know the river cafe is not exactly top end when we ate there before we were not only the youngest there by a good 30 odd years we were singularly ignored by the sommelier until i ordered a $200 bottle of champagne as an aperitif in order that we might actually get treated with some decency. In short no where too "stuffy" adour was on the list as was da posto, daniel and le bernadin along with picholine and le cirque.....


Edited by nikkib (log)

"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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yes i was asking about the EMP crowd not adour -sorry it wsan't very clear. I am just wondering where best to go when visiting from the uk in spring. We have already done Per se/Gordon Ramsay but then our top end (or restaurants where we spend the most) restaurants have been more "ethnic" nobu/megu etc and this time we want to go somewhere "classic" for a special occasion but we are all still in our 20's/early 30's so don't fancy being the youngest by too great a margin - whilst i know the river cafe is not exactly top end when we ate there before we were not only the youngest there by a good 30 odd years we were singularly ignored by the sommelier until i ordered a $200 bottle of champagne as an aperitif in order that we might actually get treated with some decency. In short no where too "stuffy"  adour was on the list as was da posto, daniel and le bernadin along with picholine and le cirque.....

My (former) college roommate and I celebrated our 27th/29th (respectively) birthdays at EMP last year. We felt perfectly comfortable there. In fact, most of the diners around us seemed like the same age bracket (mid-20's to mid-30's).

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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yes i was asking about the EMP crowd not adour -sorry it wsan't very clear. I am just wondering where best to go when visiting from the uk in spring. We have already done Per se/Gordon Ramsay but then our top end (or restaurants where we spend the most) restaurants have been more "ethnic" nobu/megu etc and this time we want to go somewhere "classic" for a special occasion but we are all still in our 20's/early 30's so don't fancy being the youngest by too great a margin - whilst i know the river cafe is not exactly top end when we ate there before we were not only the youngest there by a good 30 odd years we were singularly ignored by the sommelier until i ordered a $200 bottle of champagne as an aperitif in order that we might actually get treated with some decency. In short no where too "stuffy"  adour was on the list as was da posto, daniel and le bernadin along with picholine and le cirque.....

oh gosh... go to EMP, WD-50, Tailor...

also, go to Ssam Bar one night for a restaurant unlike anything in the UK.

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was at wd50 in august - amazing! Might take my friends back for dessert tasting mmmm! Am definitely going to ssam bar too - am off to swot up on tailor too thanks for all the advice!


"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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oooh - just checked out the website for tailor - WOW! will definitely check it out thanks! Sorry for the crashing af the adour website!


"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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As we saw it, Adour was charging three-star prices for very boring food. I have only one data point to go on, but at this point I would recommend any other three-star restaurant in town—Eleven Madison Park, for instance.

Marc, am surprised that you didn't like it as much. As mentioned earlier, the food is not particularly creative, but I haven't seen or expected that at other AD restaurants.
Well, the only other data point I have is a single meal at ADNY, which I thought was exquisite. But I also have a considerable number of meals at various restaurants in town at Adour's price level, and I doubt that this mailed-in effort is going to attract many new fans. Obviously any Ducasse restaurant (like any Vongerichten restaurant) is going to attract a certain number of clients based on the name alone, and it could even succeed.
We left with the impression that the restaurant is positioning itself as a competitor to an Atelier of JR, but at a lower price point. Especially taking into account the price of wine at both places.

They are similar in the sense that Robuchon can pull in customers based on his name alone. But Robuchon—admittedly at some of the highest prices New York has ever seen—is offering some extremely inventive, almost revelatory cuisine. Ducasse, from what I can see so far, is not. Anyone who would love Robuchon would find Adour dullsville.

I'm a strong believer that one doesn't necessarily need to innovate. There will always be a strong market for doing the classics well. But Adour just seems to me a lazy effort.

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I'd been wanting to check out the Adour "Wine Library" -- that's the four-seat wine bar with high-tech interactive gizmos -- since the restaurant opened, but with just four seats at the bar I figured the only way to have a shot at a seat without waiting would be to stake out the door and be first in line at 5:15pm when the place opens. Today our schedule finally allowed us to implement that strategy. We snagged two seats at the bar and spent about three hours working through the entire bar menu.

I haven't had a meal in the dining room(s) proper yet -- I haven't even looked at that menu -- so my food comments here just pertain to the bar menu (though there may be a little overlap). I do have some overall comments about the restaurant, though, which come perhaps from a slightly different perspective than has been represented here so far.

My wife and I started going to Lespinasse when I was still in law school. It was our first restaurant, and for that reason alone would likely be guaranteed a special place in my heart. But it was a happy coincidence that we had that particular restaurant as our first love because by many accounts Lespinasse under Gray Kunz was a unique restaurant moment: a perfect storm of time, place, chef and financial backing. It has been about 15 years since those first meals at Lespinasse and it's still my benchmark for restaurant greatness.

My hope was that Ducasse would take over the space and do something along the lines of the Ducasse signature restaurant at the Plaza Athenee in Paris, where I had one of the most impressive meals I've had in France. I've been a Ducasse partisan since he opened in New York in, was it 1999? The St. Regis even feels like a kindred spirit to the Plaza Athenee in terms of the physical possibilities of the dining room. Ducasse at the St. Regis, in the old Lespinasse space: it had all the makings of another perfect storm.

So I was a little disappointed when I heard that the plan was for something other than a signature restaurant. Not that this was or has ever been made clear to the world. As the discussion on this topic shows, there has been a lot of guesswork needed to figure out what the Ducasse organization intended here. It's amazing to me just how poorly the Ducasse organization has communicated to New Yorkers about all the Ducasse restaurant ventures here: at the Essex House, at Mix and at Adour. Thankfully, there's now an actual restaurant in existence so we don't have to rely so much on speculation and mixed messages.

I've read in various places that, in creating Adour, Ducasse and his team devoted considerable effort to thinking about what would resonate with New York's restaurant customers. I have no idea whether they made the right calculation. The restaurant seemed pretty busy tonight, but it's early -- we don't know what will happen over the next year or two. Despite his gastronomic stature, Ducasse doesn't exactly pursue the foodie audience. Is the term "jet set" still used these days? It certainly describes the Ducasse target audience, as well as the St. Regis hotel's clientele. Ducasse specializes in restaurants for discerning well-to-do people with international exposure and tastes, but conservative ones. The crowd and trappings at Adour certainly seem to share that heritage.

Anyway, back to the bar. The bar is exquisite, so much so that I want to scream because it's so damn frustrating that they built it with four (four!) seats instead of twenty-four. There are also a handful of seats at awkwardly placed booths where you can get service from the wine bar, but I can't imagine wanting to sit at one of them. They're nice enough but far inferior to the bar. Worse, the bar does double duty as a staging area for dining-room customers who have shown up in advance of their parties, so it's not even a dedicated wine bar. The other two seats were occupied by various other people during the time we were there and all but the last two of them eventually headed off to tables in the dining room, martinis and glasses of Champagne in tow.

If, however, you can get yourself safely ensconced at a bar seat (preferably one of the two seats farther from the entrance, so you're a bit more protected and have a better people-watching perch to boot), you can have perhaps the finest wine-bar experience available anywhere. Or at least, anywhere I've been. It's basically the most haute tapas experience imaginable, at a Momofuku price point. It's cheap.

Okay, not cheap as in Gray's Papaya cheap or even 'inoteca cheap. I'm sure my late father-in-law would be saying "$15 for a couple of scallops? In a little bowl? Highway robbery!" But that's with truffle. Not truffle oil. Actual slices and bits of black truffle. And impeccably garnished with vegetables that represent the pinnacle of vegetable cookery, and sauced with a shellfish jus that puts most American sauce-making to shame. In other words, it's a bargain at $15 because it's a fully functioning representation of what Ducasse does best and it's only $15. Indeed, every dish on the bar menu is cheap: they range from $9 to $16. They're small but most of them are superb. If you order all eight savory dishes, and the cheese plate, and all three desserts, it comes to $143. If you go to Ducasse's restaurant in Monaco the scallops with black truffle will cost you 110 Euros (Euros!) for just that one dish. Sure it's several times over the portion size, but you can get the $15 version here and you can also order every other dish on the bar menu and it still comes to less than the cost of that one dish in Monaco. So, to me, that's cheap.

The price point for the wines by the glass is also refreshingly gentle. There are several respectable options in the $9-$16 per glass range. My wife had a couple of glasses ($13 each) of a delightfully fruity Alsatian pinot gris from Jean Ginglinger, and I had a super-crisp white from Santorini (Domaine Sigalas, $11) followed by a Spanish wine -- I didn't catch the name -- that wasn't on the list but was being hand-sold by the glass to a lot of customers.

The two most stellar savory dishes were the pork belly and the scallops. The pork belly is glazed and comes in four cubes. Each cube is speared on a fancy toothpick with a slice of the Ducasse/Esnault take on boudin noir (blood sausage) and an apple-cranberry garnish. Small though the portion may be, it is mighty. Ditto the diver scallops with salsify, spinach, black truffle and shellfish jus.

Also excellent were the hamachi and the cod. The hamachi dish is described as "cucumber marinated hamachi/geoduck, radish, green apple mustard." On the plate it seems much simpler: slices of raw hamachi with little pieces of the other ingredients decorating each slice. The cod is poached in olive oil and served with a "bell pepper-white onion 'piperade'." The piperade-in-quotes refers I suppose to the Basque dish, but here it's more of a delicate sauce with slices of crispy proscuitto. It works, very well.

I enjoyed every dish, but I'd say those four are the standouts. We also tried the jambon on country toast with fennel and nicoise olives, which was more of a bar snack than an haute experience -- a good bar snack but a bar snack. The ricotta gnocchi with lettuce, prosciutto and Sherry vinegar provoked mixed reactions from my team: my wife felt it bordered on greatness and I thought the gnocchi themselves needed more oomph. The lobster thermidor is a lobster claw with the meat removed and mixed up with mustard, tarragon, cognac and what seemed like the concentrated essence of ten pounds of butter, then the mixture is replaced in the claw and, presumably, broiled until a crispy crust forms. Finally, the lamb "lollipops," four nice boneless pieces of lamb on fancy toothpicks with piquillos, apricot and lemon confit. I wouldn't steer you away from any of these dishes -- if you're in a position to order all eight, you should -- but I'd prioritize the first four I described.

The $11 cheese plate is a winner. You get four nice-size pieces of cheese, four slices of excellent bread and four garnishes that are as good or better than any garnishes for cheese I've ever had. The service, on three separate platters, is remarkable: you can't believe you get all that serviceware with an $11 dish. The best of the garnishes is acacia honey with preserved grapes, but there's also a great date spread, a red pepper jelly and a walnut garnish that works brilliantly with the Fourme d'Ambert (blue cheese).

We had one dessert from the bar menu: the pear clafoutis. This to me was a resounding demonstration of the superiority of Ducasse's pastry program. It's a subtle modern-classic dessert that gets to the essence of pear, with a combination of pear julienne, a caramel "croustillant" and honey ice cream. I believe the bartender said this dish is also on the regular dining-room dessert menu. The bartender also steered us towards a dessert that wasn't on the bar menu (I'm pretty sure they'll serve you anything at the bar if you ask -- the people next to us at the end got the sweetbreads dish from the dining room served to them at the bar -- but I'm not entirely clear on the policy and neglected to ask because at the end we had to rush to get home), which was called "sorbet" but was more like a gigantic bowl of chocolate in different textures and temperatures, with hot chocolate sauce poured tableside such that it breaks a hole in the surface of the chocolate in the bowl, and then garnished with little brioche crouton cubes.

We spent most of our time without interacting with or being noticed by anybody I knew, and found the bar service to be charming and super-attentive. (That's the advantage of having only four seats: the four people at the bar have a dedicated server.) Later on, however, a manager (Yannis) who had been at Ducasse's restaurant at the Essex House saw me and that led to an avalanche of petits-fours and mignardises that I'm pretty sure aren't normally served at the bar. Also later a favorite server (Guthrie) who had been at the old Lespinasse emerged from the kitchen and noticed us. He told us that there are actually four servers from the old Lespinasse who had been reactivated for Adour.

The wine bar itself has a feature that makes a pretty spectacular first impression but then grows a bit tiresome. The subsurface of the bar is made of some sort of high-tech material that is lit from projectors discreetly hidden in the ceiling. This has the effect of making the entire surface of the bar into an interactive video screen. It's not touch sensitive as such; rather, you hover your finger above your selections. This, I guess, interrupts the beams of light from the ceiling in such a way that the system figures out what you're pointing at. In this way, you use your finger as a cross between a computer mouse, a laser pointer, a magic wand and the control wheel on an iPod. It takes some getting used to but once you get the hang of it you can navigate through the wine list and bar menu and pull up lots of interesting information. It's visually stunning -- everybody who saw it for the first time was awed by it. There are also four spots on the bar where the projectors beam down a stream of clean white light so you can evaluate the color of your wine. I give them credit for doing something original and interesting. As the meal goes on, though, various flaws in the system reveal themselves. For example if you position your plate in certain spots it activates the system and it can be pretty hard to get the damn thing to shut off and stop shining words on your food.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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thanks for this - i think i will try the bar one night for drinks and a couple of the dishes you mentioned and then onto a late dinner taht way i can try everything!


"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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And impeccably garnished with vegetables that represent the pinnacle of vegetable cookery, and sauced with a shellfish jus that puts most American sauce-making to shame.

I had the best cooked vegetables I've ever had in my life at Adour. I STILL think about the potatoes and carrots.

And I believe our server mentioned she worked at The King Cole Bar (located in the St. Regis) before starting at Adour.

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thanks for this - i think i will try the bar one night for drinks and a couple of the dishes you mentioned and then onto a late dinner taht way i can try everything!

Nikki, just remember that the bar has ONLY four seats. I was lucky enough to grab one once, but I think that as something you can plan on, they're roughly analogous to getting into Yale: could happen, but be sure to have a safe school.

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thanks for the warning - elbows at the ready!


"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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I ate (and drank) at the bar at Adour last night.

the four seats were taken when I arrived at 6:50...were emptied by 7:10 and only one seat was taken when I left at 8.

the dining room was mostly full when I left, but not completely so.

(interesting sidenote, there is a large table in the dining room with the same projection technology as the bar.)

the interactive projection tech on the bar is fun...albeit with a small learning curve. then it works (kind of).

for a supposedly wine-centric establishment, the list could be broader. glasses ranged from $9 to $45 or so. median probably around $20.

staff seemed very familiar with the wines (and there are a lot of staff).

food: had the scallops, the jamon iberico and the lamb lollipops.

the lamb itself was flavorful, albeit one piece was chewier, but the diced vegetables on top had no taste at all. but the lamb itself was good. the scallops, like the lamb, were perfectly cooked (there is no questioning the technical execution of the kitchen), with a couple flecks of truffle and probably some truffle oil. no real flavors present besides the natural sweetness of the (good) scallops. this dish really could use some contrast.

the printed menu says its jamon iberico. the interactive menus just says its jamon. it didn't have the nuttiness of the jamon iberico I had while traveling last year...but maybe that's just because it was sliced so thin? the accompaniments to the jamon are very good.

service was extremely good and pleasant. my wines were topped off more than once.

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The table with the projection technology is, I believe, the one all the way off to the side in the private wine room. That room is available for private functions, and also contains lockers that wine collectors can rent in order to store their personal bottles. If you have a private function in that room, you can work with the staff to have custom menus and notes projected on that table.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I have no basis yet for agreeing or disagreeing with Frank Bruni's review, because I still haven't booked a meal in Adour's main dining room. I have, however, acquired some experience with the "Wine Library," about which he wrote:

Information about wine can be summoned via an interactive, touch-screen surface on a bar up front that the restaurant has done a lot of crowing about.

But I never found a spot at that altar. With just four seats, it has limited utility. It’s all about flash, proving that some of the old Ducasse still lives in the new.

I suppose it's true that the place has "limited utility," but then again so does every restaurant in the universe. What utility the wine bar at Adour does have, however, is valuable to those who have bothered to pursue it. I doubt Frank Bruni tried very hard to get a seat at the wine bar. I've had good luck just showing up before the place opens and claiming the first available seats. Hardly a complex strategy.

For example, tonight we were showing some friends from Florida around town. They wanted to do a "food crawl," and I figured Adour would be a great place to start. So we assembled in the lobby of the St. Regis at 5:20pm and the four of us stood right in front of the doors to Adour. At 5:30pm, the doors opened and we claimed the four seats at the wine bar. No problem.

The woman handling the wine bar told us that the 5:30pm strategy is one of a few that people more enterprising than Frank Bruni have developed to get seats at the wine bar. Apparently there is a predictable lull right around 8pm, almost without fail. So showing up around 7:30pm and being willing to wait for a seat to open up is likely to be effective. Also, towards the end of service the wine bar's seats are, we were told, usually empty. And some folks apparently just show up and are willing to wait -- given that the wine bar's seats are often occupied by people waiting for tables in the dining room, rarely does it take more than a little while for a couple of seats to open up. Any of the above takes less time than, say, waiting the 45 minutes you often have to wait for a table at 'inoteca.

Most importantly, the small amount of effort we invested in getting those four seats yielded great rewards. That little wine bar is one of the most special places in New York City. While part of me finds it infuriating that they didn't build a much larger bar, that inner voice is silent when I'm ensconced there with good friends. It's so much more exclusive than mega restaurants like the 12-seat Momofuku Ko.

And the food and wine experience at the Adour wine bar is exceptional. The scallops with truffles are some of the best morsels being served anywhere, as are those little cubes of pork belly topped with blood sausage. We had a new dish last night as well: a small rectangular brick of slow-cooked, rare salmon with a citrusy nage poured by the server. We also tried the lobster-salad appetizer from the main dining room menu -- I'm not sure what the actual policy is on getting those dishes at the bar but I've seen them served to a few customers now.

Wine service is getting even more engaging and attentive as the restaurant matures. Our server recommended some excellent pairings, and it seems the wines listed on the by-the-glass list are only a starting point -- they have several other bottles in reserve for by-the-glass service.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Most importantly, the small amount of effort we invested in getting those four seats yielded great rewards. That little wine bar is one of the most special places in New York City. While part of me finds it infuriating that they didn't build a much larger bar, that inner voice is silent when I'm ensconced there with good friends. It's so much more exclusive than mega restaurants like the 12-seat Momofuku Ko.

I was also impressed with that little bar when I visited, and equally perplexed that it was built to seat only four.

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After our meal at adour I vowed to try the wine bar soon after but never made it around. I will be there some time next week. Thanks for the strategy tips!

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I was at the wine bar at the top of this month (May). As my friend and I were headed to a large dinner at Le Bernardin, we just had a glass of wine (each) and shared the scallop appetizer, which is as good as others here have noted.

I did find the projection menu to be quite annoying, and cumbersome. As FG pointed out upthread, it provided great information about each wine. But, that could have been easily done on paper too. Of course, an under-projection system would make even more sense.

The background music was slightly that side of tolerable. If I had to describe it, I'd say it was a muzak version of the soundtrack to a Bond film circa Sean Connery.

You can see photos of the projection screens and more on my Flickr account.


“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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