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Fat Guy

The Kitchen Counter (and more) at Beacon

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How's the drinks situation at Beacon?

I'm not up on the latest and greatest cocktail destinations, trends and happenings. But I think Beacon has a good bar. Not like Pegu level, but way better than the average Midtown restaurant bar. The bartenders are well schooled. There are always interesting seasonal cocktails, most of which aren't too sweet. They have Brooklyn beer. The wine list is extensive. One of the cocktails we had last night -- called a gingerbread something -- was particularly tasty and the presentation was downright irreverent:

Thanks for that nugget and the beautiful pic.

Is the small plates menu posted anywhere? I could not locate it on the beacon website. Is it served just at the counter or anywhere in the place?


Edited by mjr_inthegardens (log)

�As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy, and to make plans.� - Ernest Hemingway, in �A Moveable Feast�

Brooklyn, NY, USA

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Yeah, the Beacon website could use some renovations. In terms of the small-plates menu, it's posted farther up on this topic -- post number 9. I believe it's served only at the counter, but I'm not actually sure.


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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How's the drinks situation at Beacon?

I am thinking this might be a good place for a Boxing Day small-plates boozeup?

Cheers,

MJR

The wine list is IMO well-chosen, although some of the prices for glasses are a bit on the shocking side. Cocktails are competently prepared, though you're not going to get a martini stirred with hand-splintered Kold-Draft ice or anything like that. They're trying, though.

Mayur Subbarao, aka "Mayur"

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Had dinner at TKC a couple of weeks ago. Some hits though there were quite a few misses.

Pix can be seen here.

Lobster fritters, saffron, tarragon, sherry vinegar dip -- Fritters are usually meant to be a light opener. These were not and were compounded by a heavy coating of breading. 5.5/10.

Wild mushroom pizza, red onion and basil -- As far as appetizers were concerned, this was perfectly serviceable if not exactly above average. 6/10.

Roasted oysters with shallot mignonette and herbs -- One of the better dishes this evening. Just a hint of mignonette accentuated the brininess of the oysters. 7.5/10.

Seared scallop, braised cabbage, Granny Smith apple, jalapeno -- Another outstanding dish. I would've been happy with an entree portion. 8/10.

Hot smoked wild bass, fennel, lemon butter, served in corn husks -- Bland and boring. Has the kitchen learned the value of salt? 5.5/10.

Kabocha squash stuffed ravioli, capers, sage, garlic, butter sauce -- Interesting concept; piss-poor execution. Too many capers overwhelmed the sauce. 6/10.

Roast squab, huckleberry conserve, salsify, brussel sprouts -- I loved that the huckleberries were left as is for the most part and helped to cut the richness of the squab. 7/10.

Marrow bone, toast points, horseradish, garlic -- More restrained than the marrow bone dish that's served at Prune in my opinion. Bonus points for not resulting in a grotto of fatty grease. The kitchen would do well to consider something that will act as a foil to all that fat however. 6.5/10.

Braised short rib, foie gras, acorn squash puree, cheese grits -- Flavors seemed muddled and the acorn squash puree contributed absolutely nothing to the dish. Memo to the chef: less is more. 5/10

Kobe beef cooked over a hot stone, pickled chantrelles -- As an exercise in excess, this worked in spades. It took a sheer amount of will for me to stop myself from falling face forward on the table however. Oh right, you want to know about the food. Not the most original idea -- I first heard experienced it at Sugiyama, circa 2001, although it's probably been done even before then. In terms of surprise value, this will impress most people [i.e., non-foodies or 80% of the general population]. And were I to choose a pickle, delicate mushrooms such as chantrelles would not be on top of the list. 6/10.

Quince sorbet, butter cookies, roasted grapefruit -- Very nice dessert. Not much to say about here. 7/10.

Chocolate souffle, chocolate sauce, vanilla ice cream, smoked ground vanilla beans -- Somewhat novel twist provided a bit of interest to an otherwise boring dessert. 6.5/10.

This isn't to say that I hated it. I just found the food to be for the most part, underwhelming. There were on the plus side, a few things I liked.

Will I be back? Difficult to say. Ask me again in ten months.

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Beacon doesn't seem to have its own thread...seems to be divided up between TKC and Beefsteak Dinner....so....

Has anybody been to a private function at Beacon? Please share your experience.

Thanks in advance.

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I read somewhere that this thing is booked solid through July, which basically means for most of us it exists only in fantasyland. You'll be able to get into Momofuku Ko easier than that.

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Hot smoked wild bass, fennel, lemon butter, served in corn husks -- Bland and boring.  Has the kitchen learned the value of salt?  5.5/10.

Had dinner there in Feb. The striped bass dish was wonderful I thought, the bass has a great meaty texture that went perfectly with the cherry and ash smoke with a great accompanying sauce made from braised fennel -one of the best dishes I have eaten.

Waldy may have made some changes - the anson mills grits with the short rib were sans cheese as well as the squash no longer accompanying the dish.

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Waldy and his team did a Kitchen Counter dinner at the Beard House last night. I was pretty impressed with their ability to turn out a reasonable facsimile of the 12-course Kitchen Counter dinner using the equipment in the crap kitchen at the Beard House. They pulled it off through a combination of cleverness, determination and off-site prep. For example, they baked the shells for the pizzas in the stone oven at Beacon and drove them downtown, then added the toppings and finished them in a regular oven at the Beard House. They came out almost as well as pizzas at Beacon. You'd need to eat a lot of Beacon pizza to start noticing the minor differences.

The way they configured the courses is that they started out with four passed hors d'oeuvres corresponding to the first four courses on the Kitchen Counter menu, then they did four plated pairs of courses -- in other words two different dishes on the plate.

Here's the menu after it spent a night in my pocket:

gallery_1_295_24262.jpg

The appetizers were 1- fried tarragon lobster fritters with Sherry vinegar dipping sauce; 2- roasted oysters with verjus, shallots and herbs

gallery_1_295_94300.jpg

3- suckling pig in mole on corn tortillas

gallery_1_295_69909.jpg

4 - pizza with wild mushrooms, red onions and basil

gallery_1_295_69295.jpg

Here's Waldy preparing the suckling pig appetizer:

gallery_1_295_51046.jpg

And here's big Mike -- who couldn't even stand up straight in most of the kitchen because of the low clearance under the vents -- plating some fritters:

gallery_1_295_69590.jpg

For the plated courses we started with 5- asparagus with coddled egg and Parmigiano and 6- kabocha ravioli with butter, capers and sage. At the restaurant I recall they do the egg cracked over the asparagus and cooked in the stone oven, but I actually think coddling is a better approach because you can put stuff like butter and truffles in the coddling dish with the egg.

gallery_1_295_51113.jpg

Then we had 7- a seared scallop with cabbage, apple and jalapeno and 8- roasted salmon with wilted watercress and lemon.

gallery_1_295_20375.jpg

The last savory courses were 9- short ribs topped with foie gras on a bed of grits, and 10- marrow bones with garlic and horseradish. A few minutes before this course came out there was a minor epidemic of wheezing and coughing in the room, because Waldy was uncompromising in his desire to get the marrow bones broiled to a restaurant-quality crisp. I was really concerned that the fire department would show up before we got served the marrow bones, but somehow no alarms got tripped. Plus, the person to my left didn't eat her marrow bone and the person to my right didn't eat his marrow bone or the foie gras. So I felt obliged to offer assistance.

gallery_1_295_62798.jpg

Desserts were 11- apple pancake with caramel and cinnamon sorbet, and 12- chocolate cake with smoked vanilla ice cream.

gallery_1_295_45741.jpg

All in all a fun evening, and given the difficulty of getting reservations it was nice that 80 or so people got to experience the Kitchen Counter, or something close to it. It was also nice that I got two of Waldy's comp tickets to the event.

In Waldy's brief comments at the end of the meal he mentioned that he knew James Beard and had dined at the Beard House when it actually was James Beard's house. He never saw James Beard shower, though -- or so he says.

By the way, did anybody notice the story in Wednesday's New York Times titled "Your Waiter Tonight... Will Be the Chef"? It's primarily about Momofuku Ko in New York and Schwa in Chicago, and the focus is on the idea of close interaction between chefs and diners. No mention of Kitchen Counter, of course. The press blackout continues.


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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Having never eaten at Ko, Schwa, or TKC @ Beacon but having seen lots of pictures, I'm going to go out there and say that Beacon's food just doesn't seem as interesting and doesn't necessarily warrant the press that Ko and Schwa do based on looks alone. Lots of cities have something like Beacon where you can sit at the chef's table/pass/counter and get a custom tasting menu or whatever.

Minibar, Schwa, and Ko are on another level entirely when it comes to the creativity/weirdness of food and the notoriety of the chef.

Even after seeing all the pictures, I'll be honest, I'm not going to go out of my way to visit TKC. The other restaurants I mentioned, however, are at or very near the top of my dining list.

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NY Magazine just mentioned it the other week in an article.

Do you have a citation for that? I saw a tiny mention in a Grub Street blog entry but don't recall seeing anything in the magazine.


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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Having never eaten at Ko, Schwa, or TKC @ Beacon but having seen lots of pictures, I'm going to go out there and say that Beacon's food just doesn't seem as interesting and doesn't necessarily warrant the press that Ko and Schwa do based on looks alone.

Did you read the article? I'm guessing, based on your comments, that you didn't. The article isn't about food. It's about up-close-and-personal interaction with chefs. You get a heck of a lot more of that at Kitchen Counter than at, say, Degustation (which was included in the story).

Lots of cities have something like Beacon where you can sit at the chef's table/pass/counter and get a custom tasting menu or whatever.

I think those who have dined at Kitchen Counter will testify that the experience is not akin to sitting at the pass at Hearth or at the chef's table at Cafe Gray or wherever. It's much more intimate than that, and it's unique. I don't think it's really possible to come away from Kitchen Counter and say "That was just like the experience at X."

Minibar, Schwa, and Ko are on another level entirely when it comes to the creativity/weirdness of food and the notoriety of the chef.

Clearly that reasoning (assuming for the moment that you're right) influences your personal choice of where to eat. But those aren't good criteria for determining 1- what makes food good, or 2- what makes the style of service relevant or not relevant to an article about that style of service.

Waldy isn't cooking molecular/avant-garde food, and he's not doing much in the way of fusion. But the food at Kitchen Counter is delicious. Beacon has an oven that can do things Minibar, Schwa, and Ko just can't do. Waldy Malouf is not as celebrated as David Chang in the years 2007 and 2008 (nobody is) but he has a significant resume reaching back to the Hudson River Club and his 1995 "Hudson River Valley Cookbook." Waldy was a pioneer in the whole New York fresh, local, seasonal, sustainable movement, and he has a very high comfort level with the high-heat/bold-flavor style of cooking in play at Kitchen Counter. I don't think there's a finer example of that style available anywhere. It may not be your thing, but I think it's as worthy as anything being done at the more fashion-forward restaurants.


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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Waldy isn't cooking molecular/avant-garde food, and he's not doing much in the way of fusion. But the food at Kitchen Counter is delicious. Beacon has an oven that can do things Minibar, Schwa, and Ko just can't do.  Waldy was a pioneer in the whole New York fresh, local, seasonal, sustainable movement, and he has a very high comfort level with the high-heat/bold-flavor style of cooking in play at Kitchen Counter. I don't think there's a finer example of that style available anywhere. It may not be your thing, but I think it's as worthy as anything being done at the more fashion-forward restaurants.

Totally agree. It's just fine ingredients, mostly prepared very simply and most of it done just swell - what's wrong with that?


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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We will be in NY in early July for a week and have decided, based entirely upon this thread, that we must eat here on the one Thursday night we'll be in town. Under the current formative plan, this will be the only time we dump the kids for dinner (except for a trip to PDT, but we're not calling that dinner yet). This is not because the girls won't eat, but because 1/3 of the seats available seems ever more likeky than 2/3 (by a factor of two, if my early education doesn't fail me). The kids are great, but I can see them back home.

So, my problem is, I call the semi-secret TKC number above for (hopefully) a reservation, and I get a recording indicating they are taking reservations for March - May. Not being from The City, my initial reaction is that I must call back some two months from now, when they will be taking orderly reservations for July.

After a few minutes of reflection, I recall stories that the cognoscenti are more prone to perseverance, so I call back and leave a haltingly assertive message indicating that while I am sufficiently educated to glean that July follows May, I am curious as to whether Thursday is an exception. I even drop (institutional) names by indicating I know from EG that Thursdays are unique.

I wait all day by my cell phone, to no avail. I know what you'll say, maybe TKC is out of town, maybe its sister restaurant is sick and requires emergency care, maybe my timing is just off and next week it will all be OK (for someone else). Encouraging words aside, I'm not getting any better looking, and this may be my last shot before the combover and paunch become the first things you notice.

So here, at last, is my question. How do I maximize the chance of eating here July 3? Do I call every day, hoping someone will answer the phone? Do I leave increasingly desperate messages culminiting in vague threats of self-imposed personal discomfort? Do I concede my outsider status, give up, and rent a movie in the wrong HD format (I understand our hotel has big TVs and delivery from the original Ray's)?

There are many great places to eat up there, and I suppose we'll find sustenance elsewhere if TKC proves illusive, but this is as big to me as the Toys-R Us ferris wheel (its INSIDE the store, dad) is to my daughter. Any helpful advice is appreciated.


Edited by maf (log)

"Eat at Joe's."

- Joe

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I'd just keep calling. And you may as well try for four seats. I believe you're going to pull it off.

However, if you don't pull it off, I recommend you go in and sit at the Kitchen Counter on some other night. I had no trouble pulling together a great Thursday-like meal on a non-Thursday, and Waldy just stood up in front of 80 people at the Beard House and said that they're getting more non-Thursday customers coming in and wanting to do multi-course Thursday-night-ish tastings, and that he's happy to make that happen. Plus, he said they do most of their beta testing on the other nights, so they'll often let interested customers taste dishes in progress, etc.


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 will keep calling. It will work, and it will be great. I will eat 14 great meals in 1 week that change my kids' (and my) view of food and I will score Yankees/Sox tickets. I can do it. Yes I can. And in the end, I will owe it all (OK, maybe not the tickets) to EG.


"Eat at Joe's."

- Joe

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I just joined e-gullet and I was inspired by the postings on TKC. I actually had a reservation there back in November, but was forced to cancel. Fortunately, I am going on April 10th and am eagerly looking forward to it.

Although I haven't dined there yet I am excited for the interaction with Waldy. I've dined at chef's tables and Degustation is one of my favorite restaurants in the city (for the food and experience), but I get the sense that TKC offers even more intimacy. Thanks for all the postings over the months, and of course the pictures.

I'll be sure to let everyone know how my experience is and I'll be posting a review as well (the review will be here: http://always-eating.blogspot.com/).


always-eating.com

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Just spoke to the extremely pleasant Delilah and got a Thursday reservation. Although my evaluation skills tend to run the descriptive gamut from yuck through OK all the way to real good, I'll try to offer something a little more detailed in July.


"Eat at Joe's."

- Joe

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I just joined e-gullet and I was inspired by the postings on TKC. I actually had a reservation there back in November, but was forced to cancel. Fortunately, I am going on April 10th and am eagerly looking forward to it.

Although I haven't dined there yet I am excited for the interaction with Waldy. I've dined at chef's tables and Degustation is one of my favorite restaurants in the city (for the food and experience), but I get the sense that TKC offers even more intimacy. Thanks for all the postings over the months, and of course the pictures.

I'll be sure to let everyone know how my experience is and I'll be posting a review as well (the review will be here: http://always-eating.blogspot.com/).

Welcome to eGullet ginsbera - nice to have you posting on the forums. We look forward to hearing all about your dining experience at TKC at Beacon, as well as any other food talk you might have to share.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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Just to inform everyone, beginning this Thursday there will be a brand new Spring menu for TKC. I just spoke with Dalila there (the reservationist) as my girlfriend has a food allergy. I'll report back on what the menu is later this week.


always-eating.com

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I dined at TKC last night and was quite pleased with the overall experience. Some of the courses were new or revised, but for the most part it resembled past menus. I've done a thorough review, which you can find here:

http://always-eating.blogspot.com/2008/04/...en-counter.html

I would recommend it to anyone considering. Not the best meal ever, but a huge amount of very high quality food in a one of a kind experience (at least to NY). Waldy was a great host and the servers helped make it a special experience. I support the notion that it is one of the better dining deals in the city.


always-eating.com

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While I haven't done TKC yet, I have eaten there in the past couple months as a "regular" diner and was not impressed in the least.

I hope it is better than what I experienced.

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I had lunch again today at the Burger Bar -- that's what they call the kitchen counter on weekdays from noon until 2:30pm -- and was very pleased with the experience for a few reasons.

First, the hamburgers are excellent. Made from Niman Ranch beef, they're beautifully presented (sorry, I didn't have my camera) cut in half on superior bread and, at least in my case, cooked exactly as ordered. The fries are quite good as are the garnishes: pickles, onions, house-made ketchup, tomato, lettuce. The burgers get an excellent exterior char from the grill and the meat is moist and beefy but not greasy.

Second, Waldy is in Japan on vacation and Mike wasn't in the open kitchen because it was after the lunch rush (we came at 2:15pm) so nobody recognized us. I was glad to see that we still had an excellent service experience. A manager I didn't know came over to talk to us and told us all about Thursday nights at the kitchen counter. We did see Mike later but it was only after all significant food and service interactions had occurred.

Third, we brought our 2.5-year-old son because we were all coming from a doctor's office that's also on West 56th Street. We did this with some trepidation. Beacon didn't seem like exactly the kid-friendly kind of restaurant. It didn't seem kid-unfriendly -- big and loud is always a plus -- but it's a Midtown business place and that usually means a grownup crowd. How wrong we were. The second we walked in the door and the hostess saw our son she said a big hello to him and was totally accommodating. She set us up at the counter with a booster seat, crayons and a coloring book, as well as a kids' menu -- yes, they have one. Within about 60 seconds of sitting down our server was over with a couple of little slices of pizza, a small plate of fries and a plastic sippy-cup of water. And get this: kids under 4 eat free. That's right, you can order anything from the kids' menu or just ask for anything within the abilities of the kitchen and they'll make it for your kid, serve it in a significant portion, and not charge you a penny. If your kid is older it's $9.95. I chatted later about this with Mike, expressing surprise at how on top of the kid situation Beacon is, and he said it's very important to Waldy to treat families well -- that he insists on knowing as soon as a kid comes into the restaurant, that they try to get some sort of food in front of the kid as soon as possible, and that they even have a cotton candy machine in the kitchen (we declined cotton candy).

Lunch for the two of us (two burgers) plus the free kid (a burger about 2/3 the size of the adult burgers, presented in a more kid-friendly arrangement) was under $30, though we didn't drink any alcohol.


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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