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after independently inserting a cheese plate, ate about twelve or thirteen courses

Love the place.  Damn, it's expensive.

But less so if you have four or five courses, no? :biggrin:

With the way prices are going in Paris, I wonder if you could do as well there for the money.

Robert Buxbaum


Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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I had a restaurant week dinner ($30.03) at Atelier with two non-Egulleteers on Wednesday night and everything we had was quite good. They also treated us well, despite the fact that we weren't paying full fare.

There were two choices for each course

Apps: Quail "Praline", Black Truffle Gelee, Herb Salad or Roasted Butternut Squash, Chestnuts and Porcini Mushroom Salad

Entrees: Salmon topped with Horseradish Crust or Free-Range Chicken "en Cocotte"

Dessert: Pineapple Lemongrass Consomme, Coconut "Ile Flottante" or Warm Chocolate Passionfruit Cake

I had the quail, salmon and cake and tried the chicken and soupy dessert. We had a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (as one of my dining companions had lived in NZ), which matched well with our food.

The quail was wrapped in a lettuce or cabbage leaf and was very good. The truffle gelee added nicely to the flavor. The salmon was also cooked nicely and the horseradish crust was a delicious preparation.

The desserts were good, but not as delicious as the rest of the meal. They also started us with the trout canape mentioned by a previous poster and then an eel amuse bouche.

Service was particularly good - a warm welcome and competent friendly and efficient throughout.

I was sufficiently impressed to want to return and explore more of the menu as well as the rice crispy with peanut butter ice cream dessert, which sounds particularly good to me.

The only unpleasant surprise was seeing Reverend Al Sharpton entering as we were leaving, as we had been discussing him over tea and petit four just moments before and said comments were not favorable.

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  • 3 weeks later...
I'm on tenterhooks now.  I rated it pretty highly.

William Grimes was on Arthur Schwartz's Food Talk program earlier today, and when Schwartz asked him what restaurant(s) he would dearly love to go back to, Grimes immediately mentioned Atelier. He felt it was the best new restaurant of the past year. So, if it's any consolation, Wilfrid, Grimes agrees with you.

Edited by Jason Perlow (log)
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  • 2 weeks later...

This is a composite post by the Browns (Robert and Susan) and the Lizziee's that was an ad hoc e-gullet dinner at Atelier.

There are some posts about restaurants that we really don't like writing, and our reaction to Atelier falls in this category. We were really looking forward to this meal, particularly because the reviews from Bux and Wilfrid were stellar. We wish we could echo their sentiments.

The chef from the Ritz in San Francisco is a friend of Lizziee's and had spoken to Ronan, the GM, about arranging a special tasting menu for us. As a result, we never saw the menu. However, from reading Wilfrid's post, our dishes did not vary from the standard tasting menu.

As a general overview, before describing each dish, we felt the construction of the tasting menu was so off balance that the entire meal suffered. There was so much repetition of tastes and textures that it became an homogenized whole. It seemed as if the chef felt that the diner would be wowed with luxury ingredients like foie gras and caviar and that this was in itself sufficient to produce a spectacular dining experience.

1st amuse - smoked trout mousse, shaped like a small quenelle, on a small, toasted baguette. It was nicely done, but should have been served closer to room temperature.

2nd amuse - a mixture of small diced potatoes and creme fraiche were plated on a herb dressing over which lay a slice of smoked salmon topped with a bit of creme fraiche and a couple of finely diced chives. The problem with this dish was again one of temperature as it was extremely cold, as if it had just been taken out of the refrigerator.

1st course - Quail "Praline", Black Truffle Gelee, Fine Herbs Salad. This is, in a word, a spectacular dish and unfortunately, one of the two highlights of the meal. If anything, it was so good that all the succeeding dishes just didn't measure up. Cold pieces of rare breast of quail and foie gras were wrapped into a tight ball and covered with spinach, resembling a baseball. On top were pungent 1/16th of an inch cubes of black truffles. In the middle of the plate was the fines herb salad and perched to the side the crunchy quail drumsticks. Far to one side was a small mound of black truffle gelee. Our only complaint was that we had to re-arrange the plate and have the truffle gelee next to the quail ball as you really needed the gelee to reinforce the flavor of the "ball." But this was really a small quibble in what should be considered a tour de force that displayed the chef's Alsatian roots.

2nd course - Bluefin tuna and diver scallop tartar seasoned with Iranian Osetra caviar served on thinly sliced cucumbers that had been lightly tossed with sesame oil. A touch of balsamic vinegar had been dribbled on the plate. This was just under seasoned; all of us kept looking for some fleur de sel. We think the problem with the dish was that the caviar was to act as the seasoning agent, but a few grains of caviar was not enough to do the trick, and the caviar itself was mushy, without that pop in your mouth feel.

3rd course- Sautéed Hudson Valley Foie Gras, Basil Jus and Pea Shoots. The major problem was again under-seasoning. Also, we were off put by the texture of the foie gras, which had a baby food consistency to it. The basil jus, the tiny slice of lemon on the foie and the small sprinkling of nutmeg to the side of the plate was just not enough to "season" the foie gras.

4th Course - Peasant Toasted Flour Soup with Florida Frogs Legs and Garlic Sprouts. The soup was wonderful, rich and favorable. Chef Kreuther enriched a dark brown roux with mushroom and vegetable stock that had been infused with bacon. The frogs legs had a "poached" feel to it so that you expected texture where there was none, making you wonder why the frogs legs were there in the first place.

5th Course - Turbot with Fresh Hearts of Palm, Black Truffle Sauce. This was bad. The turbot was cold and the sauce had congealed on the plate. We can only guess that this had sat in the kitchen and should never have been served.

6th Course - Roasted Maine Lobster in a "Folly of Herbs," Salsify and Fingerling Potatoes. The lobster was done perfectly, with the saucing aromatics (11 of them) adding a perfect match to the lobster. However, the fingerling potatoes were ice cold as if someone in the kitchen forgot to heat them up.

7th Course - Squab and Foie Gras "Croustillant", Seasonal Vegetables, Caramelized Apple Cider Jus. This was definitely a signature dish and the second highlight of the meal. The squab breast was roasted rare and packed around a slab of foie gras wrapped in Savoy cabbage which sat in Moroccan brique pastry. Wilfrid described it best: "The breast meat was rare, the foie gras molten, the cabbage soft, and the pastry case perfectly crisp."

The biggest problem with the dish was its placement in this type of a tasting menu. We were saturated with foie gras and the squab was a mimic of the quail. It was this dish that confirmed our feeling that instead of the chef trying to put forth a harmonious, balanced array of dishes, he was more interested in lightening up his inventory of ingredients, especially foie gras.

Having had on hand two first-rate red Burgundies that one of us brought from home, we finished them with selected several pieces of cheese from a somewhat small but well-cared for array. Among the dozen or so were Gorgonzola, Roquefort, Livarot, and a Spanish half-cow, half-goat cheese we had never seen before

Dessert Tasting:

Chocolate Velvet Fondant, Nougatine, Almond Praline Ice Cream

Rice Crispy, Peanut Ice Cream, Chocolate, Condensed Milk Cappuccino

Empire Apple Crumble, Cranberries, Fresh Ginger Ice Cream

Flambeed Banana "Tarte Tatin", Maple Sugar Ice Cream

Warm Chocolate Passion Fruit Cake, Coconut Sorbet

Generally, the desserts were a take on "down home" American comfort food, using classic American dessert ingredients. They were made for a typical American palate emphasizing sweetness. We wondered what would happen if this immensely talented chef was let loose in France or in a kitchen that didn't cater to hotel guests.

As we were eating our desserts, Jean-Francois Bonnet, the pastry chef, came out. He is a delightful, articulate 27 year old who spent over 30 minutes at our table often providing cogent analysis of the state of fancy dining in France, particularly how one two-star restaurant on the Cote d'Azur had reduced their dessert selection from 14 to six. He bemoaned the "war" between the front and back of the house and how so often his creations are ruined by a waiter who is slow to get the food to the table. We loved the small cookies served with our coffee and Chef Bonnet requested that our server get us another plate. When the server said there were no more, Chef Bonnet went back to bake some more. This was at 11:30 at night, after a full service day.

Chef Bonnet was the highlight of a meal that was very expensive (and this was with corkage waived, but included a bottle of Didier Dageneau's Pure Sang Pouilly Fume) at a bit over $200 per person and served in a hotel restaurant that seemed more concerned with maximization of profit than treating the clientele as if some of it could be knowledgeable.

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Thanks for taking the trouble to write up the meal. I can't disagree that there's an architectural similarity between the two most exciting dishes - the quail and the squab - and it may therefore be a mistake to serve them both on the tasting menu - but I see we agree they are both very nice.

As for some of the other dishes, it sounds like you suffered from kitchen errors in terms of seasoning and temperatures. I am very sensitive indeed to being served cold food which has been standing around. It hasn't been a problem for me at Atelier, but at those prices they should be getting it right every time.

My slight disagreement with your perception was that I felt that, unlike the tasting menus at other upscale New York restaurant in the French tradition, Kreuther had tried to construct a series of interesting, varied dishes, rather than sending out a succession of luxury ingredients in relatively simple preparations. I have eaten numerous tasting menus which seems to consist of a series of rectangles of tender protein, garnished with caviar, truffles or foie gras to make them interesting. I thought the intriguing made dishes on the menu - the quail and squab especially - and the very robust soup - separated Atelier from the pack.

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Regarding the comment that the chef thought you would be wowed with luxury ingredients like foie gras and caviar and that this was in itself sufficient to produce a spectacular dining experience, I just don't agree. In regard to the foie gras, it's so well handled in two of the restaurant's best dishes that I understand the desire to have you taste then both. The caviar seems to have been poorly used, but I doubt anyone thought you would be wowed by its presence.

I've had the Quail "Praline", Black Truffle Gelee, Fine Herbs Salad as a first course in a three course lunch and my wife had the Squab and Foie Gras "Croustillant", Seasonal Vegetables, Caramelized Apple Cider Jus as a main course in the same meal. I could have easily had them in one meal. I know it would not have been a balanced menu, but they are clearly two tours de force, and in such a large menu, I would not have strong objections to including both. I understand the objection here, but wonder if it's not more of a text book objection. Surely, either dish could have been made omitting the foie gras. I don't see the criticism of the chef as more interested in lightening up his inventory of ingredients, especially foie gras, as all that valid.

Regarding the comment that you would be wowed with luxury ingredients like foie gras and caviar and that this was in itself sufficient to produce a spectacular dining experience, were those ingredients inexpertly handled?

I don't understand the problem with the frog's legs in the. What sort of texture would you have wanted? Why wasn't the poached meat appropriate. I've had chicken soup and the chicken meat in it was properly poached.

I understand the comments on seasoning and the problems with temperature are very solid criticisms. It's hard to understand how they could have happened.

Your comments on it being a hotel restaurant catering to hotel guests, may have some validity. The possibility that the hotel will not support the chef to his fullest abilities in terms of staff and services is one that's worried me. I saw no sign of it when I had lunch, but it's almost always a factor sooner or later in most hotel restaurants in the US. There's often a conflict between a manager type who sees a great restaurant as necessary to fill the rooms and a bean counter who see's the restaurant as a profit source. Neither of these begins to contend with the hotel union's interests.

Robert Buxbaum


Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Lizzie, Browns, etc.

Thanks for the report. It was very thorough. Your complaints are valid, but like Wilfrid, I believe that you experienced some kitchen errors that hopefully are an deviation from the norm.

I will keep my reservations, but hope that someone from Atelier sees your post and puts the ship back on course before my meal there. :wink:

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... hope that someone from Atelier sees your post and puts the ship back on course before my meal there.

You should mail it to them.

Robert Buxbaum


Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Lizzies + browns,

I would like to echo the comments above praising you for posting your views on this thread. You have done us all an incredible service by bringing forward considerations of balance and execution within a menu, and I value your subtle insights and respect your knowledge and discenrment on issues of fine dining.

The first thing tht surprises me is that your group was the recipient of several clear and unambiguous errors of execution (i.e. temprature problems) especially as your reservation was handled by another chef and one can assume you were to be receive treatment as a friend of the restaurant. This to me is really puzzling.

It seems to me that your criticisms can be divided into three basic categories: 1 improper execution as evidenced perhaps most clearly in the fish course and the temperature of the potatos in the lobster dish (which i found overseasoned, apparently not a problem for you :laugh: );

2 poor progression of the meal or to put it another way, an unbalanced menu that did not provide a proper progression of flavors and instead chose to mask the pedestriann quality of the menu in luxury ingredients--this seems to me to be a serious structural flaw that is informed by your expectation of what a menu should be rather than a flaw in the cuisine per se. I think Bux is onto something in his defense of the presence of foie gras in both the prailine and the squab dish (though for the record, i switched the prailine with the partiridge to begin and was pleased by this substitution.)

finally (3) that you found a fault with the entire premise of chef Kreuther's cuisine. This assumes that the dishes that you thought were underseasoned were intentionally presented in such a fashion to make some sort of statement, or alternatively that you were unsatisfied with the role and flavor of the herbs used as the primary seasoning agents as in the foie gras dish or the innovative (if unsuccessful) use of caviar (which according to your description seems to be suffering the in the quality department) as a source of salinity in the tartare. This problem is probably beyond repair.

I was hoping you might elaborate on your meal in light of these criteria.

I should add that my two experiences have been very high on a food level (i was a little disapointed with the dessert chef bonnet (sp?) sent out with the tasting menu but I didn't experience the sort of monumental failure of execution that was evident in your meal. In fact, the dish i thought the least successful was the soup, though for me it was the broth that underminned the dish rather than the texture of the frog's legs. While the flavor of the soup was intense, I felt it was too salty and this masked a lot of the intense, smokey bacon flavor. I also think the frog's legs don't stand up so well to such an intense liquid--I'm much fonder of Jean Georges's version and i believe that the deep fried frog's legs are much better than the poached ones found here.

Other than those two caveats, I found the food to be excellent, and while i tried to strike up a conversation with chef bonnet and he declined (he stopped by to say hello when i mentioned that i rememberd him from cello but quickly retreated). I found the service to be competant but not amazing--certainley not Meyeresque.

edit for clarification and insertion of my own views

Edited by ajay (log)
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Bux, Ajay, Wilfrid

A great deal of our dissatisfaction with our meal at Atelier had to do with expectation. We switched our reservation from Daniel to Atelier, expecting at least a 3 star experience. Instead, we encountered major execution problems. I can't say if this was entirely due to the kitchen for the wait staff may have contributed to the problem by not getting the food to us on time. Chef Bonnet seemed to hint at this possibility when he commented on the problems of getting his desserts to the table in a timely fashion. But, even given this, there is no excuse for a cold baguette for the trout mousse, ice cold fingerling potatoes in the lobster dish, the salmon amuse straight from the refrigerator and congealed black truffle sauce with the turbot.

I absolutely agree that the Quail dish and the Squab dish are extraordinary and both tours de force. In retrospect, I wouldn't have wanted to miss either dish. However, in a seven course tasting menu excluding the amuse and the desserts, 3 out of the 7 seven courses featured foie gras with the 3rd course of sautéed foie gras being only fair. It was this 3rd course which hurt the balance of the tasting menu and gave you the feeling of poor progression.

As to the frogs legs dish, I, too, am much fonder of Jean George's version. I happen to like a combination of textures in a dish and I think the crispiness of the frogs legs in the JG dish is a perfect contrast of flavor and texture. However, I did love the intensity of the broth in the Atelier version. It reminded me somewhat of Astrance's "bread" soup, but much, much better without that over-proofing yeast flavor.

You asked if the luxury ingredients were mishandled and unfortunately the answer is yes. Not in the case of the above two dishes but in the use of the caviar in the tuna/scallop tartar, the sautéed foie and the turbot with the black truffles. I am not adverse to luxury, only when it is handled poorly to fair. It is as if the luxury of the ingredient could make up for the fair execution.

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  • 1 month later...

To Atelier on Friday night with the clique. (Contrary to popular opinion the clique is not exclusive. We encourage new applicants. However, in order to maintain standards, there is an entrance examination. On quantum electrodynamics. In Latin.)

We threw ourselves on the mercy of the Chef and ate:

Pre-amuse: Peaky toe crab on a little toast. It was crab. It was on toast.

Amuse: Mackerel with apple jelly. I don't like mackerel. This was very, very good.

1. Quail, foie, truffle jelly, more quail. As others have described. Not, for me, quite the high point of the evening but excellent. The snooker ball of cabbage wrapped quail/foil was a little too cold.

2. Warm salad of sea bass (I think), caviar, cockles and asparagus. Again excellent.

3. Crawfish pie with morels and porcini. This came to the table in a small covered pot with a crust to seal the lid. After de-lidding (we got to keep the fine crust), a rich broth was poured into the pot. For me the best dish of the evening. Crawfish, mushrooms, pie. What's not to like?

4. Some sort of white fish with a blood orange sauce. In any other place this might have seemed good. But it was very bland compared with what had come before and what followed.

5. Cod, chorizo and beans. I think I'm overusing 'excellent'. Excellent.

6. Lobster in lobster broth. Very nice flavour but the body meat was a tad overcooked.

7. Sqaub, foie, bric. Should have been great because it's a pie but I was a little disappointed. I thought it needed a bit more flavour. A rich veal reduction or something.

Pre-pudding: Three little pots of fruit type substance. Rhubarb, apricot and something. Not great.

Puddings: Oh, a whole lot of them. None very remarkable.

Very friendly and competent service.

A very satisfying meal. That this place only received two stars is bizarre. It may not be a four star place because there are some lapses (overcooked lobster, overchilled foie/quail). It may also be too conservative to garner four, but personally that's what I liked about the place.

$240 a head. Another cliquister will chip in on the wines, I think.

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My favorite dish was the cod with chorizo. Colorful with soft, flakey (fish) and chewy (sausage)textures. Some of the beans were pureed and this made for a very comforting dish. I also liked the salad of sea bass that preceded it-- a bit of a surprise temperature-wise as it looked as though it would be a hot dish, but it worked at room temperature.

We discussed the progression of the meal and some of us thought that the quail snooker/baseball might've fitted in better after one or two fish courses. (It looks as though the restaurant now presents this dish taking into account Lizzee & co’s suggestion on the placement of the gelee as it was right next to the quail ball.)

Also, at last 2 of us thought that we'd have liked the meal to culminate in 2 meat courses rather than one.

Desserts were poor in my opinion. But I'm not a big dessert fan in any case and that didn't much matter. In the main, they were on the same bandwidth as those found at Jean-Georges.

The bread, especially the French rolls (from a Queens bakery--name escapes me), was fantastic.

The service (on all levels from the M'd, Eric, to sommelier to waiters) was top rate; attentive, friendly, informative.

Very nice of them to comp our pre-dinner drinks and champagne at table.

Will definitely go back.

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Quoting my January 28 post above: "Sparing you a blow by blow account, the only poor dish was the lobster, which was well-flavored but too chewy." Still is. What's the big deal about cooking lobster? As has been said, the other dish which didn't work was a slightly overcooked John Dory with a fruit sauce; apart from the concept and execution, it was fine :laugh:).

We were offered the option of selecting from the menu or having the chef cook for us. We chose a middle course, requesting two of the signature dishes (the quail praline and the squab and foie gras croustillante), otherwise leaving the chef to improvise. It was an enormous meal, equivalent in length to the chef's Tasting Menu, but with some alternative dishes. Having enjoyed the squab pie more than once, I asked if I could take the oxtail stuffed with wild mushrooms. This was a mound of velvety meat, with the kind of rich reduction GJ would have liked for his pie, accompanied by a rich, creamy parsnip puree. More support for my argument that Atelier is offering food of a robustness which New York four stars generally avoid. Suits me. The unexpected crayfish, morel and porcini casserole was also superb, and completely made the argument that pastry can be a highlight even in an upscale meal; light, puffy, imbued with fragrances from the dish. I also enjoyed the asparagus salad with black sea bass and cockles, which I'd not tried before. I'm sorry we didn't get to the cheese trolley, but I can't really pretend I had any room for it.

The sommelier provided the wine pairings, and I hope someone kept notes. Ignoring imnprecations against chardonnay, he successfully paired it with the crayfish casserole. Also, in accordance with our expressed preferences, he dared pair some reds with the fish dishes. Details?

Given that the rack rate for the Chef's Tasting is $128, the price of the meal was very fair indeed.

Edited by Wilfrid (log)
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That's a very interesting meal. Crawfish pie. Squab pie. I like the sound of most of this.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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