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3 star bias... ?


roosterchef21
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How do people feel Le Louis XV measures up? Alan Richman wrote an article for GQ a few months ago where he featured his five favorite restaurants. He highlighted Le Louis XV as the "greatest restaurant in the world, when food, service, and ambience are taken into consideration."

I had a great experience there recently, but don't have too many other three star meals to compare it to...

Edited by joshlh (log)
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How do people feel Le Louis XV measures up? Alan Richman wrote an article for GQ a few months ago where he featured his five favorite restaurants. He highlighted Le Louis XV as the "greatest restaurant in the world, when food, service, and ambience are taken into consideration."

I had a great experience there recently, but don't have too many other three star meals to compare it to...

Thank you for your wonderful description of your meal at Le Louis XV. I am going to Monaco in two weeks and have five reservations at Louis XV. Can't wait!!!

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Sethd, are you serious? FIVE meals at Le Louis XV? Wow ...

Look forward to the report soon, in particular the picture of the dishes as I hardly see any of them in the forum

With the rumor that Cerutti will become the head chef of Monte Carlo hotels/resorts group, Pascal Bardet will probably be the no 1 there. Let's see whether the food is still as good as Cerutti's time

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Sethd, are you serious? FIVE meals at Le Louis XV? Wow ...

Look forward to the report soon, in particular the picture of the dishes as I hardly see any of them in the forum

With the rumor that Cerutti will become the head chef of Monte Carlo hotels/resorts group, Pascal Bardet will probably be the no 1 there. Let's see whether the food is still as good as Cerutti's time

Quite serious!!. I have wanted to eat at Louis XV for years. I have had the pleasure of dining at ADPA and ADNY as well as his new restaurant Adour in New York. I hope the meals live up to my lofty expectations. I also will eat at Chevre D'or and hope to eat at Mirazur in Menton during my week in the south of france.

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I think one has to enjoy eating to enjoy great food. That may sound silly - but I know people who have very expensive houses - and very expensive boats - who think that spending more than $100-200 on a meal for 2 is silly. Similarly - I know people who won't spend money on great hotels when they travel. I also know women who won't eat a meal that has more than 500 calories so they can maintain a size 4 when they are 50 or 60 or older (which is hard to do). To each his own.

I don't think one needs a great deal of experience to enjoy great food - but at least a little experience helps. The first time we went to Paris - a friend arranged our dining - and dined with us. Over the course of about a week (we couldn't eat large meals every night) - he took us to "progressive dinners" First a 3-4 knife and fork bistro. Then a one star - then a two star - then a 3 star. I can't say that was the end of our learning - it was more like a beginning - a lesson in how to learn. Yes - there are some things most people can appreciate immediately. Like I have only had 2 or 3 great bottles of red wine in my life (and they were gifts). But good grief - they were like drinking liquid velvet. Even to someone like me (I rarely drink wine - perhaps those bottles spoiled me forever). OTOH - I am not sure appreciation for a cheese course comes as easily.

BTW - I do not equate formal service and formal restaurants (along with formal place settings) as "stuffy". I have fine china and silver and glassware in my home - and expect a fine restaurant to have things that are at least as nice as what I would use at home for a nice dinner. The style may be traditional - or contemporary (at home my style is contemporary) - but a restaurant that hasn't spent a fair amount of money on the decor and the table settings isn't worthy of 2 stars in my book - much less 3. I know a restaurant is doing something right when I pick up the plates - because they are beautiful and I want to see who made them. Also - if you speak language X - and you are dining in a country which speaks language Y - and you don't speak language Y perfectly - most servers in fine restaurants will err on the side of being formal and polite with you (vous versus tu in France) - as opposed to saying "I am Phil and I will be your server tonight" (which is what you get in a lot of restaurants in the US if you're an English speaking person - even in a place like Per Se). It is just the nature of the culture in most countries. Luckily - people in countries like Japan know that non-Japanese will never learn proper bowing etiquette no matter how hard they try. Robyn

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How do people feel Le Louis XV measures up? Alan Richman wrote an article for GQ a few months ago where he featured his five favorite restaurants. He highlighted Le Louis XV as the "greatest restaurant in the world, when food, service, and ambience are taken into consideration."

I had a great experience there recently, but don't have too many other three star meals to compare it to...

I think you hit the nail on the head when you say "simplicity". The food at Lous XV appears deceptively "simply" compared to a place like Les Ambassadeurs. The style at Louis XV seems to be do "nothing" to the food that does not improve its flavor. On the other hand the service and decor is allowed to go overboard. On a recent visit a few dishes/elements were simply perfect. I think the reason many people don't like Louis XV is they are expecting more fireworks and show on the plate and don't appreciate a perfectly grilled and unadorned piece of foie gras. On the other hand I can also say that when the restaurant makes a mistake there is nothing on the plate that can hide the error.

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Sethd, are you serious? FIVE meals at Le Louis XV? Wow ...

Quite serious!!. I have wanted to eat at Louis XV for years. I have had the pleasure of dining at ADPA and ADNY as well as his new restaurant Adour in New York. I hope the meals live up to my lofty expectations. I also will eat at Chevre D'or and hope to eat at Mirazur in Menton during my week in the south of france.

Whoa, five in how many days? I'll also be looking forward to hearing about your experience.

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I had a great experience there recently, but don't have too many other three star meals to compare it to...

I think you hit the nail on the head when you say "simplicity" ...[snip]... On the other hand I can also say that when the restaurant makes a mistake there is nothing on the plate that can hide the error.

I completely agree. And my impression was that with the simplicity comes an even stronger attention to detail. In the end, it was the quality in every detail of food and service which really elevated the experience. E.g., at L'Astrance, they served very good bread and butter, about which I had no complaints. At Le Louis XV, they wheeled up a small mountain of sweet butter and carved us a strip right in front of our eyes. We were also given a block of salted butter, and aside from being simply outstanding products, they were served at the perfect temperature for spreading. There were about umpty-zillion different breads we could choose from, and they were exceptional. The salty butter on the fig walnut bread alone could be my last meal.

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OK, dear friends, let me jump in here. I totally agree with Julot -- Bocuse is an outstanding restaurant to me in the sense that it is hosted by the only still active chef who came from the Fernand Point school. Alain Chapel, Raymond Thuilier, Pierre Gaertner and Francois Bise are all dead, Louis Outhier and Pierre Troisgros are retired. Bocuse nowadays is the only link we still have to the greatest French gastronomy of the 20th century.

Am I wrong in thinking that Paul Haeberlin is also an ancien élève of Point's? (I know that his son is now the chef at the Auberge de l'Ill, but I think, and hope, that Paul H. is still alive and involved in some way or other.)

I admire Paul Haeberlin a lot and love him for his terrine of foie gras, his mousseline of frog legs and his peach poached in champagne. He and his brother are still alive and well but none of them have been élèves of Point, as is sometimes wrongly stated. Paul learned cooking from his mother, his aunt Henriette and from Edouard Weber, a chef who used to work for the tsar in Russia and then opened a restaurant in Ribeauvillé. This is where the Russian influences in the Haeberlin repertoire come from, the lobster Prince Vladimir, the blinis with caviar, or even borschtsch.

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  • 2 weeks later...

What are in your opinion the current "great" 3 stars, the current "good" 3 Stars and the "bad" 3 stars.

This is a difficult question to answer even for those fortunate few of us who do manage to get around quite a lot. Some restaurants I go to frequently (El Bulli, Fat Duck, L'Arpege, L'Ambroisie, Can Fabes, Pierre Gagnaire) and others I have tried only once within the last 3 years. Consistency is a difficult thing. Even a great restaurant can bring tears of joy one day and manage only appreciative smiles the next. Especially at a place like L'Arpege, even a tiny slip below the sublime seems a major fault, even if they still achieve far more than the vast majority can dream about doing.

This list is a HIGHLY SUBJECTIVE personal tally which I'm really doing as an exercise for myself. It shows how I rate the meal(s) I had and how much I feel like going back. I consider only current or very recent 3-stars, although I have certainly had some of my best meals in restaurants with fewer or no stars at all. It makes sense to scrutinize 3-stars more carefully since that accolade often gives them license to charge more than others.

El Bulli is in its own category, since I have a hard time comparing it to others. The obvious advice is to go if you have the opportunity and the interest. I see it like research, not a meal, therefore I try to go at least once a year. It is not always great, but it is always thought-provoking.

Exceeded expectations, at least most of the time:

L'Arpege

L'Ambroisie

Hotel de Ville

Can Fabes

Arzak

Ledoyen

Oud Sluis (must clarify that this restaurant literally "exceeded expectations," which were lower than maybe the ones I have for a French 3-star. I am not implying that Oud Sluis is better than the restaurants below in an absolute sense)

Per Se (must qualify that I had an outstanding meal under outstanding circumstances, otherwise it probably belongs lower)

Met Expectations, no order:

Louis XV

Le Meurice

Michel Bras (am worried about the future)

de Karmeleit

l'Astrance--not sure they deserve 3*, however

Plaza Athenee

Dal Pescatore

Marc Veyrat Have been thinking I should go back.

Calandre

La Pergola--some reservations, but great pasta

Sukiyabashi Jiro--rather unpleasant, but that was only to be expected

Martin Berasategui

French Laundry

Heinz Winkler

Guy Savoy

Below Expectations, roughly in order of descending unworthiness:

Grand Vefour--worst offender, finally docked, should fall further

Enotecca Piniciorri--what is it still doing on the list?

Le Pont de Brent-in scandalous, disreputable state. The cheese cart says it all.

Waterside Inn--ditto, but better cheese

Pre Catalan

Le Bernardin--no way

Akelare--should not reward atrocities like the modern tasting menu, bad trend

Schwarzwaldstube--Bareiss was better

Restaurant Bareiss--visited one month before they got their 3rd macaron, not worthy

Comme Chez Soi--I like that he retains his own style, however out of fashion it is, but quality suffers

ADNY (closed now)

Carme Ruscalleda's Sant Pau--unmemorable

Gordon Ramsay--clinical, soulless, feels somewhat manufactured

Fat Duck-- only interesting for the first meal. After that, boring if not bad. Too much reliance on old gimmicks, not quality cooking.

Pierre Gagnaire--hard to pinpoint any fault, but somehow always fails to excite. No personal chemistry?

Roellinger is the glaring hole in my gastronomic CV. Can't believe I have yet to go. I doubt I will spend much time in the Tokyo Michelin stars, as there are so many good Japanese ones off the list that I rarely have time to eat at French places in Tokyo.

Edited by Culinista (log)
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OK, dear friends, let me jump in here. I totally agree with Julot -- Bocuse is an outstanding restaurant to me in the sense that it is hosted by the only still active chef who came from the Fernand Point school. Alain Chapel, Raymond Thuilier, Pierre Gaertner and Francois Bise are all dead, Louis Outhier and Pierre Troisgros are retired. Bocuse nowadays is the only link we still have to the greatest French gastronomy of the 20th century.

Am I wrong in thinking that Paul Haeberlin is also an ancien élève of Point's? (I know that his son is now the chef at the Auberge de l'Ill, but I think, and hope, that Paul H. is still alive and involved in some way or other.)

I admire Paul Haeberlin a lot and love him for his terrine of foie gras, his mousseline of frog legs and his peach poached in champagne. He and his brother are still alive and well but none of them have been élèves of Point, as is sometimes wrongly stated. Paul learned cooking from his mother, his aunt Henriette and from Edouard Weber, a chef who used to work for the tsar in Russia and then opened a restaurant in Ribeauvillé. This is where the Russian influences in the Haeberlin repertoire come from, the lobster Prince Vladimir, the blinis with caviar, or even borschtsch.

This thread has given me a craving to try these "old" masters! I had assumed that Bocuse et all were no longer really active, so I didn't see much point in going now. Sometimes I wish I had gotten to Europe sooner...

Friends more experienced than I am tantalize me with tales of epic meals with Giradet, Robuchon *sigh*

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One thing I get from this thread is that absolutely no one travels as widely and frequently as necessary to keep up with what's going on in terms of restaurants worldwide.  And there is a curious thing about traveling in a country like Japan (at least for an English speaking person).  I simply can't remember the names of any restaurants we dined at there (must have something to do with my lack of familiarity with the language).  I have however bookmarked all of the ones I really liked - even if the only thing I can recognize on the bookmarked page is the name in English.

FWIW - Dieter Muller last year had the best cheese trolley I have ever had in my whole life (and I'm not very young!).  Robyn

I suppose Restaurant Magazine's "World's 50 Best" list is an object lesson in what happens when one list tries to cover EVERYTHING globally. Not possible, but sometimes it is entertaining to try.

I was a little surprised by your comment about not being able to remember the names of Japanese restaurants. I don't speak German or Arabic or Mandarin, but I can remember where I ate. Keeping notes helps. Most Japanese restaurants also have business cards with their names and usually a map written on them.

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The thing I find most interesting about this thread is that some restaurants are regularly rated by a lot of people as great whereas there are certain restaurants that some people think are great which others think are bad. Does that make the ones that are regularly rated as great are more approachable... or just better?

I really hope this makes sense!

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I think both -- they are so much better that no one can miss it. Also they show regularity. People have somewhat different taste but not as much as the relativsts think, in my experience. Some restaurants nevertheless provoke opposite reactions -- one of the most notorious in that category was Lucas-Carton. You are right that some wonderful restaurants are less approachable. Roellinger I think is exemplar of this, and strangely it has to do with how simple it is.

Edited by julot-les-pinceaux (log)
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Funny about the Swiss, I feel exactly the opposite way -- I found Rochat a disgrace (several times) and Rabaey a wonder.

Very curious indeed. I suppose it is precisely this difference of opinion among informed diners that makes the debate so interesting.

To qualify, I have been to Pont de Brent only once, and given what we saw, would be hard pressed to go back. However, my first experience at L'Ambroisie was also a disaster, and it was not until a trusted friend forced me to go back did I change my mind. As you can see, it is now at the top of the list.

My list is purely personal, as I said, and could simply reflect a very poor night or unfortunate collision of spirits.

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Funny also that you should make that parallel, as I thought that Rabaey is very Pacaud-like, with his focus on impeccable execution and ingredients and basic recipes. Best puff pastry I ever had, and also sweetbread, roast duck and butter. So let's force you to go back, that sounds like a good idea. As far as Rochat is concerned, several reports lead me to believe that this restaurant has two speeds, since my experiences and others' were just not worthy of three, even two stars, while several other reports mention a restaurant that is simply among the best and there's no reason to doubt their sincerity.

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Funny also that you should make that parallel, as I thought that Rabaey is very Pacaud-like, with his focus on impeccable execution and ingredients and basic recipes. Best puff pastry I ever had, and also sweetbread, roast duck and butter. So let's force you to go back, that sounds like a good idea. As far as Rochat is concerned, several reports lead me to believe that this restaurant has two speeds, since my experiences and others' were just not worthy of three, even two stars, while several other reports mention a restaurant that is simply among the best and there's no reason to doubt their sincerity.

This brings to mind another point, which is how different a restaurant experience can be if the chef is making an effort for a special client. My first visits to Pacaud and Rabaey were both anonymous. In the case of L'Ambroisie, the food could not be faulted but was not brilliant enough to make up for the truly atrocious treatment we received. My second and several of my subsequent visits to L'Ambroisie have been with a friend who has been there dozens of times. I don't think the house really remembers me when I am not with my friend, but I have still eaten brilliantly there nonetheless.

My first visit to Rochat was also in company with a friend who has been there over 100 times. (This same friend also torments me with tales of his over 100 meals with Giradet.) Rochat made a spectacular menu, and only one dish wobbled. Fair enough, he took a big risk. My Rochat-obsessed friend does admit that Phillippe had one bad period, right after he lost his wife in a tragic accident. Could this coincide with your poor reports?

I'm looking at my notes from my 2006 meal at Pont de Brent. Of 10 dishes, I marked only 2 as "very good," and even those had faults. I note that the agneau du lait and the scallops were "criminally overcooked," the fried monkfish tail had been left to go soggy under a heat lamp, and while there was an outstanding Gruyère, there were other cheeses in appalling condition. They kept the sad remnants of a dried-out Epoisse on the cart, and only when it was finished did they bring out a new one. My overall impression was of great ingredients, particularly sauces, classic dishes, but sloppy execution and a general feeling of stinginess.

I am assuming your experience with Pont de Brent is more extensive and more recent than mine, so it is possible that it was a bad night. However, only Grand Vefour and Enotecca P were worse experiences, so I am naturally having a hard time imagining how it manages to be so different. I had the impression that Rabaey looked embarrassed as we left, and although we did not speak to him, I wondered at the time if he CAN cook and somehow decided to take the night off. I may be convinced to give him the benefit of the doubt, but my husband is convinced he is a shameless charlatan.

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I should probably stay out of this but I cannot help going back to one of my pet peeves, consistency vs lack thereof.

I think whether you're in a 3-star or neighborhood dive, you should be able to count on the food that you order. Sure, there are electricity outs (vide J'Go Rive Gauche), train wrecks (vide Wadja), distractions (vide Les Socieres) and bursts of creativity vs boredom (vide Aizpitarte) but when I order a salade frisee or cote de boeuf or cafe serre, I know the standard and I expect at least that.

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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I should probably stay out of this but I cannot help going back to one of my pet peeves, consistency vs lack thereof.

I think whether you're in a 3-star or neighborhood dive, you should be able to count on the food that you order.  Sure, there are electricity outs (vide J'Go Rive Gauche), train wrecks (vide Wadja), distractions (vide Les Socieres) and bursts of creativity vs boredom (vide Aizpitarte) but when I order a salade frisee or cote de boeuf or cafe serre, I know the standard and I expect at least that.

Consistency is a tall order, and this is what separates the good from the champions. But even Michael Schumacher lost races, and Pavarotti had off nights. I suppose that is what makes theater or restaurants so interesting, as opposed to a pre-recorded movie or CD. You can't always predict exactly what will happen, but with luck you may catch a glimpse of the divine.

Actually, a good simple place that does one thing really well often has an edge over a haute cuisine place that really pushes the envelope. At the beginning, I used to expect that a three star meal must be absolutely perfect every time. Now I have come to realize that my least favorite 3-stars are the ones that seem to stay clinically in their safety zones (Fat Duck, Gordon Ramsey HR) and produce predictably but soullessly perfect results. I don't think you can be really great unless you take some risks, but then you have to accept the possibility of occasional failures. I hear Pierre Gagnaire is brilliant only one time in ten, which is too low of a percentage for me.

Because any restaurant that is not a factory is inherently inconsistent, there are several barriers to objectivity. One problem is when you have only a single experience on which to base your judgment. Given my experience at Pont de Brent, I can't imagine going back. However, if Julot manages to convince me, I will. Of the 6 or so times I have been to L'Ambroisie, only the first was bad. However, I feel sorry for those who flew across the Atlantic and spent their nest egg on a single meal. Novelty can also skew judgment. I've been to the Fat Duck 4 times and El Bulli 5, so my opinions on them are more settled.

The other is the fact that restaurants can, as Julot observed, have "two speeds." Almost all Chinese restaurants treat Chinese and non-Chinese guests differently, to the point where there are two separate menus in the same building. Some chefs turn themselves "on" only for regulars and VIPS, which I think is understandable but too bad. This would make both his and my experiences of Rochat consistent. Knowing this makes me conflicted. I know that I have only one chance to go to a restaurant anonymously, but I risk having a worse meal. I am not a restaurant reviewer, so I wonder sometimes why I am so reluctant to try to get the best treatment possible.

Come to think of it, that's silly. Anyone want to tip Gordon that we'll be at Hospital Road tomorrow? :raz:

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..."Sukiyabashi Jiro--rather unpleasant, but that was only to be expected..."

Culinista - Why is that? I only had one really high end sushi meal in Tokyo - at Kozasa Sushi. It wasn't like any meal I had ever had before - if for no other reason than no one in the restaurant spoke a word of English (although there were other reasons as well) - but it wasn't unpleasant - nor did I expect it to be unpleasant. FWIW - we went to many other restaurants in Japan where absolutely zero English was spoken. We tried to dine with Japanese speaking friends where possible - but - many other times - we made do on our own - with my husband's very limited command of the language - and a lot of hand gestures. We found Japanese people to be - in general - reserved - and we are somewhat reserved too - but a chef's love of his food and our love of eating well frequently managed to overcome a lot of language barriers :smile: .

Note that we were in Japan before the Michelin guide to Tokyo was issued. Haven't read the Michelin guide - but I don't have any reason to believe that it isn't at least somewhat useful in terms of Japanese restaurants in Japan. BTW - I did keep all manner of things like business cards - small gifts - even maps for cab drivers that we got in our hotels - to remind me of the names of the places where we ate in Japan so I can look them up. In many cases - the names just don't ring a bell to me - they don't stick in my memory. It is much easier for me to remember Per Se than Kozasa. For a person whose native language is Japanese - it is probably easier to remember Kozasa than Per Se!

Were your expectations in general based on Michelin ratings - or what? Meeting or exceeding expectations - which is how you couched your message - doesn't necessarily correlate with whether the food is ok - good - or great.

roosterchef21 - One thing to keep in mind when comparing the experiences of different people is when they dined at a particular place. I had a meal at Grand Vefour over 20 years ago that was one of the best in my life. Then it lost its 3rd star - gained it back - and now apparently is on its way down again. Places can change a lot in a couple of years - much less 5 or 10 or 20. My general rule of thumb in terms of picking higher end restaurants is to try to find chefs who are at the top of their game - or rising. I try to avoid restaurants I should have gone to 5+ years ago but didn't with some exceptions based on personal reasons. E.g., I didn't get to Chez Panisse (the cafe) for the first time until a couple of years ago - but I wanted to go because it is the "mothership" of California cuisine. I thought it was still really good. And I want to go to Senderens in Paris this trip because I have been to both of his earlier restaurants - and want to see how we both have aged. Whatever - as long as *you* know why you're going to a place - or a type of place - you don't have to justify yourself - as least not as far as I'm concerned.

Another thing to keep in mind is - especially in large metro areas with millions of people - the people who live there like to try different things. The people who live in Tokyo may want to have a high end French meal (it's kind of far to go to Paris). But when I made the only trip to Japan I will likely ever make in my whole life - I wanted to eat Japanese food - every which way (and there are many - including some unusual concoctions with things like corn and mayo - which were definitely not my favorites). For me - as a traveler - I usually try to stick with local cuisine - even though other people might prefer - for various reasons - to eat "non-local" cuisines. IOW - a sense of terroir - or - in the case of a Japanese pizza with mayo - just plain terror :biggrin: .

Finally - I agree 100% with John Talbott about consistency or the lack thereof. (Unlike Culinista - I sure didn't mind a perfect Bresse pigeon at Gordon Ramsay or consider it without soul - I live in Florida - where my encounters with any Bresse pigeons - perfect or otherwise - are non-existent - I doubt she would mind perfect stone crabs if she came to Florida :smile:.) I think that someone who dines regularly at any restaurant in any country will likely get a more personalized experience than I will get - and perhaps food that is better (or specials that I'm not sure how to order - except by pointing at what the person next to me is eating - which I do sometimes). But I expect to get at least the minimum of what I expect of a particular restaurant (which is a lot in a 3 star Michelin restaurant or equivalent). And I generally do. There have been some notable exceptions to the contrary - but not many in recent years. Perhaps that is because - as we've gotten older - my husband and I have gotten a lot less "up-tight" about dining in nice places - and - more importantly - my husband has made a concerted effort to learn languages for our trips - which is always a big hit in countries where most visitors never try to learn a word of the native language(s). In fact - if I had one single suggestion for enjoying one's dining in a country which doesn't share your native language - it would be make your reservations at places you think you'll like - and then spend at least 6-12 months learning as much as you can of the language of the country where you'll be traveling. Robyn

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Come to think of it, that's silly. Anyone want to tip Gordon that we'll be at Hospital Road tomorrow?  :raz:

I wish I could. But let us know how it was -- after our great experience at la Véranda, we are open to Gordon, though the quality of the brasserie food indeed makes me wonder how the gastronomic experience, if it is in the same style, can be better.

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..."Sukiyabashi Jiro--rather unpleasant, but that was only to be expected..."

Culinista - Why is that?  I only had one really high end sushi meal in Tokyo - at Kozasa Sushi.  It wasn't like any meal I had ever had before - if for no other reason than no one in the restaurant spoke a word of English (although there were other reasons as well) - but it wasn't unpleasant - nor did I expect it to be unpleasant.  FWIW - we went to many other restaurants in Japan where absolutely zero English was spoken. 

Were your expectations in general based on Michelin ratings - or what?  Meeting or exceeding expectations - which is how you couched your message - doesn't necessarily correlate with whether the food is ok - good - or great.

Sukiyabashi Jiro is not a typical place, and we were actually fearing even worse. I was born in Japan and speak Japanese, but since I was raised in the West and married a foreigner, that would put us on the "no go" list at the Ginza branch. (Almost all gaijin are sent to the Roppongi branch unless they are introduced by a regular.) Jiro is notorious for its hostile attitude in general and toward foreigners in particular. Our hotel concierge, astounded that we had gotten a reservation in the first place, begged us to arrive at least 10 minutes early and be sure we had enough cash since there was no telling how big the bill would be. Most foreigners report super-fast service, in and out in less than an hour. You will be kicked out, as the customer sitting next to us was, if you don't eat fast enough, or if a more favored customer is expected. Given that we knew what we were in for, I can't say Jiro was worse than expected. We went because he is one of the original masters, one of the old guard who has been working really since the creation of modern sushi. We went before Michelin came out, so that was irrelevant.

Honestly, you can have sushi just as good for far less and with much better service/atmosphere elsewhere.

Finally - I agree 100% with John Talbott about consistency or the lack thereof.  (Unlike Culinista - I sure didn't mind a perfect Bresse pigeon at Gordon Ramsay or consider it without soul - I live in Florida - where my encounters with any Bresse pigeons - perfect or otherwise - are non-existent - I doubt she would mind perfect stone crabs if she came to Florida  :smile:.)  I think that someone who dines regularly at any restaurant in any country will likely get a more personalized experience than I will get - and perhaps food that is better (or specials that I'm not sure how to order - except by pointing at what the person next to me is eating - which I do sometimes).  But I expect to get at least the minimum of what I expect of a particular restaurant (which is a lot in a 3 star Michelin restaurant or equivalent).  And I generally do.  There have been some notable exceptions to the contrary - but not many in recent years.  Perhaps that is because - as we've gotten older - my husband and I have gotten a lot less "up-tight" about dining in nice places - and - more importantly - my husband has made a concerted effort to learn languages for our trips - which is always a big hit in countries where most visitors never try to learn a word of the native language(s).  In fact - if I had one single suggestion for enjoying one's dining in a country which doesn't share your native language - it would be make your reservations at places you think you'll like - and then spend at least 6-12 months learning as much as you can of the language of the country where you'll be traveling.  Robyn

Actually, I like blue better than stone crabs :)

Any three-star except the worst offenders should be able to produce the quality level that John Talbott is calling "the standard." This goes without saying. Many non-three-stars serve excellent Bresse chicken, so when I go to Gordon Ramsey, I expect him to outdo them. If he serves me something I could have gotten with more personality and much less money at a neighborhood bistro, I am disappointed. However, the original post was about comparing the relative levels of 3-star restaurants, not comparing apples and oranges. Given the high standard to get into this category, there is still a great variation in quality from restaurant to restaurant, and sometimes even at the same restaurant on two different nights.

I speak 5 languages and find foreign words easy, so maybe I don't appreciate how difficult the name challenge can be for some. It sounds like you are making all the right efforts.

Come to think of it, that's silly. Anyone want to tip Gordon that we'll be at Hospital Road tomorrow?  :raz:

I wish I could. But let us know how it was -- after our great experience at la Véranda, we are open to Gordon, though the quality of the brasserie food indeed makes me wonder how the gastronomic experience, if it is in the same style, can be better.

Friday night was better than my previous experiences--maybe the kitchen was tipped off. They also invited us unto the kitchen to meet the chefs. :laugh:

However, I still don't think it is "worth a journey" unless you happen to be in town, let alone the aggravation of landing a reservation. It's may be the best restaurant in London, but the tasting menu is pretty dull and overly standardized. However, this time the service was much more personal and attentive. They allowed us to change the entire tasting menu to degustation portions of the more interesting-sounding a la carte dishes, with both of us ordering completely different things! Pretty impressive accommodation. The young woman in charge of the pass looked very impressive indeed--we may hear more from her in the future. I didn't like all the concepts behind the dishes, but the execution and ingredient quality were very good.

I assume you are talking about the new GR Trianon restaurant? I was in the new Ramsay place in NY and felt it was worth checking out. GR restaurants have a similar feel to Ducasse places--a certain predictable quality, but hard to fault the quality itself. (This is not a criticism if consistency is the big point.) I tend to prefer places where I am more likely to see flashes of genius, not just workmanlike competence. This is why I love L'Arpege on a great night.

Edited by Culinista (log)
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Culinista,

Based on you description of Sushi Jiro, I think I was blessed and fortunate being a foreigner and visited Tokyo for the first time last winter, at the same time could eat there.

About your Japanese dining experience, have you ever had meals at Kyoto's famous kaiseki place like Kitcho or Kikunoi? Is it comparable to Europe 3-star fine dining? This kind of place, are you allowed to eat alone or at least 2 people will be required? Thanks

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