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Bistro Benoit


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Everyone here has flat out said that ADNY FAILED - including Bruni I believe (not here of course, in his Adour column).  If they are wrong, they have indeed done a huge disservice to an outstanding restaurant.
I think the truth lies somewhere between the two poles. ADNY had a six-year run, which wouldn't have been possible if it wasn't filling seats. I wouldn't call that failure. A lot of critics, Bruni among them, are hostile to luxury French restaurants, and believe no one with any sense wants to dine that way any more. They saw ADNY's demise as confirmation of what they already wanted fervently to believe. On the other hand, as you point out, the fact that Ducasse took it down a peg when he opened Adour suggests that he wasn't comfortable re-opening with an exact clone of what he had before.
What the reporter didn't ask was "Why didn't you just re-open it if it was a success"?  Cause that would seem to me to be the issue here, Adour is clearly perceived to be a conscientious  move in a different direction - into two star territory.  But then they fire their chef after "reaching their goal", which doesn't make sense either.

I'm still waiting to hear the real scoop about why Esnault has left Adour, and where Ducasse now wants to take the restaurant.

I think Ducasse engages in a little double-talk about Benoit, as well. He complains that the critics are ill-informed (which they are), but also concedes that the restaurant was perhaps opened too quickly.

Ducasse's goal was for Adour to be a less formal restaurant than ADNY. He did intend to open a "fine-dining" restaurant in New York after Adour and Benoit. One of the reasons they have been so few holdovers on the menu between ADNY and Benoit, especially the Baba Rhum, was an honest attempt to avoid comparisions between the two restaurants.

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Ducasse's goal was for Adour to be a less formal restaurant than ADNY. He did intend to open a "fine-dining" restaurant in New York after Adour and Benoit. One of the reasons they have been so few holdovers on the menu between ADNY and Benoit, especially the Baba Rhum, was an honest attempt to avoid comparisions between the two restaurants.

If we were, say, to liken ADNY to the Plaza Athenee, then I'm not sure why anyone would expect much "holdover" from ADNY on the Benoit menu - the Plaza Athenee and Benoit are totally different, and I don't think they have ever been in danger of being compared with one another.

While I haven't eaten in the dining room at Adour, I have sat at the bar and peeked into the dining room. Gosh, I think he overshot (or undershot, as it were) the "less formal" target, especially with the prices.

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Adour is clearly less formal and less expensive than Essex House. It is a restaurant designed along the Michelin two-star model, as opposed to the three-star model. As far as I know, that's what Ducasse was aiming for. Not an informal restaurant. A less formal one. Happy to discuss it further on the Adour topic.

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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Ducasse's goal was for Adour to be a less formal restaurant than ADNY. He did intend to open a "fine-dining" restaurant in New York after Adour and Benoit. One of the reasons they have been so few holdovers on the menu between ADNY and Benoit, especially the Baba Rhum, was an honest attempt to avoid comparisions between the two restaurants.

If we were, say, to liken ADNY to the Plaza Athenee, then I'm not sure why anyone would expect much "holdover" from ADNY on the Benoit menu - the Plaza Athenee and Benoit are totally different, and I don't think they have ever been in danger of being compared with one another.

While I haven't eaten in the dining room at Adour, I have sat at the bar and peeked into the dining room. Gosh, I think he overshot (or undershot, as it were) the "less formal" target, especially with the prices.

I meant between ADNY and Adour, my apologies. The prices of Adour are much lower than at ADNY.

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  • 3 weeks later...

This just in:

GROUPE ALAIN DUCASSE ANNOUNCES PIERRE SCHAEDELIN

AS NEW EXECUTIVE CHEF AND PARTNER AT

BENOIT BISTROT IN NEW YORK

NEW YORK, N.Y. (December 8, 2008) – Groupe Alain Ducasse announced today that Pierre Schaedelin will assume the roles of Executive Chef and Partner at Benoit Bistrot in New York in January 2009.

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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This just in:
GROUPE ALAIN DUCASSE ANNOUNCES PIERRE SCHAEDELIN

AS NEW EXECUTIVE CHEF AND PARTNER AT

BENOIT BISTROT IN NEW YORK

NEW YORK, N.Y. (December 8, 2008) – Groupe Alain Ducasse announced today that Pierre Schaedelin will assume the roles of Executive Chef and Partner at Benoit Bistrot in New York in January 2009.

In light of that, it'll also be interesting to see where Tony Esnault goes. I'm a bit surprised that AD canned him totally, given their long track record together and his solid food, even if the reviews were often not total raves. It would seem AD is trying to "modernize" both restaurants.

Edited by LPShanet (log)
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In light of that, it'll also be interesting to see where Tony Esnault goes.  I'm a bit surprised that AD canned him totally, given their long track record together and his solid food, even if the reviews were often not total raves.  It would seem AD is trying to "modernize" both restaurants.

I don't get what happened at Adour. I wasn't fond of the place, but it got 3 stars from both Bruni and Platt, and 2 stars from Michelin—esentially the maximum he could have expected from all of those sources. I have to assume that Esnault's departure was for "non-food reasons."

Benoit, on the other hand, clearly did need shaking up. It will be tough to lure the critics back, but if Schaedelin is bold enough perhaps it's possible.

Edited by oakapple (log)
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Benoit, on the other hand, clearly did need shaking up. It will be tough to lure the critics back, but if Schaedelin is bold enough perhaps it's possible.

But how bold can a chef be in a place that's doing classic bistro food?

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

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Benoit, on the other hand, clearly did need shaking up. It will be tough to lure the critics back, but if Schaedelin is bold enough perhaps it's possible.

But how bold can a chef be in a place that's doing classic bistro food?

By introducing dishes that offer modern takes on the classics. Or by introducing dishes that have been out of style for so long that they seem new.
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Benoit, on the other hand, clearly did need shaking up. It will be tough to lure the critics back, but if Schaedelin is bold enough perhaps it's possible.

But how bold can a chef be in a place that's doing classic bistro food?

By introducing dishes that offer modern takes on the classics. Or by introducing dishes that have been out of style for so long that they seem new.

Bottom line is that AD is either jinxed or opens in shitty locations, or doesn't have his finger on the NY dining pulse - or all of the above.

Maybe he should open Momofuku AD?

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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Bottom line is that AD is either jinxed or opens in shitty locations, or doesn't have his finger on the NY dining pulse - or all of the above.

I think this over-simplifies. ADNY had a six-year run, which I would hardly call a failure. As I understand it, the place closed due to labor/lease issues. Its replacement, Adour, got top ratings from the major critics, which I wouldn't call a failure either.

Benoit is in a location that has housed successful restaurants for decades, and it serves a style of cuisine that has long been popular. There is nothing complicated about it: he botched the opening, and is now trying to fix it.

That leaves Mix in NY, which was a failure here, no question about it. However, a similar concept succeeded in Vegas, and there certainly are restaurants that have worked in both places. This wasn't one of them. I think his main mistake there was partnering with Jeffrey Chodorow.

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Benoit, on the other hand, clearly did need shaking up. It will be tough to lure the critics back, but if Schaedelin is bold enough perhaps it's possible.

But how bold can a chef be in a place that's doing classic bistro food?

By introducing dishes that offer modern takes on the classics. Or by introducing dishes that have been out of style for so long that they seem new.

Bottom line is that AD is either jinxed or opens in shitty locations, or doesn't have his finger on the NY dining pulse - or all of the above.

Maybe he should open Momofuku AD?

Perhaps, Alain Ducasse has not been treated fairly by new york city critics (Bruni and Platt come to mind) or a legion of poorly informed new york city diners who seem to expect culinary fireworks from any french chef who arrives in Manhattan. Most of the recent criticisms of ducasse's new york city restaurants Adour and Benoit always include the phrases"boring or uninteresting". Alain Ducasse is not Pierre Gagnaire or Adria, nor does he want to be. He is a chef who is known for using the best ingredients to prepare elegant simple meals. Check his Adour website when he discusses his 60% 40% philosophy.

As for Benoit: isn't the goal of Benoit to offer a "traditional" french bistro cuisine in New York.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Anyone else been since Pierre Schaedelin took over the helm (mid-December or so)?

I went last week and there had been a few noticable changes to the menu and food, but nothing yet very extensive.

We ordered a couple old and a couple new dishes, a leek terrine (optionally with deep fried pork trotters) and a stuffed sauteed chicken breast served with bacon and pearl onions. The special of the day was a filet & foie construction that looked like a burger made with foie buns, which got a small pour of chocolate sauce tableside. I think there was also a new salmon dish on the menu. The mini-baguette served when you sit (and which accompanies the still "must order" $1 egg mayo) had changed style, so in short order, the changes are now coming.

Unfortunately, and as much as I still want to like and have a world class bistro smack dab in midtown, the food was not that great. The leek terrine seemed innovative and looked very pretty with various shades of swirled green, but the commitment to literally making this a pure terrine of cold leeks with nothing else, while admiral and apparently skillful, left me thinking it could be improved. And to that end, the sauce gribiche served alongside side seemed a bit out of place to me, and the now "so '08" deep fried twinkie shaped roll of pork trotters (optional) left me wondering just how much of Martha's admiration for the Chang (and by proxy, for the pig) made it's way into this dish and/or menu.

The chicken breast was breaded and pan fried, and had a very heavy color to it (something else I seemed to notice in all the dishes passing by - and in our snails & onion soup - the chef likes to really really brown stuff), not to my taste - and made the chicken a little dry. The thick lardons of bacon and the pearl onions were nice and added to the dish.

In all the porkification of the two new items I tried above helped (I noticed the addition of pork to one other new dish, but forget what it was now), but ultimately didn't save the meal cause it wasnt the fresh treatment that I was hoping for out of the new Benoit. Hopefully over the next few months the exhausted pork tricks and obsessive (dark) browning temper out and the potential inherent in the read of the new and future dishes comes through.

On a positive note, they were serving galette de rois, in fact you could run home with your own entire galette for only $25 :-)

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I was there on Christmas Day, but since my photographer/partner bungled the photos beyond salvation, I didn't post.

I had pre-ordered the "Steak Rossini", about which I have posted up-thread. On a subsequent visit when I asked for it, I was told it could be ordered in advance with a few day's notice. So when I knew that we'd be three for Christmas, sometime in November, I called the manager who told me it could be arranged. He checked with the kitchen, and then very nicely told me that the rib steak for two could not be ordered for three (I explained that badly here - he said that they could not get a larger steak), but that they would "make up for it with lots of foie gras, and fresh truffles".

He then volunteered that the price of the Steak Rossini for three would be $100 (the one for two had been $80). I liked it very much the way he volunteered the price, never mind what a "steal" it was.

When we arrived on Christmas Day, we were given absolutely royal treatment. We ordered a lot of appetizers (thinking that the steak would not be that big), but without the photos I'm not sure if I can remember them all: it was the Pate en Croute, the Foie Gras medallions, the Leek Tart with the Trotters, and the Lucullus style Tongue and Foie Gras. It had seemed like we were having a slight communication problem with our waitress (although we were in fact not), which I thought was confirmed when she brought the Pig Cheek appetizer, and when I told her we hadn't ordered that, she explained that it was "offered by the chef", and then everything else arrived. And everything was quite delicious.

And they outdid themselves with the steak. It was a pretty large rib steak on the bone, cooked to absolute perfection, with three very substantial slabs of sauteed foie gras, everything topped very liberally with slices of black truffle (and I do mean liberally). It was sublime.

For dessert they had had a "buffet", which was pretty well picked over by the time we were ready for it (we were the last customers in the restaurant, having started our meal at 10:30), and there was no Tarte Tatin left. I begged the manager who had arranged the dinner to perform some magic and scare up a Tarte Tatin, and he did.

And we learned that Schaedelin had already taken over (I thought it was to be after January 1) and was in the kitchen that night. It was an extremely delicious meal, and from the moment we arrived until the moment we waddled out of there, we were treated like visiting Royalty. It was a most successful meal, and an extremely pleasant one!

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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I just had a look at the online menu. It has changed considerably from the last time I saw it. I've no idea whether it will be the dramatic improvement that Ducasse wants, but I'd give Schaedelin a good 3 months before passing judgment.

I'm almost certain the current online dinner menu stands as the final menu before Schaedelin took over, there isn't a single dish on there that the restaurant touted as "his" when we asked from looking at the new menu we received.

And of course, every restaurant needs a few months to settle in.

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I was there on Christmas Day, but since my photographer/partner bungled the photos beyond salvation, I didn't post.

I had pre-ordered the "Steak Rossini", about which I have posted up-thread.  On a subsequent visit when I asked for it, I was told it could be ordered in advance with a few day's notice.  So when I knew that we'd be three for Christmas, sometime in November, I called the manager who told me it could be arranged.  He checked with the kitchen, and then very nicely told me that the rib steak for two could not be ordered for three (I explained that badly here - he said that they could not get a larger steak), but that they would "make up for it with lots of foie gras, and fresh truffles".

He then volunteered that the price of the Steak Rossini for three would be $100 (the one for two had been $80).  I liked it very much the way he volunteered the price, never mind what a "steal" it was.

When we arrived on Christmas Day, we were given absolutely royal treatment.  We ordered a lot of appetizers (thinking that the steak would not be that big), but without the photos I'm not sure if I can remember them all:  it was the Pate en Croute, the Foie Gras medallions, the Leek Tart with the Trotters, and the Lucullus style Tongue and Foie Gras.  It had seemed like we were having a slight communication problem with our waitress (although we were in fact not), which I thought was confirmed when she brought the Pig Cheek appetizer, and when I told her we hadn't ordered that, she explained that it was "offered by the chef", and then everything else arrived.  And everything was quite delicious.

And they outdid themselves with the steak.  It was a pretty large rib steak on the bone, cooked to absolute perfection, with three very substantial slabs of sauteed foie gras, everything topped very liberally with slices of black truffle (and I do mean liberally).  It was sublime.

For dessert they had had a "buffet", which was pretty well picked over by the time we were ready for it (we were the last customers in the restaurant, having started our meal at 10:30), and there was no Tarte Tatin left.  I begged the manager who had arranged the dinner to perform some magic and scare up a Tarte Tatin, and he did.

And we learned that Schaedelin had already taken over (I thought it was to be after January 1) and was in the kitchen that night.  It was an extremely delicious meal, and from the moment we arrived until the moment we waddled out of there, we were treated like visiting Royalty.  It was a most successful meal, and an extremely pleasant one!

Since I'm unable to edit my post from several days ago, I did it this way so I could add some photos - my photographer miraculously resurrected them from a corrupted flash card!

The only first course that's missing is the Pâté en croûte.

Here are the medallions of Foie Gras, the Tongue Lucullus Style, the Leeks with Pork Trotter, and the Pig Cheeks with Lentils:

gallery_11181_6391_27761.jpg

gallery_11181_6391_104026.jpg

gallery_11181_6391_37136.jpg

gallery_11181_6391_91222.jpg

But the star of the show really was the Steak Rossini!

The cooked-to-perfection steak is presented whole, with it's slabs of sauteed foie gras, and truffles:

gallery_11181_6391_114990.jpg

Then it's whisked away to be carved, and individual plates are set at the table with vegetable and potato accompaniments, black truffle slices, and a bit of Madeira sauce, ready to receive the steak:

gallery_11181_6391_69198.jpg

And the carved steak is returned once again for presentation:

gallery_11181_6391_142706.jpg

(note the small pot of Madeira sauce)

And then the first round is served to each diner:

gallery_11181_6391_17496.jpg

As I've said, they scored a perfect score with this one, and I wanted to show the photos.

And although this is not the Tarte Tatin from that actual dinner, if I had my way, every meal would end with one of these:

gallery_11181_5972_96914.jpg

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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I'm very glad you were able to post the photos.

Please say more about the tongue dish. I'm not familiar with that particular way of serving tongue. Is there paté between each slice of tongue and a little mayonnaise in the front right corner? Can you compare the taste of that tongue (presuming that it's a beef tongue) and one you could get at a place like 2nd Av. Deli?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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That's creamy foie mousse in between each layer of tongue. The spot of mayo you see there is probably a plating accident from the lettuce's dressing. AFAIK, it's just the layers of tongue and foie mousse. The tongue is not terribly different from the tongue I get at a good jewish deli near work, nice gelatinous/fatty feel.

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I was there on Christmas Day, but since my photographer/partner bungled the photos beyond salvation, I didn't post.

I had pre-ordered the "Steak Rossini", about which I have posted up-thread.  On a subsequent visit when I asked for it, I was told it could be ordered in advance with a few day's notice.  So when I knew that we'd be three for Christmas, sometime in November, I called the manager who told me it could be arranged.  He checked with the kitchen, and then very nicely told me that the rib steak for two could not be ordered for three (I explained that badly here - he said that they could not get a larger steak), but that they would "make up for it with lots of foie gras, and fresh truffles".

He then volunteered that the price of the Steak Rossini for three would be $100 (the one for two had been $80).  I liked it very much the way he volunteered the price, never mind what a "steal" it was.

When we arrived on Christmas Day, we were given absolutely royal treatment.  We ordered a lot of appetizers (thinking that the steak would not be that big), but without the photos I'm not sure if I can remember them all:  it was the Pate en Croute, the Foie Gras medallions, the Leek Tart with the Trotters, and the Lucullus style Tongue and Foie Gras.  It had seemed like we were having a slight communication problem with our waitress (although we were in fact not), which I thought was confirmed when she brought the Pig Cheek appetizer, and when I told her we hadn't ordered that, she explained that it was "offered by the chef", and then everything else arrived.  And everything was quite delicious.

And they outdid themselves with the steak.  It was a pretty large rib steak on the bone, cooked to absolute perfection, with three very substantial slabs of sauteed foie gras, everything topped very liberally with slices of black truffle (and I do mean liberally).  It was sublime.

For dessert they had had a "buffet", which was pretty well picked over by the time we were ready for it (we were the last customers in the restaurant, having started our meal at 10:30), and there was no Tarte Tatin left.  I begged the manager who had arranged the dinner to perform some magic and scare up a Tarte Tatin, and he did.

And we learned that Schaedelin had already taken over (I thought it was to be after January 1) and was in the kitchen that night.  It was an extremely delicious meal, and from the moment we arrived until the moment we waddled out of there, we were treated like visiting Royalty.   It was a most successful meal, and an extremely pleasant one!

Since I'm unable to edit my post from several days ago, I did it this way so I could add some photos - my photographer miraculously resurrected them from a corrupted flash card!

The only first course that's missing is the Pâté en croûte.

Here are the medallions of Foie Gras, the Tongue Lucullus Style, the Leeks with Pork Trotter, and the Pig Cheeks with Lentils:

gallery_11181_6391_27761.jpg

gallery_11181_6391_104026.jpg

gallery_11181_6391_37136.jpg

gallery_11181_6391_91222.jpg

But the star of the show really was the Steak Rossini!

The cooked-to-perfection steak is presented whole, with it's slabs of sauteed foie gras, and truffles:

gallery_11181_6391_114990.jpg

Then it's whisked away to be carved, and individual plates are set at the table with vegetable and potato accompaniments, black truffle slices, and a bit of Madeira sauce, ready to receive the steak:

gallery_11181_6391_69198.jpg

And the carved steak is returned once again for presentation:

gallery_11181_6391_142706.jpg

(note the small pot of Madeira sauce)

And then the first round is served to each diner:

gallery_11181_6391_17496.jpg

As I've said, they scored a perfect score with this one, and I wanted to show the photos.

And although this is not the Tarte Tatin from that actual dinner, if I had my way, every meal would end with one of these:

gallery_11181_5972_96914.jpg

Thanks a million for your photos! The photo of the steak with the foie gras is one of most beautiful pictures I've ever seen!

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