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Bistro Benoit


docsconz
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Ducasse wisely hit the ground running with a known quantity of sorts already experienced by thousands of Americans who have dined at the real Benoit for decades.
I doubt that a majority of the patrons here have dined at the Paris Benoit.
Ducasse is not an idiot even if he has sold his culinary soul.
I think it's fascinating that this performance is described as selling one's soul. I believe that this is the cuisine Ducasse learned earliest, so it is just as arguably a return to his roots.
Once you get past the flim-flammery that also consists of menus without French

This menu is practically a French lesson compared to the one at Adour: Langue de Veau, Pâté en Croûte, Duck à l’Orange, Quenelles de Brochet.

Then again: Grilled Salmon, Braised Halibut, Lamb Chop, Medallion & Filet.

Edited by oakapple (log)
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I wouldn't get too wrapped around the axle comparing it to Benoit in Paris. There's just no way you could recreate that atmosphere and patina. Developers spent something like a billion dollars on the Venetian in Las Vegas and it sure isn't Venice.

Benoit NYC does have quite a beautiful room I think. I would have preferred darker panelling (a la Benoit Paris), but I'm guessing they thought it might seem to dark for the space.

Edited by Felonius (log)
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Just had maybe the weirdest contact with a front of the house ever......

Called Benoit because I had made a reservation for Friday and wanted to know about the liquor license and also whether they offer anything for a vegetarian, as we have one in our party and the online menu has only vegetarian appetizers. I thought they might at least be able to size up the vegetables en cocotte which Ducasse places do so well.

So the lady on the phone tells me "You can see the menu on our webpage at www.....". I told her I have done that and that is exactly the reason why I am calling. She says "have you read the menu"? I say "yes, but there is nothing vegetarian, can you not accommodate that?" She asks again (pretty rudely) whether I have read the menu and tells me that they are a Bistro and what I read is what I can get. So it went back and forth a few times, she always inquiring whether I have actually read the menu, me telling her whether she wants to say that they are not prepared for vegetarians. I finally told her that this was a somewhat uncommon way to chide a customer and that I was indeed capable of reading. I got her name and for the first time in my long culinary life I am tempted to call the manager.

Unfortunately I cannot really revive the scene here in its whole absurdity, but the whole thing was more like out of a Monty Python sketch about ridiculous service in a stereotypical French place. The chicken better be really good......

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But yes, 140 bucks is very reasonable...

What's a bit amazing to me is that we're at a time when $140 for two, without booze, is considered very reasonable...

word, with that said, that was a heck of a lot of food apparently.

looking at that menu, I don't see any reason why I wouldn't get out for $80-90 for two after tax and tip but before wine. same as Balthazar. 1 app, 2 $25 entrees. simple enough.

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But yes, 140 bucks is very reasonable...

What's a bit amazing to me is that we're at a time when $140 for two, without booze, is considered very reasonable...

word, with that said, that was a heck of a lot of food apparently.

It was a lot of food for sure. We left very well satisfied, and we are both pretty big eaters...

"It's better to burn out than to fade away"-Neil Young

"I think I hear a dingo eating your baby"-Bart Simpson

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Classic French onion soup was as good as you’ll find (If you want to know what an insipid one is like, try it at the Café de Paris in Monaco).

The kitchen must be rather inconsistent. I had a miserable onion soup there this past Sunday. Completely unseasoned, and the broth was tasteless. Not a deal breaker but it did make me realize that not everything on the menu was going to be great. My wife had the warm salmon and potato preparation for an appetizer, which was quite good.

The only thing about the food that reminded me of ADNY were the home made caramels in the glass jars at the reception area. Those were great.

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Why would you even THINK of ADNY as a comparison? Could Benoit be MORE different?

I think comments on this and other boards show that a lot of people are going to this place with inappropriate expectations. The poster above who tried to make a vegetarian substitution, for example. I'm sure they were unduly rude about it, but the point is, it's a bistro. I don't think they're planning on doing a lot of individualized cooking here. To expect that they'd whip up a dish available at other kinds of Ducasse restaurants seems kind of unfair. Why would you expect their kitchen to even be familiar with the food at other Ducasse restaurants? Rude as the manager was, I think there's a reason she kept repeating, "it's a bistro."

(I should add that, as I understand it, the word "bistro" is thought to derive from a Russian word meaning "quick." A lot of stuff is cooked in advance.)

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Classic French onion soup was as good as you’ll find (If you want to know what an insipid one is like, try it at the Café de Paris in Monaco).
The kitchen must be rather inconsistent. I had a miserable onion soup there this past Sunday.

I would think one needs multiple data points before saying that, especially about a nine-day-old restaurant. Edited by oakapple (log)
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Can someone explain the fries?  How do they get so high and tangly?  Are they cooked that way or simply mounded just so?

BryanZ, as the menu explains, they are fries "L'Ami Louis style", L'Ami Louis

being the cult Parisian bistro known for its delicious and exorbitantly priced

fries and roasted chicken, among other things. I'm pretty sure

they fry it in duck grease (at the Paris bistro).

Here is a photo of the l'Ami Louis fries, taken last time I ate them:

gallery_36345_1917_56467.jpg

Alexandra Forbes

Brazilian food and travel writer, @aleforbes on Twitter

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Classic French onion soup was as good as you’ll find (If you want to know what an insipid one is like, try it at the Café de Paris in Monaco).
The kitchen must be rather inconsistent. I had a miserable onion soup there this past Sunday.

I would think one needs multiple data points before saying that, especially about a nine-day-old restaurant.

That would be two data points as I assume that robert brown knows the difference between a good onion soup and a terrible one. I do a much better job at home using canned broth, then the one I was served. I assume his was much better.

On the whole, I liked Benoit, although I think I made some poor choices (onion soup, steak au poivre, and baba) and happen to hit some weak items. My wife was very happy with the salmon appetizer and cod entree.

I wish I had talked her into ordering the cote de boeuf. That sounded really good.

If this place was going to remain BYOB, or had a really cheap corkage, I would definitely frequent it.

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Why would you even THINK of ADNY as a comparison?  Could Benoit be MORE different?

Maybe because DB Bistro Moderne has a lot of Daniel in it, and Georges Perrier's bistro fare at Le Bar-Lyonnais (Philadelphia) is sublime.

I know, Ducasse is not a Chef, but I was hoping for a little of ADNY's magic to filter down to this humble bistro. I have to say my one meal at Benoit wasn't as good as any I have had at DB or Le Bar-Lyonnais, but it wasn't bad.

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DB Bistro Moderne is a modern bistro, one of those "baby bistros" that are calculated to depart from bistro tradition and reflect a chef's culinary vision.

Benoit isn't like that at all. It's just a traditional bistro. Whole different concept. And they're pretty clear about it.

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The poster above who tried to make a vegetarian substitution, for example.  I'm sure they were unduly rude about it, but the point is, it's a bistro.  I don't think they're planning on doing a lot of individualized cooking here.  To expect that they'd whip up a dish available at other kinds of Ducasse restaurants seems kind of unfair.  Why would you expect their kitchen to even be familiar with the food at other Ducasse restaurants?  Rude as the manager was, I think there's a reason she kept repeating, "it's a bistro."

Sorry, but this is nonsense. I did not ask them for any substitution. I only asked whether, in contrast to what is posted online, there are vegetarian options. She could have easily said "I am sorry, but we do not have any". End of story.

But even (or especially) for a Bistro it seems not unreasonable to assume that the online menu is not exactly what they have. Even if things are precooked, what they cook in a Bistro often changes daily. And even in Paris one usually finds a vegetarian dish these days, and it often comes as a plat du jour.

Regarding the "other dish". This dish actually IS on their menu, but only as an appetizer. I used it only as an example because this is the dish that I have seen at multiple Ducasse places as the vegetarian ENTREE option.

Also, Benoit in Paris is not exactly a typical Bistro. It is a quite large enterprise that has not much in common with your standard Bistro at the corner.

Other than that I fully agree with you..... I definitely do not expect more than a small menu with some classical french cooking. And I do not expect to be pampered by a large waitstaff. Which does not mean that I want to be treated like an imbecile and a nuisance.

But we will see, the proof will be in the eating. After Friday I will report back.

Edited by glauer (log)
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The ironic thing is, you're probably gonna love it.

(And if you care, I had the EXACT same experience vis-a-vis preparing vegetarian dishes at Bistro du Vent. I mean, you could transpose the dialogue: the words were just about the same.)

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Actually, that is not ironic, but exactly what I expect to happen. Otherwise I would have not booked a table in the first place and certainly would have not kept it.

I was just stunned that given Ducasse's reputation for perfection in all areas (except maybe toilets..) I had such an absurd experience with a simple question. I actually would have even enjoyed a little brashness (as in 'vegetarian? are you nuts?") as that fits a Bistro quite well. But she was plain stupid and rude.

Edited by glauer (log)
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Why would you even THINK of ADNY as a comparison?  Could Benoit be MORE different?

I think comments on this and other boards show that a lot of people are going to this place with inappropriate expectations.  The poster above who tried to make a vegetarian substitution, for example.  I'm sure they were unduly rude about it, but the point is, it's a bistro.  I don't think they're planning on doing a lot of individualized cooking here.  To expect that they'd whip up a dish available at other kinds of Ducasse restaurants seems kind of unfair.  Why would you expect their kitchen to even be familiar with the food at other Ducasse restaurants?  Rude as the manager was, I think there's a reason she kept repeating, "it's a bistro."

(I should add that, as I understand it, the word "bistro" is thought to derive from a Russian word meaning "quick."  A lot of stuff is cooked in advance.)

I think that could be said of Adour as well

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The inane geshrei going on upthread about Café Benoit, which has only just barely opened and in which it seems the majority of posters haven’t yet set foot, seems to me a huge waste of time which could be much better spent reveling in what is hands down without question the greatest deal currently available in Manhattan, at least until Benoit’s liquor license comes through (which, as of last night’s visit, was expected the end of this week.). Four of us had a dizzyingly fantastic experience, made more dizzying by being able to bring our own hooch, so we were able to splurge on both quantity and quality that the typical restaurant mark-up will unquestionably make prohibitive.

And the food is killer. Breads are crusty slices of rustic sourdough and mini ficelles, plus a tray of warm gougeres. Starters: luscious discs of foie gras served with an individual mini brioche and onion marmalade. Epitomic onion soup drowning in gruyere. And a charcuterie plate that is the summit of overindulgence and ought to come with a warning from the surgeon general: two helpings each of foie gras, various salume, prosciutto and jambon, pate en croute, country pate, and lucullan style veal tongue, which was definitely the topper: thin slices of braised veal tongue sandwiched together with lard and then sliced in blocks. Where has this been all my life?!

Entrees: sole quenelles that were impossibly light and ethereal; cassoulet that was a little thinner than I’m used to but so stuffed with the regulation panoply of meat and meat products and beans that it didn’t matter; a trio of lamb (chop, loin and medallion) that smelled almost as good as it tasted, which was amazingly good; and text-book steak tartare, though I would have liked a little more kick to it. This latter came with a small plate of frites “à la L’ami Louis.” Having just visited this renowned joint in Paris in December and being a little puzzled by all the fuss about it, the designation for the fries didn’t impress me much, and like their Parisian counterparts I would have preferred them a little darker. My friends, being longtime devout fans of L’ami Louis, were tickled by this gimmick, and even more by the prospect on the next Benoit visit of the same-style chicken, numerous examples of which kept floating by us with their siren aromas.

Dessert was the tarte tatin “for two,” but which four of us couldn’t finish: it’s a hefty 6” wide disc of thick, plump, darkly caramelized apples on a crisp biscuit, and accompanied by a disgustingly large crock of crème fraiche.

Total: $60. Per person. With tip. For an obscene amount of food of high quality, and a few coffees. Service was fine, especially once the meal got under way and our server got over the need to hover. Whether or not it’s an exact or even close facsimile of the Paris property or how it relates to Adour: who cares? Instead of making suppositions, you could find out for yourself already.

Food, glorious food!

“Eat! Eat! May you be destroyed if you don’t eat! What sin have I committed that God should punish me with you! Eat! What will become of you if you don’t eat! Imp of darkness, may you sink 10 fathoms into the earth if you don’t eat! Eat!” (A. Kazin)

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I care because putting something over on people is a sign of lack of integrity, and itegrity is a quality that's become increasingly less in gastronomy as time goes by. As I said above, wait and see what happens to this place as time goes by.

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Benoit has emailed me that they officially have their liquor license.

The day just got a little dimmer.

Managed to get in two meals there before and it was a steal. Still will be if they maintain those food prices but not paying for liquor at a place like that was incredible.

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