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Slightly off-topic question here, but does Benoit offer takeout? I'm donating a kidney in a couple of weeks, and the thought of a charcuterie plate as my first full meal afterward is very appealing...

"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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  • 2 months later...
Some of the charcuterie platter at Benoit is easily the equal of BB - some is not.

I'd amend that first part to say that the best Benoit charcuterie items are superior to what's being served at Bar Boulud. I haven't tried 100% of the BB charcuterie items but I've had the BB grand assortment and there's nothing in that assortment to rival the Lucullus-style tongue or the pate en croute at Benoit. And even hard-line anti-preferentialists will have to admit that the chef can't just go in the back and whip up superior charcuterie for a VIP -- so I do believe I've tasted the same things as everybody else (as well as Frank Bruni for whom being recognized on every visit didn't seem to matter).

With respect to the other savory dishes, I just don't think Bar Boulud is all that good. Benoit, which is certainly uneven, at least shines (big time) in places. BB doesn't seem to shine at all -- though I haven't done as comprehensive a tasting as I'd like to do.

And on the dessert front any comparison would be kind of a joke. Benoit is operating in a whole different, superior category.

I have dined at each restaurant more than a half dozen times now and agree with Steven completely on this. I'm a big fan of Daniel Boulud's restaurants in general, and more specifically, Cafe Boulud was my favorite NYC restaurant when under the helm of Andrew Carmellini. However, I have found Bar Boulud to be completely uninspiring. Competent yes, but not exceptional for that price point in NYC. I really expected more from Chef Daniel. Plus, I dislike the noisy, cramped space. I don't see any reason to go to Bar Boulud unless you live in the neighborhood or need a pre Lincoln Center spot.

On the other hand, the meals at Benoit keep getting better, and the quality to price ratio cannot be beaten in NYC in my opinion. They offer a three course lunch for $28 - which is the same or less as any number of completely lame brasserie type restaurants around Manhattan. It is at the same or lower price point as nearby Brasserie Cognac, and Benoit is operating light years ahead by any standard. I can understand someone not liking classic brasserie French food, but I cannot understand how anyone could realistically criticize Benoit for what it provides at its price point.

On another note, while it was nearly impossible to get a table on short notice at Benoit a few months ago, it has been relatively easy as of late. I was a walk in tonight at 8:30 and the place was half full. Same thing at 1:00 for lunch earlier this week. Maybe it's the fallout from the stock market mess, or perhaps Alain Ducasse's long-running NYC curse continues. I just hope Benoit survives, as I love it and think it is a great addition to the Manhattan dining scene.

Edited by Felonius (log)
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Anyway Bruni got that whole adieu thing wrong.

You would never say adieu to a customer. You would say "au revoir". Adieu is something you say when you never intend on seeing someone again -- it's almost an insult. And yes, French people say Ciao all the time.

However, French people do not say "ciao" followed by "grazie" all the time. That is ridiculous. But we digress. :wink:

+++

Edited by markemorse (log)
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On another note, while it was nearly impossible to get a table on short notice at Benoit a few months ago, it has been relatively easy as of late.  I was a walk in tonight at 8:30 and the place was half full.  Same thing at 1:00 for lunch earlier this week.  Maybe it's the fallout from the stock market mess, or perhaps Alain Ducasse's long-running NYC curse continues.  I just hope Benoit survives, as I love it and think it is a great addition to the Manhattan dining scene.

I doubt the stock market mess has anthing to do with it: Le Bernardin isn't half-empty at 8:30.

The problem is that Benoit, in its early days, quickly acquired a reputation for being uneven. Reviews were terrible. I'll grant that a lot of the critics really don't like French food, but the compaints were so widespread that I have to conclude there was some truth to them.

The Ducasse team may well have cleaned things up, but you don't get a second chance to make a first impression.

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Some of the charcuterie platter at Benoit is easily the equal of BB - some is not.

I'd amend that first part to say that the best Benoit charcuterie items are superior to what's being served at Bar Boulud. I haven't tried 100% of the BB charcuterie items but I've had the BB grand assortment and there's nothing in that assortment to rival the Lucullus-style tongue or the pate en croute at Benoit. And even hard-line anti-preferentialists will have to admit that the chef can't just go in the back and whip up superior charcuterie for a VIP -- so I do believe I've tasted the same things as everybody else (as well as Frank Bruni for whom being recognized on every visit didn't seem to matter).

With respect to the other savory dishes, I just don't think Bar Boulud is all that good. Benoit, which is certainly uneven, at least shines (big time) in places. BB doesn't seem to shine at all -- though I haven't done as comprehensive a tasting as I'd like to do.

And on the dessert front any comparison would be kind of a joke. Benoit is operating in a whole different, superior category.

I have dined at each restaurant more than a half dozen times now and agree with Steven completely on this. I'm a big fan of Daniel Boulud's restaurants in general, and more specifically, Cafe Boulud was my favorite NYC restaurant when under the helm of Andrew Carmellini. However, I have found Bar Boulud to be completely uninspiring. Competent yes, but not exceptional for that price point in NYC. I really expected more from Chef Daniel. Plus, I dislike the noisy, cramped space. I don't see any reason to go to Bar Boulud unless you live in the neighborhood or need a pre Lincoln Center spot.

On the other hand, the meals at Benoit keep getting better, and the quality to price ratio cannot be beaten in NYC in my opinion. They offer a three course lunch for $28 - which is the same or less as any number of completely lame brasserie type restaurants around Manhattan. It is at the same or lower price point as nearby Brasserie Cognac, and Benoit is operating light years ahead by any standard. I can understand someone not liking classic brasserie French food, but I cannot understand how anyone could realistically criticize Benoit for what it provides at its price point.

On another note, while it was nearly impossible to get a table on short notice at Benoit a few months ago, it has been relatively easy as of late. I was a walk in tonight at 8:30 and the place was half full. Same thing at 1:00 for lunch earlier this week. Maybe it's the fallout from the stock market mess, or perhaps Alain Ducasse's long-running NYC curse continues. I just hope Benoit survives, as I love it and think it is a great addition to the Manhattan dining scene.

I've got to agree with Fat Guy on the first part. The Lucullus-style tongue or the pate en croute at Benoit are indeed better than anything at Bar Boulud. But I have to point out that one day at Bar Boulud we had a second course of Duck Confit, served over a concoction that included some white beans, and an extremely delicious sauce (which I don't think confit actually needs) but the duck confit itself was absolutely spectacular - it reminded me of one that I ate in France (where I live on duck confit) and it ranked as one of the best confits of my life.

Here's a really terrible photo of it taken in unbearably low light and enhanced, that really doesn't do it justice except to give an idea of the preparation:

gallery_11181_3830_176702.jpg

And as delicious as the preparation was, it was the confit itself that was utterly magnificent.

Of course, I've had some extremely delicious meals at Benoit, and I believe that up-thread is my post with photos of the night we stumbled on the magnificent Steak Rossini special.

My only complaint with Benoit is the wines. I'm currently not drinking for medical reasons, and my poor partner has been reduced to drinking glass wines (especially if he wants both white and red during the meal) and the glass wines at Benoit resemble what they serve in coach on an airplane. The first time we were there we tasted every single one of them (I smelled only) but it was disgraceful, especially when compared to the incredibly thoughtful and very drinkable selections at such similar places like Bar Boulud, or the Bar Room at The Modern.

The next time that we went for the (fabulous) cassoulet, we learned that they were sold out of the Cahors on the list, which coincidentally happened to be the least expensive red by the bottle, though we wanted it just so my poor partner could have something enjoyable with the cassoulet. Consultation with the wine person produced a thoroughly mediocre Cotes de Provence (at $95) (which was suggested as the very best choice from the list), and though we perused the "reserve" list, the least expensive wine on that is $875, and I don't have a problem saying that I don't want to spend that much on a bottle of wine.

But it is the sad fact for us that the state of the wines at Benoit have kept us from returning; the last time we went instead to The Bar Room, where our craving for a very similar bistro-type meal was amply satisfied, and the wine selection by the glass was excellent.

But I'd also say that Bar Boulud is an extremely welcome addition to the Lincoln Center dining scene.

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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During my last meal at Benoit, the staff showed me the restaurants reserve wine list, which was almost the exact list from the old ADNY.

But that really doesn't make it great for a place called Bistro Benoit...I mean, if they're doing a lunch special for $28, aren't there some perfectly good wines that they can offer at $30 a bottle? Like a number of other places in this town do.

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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The reserve list at Benoit is primarily intended for high-roller private functions upstairs, however they'll give it to you downstairs if you ask for it.

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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Replying to my own post above, and just checking the wine list, it appears as if there are any number of perfectly drinkable wines at $40 and under. And there are a fair number of splits as well.

The by the glass selection, I agree, kinda sucks.

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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Replying to my own post above, and just checking the wine list, it appears as if there are any number of perfectly drinkable wines at $40 and under. 

I don't see them (I mean, the thing loads, but I'm not seeing the wines you're referring to). What am I missing? What are some of the wines you're calling perfectly drinkable at $40 and under?

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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Replying to my own post above, and just checking the wine list, it appears as if there are any number of perfectly drinkable wines at $40 and under. 

I don't see them (I mean, the thing loads, but I'm not seeing the wines you're referring to). What am I missing? What are some of the wines you're calling perfectly drinkable at $40 and under?

Well, I guess everyone's actual mileage may vary, but there are at least a dozen red wines at that price point - more if you count the splits...I mean, if I'm eating at a bistro, I don't have a problem drinking a Cotes du Rhone:

2005 CÔTES DU RHÔNE • Bout D’Zan • Mas de Libian 40

2003 CÔTES DU RHÔNE • Guigal 20 38

Or a Cotes de Provence:

2006 COTES DE PROVENCE • Terra Amata • Domaine Sorin 36

Or a Cotes du Roussillon:

2005 CÔTES DU ROUSSILLON • Calandray 38

2003 CÔTES DU ROUSSILLON • Château de jau 40

And sometimes I just avoid the sommelier, (except, for instance, at restaurants that are in the Batali/Bastianich/Denton mode, where they are actually excited to be pouring wines that they've sourced at reasonable prices).

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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Replying to my own post above, and just checking the wine list, it appears as if there are any number of perfectly drinkable wines at $40 and under. 

I don't see them (I mean, the thing loads, but I'm not seeing the wines you're referring to). What am I missing? What are some of the wines you're calling perfectly drinkable at $40 and under?

Well, I guess everyone's actual mileage may vary, but there are at least a dozen red wines at that price point - more if you count the splits...I mean, if I'm eating at a bistro, I don't have a problem drinking a Cotes du Rhone:

2005 CÔTES DU RHÔNE • Bout D’Zan • Mas de Libian 40

2003 CÔTES DU RHÔNE • Guigal 20 38

Or a Cotes de Provence:

2006 COTES DE PROVENCE • Terra Amata • Domaine Sorin 36

Or a Cotes du Roussillon:

2005 CÔTES DU ROUSSILLON • Calandray 38

2003 CÔTES DU ROUSSILLON • Château de jau 40

And sometimes I just avoid the sommelier, (except, for instance, at restaurants that are in the Batali/Bastianich/Denton mode, where they are actually excited to be pouring wines that they've sourced at reasonable prices).

You're right on your last point - based on how (truly) horrible (not to mention thoughtless) the glass wines were on our first visit, I thought that asking for the sommerlier's help would be pointless.

(And btw, the wine list has most definitely changed since we were there.)

But I knew we wanted the Cahors, and were distressed that they were out of it; granted, they probably serve a lot of cassoulet and have a valid reason to be out of it, but at that time it was also the least expensive red on the list, and I was a little suspicious that maybe a lot of people were ordering it because it was the cheapest red on the list (at that time), and they shouldn't have let themselves run out.

At that time, they also didn't have any Argentinian wines on the list, and while you could argue that they're a "French" bistro and should be serving French wines, I also would argue that a thoughtful bistro, especially one that served cassoulet, should most definitely have some of the delicious (and reasonable) Argentinian Malbecs that are out there. But they had none.

So when I lamented "Oh, what to drink with our cassoulet?" the sommelier immediately brought the reserve list, and I really had to laugh in the face of $875 as the least expensive wine. So I narrowed my thoughts down to three of the wines I thought would go from the regular list (one of which was as inexpensive as $55) , and he actually poo-poohed them all, and not-so-gently insisted that none of them would stand up to the cassoulet, except for the $95 Cotes de Provence (obviously not on the current list), which we eventually ordered, and which was nothing more than passable.

So based on all of that, I would have my doubts about any of the $40 bottles, especially since that's the range where the glass wines are probably coming from (and indeed, on our first visit, each of the glass wines was indeed represented on the full-bottle list).

As far as the actual wines you pointed out, they may indeed be perfectly drinkable (though we are just not big Côtes du Rhône drinkers), but based on my two visits so far, I remain in love with the food, and a little leery of the wines, even if we're willing to splurge a bit and go to the $95 range. It just smacks of thoughtlessness, considering how many places, and not only the Batali/Bastianich/Denton ones, have come up with well-chosen wine programs.

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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he actually poo-poohed them all, and not-so-gently insisted that none of them would stand up to the cassoulet, except for the $95 Cotes de Provence (obviously not on the current list), which we eventually ordered, and which was nothing more than passable.

At this point, I'm drinking beer.

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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he actually poo-poohed them all, and not-so-gently insisted that none of them would stand up to the cassoulet, except for the $95 Cotes de Provence (obviously not on the current list), which we eventually ordered, and which was nothing more than passable.

At this point, I'm drinking beer.

Exactly!

Except that the third time, we bypassed Benoit and went directly to The Bar Room.

Which is shame because I'd like to have Benoit's food again.

I'm sure that one of these days we'll get back there and give it another try.

Meanwhile, we do a lot of opera-going at Lincoln Center, and I gotta say, Bar Boulud is a godsend and a most welcome addition to the dining scene there!

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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  • 4 weeks later...
Replying to my own post above, and just checking the wine list, it appears as if there are any number of perfectly drinkable wines at $40 and under. 

I don't see them (I mean, the thing loads, but I'm not seeing the wines you're referring to). What am I missing? What are some of the wines you're calling perfectly drinkable at $40 and under?

Well, I guess everyone's actual mileage may vary, but there are at least a dozen red wines at that price point - more if you count the splits...I mean, if I'm eating at a bistro, I don't have a problem drinking a Cotes du Rhone:

2005 CÔTES DU RHÔNE • Bout D’Zan • Mas de Libian 40

2003 CÔTES DU RHÔNE • Guigal 20 38

Or a Cotes de Provence:

2006 COTES DE PROVENCE • Terra Amata • Domaine Sorin 36

Or a Cotes du Roussillon:

2005 CÔTES DU ROUSSILLON • Calandray 38

2003 CÔTES DU ROUSSILLON • Château de jau 40

And sometimes I just avoid the sommelier, (except, for instance, at restaurants that are in the Batali/Bastianich/Denton mode, where they are actually excited to be pouring wines that they've sourced at reasonable prices).

You're right on your last point - based on how (truly) horrible (not to mention thoughtless) the glass wines were on our first visit, I thought that asking for the sommerlier's help would be pointless.

(And btw, the wine list has most definitely changed since we were there.)

But I knew we wanted the Cahors, and were distressed that they were out of it; granted, they probably serve a lot of cassoulet and have a valid reason to be out of it, but at that time it was also the least expensive red on the list, and I was a little suspicious that maybe a lot of people were ordering it because it was the cheapest red on the list (at that time), and they shouldn't have let themselves run out.

At that time, they also didn't have any Argentinian wines on the list, and while you could argue that they're a "French" bistro and should be serving French wines, I also would argue that a thoughtful bistro, especially one that served cassoulet, should most definitely have some of the delicious (and reasonable) Argentinian Malbecs that are out there. But they had none.

So when I lamented "Oh, what to drink with our cassoulet?" the sommelier immediately brought the reserve list, and I really had to laugh in the face of $875 as the least expensive wine. So I narrowed my thoughts down to three of the wines I thought would go from the regular list (one of which was as inexpensive as $55) , and he actually poo-poohed them all, and not-so-gently insisted that none of them would stand up to the cassoulet, except for the $95 Cotes de Provence (obviously not on the current list), which we eventually ordered, and which was nothing more than passable.

So based on all of that, I would have my doubts about any of the $40 bottles, especially since that's the range where the glass wines are probably coming from (and indeed, on our first visit, each of the glass wines was indeed represented on the full-bottle list).

As far as the actual wines you pointed out, they may indeed be perfectly drinkable (though we are just not big Côtes du Rhône drinkers), but based on my two visits so far, I remain in love with the food, and a little leery of the wines, even if we're willing to splurge a bit and go to the $95 range. It just smacks of thoughtlessness, considering how many places, and not only the Batali/Bastianich/Denton ones, have come up with well-chosen wine programs.

And since I posted that less-than-glowing account of an experience at Benoit, I think it only fair to post how they redeemed themselves last night. We were going to the theater and were in the mood for their food, so I called the day before and asked for "a wine person", who got on the phone, and whom I asked if there was any Cahors to drink with cassoulet the following night. He told me that there was one on the list and said that if I gave him a second he would check to see if there were any bottles of it - whereupon I volunteered that the last time I ate there, there were none. He asked when that was and I told him that it had been months ago, and then he said that he thought he remembered me, and described my party to a man (two men and one woman actually) plus where we were sitting that night, and indeed he did remember me; then, after two moments on hold, he returned to the phone to tell me that a bottle of the Cahors would be ready and waiting for me the following night.

And from there it was all uphill. He happened to be at the front when we arrived, and recognized us on sight and gave us a very warm greeting and sat us and told us that the wine was ready when we were, though my other half started with a glass of Sancerre that he said was perfectly fine.

There was a "special" sauteed foie gras in red wine reduction, and I don't think we ever pass up sauteed foie gras, so we told our very pleasant server that we would split one of those, and also split a Tongue and Foie Gras Lucullus Style (and even though it was only offered on the menu as part of the Charcuterie Tasting Platter, which I hadn't realized, they gladly served it) and that we would also split a Pate en Croute.

Though I had no idea they would go to the trouble, they split and plated everything in half-portions in the kitchen:

gallery_11181_5972_81978.jpg

gallery_11181_5972_25304.jpg

gallery_11181_5972_4650.jpg

We followed those with two orders of a very delicious cassoulet (though I have no idea who's making it at this point)

gallery_11181_5972_80339.jpg

And the Cahors, which I am told was as delicious as it smelled:

gallery_11181_5972_32063.jpg

Though I was dying for it, I was virtuous and didn't order the Tarte Tatin.

As far as the categorical statement made way upthhread by somebody (I guess it was FG) that the charcuterie at Benoit are better than anything at Bar Boulud, I have to say that we had a major pig-out of BB charcuterie a few weeks ago (unfortunately forgot the camers), and the Pate Grand Père and the Tourte de Canard actually held their own against the Benoit offerings.

But obviously everything about the Benoit meal was delicious and gracious, and it was a most enjoyable experience in which they redeemed themselves beautifully.

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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Having learned to make a soufflé at the Cordon Bleu in Paris, my wife is a stickler for getting the classic variety. She won’t accept the name as applied to one of these molten center creations. Our waiter assured her that the chocolate one was classic, which he based on the fact that it was made in a traditional soufflé dish. It turns out it wasn’t.

I can't think of a bigger pet peeve I have than this.

The problem is that I have yet to find a waiter who can stand there and admit that their "half-fake" souffle (i.e. not all the way flourless chocolate cake, but definitely not a 40+ minute souffle either) isn't a true classic souffle. So you sit there and grill them, they defend their souffle and claim it to be the classic one, making you feel bad you'd even questioned the commitment to quality of their pastry chef, yet after all that they deliver that damb bastard of a fake souffle. Drives me insane.

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choc souffle time is more like...20, maybe 25 min, no?

Well, I'm no chef - I just quoted the other guy.

I'm now to the point where I am super skeptical if they don't ask me at the beginning of my meal, although 1/10 times a place that asks after the meal get's it right - so it's probably doable. I still get a stern warning that it will take a while from the places that do it right though.

Edited by sickchangeup (log)
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  • 3 weeks later...

Had dinner here tonight. My main impression was that you're dealing with a very good casual bistro, a best hits collection even, that has a more formal restaurants service standards and prices. Seems like a bit of a conflict, but for someone that loves good formal service like my wife, this was quite a successful dinner.

We started with two $1 egg mayo's - best $1, err $2 I have EVER spent at a restaurant. This trend needs to grow, and FAST. This along with two mini baguettes, two slices of good bread, large pat of butter and an entire tray of delicious gougers definitely got me in the mood to spend some extra dough and try a bunch of stuff. Not sure how that works, but it did.

Then we had the pate en croute (good, wasn't as sold on this as others have been, prefer a few DB personally), langue de veau (not on the menu, but served when requested - and DELICIOUS. Very very rich though, this should be shared), and the chicken. I noticed the menu didn't call this "L'ami Louis style", which the original menu did. It's a small chicken, but sinfully well prepared tonight, served with roasted garlic, separate serving dish of chicken jus and excellent french fries.

For dessert I avoided the aforementioned souffle and went with the Isle Flotante (again, not the name they printed - they went with Island Float or some such, it was tonights special) and the Mille Feuille. The Island was insanely good, the mille feuille not so much.

I have to say, of all the Bruni reviews I have gone back to read after a meal, this one was the closest to the mark in my experience. My visit was more positive, cause my chicken was perfect tonight - he went several times I guess and at the time seemed to be hit or miss. The hostess also let out a loud "PREGO!" to the table next to us which left me shaking my head. Really? Prego?

We also had an unremarkable $30 of Reisling. Was pretty crappy, but $30 is $30 I guess.

All that wound up at $180 with a bottle of water, tax and tip. I think next time if we stick with the $1 egg, two entrees and some tea I'll feel like a pretty big winner when the check comes.

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I'm not sure Ducasse is getting Turbo Chef ovens in all of his joints, no?

Tradition surely must be one of his trademarks.

I've done souffles in places where the servers had no concept of "firing" a dessert and been able to get it out for the customer,

The souffle chef could also swap one out for a customer right then and put another in and no one would probably be the wiser, FWIW.

2317/5000

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Interesting interview here:

http://www.restaurantgirl.com/chef_qarecip...in_ducasse.html

I have to admit I'm a fan of AD, ADNY being amongst, if not THE, finest haute dining I've experienced. And when he says that American's don't get bistro cooking, I think he's right. The thought of their menu makes me want to go there practically every day in the fall and winter for cassoulet, quenelles and the chicken, but it's hard to get anyone interested in that kind of food for some reason. My wife considers bistros as only good for brunch food, and she feels this is representative of many women in the city, which I don't understand.

The most interesting parts of the interview to me were the following:

What was your take on Alain Ducasse at the Essex House?

We were one of the first gastronomic fine dining restaurants in New York. We paved the way for restaurants like Per Se and chefs like Thomas Keller. Maybe when I die, people will realize what I did here.

What's your response when people refer to Alain Ducasse at the Essex House as a failure?

It's scandalous. Simply scandalous. Essex House was opened four years and it was a success. We built a clientele of loyal guests. Food lovers, they followed us to the Essex House, then to Adour. We lost our lease. That's the only reason AD at The Essex House closed.

What happened at Benoit?

Perhaps we opened too quickly. We needed time to adjust. It was a slow evolution. There are new dishes on the menu now, like the boudin noir burgers with raw and cooked apples. But I think Americans don't quite understand French bistro.

Who's to blame for that?

I think it's the journalists. It's their duty to educate New Yorkers about French cooking. Americans don't know what French bistro really means. Here, nobody serves quenelles de brochet, cassoulet, or tarte tatin. Benoit is really my culinary proposal to Americans. It's the story of the French bistro in a restaurant. All of those dishes are my culinary proposal -- French history.

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.

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.

Anyways, interesting excerpts there I think.

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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.

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