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Tom Colicchio's Tom:Tuesday Dinner


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I had the pleasure of eating at the opening night of Colicchio's new project on Tuesday, and thought I'd give you my two cents. I was busy when I first got wind of the reservation number and didn't call right away, but was able to get on the wait list and luckily for me they had a cancellation so I got a 4 top at 7:30, and i was not disappointed. We got menus (individually signed) to take home, but it's easiest to look at the one online at:

http://www.tomtuesdaydinner.com/menus

I'll give you my impressions of the courses.

The amuse is unlisted, but it was great. Two actually, one was a very tasty and interesting duck heart with fig sauce. The other was very a simple but most excellent bite of marrow and truffle panini. This was actually maybe my favorite thing, but I'm a sucker for decadent bone marrow, and there were plenty more hits to come.

The porchetta was a nice started, presented in a cold thinly sliced terrine, reminiscent of mortadella (pistachios and all.) The scattered garnishes had a very nice textural diversity that gave each bite a different taste, depending on which bits you got. The sweet raisins and the briny capers, and there was something crunchy and salty in the mix as well, I suspect it was little bits of the pork skin.

The sea bass was a perfectly delicate presentation with nicely crisp skin, and the texture and subtle flavor of the fish was not overpowered but nicely complemented by the garnishes and the broth.

The risotto was very interesting, the flavor really focused on the squid ink. I'm not sure I really noticed the cocoa nibs, maybe they just gave a hint of bitter to go with the squid. I'm not sure what the squid was stuffed with, but it was very tender and everything worked very well together when you got a bit of everything on your fork. Oh yeah, one of those things was a crisped slice of pancetta.

A bit of an interlude about the wine pairing. I don't recall many of the specifics, but they were matched very well with the courses, and the diversity of selections was impressive. We had a Riesling that was not too sweet, I think with the Porchetta. There was a drier white for the sea bass. With the squid there was an intriguing white wine, it was very dry with lots of mineral, almost reminded me of a dry sherry. This brings me to perhaps my only slight negative of the night. There were some longish delays between a couple of our courses, I assume because it was opening night and I believe they didn't ever have any dry runs before opening. I didn't terribly mind since I was with good company, but thought I would be remiss in gushing about everything else and not mentioning it. I'm sure at later dinners they'll have those kinks worked out. In any case, the squid was one of the delayed courses, and I kept sipping the wine trying to understand it and figure out how much I liked it, so I didn't have much left for the food. But what I had left really did go amazingly well with the dish.

The next course was the sturgeon. It was one of my favorites, the fish was very meaty and the saltiness of the speck it was sheathed in was a great match. We had a nice pinot noir with this.

We next had a barbaresco, I think, with the squab. Both were delicious. The breast was very rare and the whole clove of black garlic gave a great tang to a bite when a bit of it was included. The squab leg didn't have much meat to get off it, but it did come included with the entire taloned foot.

The lamb was my favorite. Can't think of how to elaborate, but yum. The wine here was my favorite as well, a Torbreck Runrig Shiraz. They did come around and refill our glasses when the food arrived this time, although I don't think the glasses were not full due to a delay in the food, but simply due to our love of the wine and the fact that we already had downed many glasses in the earlier courses. All the wine pours were quite generous for a 9 course meal also, come to think of it.

The gnocchi were not the rich dense ones I had guessed they would be, but light little fried pillows and served as a cheese course. They were quite tasty, and were better suited at this point in the meal than something else heavy would have been.

The grape soda was a playful and pleasing little shot and made for a good palate cleanser before the dessert.

And the dessert was more like 5 or 6 tiny little mini desserts, each a bite or two. Most notable to me was a little puff of brioche you dipped in a caramel sauce, but all were good.

Despite the number of courses, I didn't at all feel overfull, but perfectly sated, which is a difficult task for such a feast. On our way out the chef was in the front by the bar chatting a bit so we got to thank him for the great meal. I'm curious to see how much the menu changes at subsequent dinners. If, as I suspect, it changes a lot, I'll definitely try to go back a time or two for the 26 dinners he's doing for the year before he's done. But I also suspect that it will be difficult to get in going forward, but we'll see.

btw, if anyone is interested in trying to go, last I heard they open up the Tuesday 6 weeks in advance at 10 am the Wed after each tuesday dinner.

Ed aka Wordsmithing Pantagruel

Food, Cocktails, Travels, and miscellany on my blog:

http://www.wordsmithingpantagruel.com/

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Thanks for the review -- have been very interested in this since hearing about it. The menu looks great! Two quick questions:

1) With the sturgeon the "Horseradish Confit" caught my eye. Can you describe it, and how was it?

2) I assume the wine pairings were in addition to the $150 price point? If so, do you recall how much they charged?

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Were there multiple seatings, one seating with staggered start times, or one seating at one time?

I think there was just one seating, but they were definitely staggered. We sat at 7:30 and most if not all of the tables were filled when we got there. We didn't have to wait for our table, and considering we were not done until after 11 I think we must have been the only one at that table all night. I believe they serve 32 diners a night. (actually, this forbes article says 28: http://www.forbes.com/wineandfood/2008/10/...15winefood.html ) At least two tables finished well before us, and I had assumed that the first one would have a seating at around 9 or 9:30 but it in fact never did. I'm pretty sure they had 9pm available for the later dates, but maybe they had slightly fewer people for the first night to make sure things run smoothly?

They were packing up the kitchen and Chef Tom was out of the kitchen and apparently by the bar while we were still on our dessert, so perhaps that night we were the latest seating? I don't recall anyone sitting after us, but I was facing the kitchen and wouldn't have seen anyone at the tables behind me.

So I guess short answer is one seating but staggered.

Ed aka Wordsmithing Pantagruel

Food, Cocktails, Travels, and miscellany on my blog:

http://www.wordsmithingpantagruel.com/

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Thanks for the review -- have been very interested in this since hearing about it.  The menu looks great!  Two quick questions:

1)  With the sturgeon the "Horseradish Confit" caught my eye.  Can you describe it, and how was it?

2)  I assume the wine pairings were in addition to the $150 price point?  If so, do you recall how much they charged?

I actually don't remember noticing the horseradish confit, come to think of it. It also caught my eye one the menu, and I remember thinking about it when I got the dish, but all I noticed were the radishes and since I didn't have my menu out thought I must have misremembered it and the sliced radishes were what I was thinking of. Maybe there was a puree under the fish? Sorry I can't remember, but the overall dish was fantastic so I assume it contributed.

Yeah, the wine pairing were extra, but I think they must have been a great deal. I just looked up my favorite wine, the Torbrek, and it's $210 at astor, but the total bill for the 4 of us was only just over $1000 including tax, so that makes the wine pairing $80ish? (I had a cocktail to start as well.) Sounds very reasonable, if not a steal. I'll try to remember to check the receipt at home. I hope they didn't accidentally undercharge us and I failed to notice.

Ed aka Wordsmithing Pantagruel

Food, Cocktails, Travels, and miscellany on my blog:

http://www.wordsmithingpantagruel.com/

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We next had a barbaresco, I think, with the squab.  Both were delicious.  The breast was very rare and the whole clove of black garlic gave a great tang to a bite when a bit of it was included.  The squab leg didn't have much meat to get off it, but it did come included with the entire taloned foot.

Glad to see this squab on the menu. Colicchio was serving a version of spice roasted squab at Gramercy Tavern in 1999-2000. My then-girlfriend and I had it at lunch were having lunch on the weekend we got engaged. On the strength of that lunch we actually ended up having our wedding dinner in GT's private dining room and having that same squab dish as the meat course of our dinner (paired with a really nice St Joseph Paul Grieco chose for us).

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  • 2 weeks later...

fyi, I believe they open the reservations for 6 weeks from today tomorrow at 10am. At least that was the plan when they started.

And I agree it is not better than ko or per se, but different. In fact I prefer both ko and per se, but I'd still go back to Tuesday dinner. The food was still great and interesting, and it was a very relaxed atmosphere. I'm not always in the mood for the formality of per se, so something more casual has its place. (not that I've ever turned down going to per se...)

Well, I tried to get in this morning for the 12/09.  Besides the busy/circuits busy stuff, I also got a "this phone number is not in service" bs.  After 5 minutes of all this, I get thru and get the answering machine saying I have to talk to a rep.

WTF with that "not in service" crap??

Forget it; it's sour grapes I suppose but I can get into Ko and PerSe, I can't imagine this to be better.

Ed aka Wordsmithing Pantagruel

Food, Cocktails, Travels, and miscellany on my blog:

http://www.wordsmithingpantagruel.com/

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I'm not always in the mood for the formality of per se, so something more casual has its place.  (not that I've ever turned down going to per se...)

I was just there with a party of eight and had a rollicking good time in the private dining room...there's a definite fix for the formality!!

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Fully reserved, including the waitlist.

I also tried this morning for the hour following 10 and got nothing but the answering machine or number is disconnected messages. The most annoying one was the answering machine from the reservations lady. This makes me think there is some number other than the one they list on the website. Oh well, I guess I will be trying to get back to Ko instead.

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Good thing they take phone reservations the way people like instead of sticking you with that horrible time-wasting three minutes on the computer like Ko.

I'm assuming your sarcastic so I support your comment on this. At least if they are taking phone reservations instead of the crazy internet idea maybe they could get a phone system that supports the amount of calls? Or at least have a few more people answering the phone. It would be like the Ko website crashing every day at 10am.

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I'm assuming your sarcastic so I support your comment on this.  At least if they are taking phone reservations instead of the crazy internet idea maybe they could get a phone system that supports the amount of calls?  Or at least have a few more people answering the phone.
Well...that is the problem with phone-based reservation systems. It's hard to staff up the phone bank adequately for a restaurant that serves dinner only 26 nights a year.
It would be like the Ko website crashing every day at 10am.

Which it initially did. Edited by oakapple (log)
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Well...that is the problem with phone-based reservation systems. It's hard to staff up the phone bank adequately for a restaurant that serves dinner only 26 nights a year.
It would be like the Ko website crashing every day at 10am.

Which it initially did.

Fair point. Maybe I am just bitter that I spent an hour yesterday trying to get this reservation. Or maybe I need to reexamine my life and why I actually spent that time.

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The odd thing is that Colicchio already has multiple infrastructures in place for taking phone reservations at his twenty or so restaurants. At Ko they sort of had the excuse that they would have had to invest in a whole new phone infrastructure. But Tuesday Dinner could have just used the main line at Craft.

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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The answering machine message says that 12/9 is currently available BUT you shouldn't leave a message because you have to speak with a rep.

This also seems a little user-unfriendly. Just let people leave messages with their requests, and call them back with yea or nay.

I think these in-demand, limited-seating restaurants just are not doing a great job of dealing with the demand. There seems to be little imagination being utilized. Clearly, it's not possible to meet the demand at the precise time the demand wants to be met, so some people are going to be disappointed. But this is the hospitality industry. Find a way to disappoint them in as nice a way as possible, or find a way to say no without saying no, e.g., a longer waiting list where you make clear it's a long shot. And don't waste people's time.

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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  • 3 months later...

I’m not cool, but there are a lot of things I’ve liked since before they were cool. Tom Colicchio is one of them. Long before “Top Chef” or even “Think Like a Chef,” I was an unabashed Colicchio fan.

Back when I was a lawyer not a writer, Gramercy Tavern was one of my two or three favorite restaurants and I went there all the time. (For those of you who came late to the game, Colicchio was the original chef at Gramercy Tavern.) I didn’t have a relationship of any kind with Colicchio, though, until I started publishing restaurant criticism online more than 10 years ago, before there was much of that going on and before the word “blog” had really entered the lexicon. At a birthday dinner, a clever captain who had been reading my stuff online figured out who I was and told Colicchio, who had also read some of my work at some point (for all I know it was in the five minutes before he came to my table).

Colicchio introduced himself and – you could easily see him saying this as a judge today in Top Chef Kitchen -- said something along the lines of “Your writing is good but you don’t know the first thing about what happens in a restaurant kitchen.” This led to an invitation to trail in the Gramercy Tavern kitchen for a week, during which time I did indeed learn a lot about what happens in a restaurant kitchen. I also learned that there was much to admire about Colicchio beyond just his ability to turn out great food. He’s smart, deeply principled and a brilliant leader and manager. None of his successes – I believe he now has nine full-service restaurants plus the ‘wichcraft sandwich places, not to mention his role on Top Chef and probably a bunch of stuff I know nothing about – have been the slightest bit surprising to me.

Today the restaurants in the Craft pantheon all hold great appeal for me. Craftbar in Manhattan, though I liked the original physical space much better, is in many ways my ideal restaurant, serving affordable food at a very high level of technical and aesthetic accomplishment. Craft itself is of course a great restaurant, though my visits are infrequent because whenever I go I spend too much money. I recently had a terrific meal at Craftsteak Las Vegas (where Matt Seeber, whom I befriended that week in the Gramercy Tavern kitchen a decade ago, is now executive chef). All those restaurants function perfectly well without Colicchio in any given kitchen more than a few days a month. But there’s always a nostalgic hankering, when I go to a Colicchio restaurant, for the days when I could go to Gramercy Tavern most any night of the week, ask Colicchio to do a menu for us and chat with him afterwards.

Now it is again possible to have that experience, every other Tuesday. It’s not exactly that the food at Tom Tuesday Dinner is better than at any of his other restaurants. If it is better than Craft, it’s only by a hair. No, the reason Tom Tuesday Dinner is so great is because of the whole package. Dining there is like being a regular at Gramercy Tavern a decade ago, except Colicchio has continued to grow as a chef and is now at the height of his considerable powers.

The Tuesday dinners take place in a small restaurant space next door to Craft. It’s not a chef’s table or private dining room. It’s a small restaurant. The kitchen is open and set up so that while Colicchio works at the range he is facing the dining room. He has a couple of assistants helping, but he appears to be handling the bulk of the order-fire-pickup sequence for each dish. The service team (and wine list) are from Craft so it’s not like you get untrained people who only wait tables on alternate Tuesdays. The whole service experience is pretty seamless. The restaurant’s small size, large service team and attention to detail are very much like what you see at Michelin two- and three-star restaurants in France, though presumably Tuesday Dinner wouldn’t be eligible for such a rating due to its infrequent services.

All the menus are recorded on the Tuesday Dinner website, along with excellent photographs – much better than I could take! – of each dish. This is the page for the dinner I enjoyed a few weeks ago. All this documentation leads me to suspect that Colicchio is hoping to build the Tuesday Dinner concept into a book or TV program, but I haven’t actually asked him about it.

The menu the night I was there was a great demonstration of Colicchio’s range and his development as a chef. For example, the “spice-roasted lobster cassoulet.” Back in the day, there was a spice-roasted lobster dish on the menu at Gramercy Tavern. But what I saw at Tuesday Dinner was the spice-roasted lobster all grown up, more subtly seasoned than I remember, and served in a cast-iron mini cocotte rather than just on a big white plate. The pancetta-wrapped monkfish was superb and demonstrated once again that Colicchio is the only working chef who should be licensed to prepare monkfish, but as good as it was it was the braised red cabbage (and black truffle) underneath that stole the show, reminding me of Colicchio's facility with vegetables. The crab and sea urchin fondue, pretty much unchanged from the old days, is a dish that had already reached its ultimate expression at Gramercy Tavern -- I'm glad there was the presence of mind and restraint not to alter it.

I won’t enumerate every dish – Colicchio’s team has already done that for us – but overall it’s not only a great meal but a fair deal. For $150 there are seven savory courses, a plated cheese-based transitional course, a pre-dessert and a main dessert. You aren’t going to find a package on that level for less money, unless you want to forego service in a Momofuku Ko-like format. So, if you have been wondering whether it’s worth the effort and money to get to Tom Tuesday Dinner, my feeling is that it is well worth 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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I like the photography idea. It's a great way to toe the line between foodies and food bloggers who want to document their meal, while at the same time ensuring that your food is presented to the internet public in the way (well lit, styled, shot) that you would like it to be, and also to avoid having picture-snappers disturbing other customers.

--

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FG, I don't know if you consider yourself a friend of Colicchio's, but you obviously know him on some level better than most folks here. What do you think is the endgame for this restaurant? Is it a test-run for a place that could ultimately be open every day—or at least, a lot more often than every other Tuesday? Does Colicchio still have enough fire in the belly to be in a kitchen close to full-time?

Obviously Colicchio has long since proven that he can run a restaurant without being physically present every day. How much of the $150 tab is intrinsic value, and how much is the perception that "Tom Colicchio personally prepared my food"? What would be the demand if the restaurant were open more often, but without Colicchio present all the time?

Colicchio has picked up basically every honor that a chef can. One of the few that has eluded him is getting four stars from the Times. It sounds like "Tom" could theoretically become that restaurant if it were open more than every other Tuesday.

Edited by oakapple (log)
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I have no idea if this is the case or not, but it strikes me that TTD is simply a vehicle for Colicchio to keep up his kitchen chops and have fun.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

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I don't have any special insight on this. I talk to Colicchio very occasionally, and we haven't discussed the endgame for Tuesday Dinner. I have some theories, but they're very much subject to revision.

I assume they're paying rent on that space, which is a space the size of a small restaurant. When I walked in, that was the first thing I thought: wow, this is not some little annex, this is a whole small restaurant, and they're paying rent on it, yet they're only using it two days a month -- how does that work? I guess they're also maybe using the space for the Damon Frugal Fridays thing, and perhaps if you pony up enough dough you can have a private function in that space, and maybe they got a great deal on the rent. Even so, it's a lot of space to be sitting empty most of the time.

So my assumption is that there's more to it than just Tom wanting to get his hands dirty a little more often. If that's all he wants to do, he can just work the line at any of his restaurants any day he wants (he probably does that occasionally anyway). I have to think it's about eventually developing a book or television concept, or even if it's not about that I have to think it's going to turn into that. I could absolutely see a beautiful book of Tom's Tuesday Dinner recipes and photos -- the photos are already being taken, presumably at some expense. And I could also see a "Tom Tuesday Dinner" show on Bravo, though I'm not exactly sure how it would work. Or maybe I'm wrong, maybe there's some completely different motivation. We'll learn eventually, either as history unfolds or maybe I'll be able to get some information out of Colicchio directly.

With respect to four stars from the Times, or three stars from Michelin, I just don't think Colicchio is interested in operating that sort of restaurant. I don't think any sane person would question that he has the talent to do a Per Se-like restaurant. But that's just not what he's into.

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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Being next door to Craft opens up a lot of potential uses on Weds thru Mon.  Prep kitchen....private dining...eventual expansion of Craft....cooking school

I believe private dining was its originally intended use, and it is probably still used for that when they are able, but bookings these days are way down.
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