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Recent Trip: Degustation and Lupa


davidbdesilva
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Took my wife to NYC for her birthday and stayed at the London in Midtown (very nice hotel with very nice bar but we passed on Gordon Ramsey and Maze). For her birthday we went to Degustation for a 9:00 reservation. It was still quite crowded when we got there (a Wednesday night mind you) but for having to wait we (and another couple) were given some rose cava to hold us over, very nice gesture.We ordered the 5-course tasting menu and the sous chef (forget her name, the executive chef was not there) was exceedingly accommodating, knowledgeable (about the food AND wine list) and friendly. We ended up seeing a course from a neighbors 10-course meal that looked appealing so the chef gave us that one as well (for an additional $10 of course). Well in short, the meal was incredible from start to finish and the wine the chef recommended (2001 Rioja Reserva) was incredible as well. Total with tip and tax: $240 and well worth it. We will definitely return.

The next day before heading home we ate at Lupa and had mixed feelings. I love the setting, lovely tree lined street in the heart of the Village, front doors swung open, rustic interior. I think that Lupa's strengths are in the first half of their menu, meaning their antipasti's and pasta's and their weakness is in their entrees. We had two very good pasta special's (at $22!) that we really enjoyed and I picked out a very nice Salice Salento Riserva to go with them. For our entrees I had a special, pork shoulder, very tender an somewhat tasty but definitely too dried out. My wife had the strangest Saltimboca we've ever seen. It looks like a large round veal "patty" covered with proscuitto and sage. Strange looking and odd tasting, she said it was the worst Saltimboca she's ever had.

So I think Lupa is good for a reasonably priced bottle of wine, some nice antipasti, and a nice bowl of pasta but definitely skip the entrees! Desserts were OK, my wife's cantaloupe sorbet being quite nice.

On a side note, we sought out roof-top bars while there and our favorite was the bar on the roof of the Penninsula Hotel. Beautiful views with the down side being people with large attitudes and $22 cosmo's! We also like Ava Lounge at Dream Hotel, much more of a Miami vibe with younger people. We didn't think the roof-top bar at the Empire Hotel was all that great and didn't stay long. 

"Nutrirsi di cibi prelibati e trasformare una necessita in estasi."

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My wife had the strangest Saltimboca we've ever seen. It looks like a large round veal "patty" covered with proscuitto and sage. Strange looking and odd tasting, she said it was the worst Saltimboca she's ever had.

I don't know if I understand this; that's what saltimboca is - pounded veal (usually leg) with prosciutto and sage, and it's about the size of the plate it comes on at Lupa.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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We've had Saltimboca many many times but it never looked like this. It was visually very unappealing, at first we couldn't even figure out what it was. It should be medallions of veal in a delicate sauce not a huge, dry, patty-like thing. Secondly, and most importantly, it didn't taste good. The proscuitto completely overpowered the veal and the overall taste was quite unrefined and heavy-handed. We were both pretty shocked that a restaurant with this reputation would serve s dish like this. And, as I aid, my pork shoulder was way overdone. The entrees were pretty weak in our opinion.

"Nutrirsi di cibi prelibati e trasformare una necessita in estasi."

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It should be medallions of veal in a delicate sauce not a huge, dry, patty-like thing.

Actually no....it's most certainly not medallions in a sauce. that's wrong. You obviously haven't had real saltimbocca alla romana before. Not really surprising in the U.S. where it's hard to find authentic Italian....let alone Lazio style (which is what Lupa is).

yes, the pork shoulder dish (the specific prep varies) is often too dry in my opinion.

Edited by Nathan (log)
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It should be medallions of veal in a delicate sauce not a huge, dry, patty-like thing.

Actually no....it's most certainly not medallions in a sauce. that's wrong. You obviously haven't had real saltimbocca alla romana before. Not really surprising in the U.S. where it's hard to find authentic Italian....let alone Lazio style (which is what Lupa is).

yes, the pork shoulder dish (the specific prep varies) is often too dry in my opinion.

That's what I thought, Nathan. And even though the shoulder can be a bit dry, especially when roasted, that's also how those crazy Romans like their meat.

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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So I think Lupa is good for a reasonably priced bottle of wine, some nice antipasti, and a nice bowl of pasta but definitely skip the entrees! Desserts were OK, my wife's cantaloupe sorbet being quite nice.

Based on two entrees you discount EVERY entree served at the place?

Don't you think that's a little much?

I'll gladly take your spot at Lupa any day!

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Well all I know is that I have cooked Italian food from MANY Northern Italian cookbooks and eaten Saltimboca in MANY fine Italian restaurants and NEVER seen it as a huge patty the size of a plate! It was dry, overwhelmed by proscuitto and amateurish. And when a restaurant with this reputation gets a thumbs down on 2 of 7 entrees I'll skip them the next time I go, if I go back. All I hear is raves about Lupa but for for $200 I feel like we had an average meal overall. There are too many great restaurants in NYC to go back to a place that you had an average meal at! And yes, Saltimboca is often served as smaller pieces (perhaps not medallions) of veal and is a delicate dish. This thing coulda been used as a frisbee.

"Nutrirsi di cibi prelibati e trasformare una necessita in estasi."

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Full disclosure, David: I don't think I've ever spent more than $130 for two people at Lupa, INCLUDING tip. There's no doubt I'd judge the restaurant very differently if I paid $100/person there, rather than $55-65/person, inclusive of tip.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Full disclosure, David: I don't think I've ever spent more than $130 for two people at Lupa, INCLUDING tip. There's no doubt I'd judge the restaurant very differently if I paid $100/person there, rather than $55-65/person, inclusive of tip.

Yeah, $200 sounds like a LOT for Lupa...

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

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There are too many great restaurants in NYC to go back to a place that you had an average meal at!

it's too bad your experience was marred by a couple of entrees but i truly feel that lupa is one of the great restaurants in nyc, especially when you factor in service, quality, the extensive wine list and of course the value.

i enjoy lupa's saltimbocca though one time it was unevenly salty. i've seen this dish rolled up like porchetta at another restaurant so it's safe to assume there is more than one way to present this dish. i've only had the pork shoulder twice there, once from the regular menu and the other from the prix fixe with a different sauce (ginger & tomato?), and on both occasions, i remember it being really tender. don't recall it being too dry as others have experienced.

degus has been on my top 5 since it opened and i've yet to have anything less than a spectacular dinner there. i'd also recommend jack's luxury oyster around the block next time you and your wife are in town. a bit more casual but solid nonetheless.

as far as rooftop bars go in nyc, they're all overpriced and none of them excel in drinks. you're literally paying for the view and to be surrounded by rather an annoying crowd. it might be more worthwhile to explore the cocktail scene instead.

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