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Del Posto Gets 4 Stars


eternal
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Del Posto just got awarded four stars by Sifton at the NYT. I was pretty surprised by this. I went to Del Posto a couple years ago during restaurant week and really disliked the whole experience. I'm sure it was related to Restaurant Week and also that it just isn't my type of restaurant. But it is good to see that they made such a change and now I want to revisit it - sitting at the bar anyway. The article is here http://www.nytimes.com/pages/dining/index.html

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I am awfully skeptical of this 4-star review, especially as Sifton has not covered himself in glory over the past year. Del Posto was pretty far off the radar lately -- the review practically acknowledges as much. I don't recall any critic, amateur or professional, suggesting it was on the level of the other 4-stars. That kind of excellence is usually noticed by multiple people.

Incidentally, there are now seven 4-star restaurants, which could be the highest total ever. At least, I am not aware of any time in the past when there were so many.

Edited by oakapple (log)
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Whether one agrees with Sifton's review of Del Posto, at least, he was very clear why he thought the restaurant merited promotion. I have eaten at Del Posto about 8 times, though not since the remodeling of the restaurant: My experiences at Del Posto were much much better than the 2 meals I have had at EMP.

I was wondering what this review means for Chef Benno's new restaurant LIncoln.

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Color me surprised. But I must agree with sethd: on its own terms, the review is compelling -- and the argument is even stronger when you look at the accompanying Diner's Journal material, where he details his perception of the restaurant's evolution and embeds some interesting collateral video content.

One thing I think is worth clarifying. In describing Del Posto's improvement, Sifton says, among other things, "Mr. Ladner hired a new pastry chef, Brooks Headley." This to me implies the restaurant dismissed a failing pastry chef and added a successful one. Just in case anybody else read it that way, it should be pointed out that when Headley was hired Del Posto had no pastry chef. I believe Nicole Kaplan, the previous pastry chef, left the restaurant to work at the Plaza. The restaurant was then without a pastry chef for several months, and finally hired Headley. There is little question that both are exceptionally fine pastry chefs.

Mark, in terms of the total number of four-star restaurants, you're undoubtedly correct in terms of recent history. I have no idea what was going on in the 1970s, though. I get the sense there were a lot of places back then that got four stars.

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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Whether one agrees with Sifton's review of Del Posto, at least, he was very clear why he thought the restaurant merited promotion. I have eaten at Del Posto about 8 times, though not since the remodeling of the restaurant: My experiences at Del Posto were much much better than the 2 meals I have had at EMP.

I do agree that the review at least sounds like four stars. (This is in contrast, say, to Bruni's Daniel review, which sounded more like a high three.)

I was wondering what this review means for Chef Benno's new restaurant Lincoln.

Lincoln wasn't built for four stars.

In the last 20-30 years, no one has gotten four stars without explicitly gunning for it. The critics play fast & loose sometimes with three stars (e.g., Momofuku Ssäm Bar), but every four-star place since at least the 1980s has gotten it in more-or-less the traditional way.

Just take one look at the menu and décor of Lincoln, and it is apparent they are not trying for four. That doesn’t mean Lincoln couldn’t be excellent, only that it’s not intending to be a four-star place.

Michael White and his supporters are the ones fuming now. They were the ones who actually thought they had a four-star Italian restaurant.

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I think Alto was also conceived as a four-star Italian restaurant.

There are some other restaurants that today are probably feeling left out: The Modern, Corton, Marea (as mentioned)...

Personally I think the restaurant that really deserves four stars is Blue Hill at Stone Barns. I believe it provides one of the very best dining experiences in the world, at least based on where I've eaten. I also think it's a shame that Cru was never recognized, in its heyday, as one of the very best restaurants in New York.

I thought Sifton's comment about intent was interesting, if only because I'm not sure any critic has said it so forthrightly: "The distance between three and four stars is at once huge and infinitesimal. It goes to both intent and execution." (From the Diner's Journal piece.)

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 never thought i wanted "fancy" italian food until i sat at the bar at marea. del posto didn't excite me either time i was there with its table side service etc, but that was quite a while ago. i will go back based upon his review, but suspect i will still like the bare wood tables of lupa more for what i like from an italian restaurant.

just my 2 cents of course.

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That I think is the core issue facing the reviewer: The four-star framework, like the Michelin three-star framework, has in recent history as a structural matter favored French restaurants. It's a common complaint in Italy that the restaurants with three Michelin stars are too Frenchified to be considered Italian anymore. So it may be that Lupa is a better Italian restaurant than Del Posto but Lupa can never get four stars and Del Posto can.

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 think that lincoln has the potential of being a four star restaurant, whether that was the intention of the patina group or not. In fact, my meal there this past sunday was at least the equal of ones i had at other four star places in the city. It is already a better restaurant than EMP after only 2 days.

I do agree that The Main DIning Room at the Modern needs to be re-reviewed.

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A guy came in for a trail in the last kitchen I worked in, not too long after del posto lost its 2nd michelin star. He had recently been in the kitchen and his take was that it was no surprise to him that they had lost it, them trying to serve pasta to 400 people a night. They must have gotten their act together since.

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I think Alto was also conceived as a four-star Italian restaurant.

There are some other restaurants that today are probably feeling left out: The Modern, Corton, Marea (as mentioned)...

Personally I think the restaurant that really deserves four stars is Blue Hill at Stone Barns. I believe it provides one of the very best dining experiences in the world, at least based on where I've eaten. I also think it's a shame that Cru was never recognized, in its heyday, as one of the very best restaurants in New York.

I thought Sifton's comment about intent was interesting, if only because I'm not sure any critic has said it so forthrightly: "The distance between three and four stars is at once huge and infinitesimal. It goes to both intent and execution." (From the Diner's Journal piece.)

I don't see how the Modern could be 4 stars but I have not been in the main dining room in a while. Agree on BHSB - was there in June and was absolutely blown away by the meal and the service and everything they're doing there. Had spectacular meals at Cru also, several times, but I'm not sure it was at the level of a Per Se or J-G. Places like Cru, I think, underscore the distance between 3 and 4.

I'm really quite surprised at the Del Posto review. It's utterly not on my radar (and my radar's pretty damned good if I must say so myself :). I sat at the bar once for a cocktail and perhaps some food (if I had any it wasn't memorable) and I felt like I was in Las Vegas. I've never heard rave reviews about it, haven't recommended it to anyone, and it's not on my list of places to go and spend a ton of money at. Is the service friendlier than at Batali's other spots?

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I have eaten at The Main Dining Room at The Modern often in the last year. They have made improvements in service as well as added a wonderful post-desert chocolate trolley. The food of Chef Kreuther is still brilliant. the restaurant has made great strides even in the last year and in my opinion is now one of the 5 best restaurants in the city.

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I think if you say the benchmark for four stars is Per Se then there have only been two four-star restaurants in the past decade: Per Se and Alain Ducasse at the Essex House. If you say there's a range within the four-star world, with Daniel and Eleven Madison at the lower end of that range, then it opens up the field and you have to start asking questions like "Isn't Kreuther's food better? Isn't Liebrandt's food more interesting -- and better? Isn't Blue Hill at Stone Barns a better experience?"

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 thought Sifton's comment about intent was interesting, if only because I'm not sure any critic has said it so forthrightly: "The distance between three and four stars is at once huge and infinitesimal. It goes to both intent and execution." (From the Diner's Journal piece.)

Much as I dislike Sifton, I think he absolutely nailed it in that quote -- at least in terms of the de facto standards for getting four stars.

I think that lincoln has the potential of being a four star restaurant, whether that was the intention of the patina group or not.

I will say: A) That's utterly impossible; and B) Name me one restaurant in the last 30 years (probably even 40) that got four stars without explicitly gunning for it, and putting in all the trappings of conventional luxury.

I do agree that The Main Dining Room at the Modern needs to be re-reviewed.

The Modern has a different problem, in that it opened with only two stars. It therefore wasn't a question of whether it was a high three or low four; in Bruni's opinion, it had missed the mark totally. It wasn't a just-missed four-star; it was a failed three-star. Sifton's review of SHO Shaun Hergatt had the same problem.

There was somewhere, which I can't find right now, that Sifton said something which suggested he is not about to re-consider The Modern. That's sad, but likely the reality for the near future.

Edited by oakapple (log)
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Having eaten at Del Posto and Alto I prefer my experience at Del Posto - but they were a year apart. This is probably not the most 4-stars at one time in NYC. Fat Guy was right, back in the 70's I believe there were more but I can't tell when restaurants closed so I can't confirm the total. On one review Canady gave 5 restaurants 4-stars in 1975.

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Jayvalle 42, I must worn you. I am on record on this site stating that EMP is the most OVERRATED restaurant in New York. I thoroughly enjoyed lincoln and looking forward to returning there this sunday.

Not only that, but it reads like there may be some sort of PERSONAL GRUDGE against EMP. Just sayin...

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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Jayvalle 42, I must worn you. I am on record on this site stating that EMP is the most OVERRATED restaurant in New York. I thoroughly enjoyed lincoln and looking forward to returning there this sunday.

Not only that, but it reads like there may be some sort of PERSONAL GRUDGE against EMP. Just sayin...

my last gourmand dinner at emp was almost divine. only one course out of about 9 failed to wow. dinner there sunday was even better, although with keller, boulud, humm, bocuse (jr) and kent making their own courses, it wasn't about to fail :)

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I'm also interested to know how much influence Sifton's discussions with Ladner (and presumably Batali) had on his decision to award four stars. Was there a lobbying effort and did it matter?

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'm also interested to know how much influence Sifton's discussions with Ladner (and presumably Batali) had on his decision to award four stars. Was there a lobbying effort and did it matter?

steven

that together with the opening of eataly must have a lot of people wondering the same thing

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Weinoo, I hold absolutely no personal grudge towards either Chef Humm or Danny Meyer. As i mentioned, i think that The Modern is a superb restaurant and should be considered the crown jewel of Danny Meyer's Empire. Unfortunately, my two meals at EMP, where i ordered the gourmand menu both times, did not come within a galaxy of approaching what i consider to be a four star dining experience.

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I think that lincoln has the potential of being a four star restaurant, whether that was the intention of the patina group or not.

I will say: A) That's utterly impossible

Because this is the internet, I have to ask:

Had you actually eaten there before saying that? Had you been there?

(I did see from your twitter that you were there tonight for a cocktail)

Edited by sickchangeup (log)
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