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Del Posto Gets 4 Stars


eternal
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What criteria merit the re-review of a restaurant by the new york times restaurant critic. Is it possible that Bruni made a mistake with his review of the Modern or recently sifton's with his review of sho. Isn't it also possible that a restaurant can improve over time and merit a new review. It has happened with both EMP and Del Posto. Why not at THe Modern. Do people who have recently eaten at THE Modern think that is only a 2 star restaurant. I doubt it.

I don't think the there should be a quota on the number of 4 star restaurants in the city. Remember, Paris has 10 michelin 3 star restaurants; they were 8 in 2006.

Edited by sethd (log)
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What criteria merit the re-review of a restaurant by the new york times restaurant critic. Is it possible that Bruni made a mistake with his review of the Modern or recently sifton's with his review of sho.

The paper has never explicitly stated its criteria for a re-review, and I suspect it never will. The vast majority of reviews are of new (or new-ish) restaurants, which leaves only a limited amount of time for taking second looks at places already reviewed.

It is safe to assume that certain high-profile restaurants and I think The Modern is one of these are guaranteed to be re-visited periodically. The critic then has to decide whether: A) The original verdict has changed; and B) The change is substantial enough to be newsworthy.

I certainly think Bruni's review of The Modern was a huge mistake probably the biggest of his tenure.(*) But Sifton's review of SHO demonstrates that he suffers occasionally from similar blind spots. It is entirely possible that he has been to The Modern, and has the same view of it as Bruni did.

Since Sifton reviewed SHO himself, the probability of a re-review anytime soon is extremely low, especially as most of the reasons given for its two-star rating are unlikely to change.

(*) IMO, the only comparable error of Bruni's tenure was the two-star rating given to Gilt when Liebrandt was there. In any case, that error is no longer correctable, since Liebrandt is long gone.

I don't think the there should be a quota on the number of 4 star restaurants in the city. Remember, Paris has 10 michelin 3 star restaurants; they were 8 in 2006.

Oh, I wasn't suggesting there ought to be a quota. I was merely making the empirical observation that I don't remember a time when there were more than six of them.

Edited by oakapple (log)
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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)

In the modern reviewing era (i.e., at least since 1980, and probably earlier than that), the four-star places have all been within a recognizable genre — what Sam Sifton described on the Times blog as "the intersection of luxury and abandon." Sifton and Bruni have been far more willing than past critics to give two and three stars to restaurants that lack the traditional amenities. But at the four-star level, they have followed the path of their predecessors.

You can take one look at Lincoln, and tell that, even if the food is perfect, it is simply not a four-star restaurant, and cannot be. Obviously, it's always at least theoretically possible that this will be the place where Sifton throws out all the old rules, the way Bruni did when he awarded three stars to Momofuku Ssäm Bar. Given that it took the Times 36 years to award four stars to another Italian restaurant, you can gauge for yourself the probability of there being a second one within a matter of months.

Edited by oakapple (log)
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I can't help but notice that you didn't answer my question.

I think it impossible that Lincoln doesn't receive at very least 3 stars. Impossible. (queue the review of The Modern, I know...)

The room is gorgeous, blows away every 3 star joint, and at least one 4 star (I'm looking your way LeB....). The service top notch. The food, and I'm anxiously awaiting the tasting menu, is better than what I've eaten at Del Posto for example.

This does not make for an impossible 4 star review.

All of this I only found out after visiting and eating there.

So again, I ask... (no need to answer)

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I can't help but notice that you didn't answer my question.

I thought I'd made myself clear. I am saying it's impossible, based on attributes that can be seen at sight, and that have nothing whatsoever to do with the quality of the food, which I have not yet tried. (Lest anyone doubt that I'm a fan: I both want and expect the place to succeed.)

I think it impossible that Lincoln doesn't receive at very least 3 stars. Impossible. (queue the review of The Modern, I know...)

And Gilt, Café Gray, Alto (originally), Gordon Ramsay that's just within the past five years. Mind you, I think this place is the surest 3-star to have opened since Marea, but it's never a lock.

I will add this. If I had to stake my life on it, after 4 days of service and a limited opening menu, I'd go with 3 NYT stars. I just take issue with someone saying "impossible" when they haven't even been there, let alone eaten there. Seems silly.

I am only writing from the perspective of what the NYT critics have done for the last 30+ years. One of these days, the rules could change. But they haven't yet. Momofuku Ssäm Bar was an impossible 3-star until it happened.

Edited by oakapple (log)
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I find it difficult to imagine that the Patina Group hires the chef at argubly the best restaurant not only in New York but in the entire country to head a restaurant in an extremely visable location, spend millions on design, have the chef and general manager travel the length of Italy looking for the best Italian produce, and not have the aspirations of receiving a 4 star review. I ate at Lincoln and thought the the experience was worthy of Four Stars. L'astrance does not look like a 3 star michelin restaurant from pictures either

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I can't help but notice that you didn't answer my question.

I thought I'd made myself clear. I am saying it's impossible, based on attributes that can be seen at sight, and that have nothing whatsoever to do with the quality of the food, which I have not yet tried. (Lest anyone doubt that I'm a fan: I both want and expect the place to succeed.)

It seemed to me that you said those things sight unseen. I was far more impressed with the space in person than in photos. I had not seen servingware etc.. anywhere in photos before going there.

So perhaps more importantly - what attributes are those exactly? Food? Service? Decor? You admitted it can't be the first two, so it must be the last. And on that point, this places destroys Le Bernardin. I find it a lot nicer than Daniel too. Is it the lack of white tablecloths?

(It's a legitimate question, I consider you far more knowledgable about reviews/stars/requirements than me or most people for that matter).

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I find it difficult to imagine that the Patina Group hires the chef at argubly the best restaurant not only in New York but in the entire country to head a restaurant in an extremely visable location, spend millions on design, have the chef and general manager travel the length of Italy looking for the best Italian produce, and not have the aspirations of receiving a 4 star review.

I can give you many indications this is not so. The most obvious is the cost of dining there. No one would call Lincoln a cheap date, but it is quite a bit less expensive than every other four-star restaurant except Del Posto, whose fourth star they couldn't have anticipated when they designed the place.

It doesn't have a four-star wine list either. It's not a bad list at all, but it isn't as broad or as deep as the other four-stars have.

Another is the open kitchen. As I sat there sipping my cocktail last night, the sound track was punctuated every few minutes with the sound of Chef Benno barking out orders to the line cooks.

Finally: no tablecloths. Now, I'm not one of those snobs for whom the lack of tablecloths spoils the experience. But if you wanted four stars from the get-go, you would surely notice that every non-Japanese four-star restaurant in NYT history has had tablecloths.

I'll add that the menu, even if prepared perfectly, has an "introductory" quality to it (e.g., no tasting menu, and fewer dishes overall than most four-star restaurants have). That, of course, could change over time, but remember that the critics these days start visiting almost immediately.

If it gets four stars, I'll buy dinner for both you and sickchangeup.

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The wine list is actually an excellent point. It is quite reasonably marked up from the very little that I paid attention to, but certainly falls well short of the four star group, no doubt.

FWIW, the tasting menu will likely land somewhere in the price range of Del Posto's, if not exactly on it (until DP increases it's prices post-4 stars). It's also worth remembering that prices go up over time, sometimes quickly. So I don't consider the initial price to be of any consequence to the discussion of stars personally.

And although I've heard Benno's voice many many times at per se, he certainly adds to the theater of the meal at Lincoln, no doubt about it.

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Jean Georges has an open kitchen as well, though not seen from the main dining room. The a la carte pricing at Lincoln is very close to the prix-fix menus at Jean Georges, Daniel, and Le-Bernardin. We can debate this point ad infinitum. Even the Michelin Guide which used to be extremely rigid in its expectations of what differentiated a 3 star from a 2 star restaurant, has over the years, lessened those criteria. Noma, the newly crowned best in the world, to my recollection has no white linens.

As for the menu, ADNY had even fewer menu selections, but achieved a 4 star review. I remember that when L'ambrosie was on the left bank the menu consisted of 3 starters, 3 mains, and 3 deserts. At that time, it held 2 michelin stars.

Edited by sethd (log)
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FWIW, the tasting menu will likely land somewhere in the price range of Del Posto's, if not exactly on it (until DP increases it's prices post-4 stars). It's also worth remembering that prices go up over time, sometimes quickly. So I don't consider the initial price to be of any consequence to the discussion of stars personally.

Oh, I certainly expect prices to go up if it's successful; that's practically always done. But at Per Se, the last non-Japanese restaurant to open at four stars, the lowest introductory price was $125 P.F., and that was six or seven years ago.

Jean Georges has an open kitchen as well, though not seen from the main dining room. The a la carte pricing at Lincoln is very close to the prix-fix menus at Jean Georges, Daniel, and Le-Bernardin.

The open kitchen at JG is both unseen and unheard from within the main dining room. As for prices, to give but one example, Daniel is $105 prix fixe for three courses. At Lincoln, if you order two savories and a dessert as expensively as you can, other than the anomolous $120 steak for two, you land at $80, a pretty substantial difference. Obviously, the average will be lower.

Even the Michelin Guide which used to be extremely rigid in its expectations of what differentiated a 3 star from a 2 star restaurant, has over the years, lessened those criteria. Noma, the newly crowned best in the world, to my recollection has no white linens.

That is true, but if you were designing the place for four stars, and had even the barest notion of what it has historicaly taken to get four stars, you would probably not make that choice. Momofuku Ssäm Bar got three NYT stars, but David Chang has admitted that he never intended to do so.

As I said: dinner is on me if it gets four stars.

Edited by oakapple (log)
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i am the last person on this board to defend the decreasing level of formality that exists in fine dining restaurants in this city. However, if any restaurant has a chance of four stars, either in the initial review or subsequent reviews, it is Lincoln.

At my meal at Lincoln, it appeared that most of the patrons were ordering 3 savory courses plus desert: thus the prices are more in line with jean georges, et al.

I have eaten at all the four stars in the city (including one whose rating i still question),and am aware of what makes those restaurants stand out against their peers. In terms of food, service, and ambience, I think Lincoln compares favorably to all of them (perhaps not Per Se).

Edited by sethd (log)
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i am the last person on this board to defend the decreasing level of formality that exists in fine dining restaurants in this city. However, if any restaurant has a chance of four stars, either in the initial review or subsequent reviews, it is Lincoln.

At my meal at Lincoln, it appeared that most of the patrons were ordering 3 savory courses plus desert: thus the prices are more in line with jean georges, et al.

I have eaten at all the four stars in the city (including one whose rating i still question),and am aware of what makes those restaurants stand out against their peers. In terms of food, service, and ambience, I think Lincoln compares favorably to all of them (perhaps not Per Se).

I agree with its four star chance. But what about it doesn't compare as favorably to PerSe? (Curious, not disputing)

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I believe that Per Se does what it does better than any other restaurant in the city. The level of precision and innovation of the kitchen is brilliant, the service at all levels faultless, and the restaurant is blessed with wonderful dining spaces. Recently, I had the opportunity to eat at Per Se four times in 3 weeks ( i am a regular at the restaurant). I was served over 60 dishes over the course of those four meals, only one of them was repeated. All were delicious. I don't believe that those meals could be replicated at any other 4 star restaurant in the city or elsewhere.

I am very interested to see how Lincoln evolves over the next few months. The restaurant has started at a very high level. I expect it to get even better.

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i am the last person on this board to defend the decreasing level of formality that exists in fine dining restaurants in this city. However, if any restaurant has a chance of four stars, either in the initial review or subsequent reviews, it is Lincoln.

At my meal at Lincoln, it appeared that most of the patrons were ordering 3 savory courses plus desert: thus the prices are more in line with jean georges, et al.

I have eaten at all the four stars in the city (including one whose rating i still question),and am aware of what makes those restaurants stand out against their peers. In terms of food, service, and ambience, I think Lincoln compares favorably to all of them (perhaps not Per Se).

Sorry to be the voice of dissent, but based on my meal there last night, I have to disagree 100%. As I see it, there is absolutely no chance that Lincoln will get four stars from the Times. It's more likely to be a matter of two versus three, and if the meals they have are like mine last night, they'd be lucky indeed to get the three. Not only is it not designed to be a four star in terms of ambition, it's simply not good enough, both in terms of food and service. The only thing four star about the place is the price level.

I'd even venture to say that the meal I had might not put it in the top seven Italian restaurants in the city, let alone the top seven of any kind. (I believe the number of four star restaurants is currently seven.) We all have various places we like a lot and those we "dont' get", but observed objectively, there's nothing about Lincoln that makes it comparable to those in the four star category. It may be possible to have a great meal there (though I certainly didn't have one that was anything better than very good), but that isn't what the criterion is for determining the four star recipients. I didn't find it to compare at all (let alone favorably) to the seven four-star owners. In Del Posto's case, food aside, they're at least trying to deliver a level of service comparable to the other four star operations. Meanwhile, Lincoln is much more of an upscale bistro environment, in terms of service structure and ambition, similar to A Voce and the like. No tablecloths, no sommelier in evidence, one waiter per table and amuses that are more bar snack than inventions of creative genius. It's just not the formula you use if you want the quad.

Edited by LPShanet (log)
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The only thing four star about the place is the price level.

Ironically too low a price was one of several quoted reasons that Lincoln wasn't to be a 4 star place. Now it's the only criteria that meets a 4 star rating. Quite the price point they set! :-)

I wasn't one of those that cited its price point being too low for four stars, since I don't agree. The price is very comparable to Del Posto, only with less value delivered, and is pretty close to Jean Georges's entry level prix fixe if you compare apples to apples (meaning doing a four course option including a pasta at Lincoln). It's also within a few percentage points of the costs involved with Le Bernardin's entry level menu and with EMP's lowest cost option. If you take the typical cost for each of the four courses at Lincoln and add it up, it comes to $100 even. That's higher than Del Posto and Jean Georges, and pretty close to the other two I mentioned. And keep in mind that they don't provide the level or number of amuses or mignardises that any of the four stars do. What I do agree with is that the FORMAT of the menu isn't typical of what most of the four star places do. From a purely financial standpoint, it makes Del Posto seem like the real bargain of the bunch, at least for now. Which is appropriate, as this is a Del Posto thread after all...

Edited by LPShanet (log)
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The only thing four star about the place is the price level.

Ironically too low a price was one of several quoted reasons that Lincoln wasn't to be a 4 star place. Now it's the only criteria that meets a 4 star rating. Quite the price point they set! :-)

I wasn't one of those that cited its price point being too low for four stars, since I don't agree. The price is very comparable to Del Posto, only with less value delivered, and is pretty close to Jean Georges's entry level prix fixe if you compare apples to apples (meaning doing a four course option including a pasta at Lincoln). It's also within a few percentage points of the costs involved with Le Bernardin's entry level menu and with EMP's lowest cost option. If you take the typical cost for each of the four courses at Lincoln and add it up, it comes to $100 even.

As I was the one who said Lincoln does not charge four-star prices, I probably ought to elaborate on what I meant.

It is true that if you order four courses at Lincoln, the price is pretty close to what you would pay at all of the current four-stars except Per Se and Masa. But because Lincoln allows the option of ordering à la carte (indeed, that is its only option, at present), its revenue per check will be quite a bit lower. This has significant impact for the restaurant, because customer revenues must (naturally) cover many other costs besides just the food.

Remember, Benno told the Times that the cost per person would be around $110 including beverage. That is clearly not the case at any other four-star place. They might not even hit $110 as an average, because a lot of people go into a place like that and don't order four courses. Lincoln also lacks the upper end of the wine list, which many of these restaurants depend on for a big chunk of their revenue.

This lower check size at Lincoln has a direct impact on the restaurant's ability to offer the luxuries that the other four-star places have.

Del Posto's $95 menu certainly does look good, though I suspect it won't last, and the price of the wine list (which is not available online) may very well bump up the average check size considerably beyond what appears, at first glance, to be a very good bargain.

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Just to amplify, food snobs -- oops, I meant educated diners -- like us would never dream of going to an Italian restaurant and ordering less than a standard Italian four-course meal. But how many "normal" people do you know who voluntarily order a pasta in addition to a main course after an antipasto?

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
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That makes sense, LPS. I'm still hoping for three stars for them.

I hope it DESERVES three stars.

Sifton is so erratic that I don't particularly care what they GET.

My thoughts exactly!

I also concur on the comments you made about the menu pricing and structure, and the fact that most people don't order the way we folk do.

To that extent, Marc is dead right about the pricing. When viewed from the restaurant's viewpoint (i.e. a per-check total), they are definitely going to make less than the current 4-stars. But from a cost to the buyer viewpoint, it's right up there...

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Del Posto's $95 menu certainly does look good, though I suspect it won't last, and the price of the wine list (which is not available online) may very well bump up the average check size considerably beyond what appears, at first glance, to be a very good bargain.

Link to Del Posto's wine list.

I've always enjoyed the fact that one of the VERY few French wines on the menu is Chateaux Le Gay. Gotta love that sense of humor.

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