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Last Friday night, I dined at Atelier. I am not quite sure what to make of this meal. On the one hand the food was good, the wine pairings were suitable, the service was hospitable, the room was handsome, on the other hand for some reason I do not think that I would return for dinner again. Perhaps this is because I do not live in NYC and have to limit my choices during my brief weekend trips. Perhaps it was my hindsight comparison to the meal that I had at March the following night? Sadly, I left my notes from this meal in my hotel during my hasty exodus to escape the winter storm at LaGuardia so I am unable to recall the wines that were paired with each course. Wilfrid has already posted what each course was, so I will limit my comments. By far the best course was a small crock of morels, porcini, and crawfish tails baked en croute and served with a velvety butter enriched reduction that was reminiscent of the classic lobster thermidor preparation. Rarely have I encountered such a perfect harmony of flavors as one finds with morels, porcini, and crawfish. The least successful dish was a small John Dory fillet placed atop braised baby leeks and encircled with a blood orange reduction. This dish was spa food at its worst. The blood orange sauce was crying out to have been mounted with butter. Instead it was thin and bracingly acidic, which would have been fine if the dish contained any counterpoint of richness or fat to offset this flavor. Other successful dishes included a croustillant of squab and foie gras forming a sort of haute sandwich of love. Sadly I was quite full by the time this little gem arrived on the scene and could not devote to it the attention that it deserved. Also well received was a piece of Chatham cod draped with slices of sharp Portuguese sausage and cradled in a mixture of whole and pureed white beans napped with beautiful green extra virgin olive oil. The success of this dish stood in stark relief to the failings of the spa dish. Desserts were geared primarily for infants and those with poor dental hygiene, forgettable.

I had dinner at March last Saturday night. It was the best meal of the weekend.

We never looked at menus, just told the captain to have the chef make whatever and for him to pair wines with each course. We got six courses plus amuse and pre-dessert treats. At each course we each received a different dish so we ended up being served twelve dishes total and had excellent and sometimes rather esoteric wines paired with each one. Notable dishes included sashimi of hamachi with white soy, olive oil, sesame seeds and chives. Equally well-received was a scallop sliced in such a manner that it unfolded into a large thin oval served with a single raw oyster in a miso mignonette. Wayne Nish knows his raw food. Rack of lamb with broccoli risotto and lamb jus was perfect, as was saddle of venison with paper thin slices of ruby crescent fingerling potatoes and an intense parsley puree. Atelier could take a lesson from the lobster served at March, simply poached and served with a thick glistening butter reduction of its own stock. Scallops re-appeared in the form of tiny ravioli more reminiscent of perfect asian dumplings. Foie Gras benefitted from a preparation that included the faintest whisper of Indian spices lingering in the background and a piquant kubocha chutney. Brilliantly, the dynamic duo of captains Bob and Harry served an Oloroso sherry with this course. Squab was "braised and roasted" a preparation that showcased the crisp sking while maintaining the intense mineral depth of flavor.

With coffee and after-dinner drinks my bill was less than $400.00. I am not sure what was comped other than the Mumm Cordon Rouge Champagne.

The service was impeccable, the food was perfect, and the wines were interesting. I can't ask for much more than that in a meal.

Over the weekend when I have more time, I will post more in depth on each dish and the wine that was paired with it.

A fantastic lunch at DiFaras with two lovely New Yorkers. The place is tiny, crowded, marginally clean, and I loved it. This place is about pizza and thats what we ate. Square slices of sicilian, a twice baked treasure of luscious cooked tomato sauce with olive oil and chees. Simple and satisfying. To hold us over until we received our whole pie, we noshed on a slice of the plain cheese. This is pizza. Nothing else will ever compare. Finally, as if we needed more food, a whole pie came steaming to the table topped in thirds with mushroom/garlic, fennel sausage slices, and delicious fresh sauteed artichoke slivers. It was quite simply the best pizza I have ever tasted. Armed with a few bottles of wine, I could easily make an entire afternoon out of eating at DiFara's. Hell, we practically did, and we only drank root beer and Pelligrino.

My other notable lunch was at Grand Sichuan International Midtown at 9th and 50th. I had the much lauded Kung Bao chicken from the freshly killed chicken section of the menu. It was very good. Two things came to mind when sampling the freshly killed chicken. First, it had more flavor, but second, and more notably, it was soft. The texture was totally different from what one usually expects from supermarket chicken.

I also had Dim Sum at Pings on Sunday, but I was seriously underwhelmed.

Edited by Ron Johnson (log)
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Great report. I haven't eaten at any of the places you mentioned other than Ping's. I find the dim sum there to be very inconsistent. I've been there when it has been wonderful and other times when it has been merely ok. The dinner at March sounds absolutely fabulous. I have to put that high on my list for my next visit to NYC.

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

Twitter - @docsconz

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Lucky you. We arrived what must have been the evening after the storm. Imagine leaving New York on the cusp of Spring and, two weeks later, hearing the pilot announce our flight might be delayed because of a snowstorm in New York.

Ping himself is evidently a great chef, but my the down slide of my bad luck at his restaurant was ended after a third visit. I've heard the dim sum was better than the rest, but thanks for taking the hit for me. I'll stick to Sweet 'n' Tart and Dim Sum GoGo.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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A clarification and a question: the "praline" at Atelier was the quail which showed up as the first course; the squad and foie-gras dish is the "croustillant" - I'm not suggesting Ron doesn't know which is which, but just in case someone goes there and wants to order one of them. A pity the details of the wine pairing has been pissed away in the dark alley of our memories. :shock:

And March. I really must go back. But I am assuming the check wasn't $400 a head, which would make it more expensive than ADNY. For two?

Edited by Wilfrid (log)
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Ron oh Ron how could you waste a precious meal?

Sorry I missed the whole pie. Did you have a favorite part of it?

Joy,

I was cold, tired, hungry and hungover in Chinatown without access to eGullet or your guidance. I recalled Pings from previous conversations. Alas, it was a waste of a precious meal. :sad:

My favorite part of the whole pie was easily the artichoke.

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A clarification and a question: the "praline" at Atelier was the quail which showed up as the first course; the squad and foie-gras dish is the "croustillant"

Correct, and corrected.

March was $400 for two.

I am still holding out hope that I will find the wine notes in a pocket of my jacket when I retrieve my dry cleaning this afternoon.

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I had the great privalege of dining with Ron at March last Saturday and can agree that it was one of the finest meals I have had in NY.

As Ron mentioned has the menu and the wine pairings,which he will post later. We met at the St Regis and I felt as though I was in some old 30's movie. Ron and I were clearly the youngest there which was rather amusing. I loved the dark ?walnut walls and dim lighting it was all very glamorous.

March was incredible. From the moment we announced our desire to have the chef cook for us we were treated with service that was beyond my belief. The Captains, we had two assiting us could not have been nicer. They carefully explained each wine they brought with our courses and were so attentive to every little detail. My favorite part, since I have a sweet tooth, Ron let me choose our 3 desserts for the sampler. What arrived was every single one of the desserts, they said they didnt want us to miss any of them. THe best was the walnut tart, that had the perfect hint of honey in it. When I told them how much I loved it, I m sure I was slurring words at this point thanks to the 7 glasses of wine, they brought me out a second piece.

On the way out, as we chattted w. our captains and thanked them profusely, one of them handed me a long stem red rose, ahhh:)

It truly was an unforgetttable meal.

thank you Ron for the lovely company and Lousiville GOSSIP!!!

Lauren

"Is there anything here that wasn't brutally slaughtered" Lisa Simpson at a BBQ

"I think that the veal might have died from lonliness"

Homer

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Ron, Lauren -- I'm pleased (and relieved) that you enjoyed March so much (as I think it was my suggestion to your earlier post). When March clicks perfectly, it is about the most exciting restaurant in NYC for wine people. I agree entirely with your take on Chef Nish's lobster preparations -- simply perfect, no matter how different it is (although the lobster in the Muscat reduction is by far my fave!). I will agree that you definately got a bargain there, as I recall spending about $300 per head on a similar meal -- did you factor in tax/tip into your calculations?

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ron, i think i recall two "levels" of wine pairings at March. one, obviously, is more expensive. do you know if the selections that you had were exclusively from one, or the other? or perhaps from neither? i've never considered requesting selections from both, but think that it would be nice to not have to work within the parameters of the one list or the other.

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Tommy, I wondered about this also. I am not sure which we received. I simply told the captain that I wanted the best tasting menu the chef could put together for us paired with wines and I was not concerned about cost :blink: .

Given that it was my first time there, I have nothing to compare the price of the meal to in order to discern which level of wines we were offered.

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Given that it was my first time there, I have nothing to compare the price of the meal to in order to discern which level of wines we were offered.

sounds like it wasn't from the "cheap" list. my recent trip there came in at about 380 before tip (cheap list, 6 courses i think). and that included 2 $25 beggars purses.

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