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Spice Market


grillboy
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Restaurant Magazine publishes its list of the top 50 restaurants worldwide. For 2005, The Fat Duck in Bray, Berks, England took top honors. The magazine chose The French Laundry in Yountville, Calif. as the best in the Americas. The magazine surveyed a panel of more than 600 international chefs, critics and restaurateurs.

Read the Full List

1. The Fat Duck -- Best in Europe

Bray, Berks, England

2. El Bulli -- Chef's Choice

Montjoi, Spain

3. The French Laundry -- Best in Americas

Yountville, Calif.

4. Tetsuya's -- Best in Australasia

Sydney, Australia

5. Gordon Ramsay

London

6. Pierre Gagnaire

Paris

7. Per Se -- Highest New Entry

New York

8. Tom Aikens

London

9. Jean Georges

New York

10. St John

London

11. Michel Bras

Laguiole, France

12. Le Louis XV

Monte Carlo, Monaco

13. Chez Panisse -- Highest Climber

Berkeley, Calif.

14. Charlie Trotter

Chicago

15. Gramercy Tavern

New York

16. Guy Savoy

Paris, France

17. Restaurant Alain Ducasse

Paris

18. The Gallery at Sketch

London

19. The Waterside Inn

Bray, Berks, England

20. Nobu

London

21. Restaurante Arzak

San Sebastian, Spain

22. El Raco de Can Fabes

San Celoni, Spain

23. Checcino dal 1887

Rome

24. Le Meurice

Paris

25. L'Hotel de Ville

Crissier, Switzerland

26. L’Arpege

Paris

27. Angela Hartnett at The Connaught

London

28. Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons

Oxon, England

29. Le Cinq

Paris, France

30. Hakkasan

London

31. Cal Pep -- Outstanding Value

Barcelona

32. Masa

New York

33. Flower Drum

Melbourne, Australia

34. WD50

New York

35. Le Quartier Francais – Best in Middle East & Africa

Franschhoek, South Africa

36. Spice Market

New York

37. Auberge de Auberge de l'Ill

Illhaeusern-Alsace, France

38. Manresa

California

39. Restaurant Dieter Muller

Bergisch Gladbach, Germany

40. La Maison Troisgros

Roanne, France

41. The Wolseley

London

42. Rockpool

Sydney, Australia

43. Yauatcha

London

44. The Ivy

London

45. Gambero Rosso

San Vincenzo, Italy

46. The Cliff

St James, Barbados

47. Le Gavroche

London

48. Enoteca Pinchiorri -- Editor's Choice

Florence, Italy

49. Felix -- Best in Asia

The Peninsula, Hong Kong

50. La Tupina

Bordeaux, France

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Surprising to see there are no restaurants in India mentioned on this list.. I guess the chefs need to come all the way from India to learn from Jean Georges how to make Samosas... Haha.. What a joke.. And all this time I bet people in India thought they were eating authentic food.. Also surprised to see that Nobu beats out any restaurant in Japan too... The Japanese sure dont know what they are missing.. They should get thereselves to London to try authentic sushi..

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Surprising to see there are  no restaurants in India mentioned on this list.. I guess the chefs need to come all the way from India to learn from Jean Georges how to make Samosas... Haha.. What a joke.. And all this time I bet people in India thought they were eating authentic food..  Also surprised to see that Nobu beats out any restaurant in Japan too... The Japanese sure dont know what they are missing.. They should get thereselves to London to try authentic sushi..

Nice.

Nothing to see here.

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Restaurant Magazine publishes its list of the top 50 restaurants worldwide. For 2005, The Fat Duck in Bray, Berks, England took top honors. The magazine chose The French Laundry in Yountville, Calif. as the best in the Americas. The magazine surveyed a panel of more than 600 international chefs, critics and restaurateurs.

[rather subjective list of somebodies' favorities restaurants (food not necessarily a main criterium) snipped]

"Top" is a questionable term to apply to the winner of a popularity poll conducted among a rather limited and subjective choice of voters, not to mention that the magazine didn't choose the winners although they did choose the panelists. In addition to chefs, critics and restaurateurs, there were a share of just plain celebrities. If I recall correctly they were asked to name their favorite restaurants and not necessarily those they thought deserved critical acclaim for the food served. An international panel to be sure, but one heavily stacked with representatives of the publishers homeland -- the UK. Guess what, I'm more familiar with restaurants in NY than in Seoul or Sidney. Duh.

The purpose of publishing the list is to create the kind of controversy that brings attention to the publisher. Lists such as these tend to be self perpetuating amongst the less than culinarily critical segment of the panel. It would be wiser and as well as more discriminating to judge the llist by the restaurants on it than the restaurants on the basis of having made the list. Anyway, I believe the list was pretty well trashed on the site when it was first published, but it comes up from time to time as if it were news or meaningful.

I've heard both good and bad about the restaurant. It may be that taste is subjective or that the restaurant is inconsistent.

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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  • 2 months later...

When It Rains . . . New York City Entry #15

I used to be a habitué of Manhattan's Meatpacking District. In fifth grade, forty-five years ago, we were bundled off to see butchers at work. In time, meatpackers became meat markets, as our economy has sunk from production to consumption, beef to beefcake. Today those fragrant warehouses are haunts with handsome filles, not filled with handsome haunches. (Shoot me now.)

A friend and I reserved a table at Spice Market, Jean-George Vongerichten and Gray Kunz's take on Thai-Malay street food, an establishment where authenticity is a dirty word. Neither of these notables oversees the kitchen, that is the responsibility of Stanley Wong. The space dazzles, a fantastic concoction of a Malay street as wed to a Delhi seraglio. So beautiful was it that by the end of the evening, I was tempted to nibble my chair, finding pleasure where I could. Given some fond notices for Spice Market, I wonder what radical changes might have transpired over the past few years.

We set 6:30 for our dinner, and as a second friend had just arrived from out of town, I decided to meet her at 5:00 for drinks, having been assured that Spice Market would be serving. Technically the reservationist spoke true. If one didn't mind sitting at the bar or at some wobbly tables in the foyer, one could order a drink, just so long as one hied oneself to the bar to order and to pick it up (and for all I know to mix it - and tip oneself). No food was available.

Trudging through the rain, we landed at Pastis, where I had a most satisfying - what else? - pastis and my partner a chicken Caesar salad. For a restaurant to force their customers to their competitors seemed an act of perverse generosity. But to Pastis I shall return.

I arrived in time for our reservation at SM. As we were questioning the menu our waitress emphasized those wines and plates that we should avoid. Both the Thai and Indian wines were not to her - and perhaps to anyone's - liking. We were warned off the Striped Bass with Wok Fried Napa Cabbage, Water Chestnut, and Cucumber. Too fiery, we were told. When we selected it, the order was forgotten, and we were brought a single entree to share. I realize that servers try to befriend customers, but starvation might just go too far.

When I requested a copy of the menu, I was told that this was not permitted; I was allowed to copy the dishes we ordered. Whether our server violated a rule, I don't know, but the menu for Spice Market does not appear on Jean-George website, a decision for which I now share some sympathy.

We were informed that the dishes were intended for sharing, a nice concept, but with overly large plates on overly small tables, this plan seemed as fantastic as the setting.

With a single exception, the dishes ranged from the unimpressive to the unpleasant; the preparations from ineffective to incompetent.

But as I am sweetheart - everyone tells me - let me start with the dish. I enjoyed the Cod with Malaysian Chili Sauce with Thai Basil. The cod was mild and tender without being mushy. The Chili Sauce was more fruity than flaming, and the Thai Basil added a little complexity. It was a satisfying and pretty dish, with the bonewhite cod set off by the maroon sauce.

As it was emphasized that the dishes were meant to share, we were surprised when the two of us were served three Spiced Chicken Samosas with Cilantro Yogurt. Could they not realize that if dishes are to be split for a table of two, an odd number was, well, odd. Fortunately the samosa was not of such a quality that we were motivated to fight. The batter was not as crispy as needed and the meat was reminiscent of Taco Bell. The cilantro yogurt was, in contrast, refreshing.

Our Lime Noodles with Vegetables, Basil and Sesame raised a question: why did we order this mess. Yes, it was recommended, but as I read this I feel queasy again. Aside from the strange combination of tastes, the noodles sat patiently in a pool of sauce, a sauce for which our sporkish utensil was not well-suited, and so the poor pasta became soggier as time ticked on.

Given that our bass never appear, we were persuaded that this was a grave warning, and so we choose Onion and Chili Crusted Short Ribs, Egg Noodles and Pea Shoots. After about twenty minutes, they made their entrance. Lime Noodles redux! The noodles sat in a bowl of sad sauce. If there was crust on the soft ribs, I missed it. The flavors were just right, but the textures were a sodden muddle.

One can often count on dessert to save an otherwise unfortunate evening. Not so "Thai Jewels and Fruits with Crushed Coconut Ice." Although we were clearly sharing the dessert, the server brought a single big bowl (this dessert is enough for four), and when we requested separate bowls (scoops were provided to ladle the fruit and other spoons to eat with), we were asked "Do you want them?" Uhhhh. Note to kitchen: crushed ice does not mean marble-sized hunks. Yes, the dish was pretty, and as the coconut ice melted, it was cool and sweet. The sweet water chestnuts, lychee, and papaya were a chewy counterpoint, but not one that I shall repeat.

Something is wrong at Spice Market. The errors on the floor and in the back were so frequent that this can hardly be a bad night. The idea, a loving paean to Asian streetfood, is to be praised. If only we could dine on ideas alone.

Upon exiting, rain was pouring. A perfect end to a perfect evening.

Spice Market

403 West 13th Street

Manhattan (Meatpacking District)

212-675-2322

My Webpage: Vealcheeks

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/\ They just lost all their sous chefs and their pastry chef. Give them a minute and they will hopefully get back on track. Not that the three star review was ever warranted (or even wanted, in my estimation), but at opening when everything was running right, it was very good. Especially the hot apps and the desserts.

The lime noodles and the ribs were favorites of mine, and it sucks to hear they have fallen off. Its a DAMN shame about the Thai Jewels, too. In its intended form it is one of the best desserts I've ever had. I can't believe the coconut ice was chunky--they have a robocoup powerful enough to puree your front bumper!

Edited by Sethro (log)
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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 2 months later...

The New York Post doesn't do reviews anymore, but in today's issue, Steve Cuozzo writes about two new big-box Asian restaurants opening in Chelsea Market. For comparative purposes, he takes a second look at nearby Spice Market, to which he previously (when the paper was still publishing reviews) awarded 2½ stars:

Back in 2004, Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Southeast Asian fantasy waltzed off with 2 1/2 stars in these pages and an even more far-fetched three stars in the Times.

But at lunch last week, dry grilled chicken skewers were inferior to cheap Thai takeout. Steamed mussels were so tough, I was unable to finish even one.

Worse, when I paid the $29.80 check with two $20 bills, I got back not $10.20, but $10. Asked where my 20 cents had gone, the waitress replied, "We round all the bills off. Most restaurants don't do change anymore."

Edited by oakapple (log)
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I went to Spice Market a few times when it first opened, and I found the food tasty if inconsequential.

I went back last summer, and the food had gotten terrible. The preparation really was at the level of bad take-out. I wasn't surprised, really -- but I was disappointed.

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I have a reservation on the 28th and am, to say the least, dismayed at the responses (which seem fairly consistent).

Out of curiousity, if I were to decide to change to somewhere else, what would people recommend? I would like a good Southeast-Asian choice, but a little more upscale (I love places like Nha Trang in Chinatown, but that's not quite the thing I am looking for).

What are some viable alternatives? I am less concerned with a scene than having great Southeast-Asian food in a good setting. How about any of these?

Kittichai?

Cendrillon?

Biltmore Room?

Edited by mikeycook (log)

"If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony."

~ Fernand Point

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I like the Biltmore Room, but I'm not sure it's what you want. It's more fusion than Southeast Asian. By which I mean, it's more like American-European food with Asian accents than like Asian food itself.

Kittichai, a restaurant I thoroughly enjoy but wouldn't rate as highly as the Biltmore Room, may be closer to what you want: it's more Thai food with European accents than American-European food with Thai accents.

Haven't been to Cendrillon.

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
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  • 7 months later...

Went to SM after work today, to try my boy Derricks summer dessert menu.

Had an awesome thai basil panna cotta with market strawberries and gingersnap soil.

Also, some really fun chocolate covered watermelon on a stick!

His stuff is really cool, anyone into funky desserts should give it a check.

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  • 9 months later...

We are having a small 60th birthday party for my sister at Spice Market. We will be picking out the menu for everyone. Would you share your favorites with me as well anything you would avoid? Thanks so much!

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Spice Market isn't really a place that locals eat much at anymore.

from what I recall (I haven't been in a couple years)...its very inconsistent. the food could actually be pretty good and it could be pretty bad. considering it's now a tourist trap, it's hard to believe that it would have gotten better. the thing is, the same dish would vary significantly in quality from visit to visit....so I'm loath to recommend anything. I'm not a dessert person so I can't speak to that component of the menu.

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Spice Market isn't really a place that locals eat much at anymore.

A better way of putting it is that SM has lost its foodie street cred. I'm sure most of the diners there are local...just not "foodie" local.

A recent visit found the rice and seafood dishes better than the meat and poultry. The Thai Jewels were the single most memorable item we had. I've no idea how well the quality holds up from visit to visit. But my sense is that this is a restaurant that runs on cruise control, with no more than the occasional glance at the steering wheel by the man purportedly in charge.

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Spice Market isn't really a place that locals eat much at anymore.

A better way of putting it is that SM has lost its foodie street cred. I'm sure most of the diners there are local...just not "foodie" local.

A recent visit found the rice and seafood dishes better than the meat and poultry. The Thai Jewels were the single most memorable item we had. I've no idea how well the quality holds up from visit to visit. But my sense is that this is a restaurant that runs on cruise control, with no more than the occasional glance at the steering wheel by the man purportedly in charge.

I don't want this topic to take up a life of its own...but I do live exactly two and a half blocks from Spice Market and walk past it daily.

except for lunch, "locals" (as in Manhattan, not just the WV) aren't eating there. its street cred with non-foodie Manhattanites in its demographic is nil. there's a lot of big poorly-bleached blonde hair hanging out there though. its too bad, the space is beautiful.

Edited by Nathan (log)
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I don't want this topic to take up a life of its own...but I do live exactly two and a half blocks from Spice Market and walk past it daily.

except for lunch, "locals" (as in Manhattan, not just the WV) aren't eating there.  its street cred with non-foodie Manhattanites in its demographic is nil.  there's a lot of big bleached blonde hair hanging out there though.

As far as I know, patrons of Spice Market aren't required to wear name tags that announce where they came from, and blonde hair doesn't correlate well with residency status.
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We are having a small 60th birthday party for my sister at Spice Market.  We will be picking out the menu for everyone.  Would you share your favorites with me as well anything you would avoid?  Thanks so much!

Any updates on what you've chosen? :smile:

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

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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my final word on the subject is:

hair and attire have always been identifying emblems for self-selected social and geographical groupings....especially 20 and 30 somethings.

more to the point: frankly, Spice Market is about the last place that I would suggest for a sixtieth birthday party. is Asian fusion specifically desired for this birthday?

Edited by Nathan (log)
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more to the point: frankly, Spice Market is about the last place that I would suggest for a sixtieth birthday party.  is Asian fusion specifically desired for this birthday?

Yikes. I hadn't caught the 60th birthday part. Given that info, I agree with you 100%.

FWIW, I've only had the thai jewels, which I quite enjoyed. Never had a proper meal there.

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