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Spice Market


grillboy
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I have eaten at Spice Market on 3 occasions and although it is a great place to meet people (business for me) and a great place to see and be seen (if that's your thing) it is far from 3 star dining. The food, which by the way, has not gotten raves from any of the people I went with, is good but not outstanding nor particularly inventive nor executed on a level so much higher than other, far less expensive ethnic places. Spice Market will thrive, and should, but should not be touted as one of the top dining destination in the city. Come on, how can you compare Spice market to our other 3 stars?

Edited by LJC (log)
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Michel Guerard served chicken wings to Colman Andrews, editor in chief of Saveur Magazine, when Andrews visited Les Pres d'Eugenie. (See Saveur's June/July 2003 issue for the story, which sadly does not focus on 3-star chicken wings.)

JJ Goode

Co-author of Serious Barbecue, which is in stores now!

www.jjgoode.com

"For those of you following along, JJ is one of these hummingbird-metabolism types. He weighs something like eleven pounds but he can eat more than me and Jason put together..." -Fat Guy

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Had an interesting experience at Spice Market last night. Enjoyed much of the meal with the exception of the desserts, which were disturbingly off. A green tea ice cream, for example, with an aftertaste so bitter, it was inedible.

But here's the bizarre thing: after sitting at our table for two hours & 10 minutes, desserts had been cleared and one of our party was sipping coffee. A manager came to the table, graciously apologized for having to ask us this, then proceeded to say: "I would like to invite you to finish your evening downstairs in our lounge because I really need this table. I hope you understand; we are so busy" etc. etc.

The place was a major scene and incredibly packed, so we said, it's not a problem, we understand; we'll be finished this coffee in a minute to two.

We assumed he was about to add on to that, "well, i'd be happy to buy you a drink or coffee downstairs." Instead, he said, "Well, i can have them bring your coffee downstairs, then!!!"

We were like, are you kidding? We'll be done in a second; you can bring a bill if you need to so badly - but by the time you move us and our cuppa coffee down that massive flight of stairs, it'd be ice cold!

So the meal ended on one heck of an odd note. But when you begin by sitting at the bar, order two cocktails, and already you're in for $30 with tax and tip ...

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And on reflection, that "tousled-hair" opening sound to me uncomfortably like Ruth Reichl. Gah.

I do recall a Reichl review that spent a paragraph or two going on and on about the deep brown eyes of ..was it Guy LeCoze (sp?) of LeB or David Bouley...whatever, it was actually a bit embarrassing, she used as many adjectives and superlatives on his looks as used on his food. I believe lipid was used, along with soulful and hooded. Yikes!

Edited by Kim WB (log)
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I believe lipid was used, along with soulful and hooded. Yikes!

"Lipid" is hilarious but I hope it was "limpid." Which is hilarious in another way. :biggrin:

Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

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well, she's kind of getting it a bit in here too, don'cha think?

A lot of people read this stuff in here, it get's around, and a helluva lot of of people read the times.

Don't get me wrong, she made the bed, the whole lot, but, I have a bit of compassion in me, blah,blah.

I loved the blog, BTW.

I understand this world a little less every day,  I fear.   :sad

Me too...

Good points.

And I commend your compassion. Sincerely. There never seems to be enough of that to go around in this world.

Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

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well, she's kind of getting it a bit in here too, don'cha think?

A lot of people read this stuff in here, it get's around, and a helluva lot of of people read the times.

Don't get me wrong, she made the bed, the whole lot, but, I have a bit of compassion in me, blah,blah.

I loved the blog, BTW.

I understand this world a little less every day,  I fear.   :sad

Me too...

Good points.

And I commend your compassion. Sincerely. There never seems to be enough of that to go around in this world.

Thanks, I meant it.

This place has a lot less of the whole internet BBS let's all be pricks to each other attitude that I dislike so much.

2317/5000

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Yeah, the technical factoid details arent important. The bottom line is what his impressions of the restaurant and the food was.

I don't agree. If someone who showed the same degree of ignorance about the U.S. was rating buttermilk pancakes with Grade B maple syrup, would you say the same thing? I think that knowing what you're talking about is helpful, and based on the points I made, I have doubts that Sifton knows what he's talking about in regard to Southeast Asia. So sure, his review may well-serve people who also don't know much about Southeast Asian food. Perhaps they're Spice Market's target audience.

bpearis, I screw up my facts, too, but I also deserve to be criticized for that.

Pan, I disagree, too! If you print it, you RESEARCH and FACT CHECK it for crying out loud!!! But the Times has such a rotten record, they don't seem to think they should know much about the subject matter--they are the NYTimes, that's all that matters! I mean, to this day they print that mozzarella di bufala is "water buffalo mozzarella." AARRGGHhh!!! it's a type of cow called bufala, for f's sake! i want to see the crazy creature that tries to milk a buffalo...

my Japanese friends gave up pn sending letters to Sifton after the horribly inaccurate article on Japanese food that ran earlier this year, they just roll their eyes now--none of their letters to Sifton and the writer of the article were even printed. i have no clue how working at Tina Brown's Talk magazine prepared him to be the editor of NYT's Dining Section (not in the lease would be my answer), all his attempts at "my lunch with semi-celebrity x" type afrticles in the past failed miserably. he should stop hogging Diner's Journal. although he WAS right about Zoe. it's goooone with the wind, tourist trap at best.

i guess it's a good sign that he's trying to educate himself on food and dining by going out more... maybe he will actually learn something and the section will get better

Alcohol is a misunderstood vitamin.

P.G. Wodehouse

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Both Jean Georges and Gray Kunz have a hand in this restaurant. Is Kunz actually in the kitchen? is he here now and will he be here when his brasserie opens in the Time Warner Building? Is Stanley Wong not the day to day executive chef as Marcus mentioned earlier in the thread?

having been to Spice Market a couple of times, I'd say Gray Kunz has both of his hands in it while JGV--his feet. Gray is in the kitchen, cooking (and how! I had the incredible pleasure of sitting at the kitchen counter the second night they were "unofficially" open and watch him make my meal himself), while JGV was running up and down the place showing VIPs around, schmoozing and never setting his foot in the kitchen... Stanley Wong was very much in the kitchen as well. it's all fine and dandy and understood with celebrity chefs not personally sticking their fingers in your sauce but for Amanda Hesser NOT to mention that Gray Kunz is there and that Pichet Ong created the Thai jewels she loved so much is completely shocking to me (by the way, going into as much detail as "Tiny bits of sweet water chestnut are glazed with tapioca, dyed candy colors like cherry red and lime green. These jewels are blended with palm seeds and slivers of jackfruit and papaya, then heaped onto a nest of coconut ice." signals to me that somebody spoke to the chef/restaurant pr in detail). i mean the food doesn't cook itself while JGV does the host song and dance...even if Gray Kunz opens his own place soon, he's been involved in Spice Market. instead, it's a big fat valentine to JGV. if he has any balls, he's already sent a letter/correction to Sifton

Alcohol is a misunderstood vitamin.

P.G. Wodehouse

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madziast, as I pointed out, I have usually liked Sifton's writing, though I did have problems with the article you reference. I don't want to slam all of his work or the New York Times Dining Section on the basis of a few raised eyebrows, though. The Times has plenty of drawbacks and - without prejudice to the article at hand - the newspaper deserves criticism every time they print something that a fair-minded reader finds to be misleading, error-laden, poorly written, ignorant, distorted by bias, otherwise needing better editing, etc. But when one travels around the U.S., one discovers just how much more content the Times has than every other newspaper in this country - without exception, I think (though the L.A. Times and Washington Post probably come closest).

Did your Japanese friends get any letters back from Sifton?

Also, are you dead sure about the buffalo? Have a look at these Wikipedia articles and see if you disagree with them:

"Water Buffalo"

"Bovinae"

"Mozzarella cheese"

If you do disagree, perhaps we could have a separate thread about buffaloes and mozzarella cheese on General Food Topics.

Edited by Pan (log)

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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The review was so sycophantic I shifted into skimming mode rather quickly (Cuozzo's review in today's Post strikes me as substantially more credible), but I didn't notice a single mention of Kunz. What's up with that? And three stars for upscale street food? It's going to take the next critic years to undo the mess Hesser is creating.

the food is good, the gushing--embarrassing. Omission of Kunz and Ong seems deliberate, no one else allowed to bask in the glow? is this the same Amanda who complained about the trauma/expense of a Valentine's Day dinner in the NYT a couple of years ago???!!! i guess someone managed to ease the pain and make up for the trauma, huh (vide the last paragraph of the Asiate review). I'm with you FG

Alcohol is a misunderstood vitamin.

P.G. Wodehouse

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I personally feel that Ms. Hesser should have recused herself from reviewing a restaurant that is owned by a friend.  If not that, then she could a least have spared a sentence to let the public know that Jean George has written either a blurb or the forward to her book "about her husband".

Or she could have just written a fair, independent, objective review.

yes, somehow there were no mentions of the fact that Spice Market is run like a nightclub complete with bouncer, clipboard and ropes (the ill-conceived Hue comes to mind). I mean they make people wait outside as if in front of a club when the place is not even particularly full! one night, as we were exiting, my outraged companion exclaimed "but the place is not full, why are you people waiting?" plus, the downstairs lounge will not serve food or hot tea, but i digress

Alcohol is a misunderstood vitamin.

P.G. Wodehouse

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And don't get me started on Hearth...

Me too!

me too, he he

(aww, it's good to be back on egullet for a while, now back to toiling away on the big annoying project that doesn't even pay that well)

Alcohol is a misunderstood vitamin.

P.G. Wodehouse

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Don't mean to interrupt the convo, but: I fell for the reviews of Spice Market, and made a reservation for me and my sister. We're poor. I know that, as a poor person, I shouldn't attempt to eat at places like these yet (places associated with big names, etc.... you know what I'm sayin'), but I couldn't help myself. What dishes would you guys suggest for poor people like me? Should I stick to cocktails and appetizers? Try out some of the entrées? Hesser listed some of the entrées as being $6. Is this for real, or are they just really tiny? Should I plan to buy a falafel afterwards?

I guess, for my sister and I, we'd like to stick to the $50 and under range. If this is impossible at SM... well then, we're screwed. :smile:

i don't think you need to worry. the dishes are meant for sharing and most are not very expensive. a meal for 3 with a $40 bottle of wine came to about $130 before tax & tip.

Alcohol is a misunderstood vitamin.

P.G. Wodehouse

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If you do disagree, perhaps we could have a separate thread about buffaloes and mozzarella cheese on General Food Topics.

yes, i disagree, esp. since the encyclopaedia is not sure:

"The classification of the Water Buffalo is uncertain. Some authourties list a single species, Bubalus arnee with two subspecies, the River (B. arnee bubalis) and Swamp (B. arnee carabanesis) Water Buffalos; others regard them as closely related but separate species.

Milk from one or both of these is used for mozzarella."

ahem...

at any rate, since the buffalo was brought to Italy in 6th or 7th century, domesticated and crossbred with cows between then in the last 14-15 centuries, is it still buffalo or a cow? at the very minumum, call them buffalo cows, Italian Trade Comission does...

i should dig up what Steingarten said in his story on mozzrella, he does the best research

and i would love to have a separate thread on the topic! esp. after i'm done with my big project mid-April.

btw, my friends never heard back from Sifton or saw their letters in print

Alcohol is a misunderstood vitamin.

P.G. Wodehouse

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How did you find the food at Spice Market, madziast?

i liked the food very much, esp. the pepper shrimp, papaya salad, curry and halibut but the scene has spoiled it for me a bit--i won't go back except for the slowest time. the good news is they are opening for lunch very soon!

Alcohol is a misunderstood vitamin.

P.G. Wodehouse

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Thanks.

One more question: Do you have a feeling about how many stars you would have given it if you were the New York Times $25-and-over restaurant reviewer?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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If you print it, you RESEARCH and FACT CHECK it for crying out loud!!! But the Times has such a rotten record, they don't seem to think they should know much about the subject matter--they are the NYTimes, that's all that matters! I mean, to this day they print that mozzarella di bufala is "water buffalo mozzarella." AARRGGHhh!!! it's a type of cow called bufala, for f's sake! i want to see the crazy creature that tries to milk a buffalo...

my Japanese friends gave up pn sending letters to Sifton after the horribly inaccurate article on Japanese food that ran earlier this year, they just roll their eyes now--none of their letters to Sifton and the writer of the article were even printed. i have no clue how working at Tina Brown's Talk magazine prepared him to be the editor of NYT's Dining Section (not in the lease would be my answer), all his attempts at "my lunch with semi-celebrity x" type afrticles in the past failed miserably. he should stop hogging Diner's Journal. although he WAS right about Zoe. it's goooone with the wind, tourist trap at best.

i guess it's a good sign that he's trying to educate himself on food and dining by going out more... maybe he will actually learn something and the section will get better

This reaction strikes me as wildly disproportionate to the few very minor factual errors -- most of which have been corrected promptly -- that have occurred in the Times dining section of late. I also think it's quite difficult for us as outsiders to know what the role of the dining editor is. For example, I doubt Sam Sifton has the authority to remove and replace dining-section writers at will, and I bet he is only one of many people participating in the decision about who will be the restaurant reviewer.

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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It certainly makes sense for members of the press to state with accuracy the business relationship between Vongerichten and Kunz. It is unacceptable, however, to omit Kunz from a feature story or other long-form treatment of Spice Market.

Kunz is one of the top chefs in the world. He is one of a small handful of chefs who has held four stars from the New York Times in the past decade. Among chefs who hold three Michelin stars in Europe, he is spoken of as a colleague and, by many, as the top chef or one of the small handful of top chefs in America. To deliberately suppress any mention of his involvement in Spice Market -- and there can be no question that it was deliberate, because it surely wasn't out of ignorance -- is a very loud expression of poor judgment.

Can you imagine if Alain Passard, Guy Savoy, or Charlie Trotter had been hired as consultants on the Spice Market project, and the Times had failed to mention that? Or if, instead of opening his Atelier in Paris, Robuchon had come out of semi-retirement to be Spice Market's consultant? Kunz is not some schlepper who Vongerichten hired to help with a menu. He's the most interesting part of the Spice Market story.

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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Just a reminder: this is a thread about Spice Market and not about the journalistic ethics and the disclosure/non-disclosure of personal relationships in restaurant reviews. As it so happens, there is a nice thread already devoted to the latter subject, and I would request that any discussion not substantially having to do with Spice Market be continued over there. I'll move or copy a few posts from this thread to the other thread to frame the discussion if I get the sense that there is a real interest in continuing this fork of the discussion.

Thanks. :smile:

--

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