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ADNY (Alain Ducasse @ Essex House)


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I thought this diner's experience -- posted on his blog -- made for interesting reading. I haven't eaten at ADNY myself; this report doesn't do much to make me want to.

"Given the choice between standing in the middle of one of the worst blizzards of the past hundred years and eating in one of the most expensive, renowned restaurants in the world, for which would you opt?

Having done both, I would unhesitatingly opt for the former."

Click here to read the rest: http://www.stephenpollard.net/002011.html

"All humans are out of their f*cking minds -- every single one of them."

-- Albert Ellis

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With all the discussion on this thread, there is only one way to decide....try it for yourself. This is precisely what I intended to do this past weekend, but alas had to cancel. Hope to make it there by spring. Wouldn't it be great if I could get to Per Se and Ducasse in one trip? :rolleyes:

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What is "broken whipped cream"? Is this cream whipped until it begins to turn into butter? Why would you use this rather than ordinary whipped cream?

It's Delouvrier-speak (looking in my reference books, I see now that it's not a standard term) for his style of lightening a sauce with whipped cream at the last minute -- it has nothing to do with breaking as in a broken sauce. He lightly whips the cream (no Profi-Whip device here -- this is done by whisk to a very soft consistency) and when the sauce is just at the moment of service he takes a spoonful of the whipped cream and "breaks" it into the sauce. The closest standard term would be fold but to fold it into the sauce would mean to distribute it evenly in several turns of the spoon. It's also not quite swirled in. It's more of a single fold-swirl motion, which Delouvrier calls breaking.

So it's basically a mousseline, the same way a bearnaise lightened with whipped cream is a bearnaise mousseline?

Edited by touaregsand (log)
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I thought this diner's experience -- posted on his blog -- made for interesting reading. I haven't eaten at ADNY myself; this report doesn't do much to make me want to.

"Given the choice between standing in the middle of one of the worst blizzards of the past hundred years and eating in one of the most expensive, renowned restaurants in the world, for which would you opt?

Having done both, I would unhesitatingly opt for the former."

Click here to read the rest: http://www.stephenpollard.net/002011.html

Not much in that report gives me any confidence in the writer's knowledge of food or his credibility. He sounds more like he has a chip on his shoulder and a big gripe with ADNY/Ducasse.

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  • 2 months later...

The new meat menu at Ducasse:

[ MEAT ]

• Herb/stuffed free-range chicken roasted, morels and asparagus in a light cream sauce (for two people)

• Rack and saddle of lamb on the spit, garden vegetables, savory jus

• Berkshire pork chop " en casserole " stuffed/braised cipollinishredded and fondant Swiss chard

• Aged Ribeye of Black Angus, sautéed yukon potatoes and wild mushroom, spinach leaves

• Golden squab breast, apple/artichoke fricassée, salmis and olive jus

With the exception of the squab (and Ducasse has been mixing pigeon and those Riviera taggiasche (sp?) olives for a while), I'm just not sure that it's an improvement. A roast chicken - okay. Any number of Parisian restaurants will give you the same. A rack and saddle of lamb - I presume is close to the one that Ellen took pictures of. Which is to say - meat and potatoes. But then to follow it with a pork chop and a steak?

Either Ducasse is reigning in Delouvrier too closely, imo, or he's underestimating the palate of the American and International market.

Edited by MobyP (log)

"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

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Either Ducasse is reigning in Delouvrier too closely, imo, or he's underestimating the palate of the American and International market.

Or maybe Chodorow has joined the crew? :laugh:

2317/5000

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There are also rabbit and foie gras on the appetizer menu, and another foie gras dish and veal on the tasting menu. But Moby, it's a spring menu! What is he supposed to put on it? Wild hare? There isn't very much available in the way of game right now, unless it's frozen. Do you have in mind examples of seasonal meat menus -- not tastings but menus with actual main courses -- that are more adventurous? Are you just thinking the offal content should be increased? You've got to bear in mind that we're not talking about Per Se or El Bulli here, where they're putting out twenty small plates with a few bites of food on each. These are really substantial dishes that you're expected to work on for half an hour. Under that regime, there's always going to be a lot of emphasis on meat roasted on the bone, which, in the end, is to me the most flavorful thing. I think the more adventurous parts of the current menu, however, are in the fish area, for example the sea bass with baby squid, sea urchin and lobster coral emulsion, and the sole with razor clam "au gratin." I've got to assume the majority of customers on any given night are taking the $175 option of 1 starter + 1 fish + 1 meat (+ 9 desserts), and that the menu was designed for balance in that regard. PS I was just in the other day and will report about some of the new dishes soon.

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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Steven - you know I'm a fan of Delouvrier. And you and I - I believe - agreed before that the meat section (which is the only one I reprinted) has been the let down in terms of imagination.

I'm not sure why you bring up Per Se. I'm not equating the style of menus in the slightest.

Looking over some of the other Ducasse menus in Paris and Monaco, we find dishes such as:

• Spit-roasted Pyrenean baby lamb, “Abacchio alla Romana” salad, cardoon and quince “en aigre-doux”.

• Pigeonneau Rossini sauce Périgueux, pommes gaufrettes

• Ris de veau, pâtes mi-séchées, jus/garniture truffé

• Grilled duck foie gras from the Landes, celeriac, beetroot, red gourd, pear and grape, Porto gravy.

Many of which are using similar base ingredients, but it strikes me as a more interesting set of ideas. At Louis XV, in stark contrast, there seems to be menu after menu of fresh seasonal dishes, taking in a number of different influences.

The trio of pork dish that we both had, in terms of imagination, simply wasn't cuisine at its finest and once again comes down to not much more than meat, potatoes and jus. The lamb dish was also basically meat, potatoes and jus (and that's two out of five). In the fish category, in which I agree you usually find a broader set of ideas, you find once again Turbot with a champagne sauce - which is what Ellen took a photo of a few months back - but a substitution of asparagus for the langoustine or crayfish. I find that repetition a bit surprising. The raw and cooked asparagus is a pure piece of Ducasse aesthetic, though I'm sorry we don't know more about where the asparagus is from.

Taking a quick glance at the Daniel menu for comparison:

• Chorizo-Crusted Colorado Rack of Lamb and Braised Shank with Cranberry-Fava Bean Fricassée Nine Herb Panisses and an Arugula Emulsion

•Duo of Beef: Braised Short Ribs in Red Wine with Ramp Mousseline, Seared Dry-Aged Rib Eye with Bone Marrow-Carrot "Boulangère"

• Roasted New York State Veal Chop with Peas and Morels Grilled Spring Onions, Prosciutto di Parma and a Xeres Jus

•Roasted Muscovy Duck Breast and Duck Confit Leg with Fennel Royale, Easter Radishes

Pommes Dauphines and a Mojave Grape Jus

• Spit Roasted Amish Chicken with Spring Root Vegetables Mango, Green Curry and Coconut Risotto

• Bacon-Wrapped Vermont Rabbit Saddle Stuffed with Black Trumpets and Sage Braised Rabbit Leg with a Spring Vegetable Casserole and Mostarda di Frutta

Now, I'm not saying that the style of restaurant is the same, or that they are necessarily drawing from the same influences, or targeting the same audience - although they might be, I just think it reads as an exciting collection of ideas, using as much seasonal produce as possible (although I grant you, he repeats the 'whole animal' idea four times, but I find that more compelling than pork chop "en caserolle").

I would love to see some of the old Lespinasse menus. I bet Delouvrier could stand up against any of his contemporaries. I just don't think this Printemps ADNY menu is an example of it.

"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

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"111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321" Bruce Frigard 'Winesonoma' - RIP

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I guess I don't understand how, for example, "Spit Roasted Amish Chicken with Spring Root Vegetables Mango, Green Curry and Coconut Risotto" is more interesting than "Herb/stuffed free-range chicken roasted, morels and asparagus in a light cream sauce (for two people)." It has been at least a decade since combinations like mango and coconut risotto could be said to be unusual. I'd personally be a heck of a lot more interested in eating the morels and asparagus. And who's to say which dish underestimates American palates? You could make just as convincing an argument that the locus of underestimation is to be found in the need to throw strong flavors like curry and sweet ingredients like mango into the dish.

Several years ago I had a discussion with Ed Behr about the nature of culinary risk-taking. What he pointed out was that you can take a risk by serving a dish or a combination that's new or unusual -- that's one kind of risk-taking. But the other kind of culinary risk-taking is to serve morels and asparagus and hang your reputation on being able to do those better than anybody else. Now I'll be the first to say that not every meat dish at ADNY is the best example of a given animal. But the current menu is in my opinion stronger than last year's spring menu. And having had the best meal at Jean Georges that I've ever had at Jean Georges on Monday, and having had morels with asparagus there and at ADNY on Tuesday, I've got to say that in mega-chef head-to-head competition ADNY has better morels, better asparagus and a better sauce. You could add some curry to the sauce to make it different, but I'm not sure that makes it more interesting.

As we've discussed before, a lot of this comes down to ADNY knowing its customers. They sold five chickens on Tuesday night in the time I was there. That's a lot of chicken when you consider it's a dish for two and they did something like 60 covers. They also sell a heck of a lot of steak. They don't sell nearly as much "Golden squab breast, apple/artichoke fricassée, salmis and olive jus," which while probably the most interesting meat dish (to use what I think is your set of assumptions about interestingness) is not necessarily as appealing to any American restaurant's clientele (or to me for that matter) as a really great steak.

There's also probably an issue of menu nomenclature here. ADNY's menu descriptions are, against the prevailing menu trend, short. They're designed in almost every case to fit on a single line of the printed menu. You just can't fit "Bacon-Wrapped Vermont Rabbit Saddle Stuffed with Black Trumpets and Sage Braised Rabbit Leg with a Spring Vegetable Casserole and Mostarda di Frutta" on the ADNY menu. The ADNY rabbit dish is described as "Saddle of farm-raised rabbit, aromatic herbs, crunchy vegetables, slowly braised shoulder." What is that description, about half as long? The thing is, the rabbit at ADNY happens to be stuffed with foie gras -- it's just not something they point to in the short menu description.

Just in terms of the factual points, and I may need to follow up with more information:

The trio of pork dish that we both had, in terms of imagination, simply wasn't cuisine at its finest and once again comes down to not much more than meat, potatoes and jus.

I definitely didn't think much of that dish. But it has been replaced by first one and then another really nice pork dish. The current one is a whole chop, and there's an interesting (along the lines of the raw and cooked asparagus) garnish of "shredded and fondant swiss chard."

The lamb dish was also basically meat, potatoes and jus (and that's two out of five).

I'm still not ever planning to order it, but it's no longer meat-and-potatoes. It's now spit roasted lamb with spring vegetables and, yes, jus -- but jus is Ducasse's big thing; he's the master of it.

In the fish category, in which I agree you usually find a broader set of ideas, you find once again Turbot with a champagne sauce - which is what Ellen took a photo of a few months back - but a substitution of asparagus for the langoustine or crayfish. I find that repetition a bit surprising.

As with jus, turbot is one of Ducasse's exalted core ingredients. The turbot I had on Tuesday was a "steak" rather than the bone-in cut they were using before, and the Champagne sauce was a thinner, translucent (almost transparent) sauce, not the opaque white sauce that adhered to the previous turbot dish. The dish felt right -- it didn't feel like they had just swapped in one ingredient for another like they did when they added that big red prawn to the dish.

By the way, for anybody who is contemplating a meal at ADNY in the near future, I strongly recommend the current tasting menu. It's one of the most satisfying I've ever seen at the restaurant. It contains three of the best dishes I've had at ADNY: the green peas with crayfish, the sauteed foie gras with lemon chutney, and the veal Matignon with asparagus and morels. There's also an unassailable scallops-with-caviar opener. Maybe I'd see if it's possible to do a substitution for the salmon course -- they're pretty accommodating and it might be possible to get a split portion of the bass, which is dynamite.

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's interesting. If this restaurant were in France, and they were serving lamb from Lozere, or pyrenees, or pre-sale Brittany, I think we would both be gouging our eyes out to eat some. Also, was that last lamb that we saw being pan-seared also described as 'spit-roast?' That's not an allegation, btw, just interested.

As to the rest, if you don't see it (or feel it or believe it), then that's fine too. I'm too tired (from baby duty) to raise it as a debating issue.

Still, if people are interested, menus for Cerutti at Louix XV can be found here and those from Paris (which I think is slightly less adventurous) can be found here.

"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

Flickr Food

"111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321" Bruce Frigard 'Winesonoma' - RIP

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I have to get more information about the whole spit roasting thing. The last explanation I heard was that they put it on the menu last year and then the rotisserie broke, and it can only be repaired by someone from Molteni or whomever makes it, so they went along week-to-week thinking they'd get the spit fixed and doing a pan-seared-and-oven-roasted version instead. But I totally forgot to check on Tuesday to see if they had a working rotisserie in the kitchen. A guy was even described to me as the rotissier but I spaced on asking if he was a rotissier without a rotisserie, which is too bad because how often do you get to ask that?

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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Big changes are afoot in the kitchen at Ducasse. Delouvrier's last night was Friday, that night the pass was helmed by executive sous Sebastien. Last night, Saturday, Delouvrier's replacement entered the fray. He's French, worked in Ducasse's Paris restaurant and is named Tony. Curious to see how this plays out.

You shouldn't eat grouse and woodcock, venison, a quail and dove pate, abalone and oysters, caviar, calf sweetbreads, kidneys, liver, and ducks all during the same week with several cases of wine. That's a health tip.

Jim Harrison from "Off to the Side"

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This is the same rumor I've been hearing, but I haven't had it confirmed by a primary source so I'm awaiting a return phone call. I'll report back if I hear anything.

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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WOW, major news. Probably a victim of Bruni's star ratings, and gearing up to get ***

If it's a result of the less than stellar Bruni review that left ADNY missing its fourth star, its unfair to pin that on Delouvrier because virtually all of Bruni's negative comments (which are either fairly or unfairly deserved) in that review were as a result of FOH issues, not in the kitchen or the quality or execution of the dishes themselves.

Delouvrier tends to land on his feet, so like with the fall of Lespinasse I'm curious about where he will end up next --- perhaps somewhere that he can really have full control.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Although Delouvrier is capable of producing wonderful dishes, his pigeon with a black truffle sauce at Les Celebrites is possibly the single best dish that I've had in NY, one has to view his tenures at both Les Celebrites and Lespinasse as unsuccessful.  I believe that he failed as a kitchen manager, and his menu was uneven as well.  He never developed a definitive style or a clientele that was inclined to repeat visits.  There was also an element of sloppiness in his dishes which is the antithesis of Ducasse.  Perhaps he will have significantly more support across the board in the Ducasse environment and will do better.

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Bummer. I was really excited about trying ADNY with Delouvrier at the helm, but alas it was not to be.

Neither he nor Doug Psaltis lasted long as chefs de cuisine in this organization. Both are unique and incredibly talented folks in my humble opinion.

Is Ducasse overreacting to bad reviews? Should he have stayed the course a bit longer?

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True both both Psaltis and Delouvrier had difficulties in other organizations as well so maybe the issues are not with Ducasse.

Psaltis left Mix for The French Laundry and did not last there long at all.

Delouvrier allegedly had "kitchen management" issues while at Lespinasse.

Edited by sammy (log)

"These pretzels are making me thirsty." --Kramer

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The word from the Ducasse organization is that Delouvrier "has decided to pursue other projects and we regret his departure and wish him the best." (Nobody mentioned this, but the timing, almost exactly a year after Delouvrier started at ADNY, was likely coordinated with his contract renewal date.) The new chef de cuisine will be Tony Esnault, a native of Lyon, who worked at Louis XV in Monaco and was most recently at the Ritz-Carlton restaurants in San Francisco and Boston. He has also worked at Carré des Feuillants and Auberge de L’Ill.

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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Deloouvrier had staff issues at Lespinasse. I don't know that they were specifically kitchen issues. I don't know that it's a second strike against Delouvrier how, or that it was the second strike against Lespinass then. As I recall, Gray Kunz also had problems with union staff. I had problems with the service myself the last time I was at Lesspinasse. I don't know what that proves.

Message boards breed speculation, I suppose. I suspect we'll hear many theories of why Delouvrier was fired, or why he quit from any number of interested parties who have no idea of why they parted company. The surprise for me was that it all came about with no public warning or speculation.

Robert Buxbaum

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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.

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It seems as though, when Ducasse brought in Delouvrier, it was an experiment -- a bold experiment -- and that someone decided the experiment wasn't working out or that there were better options. Certainly, Tony Esnault seems more like the other Ducasse chefs-de-cuisine than Delouvrier. He's someone who came up through Michelin three-star restaurants and the Ducasse organization, and has also shown himself to be comfortable in the Ritz-Carlton milieu. He's more like Didier Elena than he is like Delouvrier. At its best, the Ducasse organization can produce incredible food, so let's hope the end result of this is that we see mitosis and a great ADNY plus a great new Delouvrier restaurant (perhaps, as he has long wanted, something more rustic). I'm looking forward to dining at both.

Still, this does strike me as a poorly planned move -- even if it turns out to be a good move, it will not have been well planned -- and indicative of the Ducasse organization's long history of PR miscalculations with respect to its American operations. Given how many people were caught off guard by this, it seems things came to a head very quickly and there was no opportunity for a well-planned exit strategy. So what could be a win-win situation certainly, at first, looks like a mess. It seems those who drive strategy in the Ducasse organization vacillate between acting like true believers and utilitarian accommodationists. I personally prefer to support true believers -- what attracted me to Ducasse in the first place was his uncompromising dedication to excellence -- but in the end the proof is on the plate.

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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There's now a press release making the rounds. In terms of the reason for the change it just says Tony Esnault "is succeeding Christian Delouvrier, who is leaving to pursue other independent projects." There's also a paragraph containing Esnault's biographical information:

“I’m thrilled at the chance to work again with Alain Ducasse and am truly honored to be at such a wonderful restaurant,” said Esnault, who brings a wealth of culinary experience and talent to his new position at Alain Ducasse at the Essex House, having successfully reinvented The Ritz Carlton Boston’s “The Dining Room” since its reopening in 2002.  He was voted Best Hotel Chef of America by the James Beard Foundation in 2004, and his cuisine won the restaurant four Mobil Stars in 2005 and four AAA Diamonds in 2004, among a host of other accolades.  Prior to that, he was Sous Chef at The Ritz Carlton, San Francisco from 1999 to 2003.  While at M. Ducasse’s three-Michelin-star Louis XV restaurant in Monte Carlo from 1996 to 1999, he traveled extensively with Ducasse, assisting him at gala dinners from Japan to Brazil.  Before joining M. Ducasse in 1996, Esnault worked at several two- and three-star restaurants in Alsace and Paris.  A French native, he did his formal training at the Francois Rabelais Culinary School.

The rest is mostly general background on the restaurant and such.

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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