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Chanterelle


rich
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Speaking of stars, Crain's Business New York (which gives less four stars than the NY Times) just gave Chanterelle four stars. I haven't dined there since the fall, but I always thought it was in the top tier of NYC restaurants.

While I not a fan of the star system, it was nice to see for the restaurant and its owners. At age 25, Chanterelle is aging better than any metro NYC restaurant. It certainly has the most elegant room.

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

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Well, you know Chanterelle just won the Beard award for Outstanding Restaurant. And I will also admit to considering it among the best -- if not THE best.

Twenty-five??? Jeez, David looks great! Oh, and Karen, too. :biggrin:

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Chanterelle is due for a return visit from the NYT. It had been four stars in the Reichl era, but Grimes demoted it to three. There is no science to determining the best restaurant in America, but when the winner of that award is only three stars (making it, in the Times's view, no better than the seventh best restaurant in New York), a fresh look is clearly in order. Not that Bruni is obligated to award a fourth star, but the reasons for denying it would have to be clear.

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Chanterelle is due for a return visit from the NYT. It had been four stars in the Reichl era, but Grimes demoted it to three. There is no science to determining the best restaurant in America, but when the winner of that award is only three stars (making it, in the Times's view, no better than the seventh best restaurant in New York), a fresh look is clearly in order. Not that Bruni is obligated to award a fourth star, but the reasons for denying it would have to be clear.

I had lunch at Chanterelle recently and was not overwhelmed. I thought the food was similar of what I would expect from lunch at Bouley, for instance. Given the current crop of 4 stars, I would not be surprised to see it remain at 3, especially since Per Se needs to be taken into the equation somehow. I will agree the room is spectacular and makes it worthy of 4-star consideration.

"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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Interesting point. In my experience, in all the non-food aspects it is definitely four-star (the room, the service, the lack of music and/or other distractions -- which ADNY has in spades!); it's the food that could keep it at three.

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I'm going back next month and I've never had a problem with the food. It's probably first or second in kitchen consistency. If there's a problem, it may be with the menu in that it lacks a certain depth. But that should not keep it from being considered as the top place in NYC.

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

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A small group of us had lunch at the end of last month. This was my first visit to the highly recommended room and we were excited but soon very dissapointed. We ordered the prix fixe lunch menu and two botles of wine. The service was professional and well trained but our specific table 'captain' was devoid of any personality or likability. I love the austerity of the room and there were some beautiful flower arrangements about the space. The amount of windows and light was fantastic and it was a beautiful day. It didn't care for the curtains though. So this was our meal:

Soup of the day: corn and lobster chowder. The broth was fine, cream makes everything taste better, right? The corn, though, was coarse and chewy. As if it had been frozen for some time. I shouldn't spend the afternoon picking it out of my teeth. It didn't have the flavor of real corn for some reason and I still believe no one should be serving corn in a three star restaurant in the month of May. In New York. Oh, and thanks for the lobster, a small knuckle piece.

Black sea bass saute with a curry broth and sweet onions. This was a fine dish. The fish was cooked perfectly and the sweet broth was delicious. My girlfriend had the special; monkfish poached in fish stock with braised leeks and saffron cream sauce. Every single bite of her dish tasted the same. There was nothing going on. No highs or lows. Just fish and saffron cream. And a ton of it. It looked like a piece of fish swimming in a pool of egg yolk. Very bad dish.

Another friend opted for the other special, New York sirloin with crunchy potato egg rolls. The presentation was that of a backyard barbeque: a huge slab of sirloin, a huge pool of sauce, clearly thickened with corn starch, some baby bok choy and two 'spring rolls' filled with potato puree.

The restaurant was getting very busy and after our entrees were removed we were offered coffee, etc.. We received our cups and the sugar tray was placed down with cream, etc.. but the coffee took literally 10 minutes to arrive and the desserts 10 more minutes. I am not exaggerating. No one was complaining, but nervously I was watching my watch. Dessert arrived with no apologies and was a rhubarb crisp with a honey yogurt ice cream. Tasty and colorful but nothing special, rather homey presentation. The ice cream tasted more tart and tangy than I'd like. I actually thought it was buttermilk ice cream until I saw the menu again.

I have never had dinner at Chanterelle and this is only one lunch but I was not impressed at all and it still cost a fine sum to dine. I expect, just being in New York, let alone a three star restaurant, to have a more refined presentation, delivery and experience. I have had better meals in my hometown.

We once had a three hour tasting menu at Cafe Boulud at lunch on a two-day trip to New York and was blown away. In fact, it was a better meal than the dinner at Jean-Georges the night before. We love to eat out and revolve trips aroung as many meals as we can possibly fit in. Cafe Boulud was a four star experience hands down. Jean Georges is still top tier. Chanterelle I simply couldn't imagine even competing. But again this was only one visit and one person's opinion.

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I expect, just being in New York, let alone a three star restaurant, to have a more refined presentation, delivery and experience. I have had better meals in my hometown.

Thanks for your detailed review.

Just out of curiosity, what's your home town?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I still believe no one should be serving corn in a three star restaurant in the month of May. In New York. Oh, and thanks for the lobster, a small knuckle piece.

The corn was obviously not local. While I generally prefer local seasonal ingredients, in today's global marketplace, topnotch restaurants frequently source top-notch global products from where they are in season. Now, perhaps this corn was not top-notch. For that there is no excuse if it is being used in a restaurant like Chantarelle. But so long as it is top-notch, I don't have a problem with it being used in June or even in March.

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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I believe in global influences, kalamansi lime juice, kaffir lime leaves, etc... but certain ingredients, in certain restaurants should respect the basic growing season. I didn't think Chanterelle should only serve what comes from the Greenmarket, but I do think consumers know better than to eat strawberries in January and corn in May. YES, it is grown SOMEWHERE, but for four or three stars, and a price, people want reality and respectability to the raw materials.

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  • 4 months later...

I read something about this place the other day and realized that I have not heard anything about it in a long time.

Has anyone been recently?

You think it's time for a Bruni review?

Time past and time future

What might have been and what has been

Point to one end, which is always present.

- T.S. Eliot

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I haven't been myself recently, but an acquaintance went recently and reported that he and his wife were very underwhelmed. If it has slipped it is a shame, because it was one of the greats.

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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  • 2 months later...

I had a business dinner at Chanterelle last night. My only prior experience at the restaurant was a lunch in 1990, which is too long ago to be relevant.

Chanterelle is now just over twenty-five years old, with a ten-year stint in SoHo, followed by a move to the present TriBeCa location (2 Harrison Street) in 1989. The restaurant ranks high in New York's culinary scene, but just where is a matter of some dispute. Chanterelle earned two stars from Mimi Sheraton (1980) and Marion Burros (1984), four from Bryan Miller (1985) and Ruth Reichl (1993), before William Grimes took the restaurant down a peg with a three-star review in 2000.

I have to wonder about the two-star jump from 1984 to '85—can any restaurant really improve that much in a year? By 2000, Grimes clearly thought that Chanterelle had lost a step, a view many of the web reviews confirm. However, since the Grimes review, the James Beard Foundation has twice lauded Chanterelle as best restaurant in America (2002, 2005). My own experience last night puts Chanterelle close to the top of the three-star range. I cannot say that it is four stars.

The menu at Chanterelle changes every four weeks. Many famous artists have designed menu covers for Chanterelle, but if that was the case last night, it wasn't drawn to our attention. Inside, we found calligraphy worthy of the Declaration of Independence. On the left was the table d'hôte three-course dinner at $95, on the right the six-course tasting menu at $115 (with wine parings, $60-85 additional). You can add a cheese course to the table d'hôte for $19. One of the entrées carries a truffle supplment of $20. Otherwise, it's just $95 per person, plus alcohol.

As my host was buying, I didn't examine the wine list, although it is notoriously pricey. He found a wonderful Australian red, with which I was quite satisfied.

We were served double amuses of chilled squash soup in a shot glass and a small crab cake (shaped like a ping-pong ball). Both were superb. While we awaited our appetizers, our server brought out two different butters for us to try with warm, home-made bread rolls.

I started with the seafood sausage, which is well known to be one of Chanterelle's signature dishes. It's a sizable portion, and the explosive taste made it the meal's highlight. Might this be the best appetizer in Manhattan? My companion ordered the foie gras terrine, which he pronounced excellent.

Almost five years ago, Bob Lape's review for Crain's New York Business complained that Chanterelle's kitchen doesn't always send out the advertised product. Both my companion and I ordered the "Loin of Lamb with Moroccan Spices, Gateau of Eggplant Lamb Shank." I couldn't, for the life of me, detect any Moroccan spices in the dish that came out. There were four or five beautiful slices of rare lamb loin with a crusty exterior, but they were not Moroccan in any way that I could perceive. The braised lamb shank in an eggplant jacket was clear enough to the taste, if slightly bland.

For dessert, I ordered the "Pineapple Fruit Soup with Passion Fruit Soufflé Glace." This was an unusual concoction, but I am positive that there was also grapefruit in it. Now, while I love pineapple and passion fruit, I am not a fan of grapefruit. I finished the dish, but had grapefruit been part of the description I likely would have chosen something else.

After dessert, our server brought out two trays of petits fours. At this point, they were just showing off. A table of eight would have had trouble finishing the quantity of sweets that were presented to us. They looked wonderful, but my companion and I were too full to touch them. Our server also brought out a tray of small, freshly-baked cream-puffs, which I couldn't resist.

Chanterelle takes a team approach to service. The dining room is small, and it appears that all of the staff perform all of the functions interchangeably. This leads to some service glitches, such as two separate servers coming around to take our bottled water order. Some of the plates weren't cleared quite as rapidly as I would have liked. These are minor complaints, which I would put in writing only because, at Chanterelle's level, I believe service should be practically flawless.

I went home happy, but still feeling that Chanterelle is operating a step or two shy of its full potential.

Edited by oakapple (log)
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Nice report. It is good to see a mostly positive report on this restaurant that is too elegant to not hope for good things from. I enjoyed my one experience at Chantarelle so far, but that was several years ago. Interestingly, my wife was less enthusiastic about the meal than I was, which is the main reason I haven't been back. Other reasons are the many negative reports I have read or heard and the desire to try too many othe places in limited time. My desire to return has been stoked, however, if only to try the seafood sausage.

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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Yes, thank you. Chanterelle has been our gold standard, but we haven't been there in a couple of years, so it was good to read an objective update. I'm especially glad that the seafood sausage has returned to its glory; last time I had it, it lacked a certain savory snap.

But are you positive there was grapefruit in the dessert? After all, passionfruit does have a bitter edge to it. (That's one of few bitter foods I do NOT like; grapefruit I love. Chacun à son goût.)

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  • 1 year later...

Regular Guys New York City Entry #103 Chanterelle

All year I have been waiting for an occasion to return to Chanterelle, Karen and David Waltuck's smooth outpost in TriBeCa. A decade ago I had a most pleasant evening (after the restaurant had moved to Harrison Street). Perhaps most impressive about my evening were the remarkable floral displays (once designed by Karen Waltuck, but now outsourced). The gold-maize walls and the space between tables created a lightness of spirit that was conducive to bright dining. And the service then - and now - was silken and congenial. The art works in the small entrance conveyed that here were restauranteurs of class.

Of course, when one begins a review discussing the ambiance and the service, one might fret about the food. And it must be admitted that at Chanterelle, the package may be more impressive than any dish within it. Some have scorned the cuisine at Chanterelle as "boring." This is not a sentiment that I accept - my meals now and then were satisfying. Yet, the plates do not snap and crackle. If this is not your father's cuisine, it is your older brother's. As much as I enjoy dining at Chantrelle, if I had to select a last meal, it would be from Jean-Georges or per se or, should I wish to puzzle my guards, from Moto.

My return visit was courtesy of two friends who are long-time regulars. Such good friends of the restaurant are they that Sommelier Roger Dagorn arrived on a Sunday evening, hobbling on crutches. Roger's wine selections were first rate, even though I hold no brief as an oenophile. We began with a Nicolas Joly Savennieres La Roches aux Moines "Clos de la Bergerie" 2003, a Loire wine that tasted to me like a Sauterne with the sugar removed but with a honeyed aftertaste. Our red was an Ata Rangi Pinot Noir 2002 from Martinborough, New Zealand. Its smoothness matched my white tuna. Perhaps our table was more fussed over than is typical. Even my blogger's camera doesn't get me such attention. Being a regular has its advantages.

We began with a pair of amuses: a duck spring roll with hoisin sauce and a chilled watercress soup with Parmesan palmiers. I found these starters surprising. Such choices gave ammunition to critics who argue that Chanterelle eschews kitchen creativity. The crisp spring roll was perfectly fine, but no more compelling than that to be found at most upscale Chinese restaurants. One wondered what was the point of producing such an ordinary dish. Could it have been take out? The watercress soup was better - vivid green - a tangy herbal broth with a rich, meaty stock. Yet, it too pointed to satisfaction, rather than thrills.

Tonight was the final evening of Chanterelle's late spring menu (May 22nd - June 25th) and after so much practice no technical flubs marred the evening. As appetizer I selected Fresh Pea Ravioli with Sweet Onions (!) Sauce and Smoked Pork Reduction. From other reviews, I gather that Chef Waltuck is partial to spring peas. The ravioli itself was intense - a splendid vegetable dish. I was less taken by the accompaniments, which detracted from both the aesthetic center and the taste contour of the dish. The pea puree was too pure to have the distraction of pork and fried onions.

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My wife selected "Sauteed Zucchini Blossom Filled with Lobster and Shrimp." The lobster-shrimp was a quenelle filling. It was exceptionally flavorful and beautifully presented, but stuffed in a zucchini blossom, it edged towards a culinary cliche. For those who missed the culinary trends of the 1980s, Chanterelle will startle. But perhaps it is not fair to deny oneself gastronomy's greatest hits.

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It was a difficult choice between Grilled White Tuna with Red Wine Risotto and a Noisettes of Lamb with Thyme and Goat Cheese. Both seemed fairly traditional, but I was curious as to how a red wine risotto might match the tuna. If it was not a stunner, the match was a happy one, and the tuna was cooked to the proper moment. White tuna is not as flavorful as a big eye tuna, but that only made the red wine risotto more potent. It was a well-conceived dish, but one that seemed satisfied with the dominance of its sturdy rice.

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As my wife treasures shellfish, she selected the Chesapeake Bay Softshell Crabs with Young Ginger and Chinese Chive Coulis. This was perhaps the most striking dish of the evening. In keeping with the ability of the kitchen to present food simply, the crabs were not mushy as they often can be, but suitably crispy. Neither the chive or ginger overpowered the dish. The crabs had center stage, simply presented but with the subtle addition of herb and spice.

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Although I didn't copy the names of the cheeses served in our pre-dessert course, I had a powerful blue, nutty Gruyere, and creamy Brie. The pear and kumquat compotes both were worthy additions.

I particularly enjoyed my wife's Warm Vanilla Brown Butter Almond Cake with Cherry Compote. The mixture of cherry and almond was a pleasure. We are not in Will Goldfarb/Sam Mason territory, but the dessert shared the bright elegance of the room. The cake was dense, the compote sweet, what was not to like?

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My Apricot, Almond and Crème Fraiche Tart with Basil Ice Cream was particularly notable for the intensity of the basil. The tart itself was a high-end composition that one might pick up at the most ambitious neighborhood bakeries. No complaints, even if I felt that this reflected the desserts that were common - and praiseworthy - when Chanterelle opened.

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Every restaurant has shaped by its birth. When one enters Chez Panisse, one steps into 1971; for the Four Seasons it is always 1959, and at French Laundry forever 1994. Chanterelle opened its doors in 1979 at a moment in which the American simplicity of produce was merging with French nouvelle cuisine: two approaches that incorporated a purity of taste. Perhaps Chanterelle could use a jolt of energy to enliven its cuisine, to recognize Century W. But after twenty-seven years its continuing civility is welcome. It is easy to understand how Chanterelle, more that most luxe restaurants, could be that special spot that gathers a coterie of regulars. Not overrun with trend-setters, Chanterelle keeps purring along, not strutting on a highwire, but strolling down the boulevard.

Chanterelle

2 Harrison Street

Manhattan (TriBeCa)

212-966-6960

My Webpage: Vealcheeks

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Very nice review gaf, but I have one comment.

I happen to think anything stuffed in a squash blossom is special. The produce is seasonal (much like soft shell crabs, which are exquisite) and the flavor quite unique. In my opinion, chefs should use squash blossoms any chance they get and use their creativity in stuffing them or serving in any other manner.

I think the lobster/shrimp quenelle inside the blossom is a special dish and one that I will add to my repetoire.

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

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  • 3 weeks later...

On a recent celebratory occasion, my friend and I chose Chanterelle. Though I've dined there a couple of times in the past, I'd forgotten this restaurant's quiet, refined atmosphere. With its widely spaced tables, its luminous chiffon shades, and high chandeliers, Chanterelle offers an elegant escape. On a Sunday evening, it was never more than half full. It was delightful to note that we could speak barely above a whisper, and have no trouble hearing each other.

Chanterelle offers a three-course prix fixe at $95 or a tasting menu (which we had) at $125. Both are written in an extravagant longhand on one of the famous artistic menus, which change about monthly. Although Chanterelle may seem old-fashioned, it is one of the few restaurants at its level that keeps its website up-to-date with the latest menu, which was as follows:

Green Gazpacho with Chesapeake Bay Crabmeat & Black Caviar

Foie Gras Sauté with Pickled Farm Peaches & Baby Lettuce

Sautéed Speckled Sea Trout with Sorrel, Tomato, Mussel Broth

Niman Ranch Beef filet with Sweet Onions and Cracked black Peppers

Cheese Course

Vermont Goat Cheese and Purple basil Soufflé with Tuscan Melon Sorbet

Petits Fours, Coffee/Tea

We started with a double amuse bouch, a warm gougère and an oyster on a spoon. The gazpacho was (to borrow the cliché) so thick you could almost eat it with a fork. The foie gras was heavenly, and I loved the crisp sea trout. The beef filet was the one and only dud; it tasted like pot roast, except that pot roast would probably be better.

The cheese course made up for it. A server brought a cheese tray to the table and patiently explained more than a dozen choices, of which I had five—all superb. A cheese course never looks like much food, but by the time you're finished you feel stuffed. (On the prix fixe menu, the cheese course is a $25 add-on, which makes the tasting menu look like an even better deal.)

I've been to only two other restaurants in the city (Per Se and Alain Ducasse) that make a point of presenting two contrasting butters, with the server explaining the characteristics of each. I particularly liked the unsalted butter, which I believe came from Vermont (the other was from France). Bread rolls were served warm, but I would have liked a choice of breads, to go along with the choice of butters.

Chanterelle's renowned wine list is a tome that looks like a telephone directory. I believe $55 was the least expensive bottle that I noted, and most were well over $80. I settled on a $95 bordeaux, which was near the bottom of the list, but was nevertheless superb. The staff decanted it without prompting, a service few restaurants offer any more.

The restaurant takes a team approach to service. I had noticed this the last time I was here and wondered if it was an anomaly, but they did it again. Every server seems to perform every function, and no particular server seems to be assigned specifically to your table. On my last visit, this arrangement led to some minor glitches (e.g., being asked twice whether we wanted bottled or tap water), but this time it was seamless.

Service, indeed, is first-class, but without the stuffiness of some high-end places. There is the occasional mistake (a roll dropped on the floor; a spoon forgotten), but it hardly detracts from a delightful evening. Unlike the tasting menu at Bouley, which I had just a couple of weeks ago, this performance was leisurely (taking nearly three hours), and never seemed hurried.

If the overall performance is a step shy of extraordinary, Chanterelle is nevertheless one of New York's restaurant treasures.

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Nice to read a good report about this once-hot restaurant. It seems that most of what I have read for some time has been negative. I loved it my one time there several years ago. I thought that it was comfortably elegant and the food was great. I would love to see it regain some of its glory.

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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While it's not possible to tell how food tastes from how it looks, I've got to say that the platings depicted in GAF's post are embarrassing. Those presentations are on the level of what you'd expect to see at mediocre neighborhood restaurants, not places that are striving for multiple stars.

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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While it's not possible to tell how food tastes from how it looks, I've got to say that the platings depicted in GAF's post are embarrassing. Those presentations are on the level of what you'd expect to see at mediocre neighborhood restaurants, not places that are striving for multiple stars.

The platings are certainly not contemporary trendy, but embarrassing? I respectfully disagree.

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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"I've been to only two other restaurants in the city (Per Se and Alain Ducasse) that make a point of presenting two contrasting butters, with the server explaining the characteristics of each. I particularly liked the unsalted butter, which I believe came from Vermont (the other was from France). Bread rolls were served warm, but I would have liked a choice of breads, to go along with the choice of butters."

sort of off-topic, but are these the only three restaurants in NY that serve more than one butter as part of the bread service?

When I was recently in Prague I ate Alcron where one of the highlights of my otherwise disappointing meal was the bread service:

8 wonderful breads, 4 kinds of butter, including a truffled one.

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While it's not possible to tell how food tastes from how it looks, I've got to say that the platings depicted in GAF's post are embarrassing. Those presentations are on the level of what you'd expect to see at mediocre neighborhood restaurants, not places that are striving for multiple stars.

The platings are certainly not contemporary trendy, but embarrassing? I respectfully disagree.

gallery_26747_3165_145403.jpg

This isn't a question of being "not contemporary trendy." This wouldn't have passed muster at Chanterelle 15 years ago, when the cuisine was already in decline but they were still putting out elegant plates. To me it looks like the way they'd plate up the food at a neighborhood joint that's trying a little too hard to be fancy. There's plenty of room in fine dining for neat compositions, flamboyant compositions, pragmatic compositions and all sorts of other compositions, but there's a basic level of craft that fine dining demands and this doesn't look like it.

And what is Kate Zuckerman thinking with a dessert like this?

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This is someone who is supposed to be a superstar pastry chef, with a book coming out this Fall. But this dish looks like the product of an unattended pastry kitchen. Even allowing for some melting and jostling (though desserts should be designed to survive that), it looks like the sort of dish that restaurants without pastry chefs turn out.

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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I first ate at Chanterelle in 1998, and didn't think it was that good at the time. From 1998-2005, I had lunch there perhaps a dozen times, with someone else's money. It was fine, but never a top restaurant in my mind. I don't know when the decline begain, but it most have been a long time ago----or perhaps it wasn't that good to begin with....

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