Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Who do you think are the 4 stars in NY


Recommended Posts

First my list:

ADNY

Le Bernardin

Bouley

Daniel

JG

Per Se

Now my comments:

Ultimately, this thread is a mostly a debate about the whole star system. For better or for worse (I think for better) stars are supposed to incorporate more than just the tastiness of the food. There are other aspects of the food (quality, variety, creativity, appearance, etc.) as well as other aspects of the restaurant (service, ambiance, wine program, consistency, do you get an amouse bouche?, how many petit fours?, etc). And within each of these categories there are subcategories (i.e. is the service knowledgeable, is it attentive, is it professional, do they make mistakes, etc.) The list is almost endless, but in my mind, the definition of a four star restaurant is one that does ALL or almost all of these things at a very high level. Yes, the food is most important to me, but food is not the only thing that contributes to my dining experience.

In my mind, all of the restaurants listed above (which with the addition of Per Se match the NY Times list) do enough things well enough to justify a four star rating. I am very fortunate to have been to all of these restaurants at least 6 or 8 times (except Per Se – 1 time). But, I have also had disappointing meals at all of them. My two disappointing meals at ADNY would still have rated 4 star, because it is that good of a restaurant. My disappointing meals at the rest would properly rate 3 star because on those given nights they didn’t do enough things well enough. There is a reason that the NY Times crticics visit a restaurant at least 4 or 5 times.

Jean Georges – I hate the room but that’s a personal preference. It doesn’t take away from a 4 star rating.

Daniel – My least favorite of the 4 stars. I think the food is better at Café Boulud, but Café Boulud can never be a 4 star restaurant.

Bouley – My meals there have been inconsistent but not as inconsistent as some other people’s experiences. I can see knocking it down if the bad days outnumber the good.

ADNY – 4 star without question. a category above the others (with maybe Per Se)

The only other current restaurant that I could possibly see being 4 star is Atelier but I haven’t been there enough times to opine. Chanterelle, Danube and Le Cirque have the rooms for it but the level of food isn’t there. Blue Hill, Tasting Room, Aquavit are great restaurants but don’t come close to a 4 star dining experience.

sorry for the long post.

Andrew

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for that interesting post, Andrew. There are a couple of points I'd like to respond to:

Daniel – My least favorite of the 4 stars. I think the food is better at Café Boulud, but Café Boulud can never be a 4 star restaurant.

Since you find the food better at Cafe Boulud, do you ever choose to go to Daniel, anyway? I'd think that if I had drawn such a conclusion, I'd go to Cafe Boulud and never Daniel (but I've as yet been to neither).

Bouley – My meals there have been inconsistent but not as inconsistent as some other people’s experiences. I can see knocking it down if the bad days outnumber the good.

Do you really mean the bad days would have to be over 50% of the time? That seems like a very low standard to me. Supposing they're 30% of the time?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Since you find the food better at Cafe Boulud, do you ever choose to go to Daniel, anyway? I'd think that if I had drawn such a conclusion, I'd go to Cafe Boulud and never Daniel (but I've as yet been to neither).

I interpret this as CB does better bistro than Daniel does haute cuisine on a given night.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I guess I want to know if this is a thread on legitimate 4 star restaurants or personal 4 star experiences.

Good question. But how do you separate them, when personal opinions play such a large factor?

Edited by rich (log)

Rich Schulhoff

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

Link to post
Share on other sites

Since you find the food better at Cafe Boulud, do you ever choose to go to Daniel, anyway? I'd think that if I had drawn such a conclusion, I'd go to Cafe Boulud and never Daniel (but I've as yet been to neither).

I interpret this as CB does better bistro than Daniel does haute cuisine on a given night.

Perhaps, but that's not what Andrew wrote. I'll look forward to his clarification.

I can't see paying more at a restaurant for relatively inferior food, just for non-food reasons, and that's basically what I'm asking him about.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Jean Georges – I hate the room but that’s a personal preference. It doesn’t take away from a 4 star rating.

That's interesting. You say the four-star experience is a compilation that includes ambience. Yet, you "hate" the room. So you do make exceptions if the food totally overwhelms the setting - much like I do for the Tasting Room.

Rich Schulhoff

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

Link to post
Share on other sites
Since you find the food better at Cafe Boulud, do you ever choose to go to Daniel, anyway? I'd think that if I had drawn such a conclusion, I'd go to Cafe Boulud and never Daniel (but I've as yet been to neither).

The specific answer to your question is no, I haven't been to Daniel in a while. Daniel used to be my family's main celebratory restuarant (birthdays, etc.) Now we go most often to Ducasse. If, however, I was celebrating an event or wanted to really impress a client, and my choice was limited only to Daniel or Cafe Boulud, I would choose Daniel (because food is so important to me, I would never choose a place like Le Cirque). To me, Cafe Boulud is not the same type of restaurant as Daniel. And in my mind, this is probably the easiest way of seperating a 4 star from a 3 star. A 4 star is "special" or celebratory.

Do you really mean the bad days would have to be over 50% of the time? That seems like a very low standard to me. Supposing they're 30% of the time?

First, I should have clarified: good day = 4 star and bad day = 3 star. So there isn't as big of a difference as it may have seemed when I wrote good day/bad day. Having said that, I would agree with you that 50% is far too low. I don't know if I can put a number on it, but if I were critic and visited a 4-star caliber restaurant 5 times, at least 4 of those had better be 4-star experiences.

Andrew

Link to post
Share on other sites
I guess I want to know if this is a thread on legitimate 4 star restaurants or personal 4 star experiences.

Good question. But how do you separate them, when personal opinions play such a large factor?

It comes down to the credibility of the writer.

Having said that, there's a core set of restaurants that recur on most people's lists, which suggests that we, as a group, have a pretty solid intuitive understanding of what it means to be a legitimate 4-star restaurant. AndrewG said it well:

For better or for worse (I think for better) stars are supposed to incorporate more than just the tastiness of the food. There are other aspects of the food (quality, variety, creativity, appearance, etc.) as well as other aspects of the restaurant (service, ambiance, wine program, consistency, do you get an amouse bouche?, how many petit fours?, etc). And within each of these categories there are subcategories (i.e. is the service knowledgeable, is it attentive, is it professional, do they make mistakes, etc.) The list is almost endless, but in my mind, the definition of a four star restaurant is one that does ALL or almost all of these things at a very high level.

It's true — as Rich observed — that every one of the current four-stars is disputed by at least one person, but consensus doesn't require unanimity. If one person says they had a terrible meal at ADNY, it's of course relevant to the discussion, but it doesn't diminish the very strong consensus that ADNY is a four-star restaurant.

Similarly, there's only a few restaurants frequently mentioned as challenging the current four-star list. Perhaps that's because, despite the revolving door of critics at the Times, the criteria for being in the top category are pretty consistent from one reviewer to the next. Ridiculous clunkers at the 1-to-3 star levels have occasionally slipped into the Times's ratings, but I think the standards for 4 stars have been pretty consistently applied.

Edited by oakapple (log)
Link to post
Share on other sites

Can anyone guess when the times will be review per se. And about how many visits do you think they will make in order to review it properly. And would this include visits during lunch?

Link to post
Share on other sites

It's true — as Rich observed — that every one of the current four-stars is disputed by at least one person, but consensus doesn't require unanimity. If one person says they had a terrible meal at ADNY, it's of course relevant to the discussion, but it doesn't diminish the very strong consensus that ADNY is a four-star restaurant.

My last meal at Daniel was still very good but not overwhelming. Part of it was maybe the restaurant has lost it's edge over the years and a minor mis-step or two that can be easily overlooked. Given the room, wine list, staff, and menu - the place clearly has all the 4 Star amenities. My Bouley rating comes from the fact that 1 of the last 3 meals was what I can consider 4 star. The last visit being the worst ( I should say least best considering)

No signature Uni dish

Average Wine pairings

A couple of the dishes in the chef's tasting that didn't work at all.

Clearly a notch below.

Does an underperforming 4 star trump an overperforming 3 star?

Link to post
Share on other sites
That's interesting. You say the four-star experience is a compilation that includes ambience. Yet, you "hate" the room. So you do make exceptions if the food totally overwhelms the setting - much like I do for the Tasting Room.

Absolutely ambiance is part of the restaurant experience. Personally, whem I am dining, I prefer a warm room to a stark, cold room. I find JG's room stark (btw, I probably shouldn't have used the word "hate"- dislike is more accurate). But that doesn't mean that one is better than the other. JG has 4 star ambiance, though not my favorite kind of ambiance. Let's say, for the sake of argument that I hated fish (which I don't). Does that mean that I would rate Le Bernardin "fair" or "satisfactory?" Of course not. What the star ratings do (very well at the high end at least) is to try to bring some objectivity to the subjective reviews. this is why there is consistancy among different reviewers (again at least at the top end).

To answer your direct question, before Ducasse came along, if forced to choose, I would have said that JG was my favorite restaurant in NY, precisely because for me, the food does overcome the ambiance.

Andrew

Link to post
Share on other sites
I interpret this as CB does better bistro than Daniel does haute cuisine on a given night.

No. Cafe Boulud often does better haute cuisine than Daniel does haute cusine. Just without the other "4 -star" amenities.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I interpret this as CB does better bistro than Daniel does haute cuisine on a given night.

No. Cafe Boulud often does better haute cuisine than Daniel does haute cusine. Just without the other "4 -star" amenities.

I repspectfully disagree

CB is all about Braises, Veal Roasts, Short Ribs etc all done exceptionally well mind you ( I think Andrew Carmelleni is top notch)

You're more likely to find more avant garde technique, ingredients, i.e. Daikon, shiso, yuzu, emulsions, foams, etc at Daniel day to day.

sidebar - What's up with Bouley and yuzu? It was in 3 of my dishes at my last meal there.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Jean Georges – I hate the room but that’s a personal preference.  It doesn’t take away from a 4 star rating. 

That's interesting. You say the four-star experience is a compilation that includes ambience. Yet, you "hate" the room. So you do make exceptions if the food totally overwhelms the setting - much like I do for the Tasting Room.

but the room at The Tasting room isn't really about personal preference, unless you like people climbing over you to get in and leave, and you think others do as well.

Link to post
Share on other sites
but the room at The Tasting room isn't really about personal preference, unless you like people climbing over you to get in and leave, and you think others do as well.

You're correct. But my observation was that Andrew overlooks a room he hates and still gives it four stars (I assume because of the quality of the food). I overlook the inconveniences of the dining area of the Tasting Room because the food is so overwhelming.

Edited by rich (log)

Rich Schulhoff

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

Link to post
Share on other sites
but the room at The Tasting room isn't really about personal preference, unless you like people climbing over you to get in and leave, and you think others do as well.

You're correct. But my observation was that Andrew overlooks a room he hates and still gives it four stars (I assume because of the quality of the food). I overlook the inconveniences of the dining area of the Tasting Room because the food is so overwhelming.

ok. so you can agree with the fact that taste, as far as rooms go, as far as decor goes, is a personal preference. and you feel that having to get up out of your seat is also a personal preference. that's fair enough. i just don't see many people finding the layout of the room at the Tasting Room acceptable for a "4 star" experience, given the whole getting-up-getting-down routine that comes with some of the tables. unless we're simply talking about how tasty the food is, in which case this thread is nothing more than "my favorite restaurants with the best food", as opposed to the "let's discuss and debate the 'star' system" as the other current threads seem to be."

but i do love the Tasting Room, and i do have a crush on renee, which fat guy suggests can sometimes happen. :laugh:

Edited by tommy (log)
Link to post
Share on other sites
I repspectfully disagree

CB is all about Braises, Veal Roasts, Short Ribs etc all done exceptionally well mind you ( I think Andrew Carmelleni is top notch)

You're more likely to find more avant garde technique, ingredients, i.e. Daikon, shiso, yuzu, emulsions, foams, etc at Daniel day to day.

You have a good point and I would have a much easier time agreeing with you if we were comparing DB (which I also like very much) to Daniel. This begs the question: is avant garde a prerequisite for haute cuisine? Would you consider ADNY avant garde?

Link to post
Share on other sites
but the room at The Tasting room isn't really about personal preference, unless you like people climbing over you to get in and leave, and you think others do as well.

You're correct. But my observation was that Andrew overlooks a room he hates and still gives it four stars (I assume because of the quality of the food). I overlook the inconveniences of the dining area of the Tasting Room because the food is so overwhelming.

ok. so you can agree with the fact that taste, as far as rooms go, as far as decor goes, is a personal preference. and you feel that having to get up out of your seat is also a personal preference. that's fair enough. i just don't see many people finding the layout of the room at the Tasting Room acceptable for a "4 star" experience, given the whole getting-up-getting-down routine that comes with some of the tables. unless we're simply talking about how tasty the food is, in which case this thread is nothing more than "my favorite restaurants with the best food", as opposed to the "let's discuss and debate the 'star' system" as the other current threads seem to be."

but i do love the Tasting Room, and i do have a crush on renee, which fat guy suggests can sometimes happen. :laugh:

I agree with you Tommy. I know the Tasting Room is not a four-star setting by any stretch of the imagination, but in this one instance I overlook that because the food is so good and consistent. I said this was controversial, but hey, everyone should be allowed one controversial pick. :wink:

Maybe that's a new thread - What one current non-four star restaurant would you include on "your" list and why.

Rich Schulhoff

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

Link to post
Share on other sites
I agree with you Tommy. I know the Tasting Room is not a four-star setting by any stretch of the imagination, but in this one instance I overlook that because the food is so good and consistent.

well that's just silly. :raz:

Touche' :laugh:

Edited by rich (log)

Rich Schulhoff

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

Link to post
Share on other sites
I repspectfully disagree

CB is all about Braises, Veal Roasts, Short Ribs etc all done exceptionally well mind you ( I think Andrew Carmelleni is top notch)

You're more likely to find more avant garde technique, ingredients, i.e. Daikon, shiso, yuzu, emulsions, foams, etc at Daniel day to day.

You have a good point and I would have a much easier time agreeing with you if we were comparing DB (which I also like very much) to Daniel. This begs the question: is avant garde a prerequisite for haute cuisine? Would you consider ADNY avant garde?

When considering a 4 star place - I tend to look at the restaurant and consider what it's "striving" to be. As far as avant garde? if the NY times considers that a prerequisite - then so be it. Personally, it's not as important to me

Link to post
Share on other sites
I tend to look at the restaurant and consider what it's "striving" to be.

Can a restaurant attain "four-star status" without striving for it?

Edited by rich (log)

Rich Schulhoff

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

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...