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Montrachet


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In just about any neighborhood, there are very few people who dine out several nights a week at places like Bouley or Chanterelle, unless they are doing so to entertain clients. I don't think it has anything to do with being in TriBeCa, or being part of the cognoscenti.

I think you're underestimating the extent to which restaurants need to be "of" the neighborhoods in which they're located to succeed.

I agree with this to a considerable extent, but it's tempered by a couple of factors.

In the first place, some neighborhoods have the ability to attract "non-locals" better than others. At one extreme you have the Meatpacking District (practically nobody local); at another you have the Upper East Side (practically everybody local).

I think it's beyond doubt that TriBeCa attracts a considerable non-local dining population. I mean, look at the large number of expensive restaurants in a rather small neighborhood. It's got to be at least double or triple what the neighborhood itself could support on its own.

In the second place, it's a proven fact that TriBeCa can support conventional old-fashioned luxury restaurants, given that it has Bouley, Chanterelle, and Danube. The original Montrachet didn't fail because it was out of touch with the neighborhood vibe. It failed because, compared to the others in its category, it just wasn't that good any more.

Or think of Onera.  Psilakis pretty much closed it down, only to reopen it under another name in a diferent neighborhood.  He's obviously betting that, while the UWS wouldn't support a place like that, East Midtown will.  Do you think he's wrong?

The UWS is another one of those neighborhoods that, like the UES, hasn't proved itself as a "dining destination." On top of that, Onera was a little too far north to be an obvious pre-Lincoln Center choice (though I personally did use it that way).

I think I agree that DB&D and Daniel have a UES "feel" to them, and there are some UES residents who think as Daniel as their "neighborhood place." But I suspect the majority of Daniel's clientele are not residents of the area.

Edited by oakapple (log)
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Not to be ridiculous about this, but only to further what at least I think is an interesting conversation, I think that when neighborhoods are "dining destinations", people go there expecting restaurants that reflect the neighborhood (or at least what they think the neighborhood is like).

Chanterelle, Bouley, and Danube strike me as different from restaurants you'd find Uptown. Chanterelle more austere, Bouley a bit more casual (and with slightly more avant-garde food), Danube wittier. (As I've said, I think that if Danube had opened Uptown, it would have failed.) People come Downtown for them not just because they're haute restaurants, but because they're haute "Tribeca" restaurants. (Just as I think a lot of people travel to Little Owl not just because it's a very good cute cheap restaurant but because it's a very good cute cheap "Village" restaurant.)

The thing is, neighborhood styles change somewhat. I agree that the original Montrachet closed because it failed to maintain quality, not because it failed to keep up with styles. But that doesn't mean that a new place opening up can ignore the neighborhood vibe.

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
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and the menu?

for that matter, how would Montrachet be different?

(maybe it's time for a new thread -- defining neighborhood restaurant characteristics)...on second thoughts...some people might find that offensive...

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Chanterelle, Bouley, and Danube strike me as different from restaurants you'd find Uptown.  Chanterelle more austere, Bouley a bit more casual (and with slightly more avant-garde food), Danube wittier.
I don't know how to test these hypotheses. Most three-star restaurants are one-of-a-kind. (Indeed, that may be one of the defining characteristics of three-star restaurants, though clearly not the only one.)

Both The Modern and Gordon Ramsay have been described as austere. Bouley is clearly an original, but these days there's nothing uniquely "TriBeCa" about serving three-star food in surroundings that lack traditional formality. Danube? Well, you have me there. I can't think of a precise analogue. But I don't particularly see why it wouldn't have succeeded in East Midtown.

I agree that the original Montrachet closed because it failed to maintain quality, not because it failed to keep up with styles.  But that doesn't mean that a new place opening up can ignore the neighborhood vibe.

This is a fair point, given that a new Montrachet will be starting mostly from scratch, much the way the new Russian Tea Room did.
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Montrachet certainly was a restaurant of its neighborhood, and also of its time. It is not possible to generalize from that, however, to a rule about all restaurants needing to conform to some notion of "neighborhood vibe." Some restaurants embrace their neighborhoods, and others don't. Not to mention, some neighborhoods don't really have a vibe that's relevant to restaurants. I mean, what's the neighborhood vibe at the Time Warner Center? In what way does Per Se accommodate its neighborhood's vibe? Jean Georges? Le Bernardin? Popeye's? Any restaurant with multiple locations (e.g., Nobu)?

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
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I was actually going to add a note that restaurants in non-neighborhoods (like Jean Georges and the Time Warner crowd) don't have a "neighborhood vibe" to embrace. But having said that, they're still "Uptown" restaurants.*

Popeye's actually is very appropriate to a lot of neighborhoods it's located in. And think of how incongrouous it would seem on, say, the block on Bank St. where the Waverly Inn is.

______________________________________________

* Anticipation of somebody's inevitable mention of the upcoming Landmarc.

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
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Both The Modern and Gordon Ramsay have been described as austere. Bouley is clearly an original, but these days there's nothing uniquely "TriBeCa" about serving three-star food in surroundings that lack traditional formality. Danube? Well, you have me there. I can't think of a precise analogue. But I don't particularly see why it wouldn't have succeeded in East Midtown.

1. There's nothing uniquely "Tribeca" about serving three-star food in surroundings that lack traditional formality NOW. But Bouley's been around a long time. And it's only been serving "three-star" food for a short time.

2. The Modern and Gordon Ramsey may have been "described" as austere, but they're nowhere near as spare as Chanterelle. It's not even close.

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  • 2 months later...

Last week, Eric Asimov of the Times reported (on his blog) that "a significant offering from the cellars of Montrachet" — and he interprets this to mean just about everything worthwhile — will be auctioned off. Details are available here.

This appears to suggest, either that the rumored Drew Nieporent–Paul Liebrandt collaboration won't be in the old space, or that it won't be the same kind of wine-themed restaurant that Montrachet was. Whatever it is, it surely won't be called Montrachet.

Edited by oakapple (log)
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  • 5 months later...
But isn't Liebrandt going to open his new restaurant in that space? Saw it on eater.com.

That's Eater's guess, which Drew Nieporent continues to vigorously deny. I walk by there fairly regularly, and it's always shut tight as a drum. For a restaurant that's purportedly opening in January (and would surely have to be remodeled), the lack of activity is telling.

I'm not saying it can't be true, but it just doesn't look like anything's going on there.

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