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Eating New York


tetsujustin
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I'm excited to hear what you think of Le Bernardin, since Ripert's food is almost entirely different from what you've eaten on your journey so far.

What other restaurants are you considering? I'd imagine that one of the most exciting parts of your project would be sitting down with a pen and paper and making a list of all the places you plan to visit.

Also, do you plan on dining alone at all, or do you expect to find enough friends who can keep up with your eating and spending?

I would post the list of restaurants that I've compiled, but I think it would be more intriguing if I just went along giving a week in advance notice on which places I will be visiting. I will say though, that I think I've hit a lot of parts of the New York fine dining spectrum in my list. I do give noticable nods to restaurants that hold celebrity chefs and James Beard award winners and nominees, though I didn't choose them all. I do also like to take a look at the menu and just see what intrigues me. I love Japanese food, and Nobu is definitely on my list. I was toying around with the idea of Jewel Bako also, and all five four-star rated restaurants are on the list. You're right, compiling my list was absolutely great. Haha. I also must say that it helps if the restaurant is on OpenTable, because my schedule doesn't exactly give me a prime time to call for reservations during the week.

As for dining companions. One of my friends up here is basically a lock to go with me every week given he doesn't book a reservation himself for another restaurant. Otherwise, I've just asked around my friends just for notifications a week ahead of time before I book places in case they want to go. Problem with that is that I have like a list 10 deep that want to go to Per Se. haha. I don't exactly want to dine alone? but I'm not against it. Again, I'm here for the food and the education.

And Pan - Michael Laiskonis is pastry chef at Le Bernardin? I must've missed something, I knew Chef Takashi left Tribute, I didn't know he did too. Wow. I'm even more excited now.

Happy Holidays everyone. Feel free to continue to comment, I'll still be around though I won't eat again till the new year.

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For Japanese food, you may want to consider a side-by-side comparison of Jewel Bako and Sushi Yasuda (and perhaps throw in Kurumazushi for kicks). JB and SY/K are like night and day, but all three are stellar in their own way.

Although not sushi-oriented, consider also Sugiyama (for its kaiseki approach), Asiate (for the fusion experience) and Minca (for the opposite end of the NYC Japanese dining spectrum, not to mention the ramen is among *the* best in the city).

Soba

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I've only eaten at Nobu once. But I have a recommendation if you can swing it. We ate with a large party (about 12) at a big round table in the back. Basically told the waiter to do omakase - hot and cold. And it was fabulous. Enabled us to sample many dishes a party of 2 or 4 might not have sufficient appetite to consume. So if you can round up a reasonably large group - and get a big table....

Note that it was about $125/head - moderate drinking - no big wine. And that was about 4-5 years ago. Robyn

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I've only eaten at Nobu once.  But I have a recommendation if you can swing it.  We ate with a large party (about 12) at a big round table in the back.  Basically told the waiter to do omakase - hot and cold.  And it was fabulous.  Enabled us to sample many dishes a party of 2 or 4 might not have sufficient appetite to consume.  So if you can round up a reasonably large group - and get a big table....

Note that it was about $125/head - moderate drinking - no big wine.  And that was about 4-5 years ago.  Robyn

I'm itching for a taste of the toro tartare. I hear it's completely amazing.

I then want to drive over to Philly and go to Morimoto's and see if it's the same.

Haha.

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Justin, I don't want to nit-pick, and I think your reviews are wonderful overall, but don't you think your 3 rating for Bouley is a bit harsh? Given the food you described, even with all the weaknesses you also clearly identified, I was expecting more like a 6. You justify your disappointment quite well, but still it seems to me the kind of cuisine you experienced merits a bit more recognition than a 3. I find the place a bit stuffy too, but would you really never go back?

"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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Justin, I don't want to nit-pick, and I think your reviews are wonderful overall, but don't you think your 3 rating for Bouley is a bit harsh?  Given the food you described, even with all the weaknesses you also clearly identified, I was expecting more like a 6.  You justify your disappointment quite well, but still it seems to me the kind of cuisine you experienced merits a bit more recognition than a 3.  I find the place a bit stuffy too, but would you really never go back?

No need to justify, Seth. My ratings are just my opinion, and you have every right to disagree. As good as I said the food was (and it was that good), I still believe that at the price that I'm was paying, mistakes in service and just overall attitude towards the customer were really that glaring. My biggest qualm was that they quoted my the price tag for the tasting and I was charged more without ever asking for any of the supplementals, nor were a choice for the supplementals ever given to me. Also, the supplementals weren't even listed on the bill. So, either one of two things happened, either they told me the wrong price or they added to it without confirming with me. Also, that hostess that rolled her eyes at me, in my eyes, should be fired on the spot. Never should I ever have anyone roll their eyes at me (and a hostess, of all things... but that's another story. haha) I was pleasant when I asked, all she had to do was walk to the back and pick up a menu and hand it to me. I wasn't asking her to do a backflip or anything.

Maybe you find it harsh because I didn't rate it just as the restaurant as a restaurant, I rated it out of my expectations of what I thought I should have gotten from the hype around it, its former glories, the price I was paying, and the atmosphere and what it seemed like they were aiming for. Before I went I thought they were aiming for four-star. When I was there I thought they were aiming for four-star. I still think they are aiming for four-star. But for glaring service problems and then just a bunch of small details (details mean a lot) they fell quite short.

My thinking was that I could have gone to Gramercy Tavern twice for what I paid. I could have gone to Blackbird, or Avec (which are wonderful restaurants in Chicago) three times for what I paid. I could have eaten at Charlie Trotter's, TRU, or Trio for what I paid. In fact, I'll bet I could have gotten a tasting menu at Per Se for what I paid. Maybe not the top one, but I would have gotten something.

And that's why I won't be going back.

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... My biggest qualm was that they quoted my the price tag for the tasting and I was charged more without ever asking for any of the supplementals, nor were a choice for the supplementals ever given to me. Also, the supplementals weren't even listed on the bill. So, either one of two things happened, either they told me the wrong price or they added to it without confirming with me. Also, that hostess that rolled her eyes at me, in my eyes, should be fired on the spot. Never should I ever have anyone roll their eyes at me (and a hostess, of all things... but that's another story. haha) I was pleasant when I asked, all she had to do was walk to the back and pick up a menu and hand it to me. I wasn't asking her to do a backflip or anything...

Both of these examples are truly appalling, although I think the first one would have been corrected on the spot if you'd said something about it. Again, all of your complaints seem legit to me. Ambiance, service etc. all factor in to the rating of a high-end restaurant, you'll get no disagreement here. I just disagree abot the weight you've given them, but if thse problems really took that much away from the food for you, then there you go.

"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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Justin, I don't want to nit-pick, and I think your reviews are wonderful overall, but don't you think your 3 rating for Bouley is a bit harsh?  Given the food you described, even with all the weaknesses you also clearly identified, I was expecting more like a 6.  You justify your disappointment quite well, but still it seems to me the kind of cuisine you experienced merits a bit more recognition than a 3.  I find the place a bit stuffy too, but would you really never go back?

I have to agree with you Seth. And let me give my perspective. My husband and I earn the money we pay for dining. I may investigate restaurants and make the reservations - but my husband is the "examine the bill" person. It's his job. Even if we're 12 people after a 3 hour meal - he goes over the bill - item by item. And if there's a discrepancy - even a $10 discrepancy on a $500 bill (perhaps a drink that no one had) - he goes over the bill with the server. And we've never had a problem in terms of having mistakes (and mistakes happen all the time) corrected. I don't think it's fair to a server - or an establishment - to "go away mad" about a supposed mistake - and not give the server or the establishment an opportunity to explain the supposed mistake or correct it. Now if there's a mistake and someone refuses to correct it - that's another story. But I wouldn't dock a restaurant like Bouley this much for a quibble about the bill when I didn't discuss the problem with the server before leaving. Robyn

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I have to agree with you Seth.  And let me give my perspective.  My husband and I earn the money we pay for dining.  I may investigate restaurants and make the reservations - but my husband is the "examine the bill" person.  It's his job.  Even if we're 12 people after a 3 hour meal - he goes over the bill - item by item.  And if there's a discrepancy - even a $10 discrepancy on a $500 bill (perhaps a drink that no one had) - he goes over the bill with the server.  And we've never had a problem in terms of having mistakes (and mistakes happen all the time) corrected.  I don't think it's fair to a server - or an establishment - to "go away mad" about a supposed mistake - and not give the server or the establishment an opportunity to explain the supposed mistake or correct it.  Now if there's a mistake and someone refuses to correct it - that's another story.  But I wouldn't dock a restaurant like Bouley this much for a quibble about the bill when I didn't discuss the problem with the server before leaving.  Robyn

And you know, you're right. Looking back at it I really should have brought it up. I'm not sure if it would have made a whole world of difference, but it would have made a difference overall. I did, however, call a few days later and a few things were cleared up about the bill. But I've realized as courteous you have to be as a server, the guest should be just as courteous, and that was my fault.

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One thing I've heard Danny Meyer and Mario Batali say on several occasions is that if you're unhappy with some aspect, they want to know. The feeling is there's nothing worse than having a customer leave who felt mistreated because then you won't come back and you'll tell others not go. They want a chance to rectify the situation and make you happy.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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The feeling is there's nothing worse than having a customer leave who felt mistreated because then you won't come back and you'll tell others not go. They want a chance to rectify the situation and make you happy.

So true. As a business owner or manager there are inevitably things that will happen which are beyond your immediate control and won't be seen by a management type who can step in immediately to correct it. Having worked for many years in a variety of business/industries where customer service is an important component of the business process, it's my worst nightmare to think that a customer may have a bad experience, not notify me to allow a correction or amends to be made and even worse... generate bad word of mouth as a result of their experience.

Perhaps it's due to my background but after the obvious metrics of quality, service level etc., the thing I use to judge a business is how they handle mistakes, should those occur (and sooner or later they will).

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  • 2 weeks later...

Le Bernardin

As my first NYT rated four-star experience I had no idea what to expect out of Le Bernardin. I was hoping that the food would be ethereal, because of my personal love for all things from the sea. I wanted skin on the fish to be crispy while the flesh be tender, I wanted a myriad of flavors and textures to take me for a ride throughout the meal. I wanted smart flavor combinations of plates, highlighting the seafood... I wanted the food to let me to know why this was a former Michelin 2(?)-star restaurant and longstanding NYT four-star restaurant. I wanted the service to show me why this was so a highly touted restaurant. I wanted to know what four-star service was. In previous non-New York encounters I had seen service be almost like a dance. Glasses being filled at the same time, a person who knew the exact second you were going to stand up to be pulling the chair out for you. All of it seamless, as if everyone in the front of the house was a captain. I wasn’t sure if this was just at the few select restaurants that I’ve experienced, or if this was truly four-star service.

When I confirmed my reservation I had before at a later time of night, they asked me if it was okay that there was another table coming in two hours later. I was hesitant at first, because I knew how long tasting menus lasted. I didn’t want to be rushed, but I booked our dinner thirty minutes earlier than originally planned, and hoped it would help.

We arrived at Le Bernardin around fifteen minutes before our early reservation to see a crowd already forming outside the revolving door. The waiters were just wrapping up their meeting and I could see them hustling to their positions as the door was unlocked and we all flooded in from the cold. Though we expected to wait at the saloon for a few minutes, we were promptly seated at our table. I’d seen pictures of the saloon before, and noticed it was oddly open and well lit... and for some reason, not very stereotypical “French” to me. I was expecting the dining room to be different from the saloon... as in to be more stereotypical: dim and stuffy, but it just reflected the saloon. It was wide open, nicely lit, with a lot wood tones and appropriately the color of sea blue. The walls were adorned with a lot of marine-themed paintings (also, oddly a lot of them were dated 2004 as this place has been around for a while) It didn’t feel stereotypically French at all. More like a country club, or a yacht club. Whereas I was noticeably uncomfortable weeks before with the older crowd, I hardly minded or even noticed that the crowd was older here as well. The place had... not a modern feel, but very updated French. There was still a lot of silver and the waiters dressed the French waiter part, but everything just seemed a lot more... comfortable to me. I’m not sure how to explain it further.

Before our menus were even presented to us, we were given a quenelle of tuna tartare resting on a bed of julienned endive. The flavor was fresh, yet aromatic. There were definitely the flavors of green onion and chive in the tartare itself, but the endive gave it a fresh feel. I’m not sure what the classic tuna tartare is, (or steak tartare, even) but I’m somewhat tempted to call this very classical-tasting. If anything, for the amuse at Le Bernardin, it fit the part.

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At this point we ordered the Chef’s tasting and a bottle of champagne, and I was really at ease. Maybe it was the champagne, maybe because I felt so comfortable in the room, or maybe it was because our server seemed so gracious, I’m not sure, but my bread was warm, I was settling into my chair, and the food was coming... so anyway.

Our first course was an Alaskan Wild Salmon Carpaccio with grated Yuzu and marinated baby turnip salad. This was topped with a chiffonade of purple basil and served with slices of toasted sourdough. The fish itself was and tasted very fatty, but the yuzu cut right through it and gave it a nice contrasting flavor, along with the slight aromatic flavor of the purple basil which is more subtle than its green counterpart. A crunchy bite of turnip in between was an excellent palate cleanser so you would get a “first bite” in every bite. This wasn’t the most interesting dish, but it was very smart, and a great start.

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Next was an olive oil poached Hawaiian escolar with a petite salad of lettuce hearts and tomato confit. Flavor-wise, this was a dish that was just very refreshing. There were bites of crisp lettuce with flavors of black olive and lavender in the salad, with the sweetness of the tomato that was served with a crisp crouton wrapped around it, then bites of warm, lush, almost velvety white tuna. Though it was served rare, the escolar was magnificent in texture, and the fresh flavor of the salad really heightened the flavor of the fish itself. As pointless as this next banter is, here it is: I couldn’t help but have thoughts race through my mind as I ate. Olives in the salad... poached tuna... tuna nicoise? No... White tuna... petite salad... Tuna Salad? At this point sorta smirked to myself. I’m not sure if Chef Ripert had this in mind, probably not. I probably just think too much into everything.

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Next came the Warm Ragout of Scallop, Langostine, and Clam nestled in a sea urchin topped with Iranian Osetra caviar. I was highly anticipating this dish, and it really delivered. The sauce was an Uni-butter sauce and this dish was doused in it. The selection of the shellfish was nice because they all contained different flavors and textures. The scallop with its savory flavor and soft texture, the langostine with its firm texture and sweet flavor, and the clam having the flavor of the ocean almost, and its slight chewy texture. The urchin really bound everything together with its really... indescribable flavor... almost briny, yet buttery texture, and this was reinforced in the sauce which was a bread-sopper. They knew it too, as I was presented with warm bread right after they had set the plates down. For some reason, the caviar didn’t pop in my mouth as it usually does, I wasn’t sure if it was because it was sitting on hot food, but I will say it did its part flavor-wise.

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After this was our Lobster “choucroute”: slowly braised saukraut in Riesling, smoked bacon, pineapple, and juniper berries. The braising liquid was poured over the lobster at the table. As for the lobster itself, in my notes it only said “really, really juicy” which I’ve never been able to achieve. When poached in butter, lobster has more of a luscious, but firm texture, but it felt as if juice was just splurting out as I bit into it. I really wish there were a way to serve the claw where the whole thing would taste good and you could keep the look intact, but even though they took off the flimsy bottom claw, the top clamp of the claw still had that taste, which is my only slight complaint from this dish. Otherwise, this dish was great and put together very well. The sauerkraut had a very refined taste to it whereas traditional sauerkraut, to me, taste very rustic and almost biting at times with the sourness. This sauerkraut, because of the Riesling, pineapple, and the savory flavor of the smoked bacon in the broth was better rounded. After the heaviness of our last dish, where the whole dish felt very high class and rich, this seemed more homey and grounded. Well done.

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Our next course was the ravioli of Argentinean shrimp and wild mushrooms with a foie gras-truffle sauce. I don’t really care what you pair it with, but I think anything with this foie gras-truffle sauce, I think would go well. They finished the raviolis with spoonfuls of sauce at the table which I heard somewhere a long time ago that it’s butter, foie, and truffles (I have no idea if its true or not) but it’s really hard to go wrong with it, which might’ve been the problem for the raviolis. They weren’t bad, but it was the sauce that made the dish, it really overtook the flavor of the ravioli and I could only taste a bit of the shrimpiness. However, all of our plates were wiped dry.

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Our last course was our last savory course, and I really think this was the highlight of the evening. It was a crispy, Chinese-Spiced black bass in a Peking duck boullion scented with maitake and enoki mushrooms. The fish was cooked perfectly with the crisp skin and soft flesh that I was looking for, and though the dish looked completely French, it tasted the mix of French and Chinese together because of the way the dish was set up. The cooking technique was uniquely French, but the flavor was very Chinese, and I think this was a great combination. The textures spoke volumes of French cooking, but the taste of umami in the mushrooms paired with the five-spice of the fish, and the uniquely Peking duck flavor in the broth brought me back home. It was a great way to end our savory courses.

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Our first dessert course was labeled “egg,” and let me just say that Michael Laiskonis is a stellar, stellar chef, and I hope to explain why from my limited devouring of his desserts. First of all, I know what hell it is to hollow out an egg. I saw on an episode of Iron Chef where Sakai was doing it by knife, but I don’t think he took out the membrane on this one, though I want to sharpen up my Hattori and try it out. Previously, we used an egg tapper which sort’ve dotted down a line on the egg, which we then had to take off the top using a paring knife. It’s just really time consuming because if it chipped, we couldn’t use it. You then have to soak it in a combination of vinegar and water and slowly massage out the membrane till it was clean. Doing this was hell every day, though I would try to do them three days at a time. I wonder how many they do a day here. The egg shell aside, in this dish was a milk chocolate pot de crème, caramel foam, maple syrup, and Maldon sea salt. You were asked to stir the contents of the egg, then eat, all of it together was just great because it the chocolate and maple syrup really stood out, but then the light texture and slight hint of caramel was great. What I really loved was the use of the sea salt because it really does heighten the flavor and bind all the flavors together. I used to send out sorbets with a sprinkle of sea salt on top only to have customers send it back after they saw salt on it, but this really was a great start to dessert.

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In times before, I had commented on tasting menus having repetitious flavors and components and that being a bad thing, but after a conversation with chopjwu, he told me that if they are utilized in different ways, then it’s perfectly acceptable. This was on display on the last dessert of a dark chocolate, cashew, and caramel tart with a red wine reduction, banana, and a malted rum milk chocolate ice cream. The chocolate and caramel were used in such a different way, that the whole flavor profile of it changed. The caramel was a lot more rich, as was the chocolate in this dish and the cashew added a nice bit of nutty crunch to it. I’ve seen on many plates where sauce garnishes like dabs of coulis were used just to add color and not much to the plate. This wasn’t the case in the dots of red wine reduction, as it really went nicely with the rum ice cream. Eaten together on one spoon, this was a really nice end. As satisfied as I was with the dessert courses, I wondered why the last portion was so large, though that can probably be explained by the types of molds the kitchens have, but I wondered to myself if maybe a smaller portion of this and then another course, maybe something fruity (even in the dead of winter) could have been served. Though I’m not about to complain, I really enjoyed the desserts.

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My meal at Le Bernardin was very satisfying. I think that they are an example of what consistency is in a high-end, high-class, fine dining establishment. That being said, I wasn’t completely wowed by the dishes. They were all great, but nothing stood out as something that I just HAD to have (well, maybe the foie-truffle sauce.) There were no downers in the courses, and it gave me the ride that I wanted, but as I think back, the turbot really stuck out for me at Gramercy, the beef tongue is what I think about when I think of WD-50, and the warm seafood salad is what I think was the pinnacle of my Bouley experience. Everything here was just about on the same high level, but nothing hit the “holy crap” level for me. Also, again, I’m a big fan of pretty plates, and these weren’t the... prettiest, especially for the tuna plate, I think that could’ve been a lot cleaner plate, but again, it’s just a little thing about me personally.

Also, for some reason, in this restaurant even as I noticed certain things about service, like plates were set down at different times, and there was usually a long pause between the plates being down and the descriptions, I really just didn’t mind. The service here was unobtrusive and gracious, which really put me at ease in the dining room. I felt very well taken care of and happy to write down my tip when I got the check. It was just weird, as I’m really a stickler for service. Though our meal was a little shorter than usual, clocking in at two hours and fifteen minutes rather than our usual three hours, it didn’t seem like that at all. We didn’t seem to be rushed, and everything came out with a slight pause in between to ready ourselves.

Overall it was a great night, I had four-star food and four-star service made with a very talented kitchen with a celebrity chef and pastry chef to equal. I had a great time, but again... for me being nit-picky and all, not everything was on point. Not everything was perfect... though for Le Bernardin? For some reason I just didn’t mind. There’s something about the restaurant. History, maybe. I’m not sure, but I would go back to Le Bernardin anytime.

Out of 10? A 7. Wonderful, just not perfect in every aspect possible.

Next week: Craft. Extremely excited.

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One thing I've heard Danny Meyer and Mario Batali say on several occasions is that if you're unhappy with some aspect, they want to know.  The feeling is there's nothing worse than having a customer leave who felt mistreated because then you won't come back and you'll tell others not go.  They want a chance to rectify the situation and make you happy.

Just keep in mind that if a restaurant doesn't have the type of management that is always on its toes, the waitstaff will make sure that the owner and/or chef won't know about an unhappy customer.

For every server I know who understands the concept of hospitality, I can tell you a story about a server who purposely tacks items onto someone's bill to get the check average up. You can confront the issue and have it rectified, but the chef will rarely hear about it.

But then again, try being a server, earning minimum wage, and watch people actually run out of the restaurant, purposely leaving their credit card slip unsigned. I've seen it happen more than once in fine dining establishments. Classy.

Back on topic, are you eating at craft or craftbar? If the latter, have the sea urchin spaghetti. Best plate of pasta I've ever had yet (in NY).

Edited by mdhl (log)
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I don't quite understand.

You rate Gramercy Tavern an 8 but Le Bernardin a 7? And the service seemed comparable.

Your words:

Here at Gramercy they weren’t wonderful starts and finishes, but nice ones. It seemed like they played it safe though. Nice, though predictable platings. Seamless service though a slight hiccup at the beginning.

and

It isn’t out there and the food isn’t exactly adventurous, but I didn’t expect it to be. It’s one of those places where if I want to feel comfortable and have a homey feeling, I’d go to, which is why it’s been such a success for such a long time. I myself am an adventurous eater, but sometimes I want to tone it back, and Gramercy is the type of place I want to eat at when I want to take it back a little.

If you rate Le B slightly lower or even a step lower than GT and it's because of the food (not as memorable as that of GT) or no standouts, then I understand. However, that's not my impression of your review. Your review indicates that you loved Le B and found it "satisfying". Similar to your review of GT, except that the language you use throughout the review above would indicate (at least to me) that you found Le B on par with that of GT, not at a lesser status.

Is there something I'm missing?

Soba

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I don't quite understand.

You rate Gramercy Tavern an 8 but Le Bernardin a 7?  And the service seemed comparable.

Your words:

Here at Gramercy they weren’t wonderful starts and finishes, but nice ones. It seemed like they played it safe though. Nice, though predictable platings. Seamless service though a slight hiccup at the beginning.

and

It isn’t out there and the food isn’t exactly adventurous, but I didn’t expect it to be. It’s one of those places where if I want to feel comfortable and have a homey feeling, I’d go to, which is why it’s been such a success for such a long time. I myself am an adventurous eater, but sometimes I want to tone it back, and Gramercy is the type of place I want to eat at when I want to take it back a little.

If you rate Le B slightly lower or even a step lower than GT and it's because of the food (not as memorable as that of GT) or no standouts, then I understand. However, that's not my impression of your review. Your review indicates that you loved Le B and found it "satisfying". Similar to GT.

Is there something I'm missing?

Soba

Well, I sort've expected this. My ratings aren't on the restaurant overall, just on how I felt my night went compared to what I expected from the restaurant. Usually I rate on its former reviews, what the restaurant is set up to be (upscale fine dining, casual fine dining, casual, etc.), and though more than I'd like to let on, I rate on bang for the buck as well. From Gramercy, I got the exact service I was expecting, maybe even a little more. As for what I received at Le Bernardin, there was nothing wrong with the service, it was perfectly fine... very functional and serviceable, but it didn't seem to go that extra long mile... it was four-star. I had no problem with it, but I think they could have done more. I still have no problem with it, however. If anything, it just adjusts my expectations on what I think I'm going to get when (or if.) I dine at a Daniel's, or Jean-Georges.

I came out of both Gramercy and Le Bernardin happy with the meal I just had. Both very satisfying, both with good food and service. I just wasn't expecting as much from Gramercy, and maybe I was expecting too much from Le Bernardin.

I will say that my expectations and views on restaurant can change throughout this adventure because I'm really gaining knowledge about what it is to be a diner at some of these places.

That being said, what do you guys think of me abandoning a rating at all?

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You expected a four-star experience from the restaurant, and you received a four-star experience. That in itself should be enough, as far as "bang for the buck" is concerned.

It's difficult for me to see exactly how much further it could have gone to exceed your expectations, when what you received was up to standard.

I think that you should go in and place less emphasis on your expectations and just focus on the meal at hand. If you feel you must rate your experience, then please consider that ratings formed on the basis of one seating are nowhere near as useful or as informative as those formed over a series of visits.

Soba

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I am a fan of the (your) rating system.

In my opinion, you are allowed to give Grammercy a higher rating than Le Bernardin if you want. Maybe 30 other people have a different opinion, so what? Everyone has different experiences at restaurants. Personally I love Le Bernardin, I often tell people that my meal there is what made me become a cook. I've also been told by people there that they've had better experiences at 1 star establishments. To each his own...

Keep these coming, it's great reading.

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[...]

That being said, what do you guys think of me abandoning a rating at all?

That might be a good idea, especially if you're questioning whether controversy over your ratings adds much to this thread. Instead, you can simply describe in words what you thought of your meal and how it did or did not fulfill your expectations.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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You expected a four-star experience from the restaurant, and you received a four-star experience.  That in itself should be enough, as far as "bang for the buck" is concerned. 

It's difficult for me to see exactly how much further it could have gone to exceed your expectations, when what you received was up to standard.

I think that you should go in and place less emphasis on your expectations and just focus on the meal at hand.  If you feel you must rate your experience, then please consider that ratings formed on the basis of one seating are nowhere near as useful or as informative as those formed over a series of visits.

Soba

The concern I have over that is that I wouldn't be able to express my own opinion through the rating. I rated LB lower than GT because I felt that I had a better time at GT because I was surprised that it went that extra mile. It's nothing the Le B did to get a lower rating because I had a wonderful time, it's just that I think I would more readily go back to GT than there.

As for rating the meals subjectively as that one seating to that one restaurant, I'm going to have to think about that... mostly because then I'd have to re-rate everything I've been to. Not a bad idea though. I'll consider it before my next meal.

One of the main reasons I'm doing the thread is so we can compare/contrast restaurants. I was hoping that a rating system would help that along, not for contoversy... as it may have started (unintentionally) to be. I've got to consider that as well. Anyway, I'm sure I'll make decisions on how I plan to continue contributing before my next report.

Thanks for all your comments.

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Seems fair.

I think one inherent shortcoming of the (your) rating system is that four-star restaurants generally have a different sense of scale as opposed to say, three-star restaurants, of which GT is a prime example. And even within the universe of four-star restaurants, not all four-stars are equal. For example, I daresay that if you went to Per Se, you might rate Per Se a 9 over Le B. Then again, you might not.

It's not surprising that you found GT to have gone the extra mile. GT is famous for doing that.

Thanks for the explanation, btw.

Soba

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Justin, just wanted to let you know how much I'm enjoying this thread-- and how much I'm learning. Thanks to you and to everyone who is contributing with knowledgeable comments and questions.

Also, for what it's worth, I like the rating system-- of course it's subjective, but aren't they all?

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That being said, what do you guys think of me abandoning a rating at all?

I think you'll get no clear answer to this question and you'll be sorry you posed it.

FWIW, as someone who took issue with one of your ratings, I think you should keep giving them. I like the way you use the rating to sum up your experience, tallying the strengths and weaknesses of your latest meal.

"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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