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New York's Most Over-Rated


rich
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To me, the perfect example of an overrated restaurant is Nobu.  I have never been, but it seems to me the main reason why it is always talked about and people go, is because they're likely to see a celebrity there.

Nobu has its ups and downs, but it is a serious restaurant, and the vast majority of people who go there are not looking for celebrities. I'd advise you to give it a try and then tell us what you think about it.

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I think it's worth remembering that, for every well-regarded restaurant in the world, there are those who think it's overrated. This isn't surprising -- uniformity of opinion can rarely be found in the arts. Plenty of people thing Picasso and Hemingway are overrated too. And when it comes to restaurants the critical literature isn't all that well developed, plus you have the problems of inconsistency and fleeting taste memory.

Nonetheless, I think when you take the example of Peter Luger (Rich, you devil, you found another opportunity to say Bern's is better than Luger's!), there is some pretty compelling evidence that supports the orthodoxy. For one thing, there are the numerous accounts of the purchasing practices of Peter Luger's owners -- time and again we hear testimony supporting the simple claim that Peter Luger buys the best. For another thing, while popularity can be deceptive and there can always be a failure of consensus, Peter Luger has such strong across-the-board support from such a seemingly agenda-free and diverse group of connoisseurs that it's hard to take the detractors all that seriously. I think David Rosengarten wrote the most authoritative review of Peter Luger on record, in Gourmet, based on six visits close in time plus many more visits over the long haul. It's one of those reviews that radiates authority. I think he nailed it.

I guess I did find another way to commend Bern's, but that wasn't my intent when I started this thread.:smile:

Opinions are just that and I wanted to find out what people thought about high-priced or popular places that don't quite live up to their hype. Let's face it, most of us are on some type of entertainment budget. And with the cost of dining out ever increasing, I think it's very important to get expert views on what restaurants do not live up to their PR.

I certainly don't want to over-emphasize the negative, but when you're spending $200-300+ for dinner (for two), I think you should have as much information as possible before deciding where to eat. It's very similar to the over-priced wine list thread. I read that not as a negative, but as an informative piece on what some restaurants were doing. Since I always order a bottle of wine with dinner, it's nice to know what people's experiences have been in a particular place. The same should hold true for this thread. Alone I won't influence anyone's opinion about a place (nor should I), but when a similar perspective is expressed by several, then people should at least accept the possibility.

I get your point about restaurants having to be rated before being over-rated, but I think the list should go beyond the top ten in the Zagat favorite list.

My list was based on the sounding board theory, ie. what restaurants I hear mentioned most by my friends and acquaintences. Obviously, I had to visit each place more than once and found my opinion to differ from the mainstream. What I find most interesting about this thread is the number of people who agree about Luger.

I think this solidifies my point. While Luger isn't a bad steakhouse by any stretch of the imagination, it isn't what it was. Years ago when Luger was mentioned, people would genuflect. Today, they barely tip their hat and certainly don't place money in the collection box.

Edited by rich (log)

Rich Schulhoff

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

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I think that music that's "difficult" usually has very strong flavors (harsh dissonances, "ugly" timbres, complex forms, etc.), if you want to use an analogy. Music that's too "subtle" (I'd say boring) to sound like anything worth a damn at my first hearing is unlikely to meet with my approval on subsequent hearings, unless the performance was at fault. By analogy, again, perhaps a restaurant that serves seemingly clashing flavors that are interesting but not fully appreciated on a first trip may be worth more trips. But one that's so subtle that it seems like nothing on a first trip? I don't know, though I get your point. But part of what we're dealing with is cost-benefit analysis and part is how much patience a person has with revisiting what was a disappointing experience for them. And no, I can't fault Steingarten, but I can say that few would be willing to do what he did on their own dime and time, and I find it pretty hard to fault them, either.

Analogies will always get me in trouble. It's also likely that although being a chef is akin to being a composer, the chef may be more like a performing artist. That's especially true where his finest skills may elude the casual diner/listener but impress his peers. As I've also been a great fan of minimalism in the arts, we're not going to find much common ground in analogies of cuisine to music or art.

I suppose it gets back to the nature of the "problem" and whether that's a personal fault or universal criticism. My problem with great restaurants is that they're expensive. Nevertheless, my problem doesn't in any way speak to the question of whether they are over rated or not. In fact, whether a restaurant appeals to me or not, may have little to do with how it should be rated, just as how it is rated may not have much to do with whether the restaurant satisfies me. I will admit to a curiosity about any highly rated restaurant and have been known to pay a high price to eat in a restaurant that I suspect will not please me. I would not argue with anyone who called my hobby a vice. On the other hand, the risk is quite saner than say, skydiving, at least in my mind. I do remember times when a disappointing meal at any price was bitterly frustrating. At that stage in my life, I suppose it would have been a real vice to have had an obsession with fine restaurants. I may have gone without a new TV or furniture, but I never bet the baby's milk money on an expensive meal.

My point here is just to say that taste is very subjective. No restaurant is over rated to the person doing the rating and all restaurants are going to be over rated to someone. Zagat is living proof that my taste is not a popular one, and I've seen the restaurants I most admire and respect, trashed in this thread and restaurants I think of as second tier at best, highly touted. The value of the posts in this thread may be limited to getting a better grasp of whose comments will be most meaningful to me in the future. Otherwise, a postive review is always more meaningful to me than a negative one. While I know few people share my tastes, I also know that if someone finds something worthwhile in a restaurant, I should be able to appreciate it for that much myself.

Robert Buxbaum

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Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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At the risk of turning this into yet another Luger's based flamewar, (you mean it isn't already?) it seems that there are 4 reasons people frequently state for disliking Luger's.

1. Other than the steak, pretty much everything else stinks.

2. My meat didn't come at the doneness I wanted it (and I didn't mention it to the waiter, who should have been psychic)

3. I have had what I feel is a better steak somewhere else at some point in time.

4. I have been to Luger's several times, I have been to other steakhouses, I do not feel what Luger's is doing is up to snuff.

#4 is valid. The other 3 are not. If I go to a sushi joint and complain that their pasta is disappointing, this is my fault, not the restaurant's. Luger's is just about the steak. If you go expecting something else, that is your fault, not theirs. If your meat isn't cooked the way you want it, send it back - doneness and personal preference are not an exact science. No one claims every Luger's steak is the best steak on earth - other places may hit equally high notes. The difference is in frequency - basically every steak at Luger's is at an amazingly high level, other places will reach that level of achievement with much less frequency, if ever.

Faulting a restaurant for one's own preferences, especially for something as simply prepared as steak - it has no sauce to hide behind - is to fault them for one's own foibles.

I want pancakes! God, do you people understand every language except English? Yo quiero pancakes! Donnez moi pancakes! Click click bloody click pancakes!

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I think that music that's "difficult" usually has very strong flavors (harsh dissonances, "ugly" timbres, complex forms, etc.), if you want to use an analogy. Music that's too "subtle" (I'd say boring) to sound like anything worth a damn at my first hearing is unlikely to meet with my approval on subsequent hearings, unless the performance was at fault. By analogy, again, perhaps a restaurant that serves seemingly clashing flavors that are interesting but not fully appreciated on a first trip may be worth more trips. But one that's so subtle that it seems like nothing on a first trip? I don't know, though I get your point. But part of what we're dealing with is cost-benefit analysis and part is how much patience a person has with revisiting what was a disappointing experience for them. And no, I can't fault Steingarten, but I can say that few would be willing to do what he did on their own dime and time, and I find it pretty hard to fault them, either.

Analogies will always get me in trouble. It's also likely that although being a chef is akin to being a composer, the chef may be more like a performing artist. That's especially true where his finest skills may elude the casual diner/listener but impress his peers. As I've also been a great fan of minimalism in the arts, we're not going to find much common ground in analogies of cuisine to music or art.

I suppose it gets back to the nature of the "problem" and whether that's a personal fault or universal criticism. My problem with great restaurants is that they're expensive. Nevertheless, my problem doesn't in any way speak to the question of whether they are over rated or not. In fact, whether a restaurant appeals to me or not, may have little to do with how it should be rated, just as how it is rated may not have much to do with whether the restaurant satisfies me. I will admit to a curiosity about any highly rated restaurant and have been known to pay a high price to eat in a restaurant that I suspect will not please me. I would not argue with anyone who called my hobby a vice. On the other hand, the risk is quite saner than say, skydiving, at least in my mind. I do remember times when a disappointing meal at any price was bitterly frustrating. At that stage in my life, I suppose it would have been a real vice to have had an obsession with fine restaurants. I may have gone without a new TV or furniture, but I never bet the baby's milk money on an expensive meal.

My point here is just to say that taste is very subjective. No restaurant is over rated to the person doing the rating and all restaurants are going to be over rated to someone. Zagat is living proof that my taste is not a popular one, and I've seen the restaurants I most admire and respect, trashed in this thread and restaurants I think of as second tier at best, highly touted. The value of the posts in this thread may be limited to getting a better grasp of whose comments will be most meaningful to me in the future. Otherwise, a postive review is always more meaningful to me than a negative one. While I know few people share my tastes, I also know that if someone finds something worthwhile in a restaurant, I should be able to appreciate it for that much myself.

Agreed Bux, but your last few sentences may shed some light on a different perspective about this thread. The five restaurants that I mentioned on top are not without merit. None of them should be considered bad restaurants, but (and here is where the money factor enters) in my opinion they don't live up to their hype and cost. I understand this is a negative, but I'm not reviewing the restaurants - just merely stating there are better vaules/choices out there for your dining dollar. If any of them were truly bad, I would not have gone back a second time (no matter who was paying).

Let me describe examples. I happen to think the Tasting Room, Landmarc and L'Impero are three of Manhattan's better places to eat. However, if Landmarc raised their wine and food prices by 50-100 percent, I probably woudn't dine there and would consider it over-rated. If the Tasting Room eliminated their wonderful wine list, I wouldn't be as interested and may consider it over-rated and not worth the time. If L'impero slipped slightly in its food preparation and interesting menu choices, it would still be a "good" Italian restaurant but no longer what in once was, and I would consider it over-rated.

Yes, those are negative things that occur within restaurants for various reasons. While they may not make any of those restaurants bad, it may affect the way people think about them. FG doesn't enjoy Chanterelle as much anymore because (I'm paraphrasing here) he says the menu is stuck in the past. (Correct me if I misinterpreted your views Steve). I'm sure he doesn't think it's a bad restaurant, but he would probably say it's over-rated by those (myself included) who think it's one of the better places in Manhattan.

Edited by rich (log)

Rich Schulhoff

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

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I suppose to be overrated one must first be rated. In that regard it's worth looking at the ten favorite restaurants of Zagat survey participants:

1.  Gramercy Tavern                   

2.  Union Square Cafe                 

3.  Daniel                             

4.  Gotham Bar & Grill               

5.  Blue Water Grill               

6.  Peter Luger

7.  Babbo

8.  Bouley

9.  Jean Georges

10.  Nobu

To me, the most outrageous inclusion on that list is Blue Water Grill, an utterly unremarkable restaurant. Union Square Cafe at number two is also pretty silly, but at least Union Square Cafe is a very good restaurant. All the others, I can at least see the argument, even if I don't agree. So by that standard I would say Blue Water Grill and Union Square Cafe are the most overrated.

FG, what did you expect from Zagat? I wouldn't have even given it the credibility of posting its Top 10; As has been discussed ad infinitum here, almost nothing about Zagat is credible.

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But, we are discussing overrated here. Are we discussing overrated in terms of the general population?, or are we discussing overrated here on Egullet?

If we are discussing generally overrated fine dining, then Zagat is a good benchmark.

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Let me describe examples. I happen to think the Tasting Room, Landmarc and L'Impero are three of Manhattan's better places to eat. However, if Landmarc raised their wine and food prices by 50-100 percent, I probably woudn't dine there and would consider it over-rated. If the Tasting Room eliminated their wonderful wine list, I wouldn't be as interested and may consider it over-rated and not worth the time. If L'impero slipped slightly in its food preparation and interesting menu choices, it would still be a "good" Italian restaurant but no longer what in once was, and I would consider it over-rated.

I'm not quite sure everyone shares your definition of "over rated." I think the standard interpretation of "over rated" would be "significantly not as good as it is commonly held to be." In your Landmarc example, for example, it sounds like it would be over priced but perhaps not over rated. Similarly, if Tasting Room eliminated its wonderful wine list or if L'impero's food preparation slipped, these places would only be over rated if the generally accepted perception of their quality remained the same. This is the point that Steven makes upthread: Before you decide that a place is over rated, you have to have some understanding of where it is commonly understood to be "rated" in the first place. Further, ErinB makes a good point in that you should have an understanding of the population that is doing the "rating." Are we talking about places that are eGullet favorites or that are popular with tourists and businesspeople? Beyond that, I think you have to take personal preference into account, because there may be a restaurant that is not personally to your taste but which nevertheless achieves at a high level and deserves its good reputation.

--

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Let me describe examples. I happen to think the Tasting Room, Landmarc and L'Impero are three of Manhattan's better places to eat. However, if Landmarc raised their wine and food prices by 50-100 percent, I probably woudn't dine there and would consider it over-rated. If the Tasting Room eliminated their wonderful wine list, I wouldn't be as interested and may consider it over-rated and not worth the time. If L'impero slipped slightly in its food preparation and interesting menu choices, it would still be a "good" Italian restaurant but no longer what in once was, and I would consider it over-rated.

I'm not quite sure everyone shares your definition of "over rated." I think the standard interpretation of "over rated" would be "significantly not as good as it is commonly held to be." In your Landmarc example, for example, it sounds like it would be over priced but perhaps not over rated. Similarly, if Tasting Room eliminated its wonderful wine list or if L'impero's food preparation slipped, these places would only be over rated if the generally accepted perception of their quality remained the same. This is the point that Steven makes upthread: Before you decide that a place is over rated, you have to have some understanding of where it is commonly understood to be "rated" in the first place. Further, ErinB makes a good point in that you should have an understanding of the population that is doing the "rating." Are we talking about places that are eGullet favorites or that are popular with tourists and businesspeople? Beyond that, I think you have to take personal preference into account, because there may be a restaurant that is not personally to your taste but which nevertheless achieves at a high level and deserves its good reputation.

I agree Sam, but if those things occurred to those places I mentioned, then they would be over-rated when compared to their previous performances. For example, I think Luger's is over-rated because it was once the best (by far) and now it's only one of the best. Yet (in my opinion), the majority of people and critics still believe it out-performs all other steak houses.

So if I go to Landmarc tonight and the price of the bone marrow is now $25 and my favorite bottle of wine is now $50 instead of $28 then it becomes over-rated becuase it's not the "go to" place anymore. It's merely "one of." But it still has its old reputation by most accounts.

Now granted places can be over-rated because someone perceives they're not as good as commonly held. Such is the case with Daniel (for me), where on both occasions it was disappointing, so I've never known it to be anything else.

Rich Schulhoff

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

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I agree Sam, but if those things occurred to those places I mentioned, then they would be over-rated when compared to their previous performances. For example, I think Luger's is over-rated because it was once the best (by far) and now it's only one of the best. Yet (in my opinion), the majority of people and critics still believe it out-performs all other steak houses.

It still depends on common perception. There are several parts to this question:

1. Has the quality of the steak at Peter Luger substantially declined?

2. If yes, is the common perception of the Peter Luger that the steak there is just as good as it was in the 70s? If no, then it is not over rated on this basis. If yes, then we are one step closer to over rated. I doubt this figures particularly highly, because very few people are in a position to make that comparison and few are making it.

3. Does Peter Luger serve, on average, the best steaks by far?

4. If no, is the common perception that they do? If yes, then we're closer to over rated.

5. Here is the tough part: you have to ask yourself whether it's just you. If it's just you, then you can really only say that it's over rated for you. At some point, though, if person after person and trusted critic after trusted critic says that it's still head and shoulders above the rest. . . then you have to start maybe accepting that you're just getting a different read on the place and chalk it up to personal preference.

So if I go to Landmarc tonight and the price of the bone marrow is now $25 and my favorite bottle of wine is now $50 instead of $28 then it becomes over-rated becuase it's not the "go to" place anymore. It's merely "one of." But it still has its old reputation by most accounts.

Well, that depends. It depends on whether Landmarc would keep its reputation with the general public (or whatever group you're looking at) were the prices to go up by roughly double. My strong suspicion is that it wouldn't. The only way Landmarc could be over rated according to your hypothetical is if a substantial portion of its reputation concerns low prices, and if it kept the reputation for low prices despite a substantial increase. It would be over rated with respect to the prices in that case. If, on the other hand, the reputation of Landmarc as a restaurant with a particularly felicitous pricing structure were to change with their increased prices but the reputation of the food served there remained the same, it's hard to see how this would constitute "over rated."

By the very nature of the word "over rated," the only way something can be over rated is if it is rated higher than it deserves. For something to be over rated in the general sense means that it has to have a rating of X among a certain population (the general public, eGullet members, food critics, whatever) when it actually deserves a rating of X-y.

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I agree Sam, but if those things occurred to those places I mentioned, then they would be over-rated when compared to their previous performances. For example, I think Luger's is over-rated because it was once the best (by far) and now it's only one of the best. Yet (in my opinion), the majority of people and critics still believe it out-performs all other steak houses.

It still depends on common perception. There are several parts to this question:

1. Has the quality of the steak at Peter Luger substantially declined?

2. If yes, is the common perception of the Peter Luger that the steak there is just as good as it was in the 70s? If no, then it is not over rated on this basis. If yes, then we are one step closer to over rated. I doubt this figures particularly highly, because very few people are in a position to make that comparison and few are making it.

3. Does Peter Luger serve, on average, the best steaks by far?

4. If no, is the common perception that they do? If yes, then we're closer to over rated.

5. Here is the tough part: you have to ask yourself whether it's just you. If it's just you, then you can really only say that it's over rated for you. At some point, though, if person after person and trusted critic after trusted critic says that it's still head and shoulders above the rest. . . then you have to start maybe accepting that you're just getting a different read on the place and chalk it up to personal preference.

So if I go to Landmarc tonight and the price of the bone marrow is now $25 and my favorite bottle of wine is now $50 instead of $28 then it becomes over-rated becuase it's not the "go to" place anymore. It's merely "one of." But it still has its old reputation by most accounts.

Well, that depends. It depends on whether Landmarc would keep its reputation with the general public (or whatever group you're looking at) were the prices to go up by roughly double. My strong suspicion is that it wouldn't. The only way Landmarc could be over rated according to your hypothetical is if a substantial portion of its reputation concerns low prices, and if it kept the reputation for low prices despite a substantial increase. It would be over rated with respect to the prices in that case. If, on the other hand, the reputation of Landmarc as a restaurant with a particularly felicitous pricing structure were to change with their increased prices but the reputation of the food served there remained the same, it's hard to see how this would constitute "over rated."

By the very nature of the word "over rated," the only way something can be over rated is if it is rated higher than it deserves. For something to be over rated in the general sense means that it has to have a rating of X among a certain population (the general public, eGullet members, food critics, whatever) when it actually deserves a rating of X-y.

It seems the discussion is becoming based on the definition of the term "over-rated." Since it's the beginning of baseball season, please indulge me and allow the use of a baseball analogy. It works here because, I think everyone is aware (even non-sports fans) of the two things in baseball today: high salaries and steroids.

First salaries - If a team signs a player for $1 million a year because of his potential and that player never achieves said potential, then he was over-rated by the team. However, the team also signs another player for $300,000 and his numbers turn out to be the same as the $1 million player and the club is very happy with their decision. This is comparable to the cost/value factor of a restaurant.

Steroids - An individual player averages 50 home runs a year and threatens to break all types of home run records and becomes rated as the best in the game. Then it's found out this was accomplished while using steroids. But league officials, some die-hard fans and fellow players say steroids had nothing to do with his past performance and say he is still the best. But other fans and writers say he is/was over-rated and now performs with the top tier but not above it. Granted this is an extreme example, but it can compare to a restaurant that was once considered the best, but for whatever factor has now slipped into being part of the top-tier, yet is still considered the best by many.

These are different examples of the way people can perceive someone/thing as over-rated. I believe both are valid. And I'm sure there are others.

Edited by rich (log)

Rich Schulhoff

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

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These are different examples of the way people can perceive someone/thing as over-rated. I believe both are valid. And I'm sure there are others.

The main argument I would have with that is you are talking about something that is quantifiable in numbers.

If a player is expected to hit certain figures and then does not it is possible to say that he was over-rated.

If something is expected to equal 10 but only equals 5 – then it can be said that it was over-rated.

If you pay $800,000 for a house and expect it to increase to $1,000,000 in ten years and it only reaches $900,000 – then you can say it’s value was over-rated.

These are not subjective elements but are measurable in numbers – return on investment, statistical expectations.

With something that is subjective, like whether or not a restaurant is over-rated, numbers do not apply – not even prices – because those are relative to the amount of money you can afford to spend.

Is a Rolls Royce over-rated?

You must look at the source of what causes you to perceive the “value” of a dining establishment before you have ever visited and

what contributes to your disassociation of it being at it’s previous level.

Was it ever really at that level to begin with – or was it just the first time you ever ate Beluga Caviar?

And now you are tired of said caviar.

If the rating of a restaurant is quantifiable in numbers, then McDonald’s is the gastronomic leader.

"At the gate, I said goodnight to the fortune teller... the carnival sign threw colored shadows on her face... but I could tell she was blushing." - B.McMahan

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FG, what did you expect from Zagat?  I wouldn't have even given it the credibility of posting its Top 10; As has been discussed ad infinitum here, almost nothing about Zagat is credible.

I am a major disbeliever in Zagat, but the one rating that is credible is the popularity rating. Popularity, as opposed to Zagat's other ratings, is not an evaluation of a restaurant, but rather a statement that people are making about themselves. It is based on people listing their 5 favorite restaurants.

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It is based on people listing their 5 favorite restaurants.

Now that is a rating quantifiable in numbers.

The main problem with most types of “star” reviews is that there is no point of reference.

At least when Ebert reviews a movie and someone has paid attention to his reviews over the years, you can get a feel for what he likes and dislikes and his progression or digression – so you know if he says X is good or bad you have more of an idea of whether or not you will like it.

I have a good friend who’s tastes are near a diametrical opposition to mine, she drinks tons of soda and many other things loaded with High Fructose Corn Syrup and eats tons of processed food filled with concentrated flavorings and MSG in all it’s forms and as a result suffers from what I refer to as “Strip Club Palate” – meaning her food literally has to “shake it in her face” for her to be interested.

She would refer to my taste in an equally derogatory manner.

She also has a general aversion to more authentic ethnic cuisines – particularly Indian – but tends to like them when they are more geared toward the American palate.

So when she says something is good or bad, knowing her taste I have a point of reference.

If something is “just sweet enough” for her it is most likely too sweet for me – if she doesn’t care for a certain Indian restaurant, chances are I might like the food there.

So her “negative” and “positive” reviews have become reverse indicators for me, not to say we never agree on anything or that my taste is “better” or “worse” than hers – it simply means we eat different things and have different taste.

That is the way of the entire world and as a result it makes any “rating” of a restaurant

based on the taste of the food almost worthless.

All you can really “rate” is its mechanical operation and compare it’s mechanical operation to similar models.

The rest is just your singular opinion.

"At the gate, I said goodnight to the fortune teller... the carnival sign threw colored shadows on her face... but I could tell she was blushing." - B.McMahan

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To me, the perfect example of an overrated restaurant is Nobu.  I have never been[...]

I haven't either, so I can't cite it as an example of an overrated restaurant. The most I could say is that a certain number of people have expressed the opinion that it's overrated and a certain number have said it's properly rated.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Analogies will always get me in trouble. It's also likely that although being a chef is akin to being a composer, the chef may be more like a performing artist.

Yep, and in some ways like the Director of a film or play.

That's especially true where his finest skills may elude the casual diner/listener but impress his peers. As I've also been a great fan of minimalism in the arts, we're not going to find much common ground in analogies of cuisine to music or art.[...]

Here, we run into difficulties with analogies not only between cuisine and the fine arts but between the fine arts themselves. I'm not sure which painters might properly be called "minimalists," but I suspect my reaction to their work would be considerably different to my reaction to music that repeats itself with slight changes for extended periods of time. There's a big difference between subtlety in a painting or, for that matter, a dish, than between very drawn-out repetitiveness. A closer musical analogy might be an understated, subtle, and perhaps short work (I'm thinking Webern, who actually puts a great deal of complexity into short works, but an argument could be made for Satie -- and neither are properly called Minimalists). But I think we can all see the analogies breaking down at this point.

I will admit to a curiosity about any highly rated restaurant and have been known to pay a high price to eat in a restaurant that I suspect will not please me. I would not argue with anyone who called my hobby a vice. On the other hand, the risk is quite saner than say, skydiving[...]

That's quite a funny analogy there! :laugh:

My point here is just to say that taste is very subjective. No restaurant is over rated to the person doing the rating and all restaurants are going to be over rated to someone. Zagat is living proof that my taste is not a popular one, and I've seen the restaurants I most admire and respect, trashed in this thread and restaurants I think of as second tier at best, highly touted. The value of the posts in this thread may be limited to getting a better grasp of whose comments will be most meaningful to me in the future. Otherwise, a postive review is always more meaningful to me than a negative one. While I know few people share my tastes, I also know that if someone finds something worthwhile in a restaurant, I should be able to appreciate it for that much myself.

Why should you be able to appreciate whatever someone finds worthwhile in a restaurant? People find all kinds of total crud worthwhile! As you said, look at Zagat! Nay, look at all the awful chains and disgusting artificial flavoring-laden processed food that sells the pants off superior luxury items that are so touted on these boards.

But anyway, I feel that the best reviewers can describe something well enough that, even if they give it a bad review, the reader should be able to make a good guess as to whether s/he would like it. And how useful I find a review on this site depends to a large extent on how well I know a member's taste and how closely I've found it corresponds to my own taste -- and that's regardless of whether the review is good or bad (in terms of rating, of course, not writing). I really don't understand why you wouldn't find a bad review as useful as a good review, if the same person was writing both and both were equally clear on what the cuisine was like and what the writer did or/and didn't like.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Like porn, I know over-rated when I see it. I throw into the ring, Norma's, the bastion of the power breakfast.

It gets a lot of hype. (I think that's a prerequisite for over-rating.)

And because of the hype a lot of people go to it.

It's over-priced to the point of feeling like a rip-off.

$7 for warm orange juice, over-priced pancakes and waffles which you can get better and cheaper all over the city. And, ahem...can anyone say $1,000 frittata.

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And, ahem...can anyone say $1,000 frittata.

$1,000 frittata. :biggrin:

Sorry.... I couldn't resist.

It's like that "shave and a haircut" knock from Roger Rabbit.

"At the gate, I said goodnight to the fortune teller... the carnival sign threw colored shadows on her face... but I could tell she was blushing." - B.McMahan

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I don't think Norma qualifies because who highly rates it?

That's like asserting that Tavern on the Green or One if by Land Two if by Sea are overrated...they're not, because no one likes them anyway (except for tourists).

curiously, the $1,000 frittata is arguably a good deal...the actual food cost in that gimmick is apparently around 65-70% of the total.

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I don't think Norma qualifies because who highly rates it?

That's like asserting that Tavern on the Green or One if by Land Two if by Sea are overrated...they're not, because no one likes them anyway (except for tourists).

curiously, the $1,000 frittata is arguably a good deal...the actual food cost in that gimmick is apparently around 65-70% of the total.

Norma's was recommended to me by numerous New Yorker foodies. Also, when I went, the place was packed and not just with tourists, which I understand is the norm. What was that Berra quotation...? "No one goes there anymore, it's too crowded."

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I'm polling my inner zeitgeist here. i'm working on a vibe and maybe word of mouthish place. purely opionion (and practically fact :wink: )

Nobu, used to be good and exciting, fresh and alive. It is now attributed those qualities without maintaining them. The food has not continued to evolve and now it stagnates. I also feel there has been a decline in the quality of the fish (or perhaps the rest of the city has just stepped up?) Even with omacase, this restaurant needs the vitality of an invetive leader to keep the "shiny and new" feeling that defined it's once splendid cuisene. I'd still eat there..just with lowered expectations.

Mesa grill. ugly space, cold high ceilings, neon green and tangerine walls. flavors that have not been reinvented since the 8o's (or so it seems) there was nothing "special" about this place except the prices...people say "yippe elevated southwestern!" I say "whuts this chip-i-toe-lay pepper? some newfangled ingrediant?" BORING. Dont be mistaken, the food is fine, just not watercooler talk.

blue water grill. like a seafood cafeteria. waiters who don't know about the oysters, tables too close, feels like a stepped up chain restaurant new york style. There is also rarely a somollier on hand, yet plenty of expensive wines. bah.

Union square Cafe. Where to start? Everything is fine. the service is nice on time etc. food comes hot blah blah blah. what? you have the fish? snore.

bubby's. this popular "brunch spot" is an unpleasant delve into 3 year old drool and waitors who get next to nothing right. You could wait longer on the sidewalk, and at the table for your food to arrive that it takes to eat it. the faux rustic quaint thing placed in the middle of tribeca is perhaps the restaurants way of thumbing it's nose at our gullibility 'ha! you thing you are in hastings! pay 200.00 for this omlet the other table ordered'

Cafeteria's macaroni and cheese. It's just not that good. though there is in fact quite a bit of cheese in it and a nice crust, it's just not that tasty unless you have been drinking all night. they shouold also scrap the chive garnish, it's just wrong.

there will be more...later

edited to add., I can't spella nd my punctuation stinks. not going to change it.

Edited by Luckylies (log)

does this come in pork?

My name's Emma Feigenbaum.

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To me, the perfect example of an overrated restaurant is Nobu.  I have never been, but it seems to me the main reason why it is always talked about and people go, is because they're likely to see a celebrity there.

For me, when I think of an overrated restaurant, most often it's a celebrity chef's restaurant.  I've been to Wolfgang Puck's in LA, Bayless's in Chicago and was totally underwhelmed. 

I'm going to agree with Pan and say that if I'm paying $75+ pp for a meal, I expect a very good to excellent experience.

I can't really think of any major celebrity chef's in NYC who's restaurants aren't looked at favorably.  Generally Batali's restaurants are looked at well, and even in recent years Bobby Flay's have been getting positive comments as well, I think.

I only ate once at Nobu. Family gathering. My cousin is a dentist for the chef's kids. And we had a table for 12 in the back - 8 pm on a Friday night (usually a difficult or impossible reservation). "Chef's choice" dinner. Outstanding meal. But I would not be surprised if it helped to have friends in the kitchen to get that kind of meal. And one shouldn't need to have friends in the kitchen to get a great meal at a very expensive supposedly great restaurant.

By the way - we had a totally mediocre meal at Wolfgang Puck's in Beverly Hills too. People I've spoken to with "friends in the kitchen" there have had different experiences. Robyn

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Personal opinion only

We have found the following to be direly over rated based on our vistis

Union Square

Le Bernardin

P Luger

Daniel [over and over and over!]

Gotham

Shakey recently [not originally]

Aureole

Jean George [used to be exciting...no longer]

Don't see the enthusiasm for

Veritas

Gotham

equivocal on Gramercy

No longer find these A"wow!!!"

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