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LaCroix at the Rittenhouse Hotel


Peter LaGuardia
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Nobody injects turkey with tryptophan. It's an amino acid that occurs naturally in all meat, but has a somewhat higher concentration in turkey. Tryptophan is essential for the body to create serotonin (which makes you sleepy), but the theory that the tryptophan in turkey actually makes you sleepy on Thanksgiving is pretty far-fetched for a few reasons. I think injecting turkeys with it would be 1) completely ineffective at increasing its presence in the meat for a few biological reasons and 2) frowned upon the FDA, which banned tryptophan supplements awhile back because of negative side effects.

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Nobody injects turkey with tryptophan.  It's an amino acid that occurs naturally in all meat, but has a somewhat higher concentration in turkey.  Tryptophan is essential for the body to create serotonin (which makes you sleepy), but the theory that the tryptophan in turkey actually makes you sleepy on Thanksgiving is pretty far-fetched for a few reasons.  I think injecting turkeys with it would be 1) completely ineffective at increasing its presence in the meat for a few biological reasons and 2) frowned upon the FDA, which banned tryptophan supplements awhile back because of negative side effects.

Not to mention it only works when you're not full, which is probably why on Seinfeld they had red wine as a backup when they wanted to play with that lady's toy collection.

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Well...

I approached this review all ready to harrumph and poo-pooh, but I have to admit, the meals he describes sound much better than anything I ever had under Mr Lacroix's stewardship. Personally, the service always seemed fine, but then that kind of thing has to be pretty egregious to bother me. But the food just sounds damn good. Butter-poached langoustines... Sure, minor tweak on everybody's favorite, but I'm happy to exchange boring ol' lobster for my personal favorite seafood (barring carabinieri in piri-piri sauce, but that's a lost cause). And lemon-licorice root puree somehow seems like something that works with this dish. Can't wait to find out if it lives up to my expectations.

For the moment, and assuming LaBan isn't just flat off the mark, I think I'm just glad to have the experience to look forward to. Though I'd rather the promotion didn't come across as such a slight to Jean-Marie Lacroix.

On an interesting (and hopefully less fraught) side-note, Rick Nichols has some nice things to say about snackbar in his column - until, that is, a last paragraph that I'm having trouble reading as anything other than snide.

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For the moment, and assuming LaBan isn't just flat off the mark, I think I'm just glad to have the experience to look forward to. Though I'd rather the promotion didn't come across as such a slight to Jean-Marie Lacroix.

I dont think it should be taken as a slight to Lacroix but interestingly, he praises his legacy and then caps it off with......"The arrival of new chef Matthew Levin, however, is proving to be just the energy jolt that Lacroix the restaurant needed."...............which makes it sound like one of these "We have come to bury Ceasar not to praise him" speeches but I dont think that is Laban's intent.

Regardless he is the critic and he can write as he sees fit.

What is curiously interesting though is that the food as described doesnt seem to be breaking any new ground per-se but merely being served with interesting accompaniments.

I mean really...a lobster tempura, butter poaching another shellfish and seafood cappucinos and lattes. It also seems gratuitous inaccuracies (not lies) are increasingly used to impress the public without really contributing anything to flavor.......such as....

"The multicourse tasting meals, meanwhile, are a showcase for sharp concepts and prized ingredients - like the season's first Nantucket Bay scallops (a tiny harvest Lacroix divvied up with Thomas Keller at Per Se and Alex Stratta in Vegas.) Levin served them pristinely, but with a tweak, the sweet raw scallops shined in prime olive oil and citrus vodka, then scattered with the tart crunch of tiny diced apples and the salty pop of caviar"

Since when did serving raw scallops with olive oil, apple and caviar become a tweak ????

Now that is just totally bullshit, all the scallops in Nantucket bay did not go to 3 restaurants in America and prime seafood restaurants like le bernadin and oceana were not interested.

But it makes for impressive cache and great company.....Stratta's Vegas place may be the best seafood restaurant in America.

But really, at least 30 different people harvest scallops in Nantucket and for any 3 restaurants to *exclusively* share the first harvest requires a lee harvey oswaldian-jack rub-ish conspiracy.... :laugh:

Edited by Vadouvan (log)
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For the moment, and assuming LaBan isn't just flat off the mark, I think I'm just glad to have the experience to look forward to. Though I'd rather the promotion didn't come across as such a slight to Jean-Marie Lacroix.

I dont think it should be taken as a slight to Lacroix but interestingly, he praises his legacy and then caps it off with......"The arrival of new chef Matthew Levin, however, is proving to be just the energy jolt that Lacroix the restaurant needed."...............which makes it sound like one of these "We have come to bury Ceasar not to praise him" speeches but I dont think that is Laban's intent.

Regardless he is the critic and he can write as he sees fit.

What is curiously interesting though is that the food as described doesnt seem to be breaking any new ground per-se but merely being served with interesting accompaniments.

I mean really...a lobster tempura, butter poaching another shellfish and seafood cappucinos and lattes. It also seems gratuitous inaccuracies (not lies) are increasingly used to impress the public without really contributing anything to flavor.......such as....

"The multicourse tasting meals, meanwhile, are a showcase for sharp concepts and prized ingredients - like the season's first Nantucket Bay scallops (a tiny harvest Lacroix divvied up with Thomas Keller at Per Se and Alex Stratta in Vegas.) Levin served them pristinely, but with a tweak, the sweet raw scallops shined in prime olive oil and citrus vodka, then scattered with the tart crunch of tiny diced apples and the salty pop of caviar"

Since when did serving raw scallops with olive oil, apple and caviar become a tweak ????

Now that is just totally bullshit, all the scallops in Nantucket bay did not go to 3 restaurants in America and prime seafood restaurants like le bernadin and oceana were not interested.

But it makes for impressive cache and great company.....Stratta's Vegas place may be the best seafood restaurant in America.

But really, at least 30 different people harvest scallops in Nantucket and for any 3 restaurants to *exclusively* share the first harvest requires a lee harvey oswaldian-jack rub-ish conspiracy.... :laugh:

Dunno from no mollusk: maybe the very very first harvest, we're talking about? You know, the boat that made it back ahead of all the other boats?

As to your other points... There's this thing I call "critic's disease", mostly with respect to movies: they see so many of them that they can get jaded, and things seem familiar and boring when they see a dozen alike every season. They tend to like new things just because they're new. But most moviegoers don't see that many movies. They don't get bored. And to them, a well-made movie is a good thing, even if it's a retread.

Now, I know where you stand on novelty just to epater les bourgeois. I know food tasting good is your first criterium, innovation coming in a distant second. But you are still someone who is deeply familiar with the industry, and you recognize all the little touches people crib from one another. It's good to call that out. But you need to realize the hugely vastest majority of diners haven't even heard of butter-poached lobster - or of the French Laundry, for that matter. Heck, I know them both, and I think of myself as well ahead of the curve - but licorice root is new to me, and I like the thought. Apples and caviar served with raw scallops seems like something that would have been tried - but I've never encountered it.

LaBan needs to keep his audience in mind when he writes. You're just way ahead of the rest of us.

And about the slighting of J.-M. Lacroix... It sounds like there was plenty to like about the changes at this particular restaurant. But I've come to believe LaBan lets his personal biases show pretty regularly. I'd be interested in knowing just how the two got along.

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And about the slighting of J.-M. Lacroix... It sounds like there was plenty to like about the changes at this particular restaurant. But I've come to believe LaBan lets his personal biases show pretty regularly. I'd be interested in knowing just how the two got along.

I thought that Laban went to great lengths to stay unrecognized which would rule out a chance forthe two to not get along. Am I mistaken?

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re:

(a tiny harvest Lacroix divvied up with Thomas Keller at Per Se and Alex Stratta in Vegas.)

That's an interesting point, V: that certainly sounds like a claim a chef would have made, I doubt the Inky put a team of investigative journalists on the trail of the scallops' provenance. But more to the point, as you suggest, I wonder if it's a meaningful factoid. Was there actually something extraordinary about that batch of shellfish? I suppose it would be noteworthy if they were especially amazing, and in fact nobody else in the country had access to any. Even if the statement is factually true, that the entire boatload of the first catch went only to those three places, is it significant? Did no more come in the next day?

Now, who knows, maybe LaBan fact-checked that claim. But I can't imagine that most food writers would feel it's important to verify something like that, I mean it doesn't exactly rise to the level of whether a country is hiding WMD or anything... If he was just repeating an anecdote the chef told him, I'd feel better if the statement had been phrased: "a tiny harvest the chef said they divided up with Thomas Keller...." or something like that. I suppose the point was that the restaurant has the pull to source excellent ingredients, and that's worth noting. But citing that specific example does sound a little press-release-ish.

Nonetheless, I happen to think that LaBan knows what he's talking about, so I'm sure the food is good. The review certainly made me want to go back, which I'd been wavering about since JML left. And I'm glad to hear that the place is good, it's nice to have something both elegant and innovative, a combination that's not so common around here!

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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" ...the French fries at lunch - the beneficiaries of a three-day treatment involving duck fat and truffle oil - were unbelievably good."

The above from Laban's review!

AAAHHHH!

Duck fat and truffle fries!

We drove in the snow last January, east of Epernay in Champagne, to a town called St. Menehould, just because we heard about their duck fat fries!

AND

The place wasn't open!!

We have to go to Lacroix and have those fries!

(On another note, the town of St. Menehould is full of Louis 15th history, and it's the first time that Mr. Tarte Tatin had real Pied de Cochon. The restaurant that was open, had pigs foot about 10 different ways. Louis had a real thing for pig's feet too, and that's where he ultimately got caught, so they say...Me? I had an omelette. Not that adventurous)

Philly Francophiles

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I don't know if it's similar to the situation about the scallops only going to 3 places but a fisherman friend of mine that is a fairly big day boat scalloper supplier for a lot of restaurants has on several occasions come back with very small catches for one reason or another (mechanical or weather ect.) and calles his best customers while on the way back to the dock and several times they (3 or 4) have bough out the entire catch before he's even returned to the dock.

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I was a bit hesitant with the post. I was afraid it may have come off a bit abrasive and overly opinionated. Anyway, here it is again:

This afternoon a group of coworkers and I had lunch at Lacroix. Having dined there before I was pretty excited as the overall experience was quite memorable. Unfortunately this time it did not live up to my expectations, especially after being awarded the coveted 4 bell rating.

It wasn't so much that the food was terrible, in fact it was generally good, it was the service that was truly lacking. I am not sure if this was due to the fact that it was lunch and the staff isn't as attentive as dinner, but the space was only about 30-40% full, so it wasn't because they were too busy.

Throughout the course of the meal we refilled our own wine and water. My rib eye entree got mixed up with my coworkers (mine was supposed to be medium rare, his was medium) but since we picked up on it before we ate any we just changed plates.

So far, not too bad, a mix up and some inattentiveness, not what I would expect from a restaurant with rave reviews but I was looking forward to enjoying the rest of my meal. Upon cutting into the steak I noticed that the butchers twine was still wrapped around it. This seemed like a blatant oversight. The other problem with my dish was that the accompanying onion ring was room temperature at best, and soggy. Since I was with my coworkers and we were having a enjoyable time regardless of the service, i contemplated whether to bring these issues to the servers attention. Well, even if I wanted to the server never came by to ask us about our entrees. The bus boy took my plate empty with the exception of the ring of twine, without making comment.

On to the desserts.. The server came by and asked us about coffee and presented their mini pastries and desserts. They all looked great and we ordered the large tier requesting two of each. When they arrived we all selected the one we wanted and a coworker pointed out that the one she was planning on having (an orange something or other) was not included. We brought this to the servers attention and we were told that they were out of it. We were all a bit confused why something not available was presented as a selection. When we finished up our deserts we requested the check, which was erroneous as our bottle of wine was not on the bill.

When looking at the individual incidents, they don't seem like such a big deal. But when the whole experience is comprised of continuous mishaps it really becomes disconcerting and detracted from the experience. I know every establishment has its off days, that is understandable. But I would be dissatisfied with this type of service at a three bell (or star) restaurant and have a hard time believing it would occur in a restaurant that just received four bells.

Edited by kai_o (log)
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