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Gilt


greensNbeans
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A couple of things...

Gilt closing for lunch (true?), one would hope would be more of a reflection of the economy many of us live in and they just realized it wasn't working.

Lunch HAS to be profitable which means you need some bodies, fair amounts of them.

I think that this would have probably come about regardless of a review.

I'm going to attempt to keep my mouth shut about some of the other junk being floated about...

2317/5000

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Gilt closing for lunch (true?), one would hope would be more of a reflection of the economy many of us live in and they just realized it wasn't working.

Given the timing, a fair inference is that the lunch trade was already dire, but they didn't want to rock the boat till after the review appeared. Had Gilt received four stars, perhaps they would have kept the lunch service going, but this isn't assured. At lunchtime, the market for that kind of luxury dining is much more limited. Even Per Se serves lunch only on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Alain Ducasse stopped its lunch service several years ago. I'm sure there are other examples—Craft comes to mind.
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Gilt closing for lunch (true?), one would hope would be more of a reflection of the economy many of us live in and they just realized it wasn't working.

Given the timing, a fair inference is that the lunch trade was already dire, but they didn't want to rock the boat till after the review appeared. Had Gilt received four stars, perhaps they would have kept the lunch service going, but this isn't assured. At lunchtime, the market for that kind of luxury dining is much more limited. Even Per Se serves lunch only on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Alain Ducasse stopped its lunch service several years ago. I'm sure there are other examples—Craft comes to mind.

Per Se and ADNY are not located in business areas. Gilt is at 50th and Madison, that puts you within a few blocks of among other things the headquarters of Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase, a slew of things at Rockefeller center, the US headquarters of Sony, many of NY's more profitable law firms, primary NY office of IBM etc etc etc, not to mention that Gilt is located in a large and very expensive hotel and is behind Saks and close to Bergdorf. It's also only a 50 seat dining room. If any area could support an expensive restaurant, its where Gilt is.

Per Se probably has issues with lunch because of timing, it takes a long time to eat there. Cafe Grey seems to have a significant weekday lunch business in the same building. As someone who works at a bank, I know it is key for lunch business to be able to turn out lunch in at most 90 minutes, and 60 is better.

Note that a number of restaurants downtown do OK in the weekday lunch business, Bouley, Chanterelle, Nobu next door.....

I work near Craft...no other area that I am aware of has as many high end restaurants that serve lunch...everything from Eleven Madison to Gramercy Tavern to Fleur de Sel.

Edited by Todd36 (log)
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Todd: Do you regret not cancelling your reservation as you originally planned?

No, I think the value I got for the money was OK. I mean I paid $135 PP for a large tasting menu, and except for that fishy fish, it was all at least good. I had dinner tonight at Blue Hill, and the food was significantly better, the vegetables in particular, I suppose the ingredents at Blue Hill were not as fancy, no truffle for example. Blue Hill always has very good vegetables, but too much salt tonight.

I looked carefully at the Gilt wine list. It's hard for me to judge the mark-up, lots of unusual stuff, but overall, there were a fair number of things under $60 a bottle. They had stuff from around the world, like reds from Argentina for $40 a bottle. Fleur de Sel has a more expensive wine list, little under $60, and Per Se is way more expensive. We did a $75 PP wine pairing, and it wasn't bad. Wines by the glass started at around $14, and on the menu that point out clearly that is a 6 oz glass. They have some crazy expensive stuff by the glass. Gilt also has very expensive cocktails, as in $22.

If Gilt gets its act together, it could be very good. I have the impression that it is not a tightly run ship, in the kitchen and in the front. Try confirming your reservation. I think Bruni detected the same thing. Two stars may have been harsh, but I see where he was coming from. Actually, Fleur de Sel seemed to me to be a bit like Gilt, I had dinner there about a month ago. The food was not memorable and I was wondering where it got its reputation from.

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I'm wondering whether a restaurant like this might not have benefitted from a longer pre-opening period, much like the previews Broadway shows have. It sounds from Todd's reports like they're still experimenting and having significant problems with consistency and even quality.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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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.

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I'm wondering whether a restaurant like this might not have benefitted from a longer pre-opening period, much like the previews Broadway shows have. It sounds from Todd's reports like they're still experimenting and having significant problems with consistency and even quality.

The assistant manager on duty said that he felt that Bruni had been unfair by reviewing them so quickly after opening, 7 weeks to the day by his count from opening to the day the review came out. He also thought that Bruni might have been there as few as three time. He also claimed that no one in the industry has a good idea what Bruni looks like....More time might very well help. A staff member who said they had worked for a year at Per Se said that at Per Se, the meal flowed and was well planned, something they felt was not true at Gilt. They also felt that becuase of the fire at Per Se, by the time Bruni reviewed it, they had had got their act together and had improved considerably. That may all be true. But 7 weeks in should be long enough to have their act together.

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That might have been it---skin was included and looked like that photo, like red snapper skin. I've seen it on restaurant menus before, I don't think it's that exotic.

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If they're charging full price for the meal, they should have their act together. If they don't have their act together yet, they should still be in a pre-opening period, serving food for invited guests or at a discount only. At those prices, I'm not that sympathetic to their feeling that it was unfair for them to be reviewed this early. After all, you, too, were their guinea pig, or at least that's the feeling I get from the report you posted. Not having visited myself, I don't know what I would have thought of the experience, but again, at those prices...

Having said that, I do think Bruni should have waited longer, and I don't trust his opinion, anyway. But still...

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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7 weeks in should be long enough to have their act together.

There are certainly degrees of "getting your act together." I think most who have opened a restaurant would agree that 7 weeks is very quick to be judged in a way that will greatly affect the ability of the restaurant to survive. Especially if the intended standard is to be high... no matter who you are. The idea that once your doors are open you're fair game is in practice, not all that practical.

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I went to Per Se the second day it was open (before the fire) and there was no indication of clumsiness or things being out of sync. In fact, I was totally impressed by the organization of the kitchen during the tour.

I normally give restaurants a pass to iron out the kinks when they open. Saying that, at the level of Per Se and Gilt strive to operate, those things should be worked out (for the most part) before the doors open. If you want to play in the big leagues and your prices reflect that image, then you can't fall back and expect to be judged by a lower standard. You reap what you sow. No free lunch without a menu.

Another point - Gilt will not succeed or fail because of the NY Times review. Maybe that was true twenty years ago, but today a less than stellar review by the Times may help more than it hurts - because of the paper's historic and rapid fall into mediocrity.

Rich Schulhoff

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

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I also sensed that Liebrandt hasn't quite got a handle on what he's trying to achieve culinary, at least on a conceptual level. This brand of cooking, while a logical extension of what came before it in his personal chronology, is more subdued, especially as far as flavor is concerned. At his past restaurants, flavor was more aggressively developed -- more decisive, you could say -- whereas now it is more "natural," which means he lets the ingredients speak for themselves. From this perspective, almost any two ingredients can be combined without creating a loud disharmony, as faint always pairs well with faint. My experience at Gilt, especially when compared to the meals others have eaten, has shown me there is a last-minute aleatory nature to the cuisine; Liebrandt suddenly decides to add or take away a particular garnish, or plop down two extra vegetables used from a main, or use an amuse he used at lunch as a side dish. His kitchen cooks, and cooks very well. Although I appreciate the improvisatory aspect of dining at Gilt, I do understand how it seemingly undermines itself to those looking for a strong, singular experience. If anything, I found the food a bit underwhelming. Like most people here, I didn't have a problem with the complexity, and especially when planned, difficult cuisine can be brilliant. When haphazardly constructed on the fly, it can feel as though there's no internal logic to it. People like rhyme and reason, and rhyme and reason that speaks loud and clear, rather than hushed and muddled.

il

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I went to Per Se the second day it was open (before the fire) and there was no indication of clumsiness or things being out of sync. In fact, I was totally impressed by the organization of the kitchen during the tour.

I normally give restaurants a pass to iron out the kinks when they open. Saying that, at the level of Per Se and Gilt strive to operate, those things should be worked out (for the most part) before the doors open. If you want to play in the big leagues and your prices reflect that image, then you can't fall back and expect to be judged by a lower standard. You reap what you sow. No free lunch without a menu.

Another point - Gilt will not succeed or fail because of the NY Times review. Maybe that was true twenty years ago, but today a less than stellar review by the Times may help more than it hurts - because of the paper's historic and rapid fall into mediocrity.

At 9 PM on a Friday, about 1/3 of the tables were empty and stayed that way. You can't stay open for long if that keeps happening. I don't know if that is a result of the NYT or not. I just did a seach on Open Table, and Gilt has more opneings for next Saturday night than either Daniel or Danube....not a good sign.

Trotting out my 1968 NYT Restaurant Guide, Craig Claiborne gave four stars to Peter Luger and three stars to P.J. Clarke's. In fact, he gave three stars to several bars. Not to mention two stars to Benihana of Tokyo...... In fact, if you think Bruni's reviews are wacky with stars, I suspect you would think Claiborne's were from another planet.

People have been complaing for years that the NYT isn't what it used to be, in all areas. I think this is a variation of "nothing is as good as used to be". Given that I have Claiborne's 1968 book, anyone is going to have a very hard time convincing me of the decline in qualtity of NYT food reviews.

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7 weeks in should be long enough to have their act together.

There are certainly degrees of "getting your act together." I think most who have opened a restaurant would agree that 7 weeks is very quick to be judged in a way that will greatly affect the ability of the restaurant to survive. Especially if the intended standard is to be high... no matter who you are. The idea that once your doors are open you're fair game is in practice, not all that practical.

What gives me pause here is the saucing.... I don't recall ever having four courses sauced at a table, being done badly by several different servers and one of them commenting that the kitchen does a much better job saucing than they do. In seven weeks, you can either figure out to train people to sauce or figure out that you shouldn't be doing it so much at the table. You get a general feeling that things are not run as they should be.

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A very interesting dichotomy of opinion has developed here about this restaurant. :hmmm:

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

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I went to Per Se the second day it was open (before the fire) and there was no indication of clumsiness or things being out of sync. In fact, I was totally impressed by the organization of the kitchen during the tour.

I normally give restaurants a pass to iron out the kinks when they open. Saying that, at the level of Per Se and Gilt strive to operate, those things should be worked out (for the most part) before the doors open. If you want to play in the big leagues and your prices reflect that image, then you can't fall back and expect to be judged by a lower standard. You reap what you sow. No free lunch without a menu.

Another point - Gilt will not succeed or fail because of the NY Times review. Maybe that was true twenty years ago, but today a less than stellar review by the Times may help more than it hurts - because of the paper's historic and rapid fall into mediocrity.

At 9 PM on a Friday, about 1/3 of the tables were empty and stayed that way. You can't stay open for long if that keeps happening. I don't know if that is a result of the NYT or not. I just did a seach on Open Table, and Gilt has more opneings for next Saturday night than either Daniel or Danube....not a good sign.

Trotting out my 1968 NYT Restaurant Guide, Craig Claiborne gave four stars to Peter Luger and three stars to P.J. Clarke's. In fact, he gave three stars to several bars. Not to mention two stars to Benihana of Tokyo...... In fact, if you think Bruni's reviews are wacky with stars, I suspect you would think Claiborne's were from another planet.

People have been complaing for years that the NYT isn't what it used to be, in all areas. I think this is a variation of "nothing is as good as used to be". Given that I have Claiborne's 1968 book, anyone is going to have a very hard time convincing me of the decline in qualtity of NYT food reviews.

I can tell you from personal experience that when Gilt first opened, you couldn't get a near-term reservation there. I don't know if the Times review is what changed that (actually, I'd bet it was the Times price-gouging article), but something did.

As for Claiborne and his stars, it's long been noted in the "stars" discussions that pop up in various threads here that back in the days of Claiborne and Sheraton, the "star" awards were much more, um, whimsical than they are now, recognizing "off the beaten path" places and types of places that would now be thought to be "definitionally" unworthy of high ratings. In an extremely illuminating post, Fat Guy explained how "institutionalization" of the star system was necessary as, over time, the reviewing post passed (as it inevitably had to) from culinary gods to mere mortals. In other words, someone of the stature of Craig Claiborne could give two stars to some bar and make it credible, whereas even someone like Bryan Miller couldn't.

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
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People have been complaing for years that the NYT isn't what it used to be, in all areas.  I think this is a variation of "nothing is as good as used to be".  Given that I have Claiborne's 1968 book, anyone is going to have a very hard time convincing me of the decline in qualtity of NYT food reviews.

I wasn't using the "out of date" star system to make my case on the demise of the NY Times. Claiborne created the Times system and gave out stars based on his own formula. That Luger got four stars (I would have given Luger four in the 60's) or bars got three in 1968 under Claiborne has no bearing whatsoever on today's NYC restaurant scene.

What's happened since is simple evolution (Darwin would say it's actually reverse evolution). It's my most important argument against the star system - since the same publication has published so many starred reviews by so many different reviewers, the stars have become irrelevent.

The Times is in a state of decline editorially - across the board. That argument left the building a couple of years ago with anyone remotely associated with the media. It has nothing to do with "...nothing is as good as it used to be," though the Times would like you to believe such. That the food section has followed the news, sports, entertainment, etc. departments only speaks to the consistency and conformity of the decline.

Once known as the "paper of record," the once hallowed halls of the Times has become known as the vessel of ineptitude within the media industry. Most industry professionals look at the paper so they know what not to do in this age of instant media gratification. And one of the things they notice is moving people into positions who have no qualifications in said area. A look at the last two years of restaurant reviews is all you need to read to diagnose the spreading cancer. And, unfortunately for NYC denizens, there's no current therapy to cure it.

Rich Schulhoff

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

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A very interesting dichotomy of opinion has developed here  about this restaurant. :hmmm:

Interesting observation, doc.

I'm finding it very vulturous.

The new garnishes being added or taken away on the whim sounds very Gagnaire.

I like that.

Enjoy the blizzard...

2317/5000

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The cooking at places like JG, Per Se, and Le Bernardin (and probably ADNY but I can only judge from what I've seen and read, as I haven't eaten there) seems very measured and controlled to me. Very, very good, and still transcendant, but Gilt adds a measure of creativity to fine dining. Creativity not just in the menu, but in the way dishes are imgained, served, and presented.

Perhaps they should be focusing on a more singular and repeatable experience, but to me I find the "inconsistency" refreshing. I use "inconsistency" not necessarily in the derogatory sense, but in a sense that inspires a bit of anticipation and personability. Is the food a higher quality at JG and Per Se, yes, but Gilt has its own somewhat quirky niche within the NYC fine dining circuit.

I find Gilt and Cru to be good foils of one another. Both are great restaurants serving creative cuisine (though Gilt is somewhat more expensive), but I find Gilt much more pleasurable because the restaurant just seems to have more inspiration.

Edited by BryanZ (log)
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I normally give restaurants a pass to iron out the kinks when they open. Saying that, at the level of Per Se and Gilt strive to operate, those things should be worked out (for the most part) before the doors open.
I basically agree with this, but a review seven weeks after opening is definitely on the quick side of things, especially given the lack of bandwidth to come back and review the place again anytime soon.
Another point - Gilt will not succeed or fail because of the NY Times review. Maybe that was true twenty years ago, but today a less than stellar review by the Times may help more than it hurts - because of the paper's historic and rapid fall into mediocrity.

I might believe that if reputable restauranteurs actually were happy with unfavorable reviews. But to the contrary, when they have anything publicly to say about it, restauranteurs are — as one might predict — unhappy about bad reviews. I doubt that they were in a partying mood at Gilt last Wednesday morning.
At 9 PM on a Friday, about 1/3 of the tables were empty and stayed that way. You can't stay open for long if that keeps happening. I don't know if that is a result of the NYT or not. I just did a seach on Open Table, and Gilt has more openings for next Saturday night than either Daniel or Danube....not a good sign.
There's only so many people in this town who will spend that kind of money on a meal. If the first wave of curiosity-seekers are less than wowed, they probably won't be back, and they certainly won't send their friends. I usually say that the Times reviews are close to irrelevant, but Gilt's upscale clientele are more likely to be Times readers. For someone on the fence, Bruni's review didn't offer much encouragement.
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In re-reading the Gilt review--I keep getting the feeling that Bruni is not providing an accurate review of the experience one can have dining there.

For example he seems to base his assessment of the food upon his observation that the dishes are overwrought or too complicated. The implication is they do not "come together." --fair enough but I can't help but feel that once again Bruni succumbs to his reporter's habit of finding a hook and then hanging his entire review on it.

That is, his criticism of the wait staff's descriptions of the food sets the tone and then permeates the review. I get the feeling that Mr Bruni had his hook and nothing he encounters in his visits to Gilt will "get in the way" of his conclusions.

He makes no mention of the fact that Gilt's menu is divided into two distinct parts: "Classical" and "Modern" with classical dishes seemingly designed for less adventurous eaters. (is this a recent change in the menu that was not operative when Bruni dined there?)

He makes no mention of lunch--an important part of any mid town restaurant's service.

He writes little of the wine service and wine list giving it an offhand mention.

As for his "hook" --he provides little or no context--Liebrandt is, afterall, ventures into "experimental" cuisine--a knowledgeable waitstaff providing diners with information can be helpful (it can annoy some--my wife still recalls unfondly the lengthy ingredient descriptions at Blue Hill at Stone Barns).

There is a difference between as mr Bruni puts it: "a tutorial on the workings of the menu" and "a treatise on the thought process" behind the cooking.

Bruni (and his "dining companions") don't ask for a paired down recitation--which is what many diners with his aversion would do. Nor do they apply the "treatise" on the thinking behind the cooking--perhaps in that treatise is an explanation of what the chef is attempting to accomplish with the dishes Bruni feels are overwrought.

Basically the reader takes away: "me and my pals thought the food was too complicated."

This is not satisfactory for a review of food with high concept.

The cooking at Gilt may be in reality overwrought--but after Bruni's review I am not convinced one way or the other.

Very importantly:

Bruni does not let readers know if a less adventurous meal can be had (a slightly different experience). If, in fact, the restaurant goes to the trouble of providing a dual menu then Bruni is derelict in not discussing this in his review. I wonder if Bruni felt that this would detract from his "hook" about Liebrandt and complicated food.

There seems to be some confusion as Gilt's menu and pricing seems to be evolving--one has to be really jaded to believe the changes are due to Mr Bruni's helpful insights--but it is clear that the ingredients --and the supplemental prices are subject to availability. (what else is new in a restaurant with these pretensions).

Bruni still does not provide any indication that one can dine more simply here and he certainly does not attempt to provide any context for what the chef is attempting to achieve with the dishes Bruni does not like--maybe Bruni and his dining pals should have paid attention!

Bruni's assessment of Gilt may be right on--I just do not trust him.

Edited by JohnL (log)
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bruni did the same thing to me at cru

where we also had the menu divided among classical and modern

specifically designed to let diners choose their experience

he also did not mention this

he just seems to have a bone to pick with "edginess" even blanketed with coddling dishes

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NY Metro (NY Magazine) out with a pretty good review of Gilt. Can't seem to find the number of stars that easily in the article, but I guess it got 3 given the comments at the end of the review.

NY Magazine Review of GILT

Given treats like this, Gilt should be bustling with all sorts of fine-dining swells by now, but curiously, it’s not. Maybe that’s because there’s so much about the place, starting with the name, that seems faintly precious and stagy. Or maybe it’s that the new décor feels temporary and slapdash, as if the tenants were worried they might be evicted at any time. In the end, however, Liebrandt’s unique talents prevail. Catch the show while you can, before this virtuoso chef heads for the hills again.

Scratchpad: The pricing and the atmosphere are a little outlandish, but Liebrandt is clearly an elite chef. If his menu were larger and more varied, we’d be tempted to give him a fourth star.

Edited by ASM NY (log)

Arley Sasson

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NY Metro (NY Magazine) out with a pretty good review of Gilt. Can't seem to find the number of stars that easily in the article, but I guess it got 3 given the comments at the end of the review.

Curiously, Platt gave three stars to Del Posto last week, but this review seems considerably more favorable. Bear in mind that NY uses a 5-star scale, so three stars from them aren't quite as luminous as three from the Times.
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That is a sweet looking picture in the NY Metro piece.

After reading the piece, I find Platt's description to be a very accurate portrayal of the restaurant. Unlike Bruni, he isn't obsessed with the "hook," and makes astute observations on the complete dining experience--the gilded setting, the sometimes complexity of the food, etc.

Edited by BryanZ (log)
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