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Urena


Eatmywords
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A wonderful review, as usual.

I will say that I am a bit puzzled by your emphasis on Urena moving to the borroughs.

Those neighborhoods are not inherently laboratories for lower market cuisine.

First of all, there is plenty of that happening in almost all neighborhoods of Manhattan.

Secondly, even I, a Manhattan resident with a bit of boroughphobia, recognize that there are restaurants - notably along the F train in Brooklyn - doing some serious work. Think Tempo, Applewood, 360, Grocery, etc.

Time past and time future

What might have been and what has been

Point to one end, which is always present.

- T.S. Eliot

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I don't think that's what he's saying. I think he's saying that, with real estate prices and media prejudices being what they are, it's easier for a young(ish) chef to develop in, say, Brooklyn than in Manhattan. In Manhattan, all eyes are on Urena and he has to hit a home run in order to stay in business. In Brooklyn, things are more forgiving. The fact that there are serious restaurants in Brooklyn proves rather than disproves this point.

(FWIW, I pretty much prefer to eat in Brooklyn than in Manhattan these days. The restaurants in Brooklyn lack that overheated air of desperation, or the need to play to the balcony, that so often queers the contemporary Manhattan dining experience. Not to mention that it's CHEAPER.)

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
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Man, you guys are tough!!!

Manhattan seems like very ruff territory these days for a new restaurant.

Re: El Bulli: Do you think Urena was there in the "earlier" days?

Before things got a bit more technical?

iheartoffal seemed to get it, or was there on a better night.

Wishing Urena the best.

2317/5000

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We all wish Alex and Urena the best. And hopefully I tried to indicate what I really liked and what I didn't, and the problematics of the restaurant.

The point, as in the title, is that in the hothouse of New York dining, chefs are able to open their own places in locations that demand a string of high spending clients before they are fully ready. We push chefs too hard in always searching for the next new thing. And many chefs go along.

I am suggesting that it might be better for a chef like Alex to work on his vision in a lower-rent arena, and even using less expensive (but still very high quality) ingredients until he is ready, has confidence, has an established clientele, and big pocket investors. How many high end restaurants can this market support, and will they flock to Urena at Flatiron prices. Time will tell.

I hope that every chef succeeds beyond his/her - and my - wildest dreams.

And, as I noted, if I gave stars I would rate the cuisine with its ups and downs as two star quality.

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We all wish Alex and Urena the best. And hopefully I tried to indicate what I really liked and what I didn't, and the problematics of the restaurant.

The point, as in the title, is that in the hothouse of New York dining, chefs are able to open their own places in locations that demand a string of high spending clients before they are fully ready. We push chefs too hard in always searching for the next new thing. And many chefs go along.

I am suggesting that it might be better for a chef like Alex to work on his vision in a lower-rent arena, and even using less expensive (but still very high quality) ingredients until he is ready, has confidence, has an established clientele, and big pocket investors. How many high end restaurants can this market support, and will they flock to Urena at Flatiron prices. Time will tell.

I hope that every chef succeeds beyond his/her - and my - wildest dreams.

And, as I noted, if I gave stars I would rate the cuisine with its ups and downs as two star quality.

Understood.

2317/5000

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I hope this place makes it. I have not dined there yet but I think people are being really hard on Alex. People want to see flashes of Blue Hill, and El bulli etc. Maybe this guy is trying to create an identity for himself. And when it comes to things being cheaply done, maybe the poor guy is on a limited budget. Maybe this was the best he could do at this moment. We should at least give him the credit for having the balls to open his own place in such a tough area. I wish him the best of luck and I am sure this restaurant will continue to improve and will have its own identity.

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Since you haven't eaten there, what makes you think that people are being overly hard on Urena?

I've tried to like Urena. I've been there twice. But it just isn't happening.

I first experienced Alex Urena's food at Suba. Dramatic space, good service, beautiful presentation, etc. I was a fan, and still am, they do Alex proud.

I went the first week he opened Urena and there were lots of problems, but I wrote it off to the opening jitters.

I went last week and nothing had changed. Menu is not Spanish and far from El Bulli (not even close). Food is good, but not exciting. Desserts are still dreadful. Room is dreary (every table feels like Siberia), missing light fixtures, etc.....and what lighting there was made my wife look ten years older than she is. I won't comment on the service or wine list.

I read Platt's review and felt he had hit the nail on the head, but was being kinder than anyone deserved.

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. . . .

I went last week and nothing had changed.  Menu is not Spanish and far from El Bulli (not even close).  . . . .

I read Platt's review and felt he had hit the nail on the head, but was being kinder than anyone deserved.

I found some of the early comments odd. I wanted to reply early in the thread, but decided to wait until I had eaten at Ureña. I was there last week for the first time. Let me first say that I enjoyed my meal very much. I should also note that I've met and been introduced to Alex when he was at Blue Hill and Marseilles. My daughter, who some may recall from another thread, featured Alex in an article she wrote on Blue Hill and ramps for Time Out just after Blue Hill opened. She also got to eat at Ureña before I did and and gave the food a thumbs up. Thus, I was eager to like the food and expected to like the food and thus it may not be a surprise that we liked the food. Perhaps it's more telling that our friends liked it and thought it was the best restaurant in walking distance from Tudor City where they live.

Also of significant importance to me is that it's still easy to get a last minute reservation. One of the ways in which I think NY is not a great restaurant town is that unlike Paris, I don't know a lot of restaurants in which I can get a great reasonably priced meal without making a reservation far in advance. The exception of course is in ethnic restaurants with heavy turnover and fairly fast dining, but restaurants where you can, and want, to spend two or more hours dining well on three courses are far less common in NY than Paris, or say Barcelona.

Taste is very subjective however and it's not all that interesting that one person likes a restaurant and another doesn't. What I find interesting is the focus on whether or not Ureña is a Spanish restaurant. The restaurant itself seems to have proclaimed itself as "Spanish," which might be unfortunate. Nevertheless, I suspect it was in response to the insistence of the press that it pigeonhole itself. I don't think there are any Spanish restaurants in NY. Meigas, west of SoHo was the closest perhaps, but it's gone. I say there are no Spanish restaurants for a number of reasons. One reason is that the food is very dependent on local provisions. The pork and seafood just tastes different there. I've also listened to successful arguments from Spaniards saying there's no national cuisine, simply because it's so regional. That's perhaps a less convincing argument, but I think it's tied very closely to the fact that few Americans know what Spanish food is or even what it is in Madrid. I was having that thought when I read the following paragraphs in a post in the Spain forum. I thought this might fit here, especially as it also touches on Adrià and elBulli, whose influence people somehow also expected to see at Ureña, in spite of the fact that that those Spanish chefs who have best made use of their time at elBulli, don't cook in imitation of Adrià. It speaks of Catalan cooking, rather than Spanish cooking, which in itself supports my contention that it's difficult to define Spanish food.

. . . .

I was in BCN for an unrelated roundtable discussion among foreign journalists for a Catalan audience (!!!) about how contemporary Calalan cooking can be defined and how it is seen abroad. Catalans are justly proud of having claim to the world's most important chef and are enjoying the media attention, but they are concerned that outsiders are largely unaware of or dismissive of traditional or non-Ferran Catalan cuisines.

I realized in the course of the discussion (but was perhaps unable to explain in my pidgin castellano) that for all its tsunami effect on  international kitchen technology, El Bulli has for the most part not transmitted a single integral, signature dish abroad. His ideas have caught on because people seized on his techniques and applied them to their own native dishes. What is now called modern Catalan (or, even worse for the local hosts, Spanish) cooking is really a compendium of vanguardist kitchen techniques, not an idiomatic regional cuisine that is recognized by your average foreigner. In Catalunya, for example, people are re-inventing the suquet, the escudella, escalivada, cap i pota, etc, but most of these words remain gibberish to my non-eGullet general readership.

I didn't know how to break it to my Catalan friends, but the nuances of Catalan cuisine remain almost unknown among my husband's business associates, for example. That reflects more on our own abiding ignorance and is no reflection at all on the inherent greatness of Catalan culture. Everyone by now has heard of Ferran, however. Perhaps Ferran is sucking too much oxygen for the comfort of his more nationalistic compatriots? Some of the chefs in the roundtable audience (including some very notable names) were sounding distinctly Salieri to Ferran's Amadeus.

In a way, Catalans might be grateful to be spared seeing their wonderful dishes bastardized in the manner that bolognese tagliatelle, paella, and sushi have been as they transitioned into mass-market international cuisine. However, those who want to create a rigid definition of "authentic Catalan" cuisine--no doubt as another battlefield of modern identity politics--have a lost cause. All the great, non-subsistence cuisines got that way from constant enriching contact with foreign influences--the tomato, potato, and chocolate are all cases in point. Ferran Agullo' in the "Llibre de la Cuina Catalana" said that the very power of Catalan cuisine resided in its ability to assimulate influence. Another writer, Josep Pla, said cuisine was landscape in a pot. We should remember that while a river looks eternal, it is always flowing from somewhere to somewhere else, and over a great deal of time, you would never recognize the place.

. . . .

Contemporary Spanish chefs, Ferran Adrià himself included, tend to say they're more influenced by American cooking than by French cuisine. (I'm talking about the generation after Arzak.) Thus it may be no surprise that it's sometimes hard to tell the difference between a modern Spanish restaurant and an American one. Not long ago I might have credited the absence of Asian elements as a difference, but even in Madrid, a relatively conservative city gastronomically, one of the best restaurants in town is a sushi bar with a Spanish chef and a fusion menu.

So the questions I'd pose to all who are disappointed that Ureña is not a Spanish restaurant in their opinion, is how extensively have you eaten in Spain, what did you expect the food to be like, and how is it not Spanish. What is very Spanish, or at least European or Franco-Iberian, to me, is the bright lighting level of the restaurant.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

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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. . . . .

Contemporary Spanish chefs, Ferran Adrià himself included, tend to say they're more influenced by American cooking than by French cuisine. (I'm talking about the generation after Arzak.) Thus it may be no surprise that it's sometimes hard to tell the difference between a modern Spanish restaurant and an American one. Not long ago I might have credited the absence of Asian elements as a difference, but even in Madrid, a relatively conservative city gastronomically, one of the best restaurants in town is a sushi bar with a Spanish chef and a fusion menu.

So the questions I'd pose to all who are disappointed that Ureña is not a Spanish restaurant in their opinion, is how extensively have you eaten in Spain, what did you expect the food to be like, and how is it not Spanish. What is very Spanish, or at least European or Franco-Iberian, to me, is the bright lighting level of the restaurant.

I'm not so sure about contemporary Spanish chefs crediting American cooking more than French cuisine, Bux. Michel Bras is a reference for many of them, clearly in the case of Berasategui and Aduriz. Adria's ground-breaking dish in 94, which many people himself included point as the dish which opened the way in his cooking, the menestra en texturas or textured vegetable panaché, is at the same time a deconstruction of a traditional dish as is linked with the garguillou from Bras. That said, tere seems to be consensus that the States will lead the next gastro wave eventually. Peru ranks high too in those bets.

Nonetheless, WD-50 is a restaurant that could exist in Spain without anyone noticing anything particular about it. Blue Hill, to some extent, would be in the same category. Since I haven't dined at Ureña, I don't know if that would be the case for them. What's your take on that, Bux?

PedroEspinosa (aka pedro)

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. . . .

I'm not so sure about contemporary Spanish chefs crediting American cooking more than French cuisine, Bux. Michel Bras is a reference for many of them, clearly in the case of Berasategui and Aduriz. Adria's ground-breaking dish in 94, which many people himself included point as the dish which opened the way in his cooking, the menestra en texturas or textured vegetable panaché, is at the same time a deconstruction of a traditional dish as is linked with the garguillou from Bras. That said, tere seems to be consensus that the States will lead the next gastro wave eventually. Peru ranks high too in those bets.

Nonetheless, WD-50 is a restaurant that could exist in Spain without anyone noticing anything particular about it. Blue Hill, to some extent, would be in the same category. Since I haven't dined at Ureña, I don't know if that would be the case for them. What's your take on that, Bux?

Influence of a single chef is much different than influence of a general cultural climate. Bras is most likely the number one influence, if not directly to all contemporary Spanish chefs, then to those leaders who are having the most influence within the country. Bras is not typical of French cooking. He represents a peak. What I sense in Spain is a synthesis of the French attitude towards techical excellence and perfection, and the American creative freedom. To some extent I base this on an offhand comment made to me when I was being taken on a tour of the kitchen at elBulli on my first visit, although I don't remember who it was who told me that Adrià had great respect for the freedom of American chefs. I'm also conscious of the range and number of American chefs being invited to Spain to participate in conferences and panels. To my mind, the number seems disproportionate to the number of French names I see.

In truth, I'd probably credit the spirit of new cooking in Spain to the Spanish zeitgeist, than to external influences anyway. There is a strong creative streak, perhaps stronger in some provinces than other, that's been repressed, but bound to surface sooner or later. I also sense, in Spain, a strong stubborn conservatism that enables great respect for discipline. For years, that discipline wasn't seen much in America except in chefs imported from France, or at least trained there. All too often, our chefs wanted to create before they had a good grasp of the basics. The probelm in France at the time, was that they were too wrapped up in traditional disciplines and unable to improvise outside the box. All of that is changing here and in France. The lead Spain has taken is rapidly becoming a global cuisine. I was tempted to say a western cuisine, but it's really going global. I don't mean to say that's good, or bad. I already miss some regional cooking that's becoming harder to find in many places.

Back to the issue most relevant to the this forum and a discussion of Ureña, I've said of Batali and Nusser's Casa Mono, that it didn't remind me of any restaurant or bar in Spain, but if it was plopped down in Madrid, it wouldn't be particularly out of place. Blue Hill is the restaurant that most comes to my mind when I'm dining in Spain, not because I think it serves Spanish food, but the underlying parallels to many highly touted restaurants in Spain, and perhaps to Bras as well, make comparisons a natural, in at least some aspects even where the direction is very different.

The odd thing is that somehow I sense an expectation both here, and in the press, that Ureña was going to be the Spanish anti Blue Hill, and that in my mind, has to be based not so much on a misunderstanding of what Alex was setting out to do, but perhaps on a misconception of what is Spanish about restaurants in Spain these days. For me these days, what's Spanish about the food in Spain may be the local seafood, meat and produce more than anything else. Alex is making extensive use of piquillo peppers, but Andrew Carmellini, who's just opened his restaurant practically around the corner, is using chorizos in his supposedly Italian dishes, I think it's going to be increasingly difficult to pigeonhole restaurants so easily in the future. At any rate, I'm not going to stay away from Andrew's restaurant either simply because anyone says it's not Italian.

Still, I'd be curious for the sake of understanding how others see this, to know exactly why people don't feel Ureña is a Spanish restaurant and even more to understand why that's a disappointment.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

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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Believe me, the intent is not to come here and trash the restaurant but my experience there was solidly mediocre by any standard.

I understand that when new restaurants are opening, there is some pressure to open due to financial projections but at the same time, the worst thing you can do is open the restaurant before the physical space is visually complete and the kitchen and service staff is able to communicate the vision of the chef to the diners.

This was the case of my dinner at Urena.

Unfinished Millwork, electrical conduit cable coming out of the wall (barely terminated) and well within view of diners entering, the open kitchen doorway which just gives you a view of a semi cluttered corner, the super bright lights, asking what wine we want to drink before showing us a menu so we can in fact pick wine based on what we are eating.

Cold food was too cold, hot food was barely warm, with 6 people in the restaurant, the pacing of the meal was way too long. Food was wrongly described on the menu without the server acknowledging that the menu was wrong (a U-12 scallop isnt a nantucket bay scallop).

As far as the food being Spanish, the only thing spanish about it is the use of some spanish originated ingredients like piquillo, Bouquerones ect ect.

No Serrano, Mojama, Pimenton Ahumado ect ect.

The overwhelming flavor profile does not taste spanish at all.

There is no clearly defined message or philosophy behind the restaurant.

Edited by Vadouvan (log)
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There's no excuse for opening a restaurant before it's finished--except perhaps the economics of cash flow. I tend not to rush to newly opened restaurants. I've been well advised not to do so by friends and relatives who have been involved in the opening and re-opening of what are considered top restaurants in NY. It's just risky to be among the first diners. Those places should simply be taken by friends and well wishers of the chef or owner. Unfortunately there's a NY subculture comprised of those who simply must be among the first. I've no doubt Vadouvan had a bad experience. He's articulated it well enough for us all to understand it wasn't a product of his imagination.

My feeling on early reports is that the media in NY reviews restaurants far too early in their life. Worse yet, amateur (non-professional food lovers) reviews are so quick to write off a place and include reasons that have a life span of about a week. By the time I got there, I didn't see any exposed electrical conduit. As for unknowledgeable servers, I haven't always been satisfied with explanations I've received at WD-50 or Blue Hill and I can rave about both of them with a very clear conscience. Service in NY is getting better, but it's rarely what it could be.

The mislabeling of the scallops is inexcusable, if only because it's all too obvious and clearly Ureña is aiming at attracting a clientele who can tell the difference. There's a good description of the development of Gramercy Tavern in other thread right now. Most of these faults, even the inexcusable ones, will likely pass. A restaurant this young can't be judged the same way as a mature restaurant. It's my understanding that this, for all it's sophisticated cuisine, is in many ways a mom and pop operation and with the exception of the overly large tasting menu, Ureña isn't an expensive restaurant by Manhattan standards. It's not a totally flattering room and lacks some distinctive character although I disagree on the extent of its design faults. I found the way the entrance opens the restaurant to the street to be quite inviting and the glow that emanates to be more golden than yellow.

As far as the food being Spanish, the only thing spanish about it is the use of some spanish originated ingredients like piquillo, Bouquerones ect ect.

No Serrano, Mojama, Pimenton Ahumado ect ect.

In response to what both Pedro and I have posted, I find it odd to hear that more regional ingredients would make it a more Spanish restaurant. I'm not sure I can identify a "Spanish" taste profile and I think I've articulated the reasons a post back. It's clear to me that Alex has solid grounding in what he learned at Bouley and that he's been influenced by the thinking that's going on in kitchens in Spain, but that he's not conscientiously trying to prove to anyone he's running a Spanish restaurant, nor should he introduce imported materials simply to appear as a Spanish chef.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

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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Has anyone been, word is he went to train at the Bulli and is doing "modern spanish" plus a pastry chef from the WD 50 ?

Sounds interesting....

I replied to this earier. Then I noted that his introduction to Spanish kitchens predates his affiliation with Blue Hill. It's not like he went off to Spain for the first time recently with the intent to return to NY and open a Spanish kitchen.

Anyone who has preconceptions about elBulli or "modern Spanish" cooking, is likely to be disappointed by Ureña, and quite likely by elBulli and modern Spanish cooking, or so I might expect.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

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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asking what wine we want to drink before showing us a menu so we can in fact pick wine based on what we are eating.

Off topic, but isn't this a problem at a surprising number of places (including many of a type where you'd assume they'd know better)?

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It's clear to me that Alex has solid grounding in what he learned at Bouley and that he's been influenced by the thinking that's going on in kitchens in Spain, but that he's not conscientiously trying to prove to anyone he's running a Spanish restaurant, nor should he introduce imported materials simply to appear as a Spanish chef.

I've seen the press release for Urena and the restaurant is described as Spanish. Ferran this, Ferran that and prominent mention of Suba and Alex's working Spanish food there. It reads very much like his bio on the Suba web site with the addition of information on the dessert chef (although it fails to mention that she is also a Suba alum). Last time I was at Suba I asked our waiter about Alex and he was very complimentary of him and his talent, less so of the dessert chef who apparently wasn't there very long. Suba and Urena do not have the same PR agency according to the manager I spoke with who also had only good things to say of both Alex and his dessert chef.

As a veteran of the restaurant business in NYC for over 20 years, I can also say that PR agencies take their lead from the client and that if they have been misrepresented, it is their own fault for not correcting the errors. A PR agency will often elaborate or embellish (the press more so), but they do not creat a misdirection of the client's intent.

Perhaps my disapointment is rooted in my expectations. As I posted earlier, I only know Alex from his menu at Suba. Now that I know he is going in an entirely different direction, I may give Urena another chance in a year or so.

But not until I hear better word of mouth from people I know and trust.

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i think that both adrias would agree that maximin was the single initial and greatest influence

many examples can be cited

i dont know of one spanish chef that has even alluded to being influenced by american cooking

. . . . .

Contemporary Spanish chefs, Ferran Adrià himself included, tend to say they're more influenced by American cooking than by French cuisine. (I'm talking about the generation after Arzak.) Thus it may be no surprise that it's sometimes hard to tell the difference between a modern Spanish restaurant and an American one. Not long ago I might have credited the absence of Asian elements as a difference, but even in Madrid, a relatively conservative city gastronomically, one of the best restaurants in town is a sushi bar with a Spanish chef and a fusion menu.

So the questions I'd pose to all who are disappointed that Ureña is not a Spanish restaurant in their opinion, is how extensively have you eaten in Spain, what did you expect the food to be like, and how is it not Spanish. What is very Spanish, or at least European or Franco-Iberian, to me, is the bright lighting level of the restaurant.

I'm not so sure about contemporary Spanish chefs crediting American cooking more than French cuisine, Bux. Michel Bras is a reference for many of them, clearly in the case of Berasategui and Aduriz. Adria's ground-breaking dish in 94, which many people himself included point as the dish which opened the way in his cooking, the menestra en texturas or textured vegetable panaché, is at the same time a deconstruction of a traditional dish as is linked with the garguillou from Bras. That said, tere seems to be consensus that the States will lead the next gastro wave eventually. Peru ranks high too in those bets.

Nonetheless, WD-50 is a restaurant that could exist in Spain without anyone noticing anything particular about it. Blue Hill, to some extent, would be in the same category. Since I haven't dined at Ureña, I don't know if that would be the case for them. What's your take on that, Bux?

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in addition

i think immediately of this, gagnaire and bras when i look to el bulli

i think that american chefs are tending to claim influence from spain, but i would be curious to see where the converse is true

the only and notable exceptions i can think of are wylie/garcia santos, and sort of american themed alimentaria/madrid fusion; these are phenomenons of the recent 24 months

bux?

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btw the menu and the presentations look like bouley with some spanish ingredients, like many other restaurants whose alum stem from bouley, all the compositions are textbook bouley, like many at other great restaurants like blue hill, cru, (dare i say gilt, or would that be bouley and gagnaires love child?lol)

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btw the menu and the presentations look like bouley with some spanish ingredients, like many other restaurants whose alum stem from bouley, all the compositions are textbook  bouley, like many at other great restaurants like blue hill, cru, (dare i say gilt, or would that be bouley and gagnaires love child?lol)

yup...its very bouley.

as I noted above, the PR was misleading...it's a very fine restaurant...just forget all the molecular stuff...

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yup...its very bouley.

as I noted above, the PR was misleading...it's a very fine restaurant...just forget all the molecular stuff...

To be fair, I think they intend to expand the menu in a more ultramodern direction. When I ate there a few weeks ago it was mentioned that they were waiting on a permit for the use of liquid nitrogen, and that Alex has been working up some custom designed serving utensils. Of course Adam Platt will not be impressed since Grant has already done both at Alinea... :hmmm:

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people in this country dont seem to mind that most of the "new" techniques are just knockoffs of the european original

yup...its very bouley.

as I noted above, the PR was misleading...it's a very fine restaurant...just forget all the molecular stuff...

To be fair, I think they intend to expand the menu in a more ultramodern direction. When I ate there a few weeks ago it was mentioned that they were waiting on a permit for the use of liquid nitrogen, and that Alex has been working up some custom designed serving utensils. Of course Adam Platt will not be impressed since Grant has already done both at Alinea... :hmmm:

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In today's New York Daily News, Pascale Le Draoulec likes Ureña, awarding two stars:

Like the jazz musician who has played with all the greats, Ureña has gleaned tried-and-true techniques from his mentors in search of his own brand of world cuisine.

. . . . .

His blushing lobster - delicately steamed and propped atop a puree of pickled rhubarb, over ringlets of glazed salsify with blood orange sauce - is dainty and delectable, though a tad sweet.

She complains, as pretty much every reviewer has, about the decor:

....Alex Ureña's new eponymous restaurant is lit up like a Laundromat. I squint just thinking about the bright dining room at this modern-Spanish newcomer in Murray Hill.

Not only does the harsh lighting add a good 10 years to everyone in the room, but it exaggerates the galley-shaped dining room's other design flaws: the tables laid out cafeteria-style, the view into the kitchen of stainless steel clutter, the looming "HANDICAP" sign on the bathroom door, the stodgy plates, linens and sconces that have all the sex appeal of Easy Spirit walking shoes.

Edited by oakapple (log)
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  • 2 weeks later...

For once Mr. Bruni and I are in agreement. A few small touches to the interior will certainly help the restaurant's outlook , but one can and should look past the decor when the kitchen is operating a level as high a level as it is. Perhaps it's just me, but I would eat Alex's food even if he was operating out of a broom closet at a Comfort Inn.

Nothing to see here.

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