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Degustation

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Well, I went tonight and between myself and my two companions we tasted the entire menu. here are some highlights:

Croquetas: corn and onion with a delicious saffron aioli.

Grilled squid and heirloom tomatoes: very nice way to close out summer. smoky, charred squid and sweet/tangy tomatoes were a great match.

Soft cooked egg with serrano ham, rice cracker breaded asparagus and smoked cheese: great dish. texturally speaking it was a great mix with the soft, unctuous egg, the crisp asparagus and a nice frothy mousse of the smoked cheese. good balance of flavors.

Stuffed squid with short ribs and lentils : good dish. tasty lentils. a return of the nicely charred squid. in my opinion, though, the short rib filling was lost in the mix. it didn't stand out in any way. it really needed a flavor spike to make it stand up to the squid.

Pork belly with shimeji mushrooms, pickled jalapenos, charred scallions and sherry gastrique: another standout dish. wonderful, intense flavors. after this and the tortilla i left a HUGE fan of the pickled jalapeno. it does an amazing job of amplifying the tastes around it. i only wish the pork belly itself was a bit...stronger? believe it or not it was kind of second fiddle to the mini symphony going on around it. it might have stood out a bit more with the simple addition of some salt. still, a great dish overall.

Grilled strawberries, ginger granita, basil mint: loved the granita. it was ginger in its strongest, most unadulterated form. it might have benefited from a little more sweetness on the plate, but i appreciated its forcefulness.

Overall I greatly enjoyed the experience. Everything was solid, if not quite good. Some dishes could have used a heavier hand with the seasoning, but that's life. Cool space. Interesting ideas. Good service. One needs to eat a lot to leave full, yet, perhaps it is a good thing to leave a restaurant every once in a while with room to spare. I'll be back.

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has anyone tried to make reservations at, or dined at, Degustation very recently? I ask because I've been trying to call the 212 979 1012 number since yesterday, and I keep getting a ring, and then a busy signal.

My initial thoughts, in descending order of probability:

a) I'm having odd cell phone service issues on my end

b) Rosh Hashanah vacation?

c) another closing in the Lamb restaurant empire.

Of course,

a) Tried calling w/my girlfriend's cell phone (T-Mobile vs Verizon) -- same deal

b) Possible, but seems unlikely

c) I was under the impression that Degustation was doing well financially, as well as culinarily.

Anyone else with a more recent data point, or else, a landline and 30 seconds to spare?

Thanks much...

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Actually, the number doesn't work. Moreover, Jack's Luxury Oyster Bar has had its phone number switched to the same number.

Probably confusion with the phone company. Oh well.


Mayur Subbarao, aka "Mayur"

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I dropped into Degustation as a solo walk-in after attending a nearby East Village theater performance a few nights ago. I post this update in order to confirm the telephone problems, give news of the current balance of patronage between Degustation and Jewel Bako, and alert you all to a good new dish on Degustation's menu.

1. I couldn't get a phone listing for Degustation from Verizon information. There was a Jewel Bako listing, and when I called it, the person who answered was handling Degustation reservations as well. Since none was available for when I wanted one, the lack of a separate dedicated phone line with an identifiable phone number doesn't seem to be hurting them.

2. I decided to try for a walk-in anyway. They told me to come back in a half hour, but when I did, no one who they thought would be leaving was near finished. They asked me if I would take my first couple of courses in Jewel Bako and then move to the Degustation counter when a seat became available.

The point to make here is that, while Degustation was packed, Jewel Bako was nearly empty. Michelin star (for now) or not, I think the Times review -- coupled with general street knowledge of its decline -- has killed Jewel Bako. If eG had a "Deathwatch", I'd nominate Jewel Bako for it.

Another point to make is that sitting in the empty Jewel Bako dining room is nowhere near as fun, at least for the solo diner, as sitting at the Degustation counter. When I moved in, my experience improved exponentially.

3. There's a great new addition to the intermediate section of the Degustation menu. Fried sweetbreads with a mint yoghurt sauce and chilies. The sweetbreads have a seriously crispy batter. They're just delicious. (It's the law of preservation of fried sweetbread dishes at work in the East Village. Now that we've lost Uovo's sweetbread poppers, we get these.)

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3.  There's a great new addition to the intermediate section of the Degustation menu.  Fried sweetbreads with a mint yoghurt sauce and chilies.  The sweetbreads have a seriously crispy batter.  They're just delicious.  (It's the law of preservation of fried sweetbread dishes at work in the East Village.  Now that we've lost Uovo's sweetbread poppers, we get these.)

I love these they really are winning the sweetbread award...even better than uovo's in my humble opinion. Apparently as per Dreamy Mcdreamsters (Chef Genovert) description they don't weight the sweets while purging them - then they're poached in some sort of infused milk until just underdone, then chilled battered and fried. Is it a mint sauce? I thought it was a dill cuke sauce... unsophistacated palate of mine be damned. yes, chef is hot, yes, you hardly notice cause his food is so sexy.

I've been to degu about 4 times in the last month. I almost want them to change the menu faster so I can go more :smile:


does this come in pork?

My name's Emma Feigenbaum.

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you know, I keep wanting to eat here but I hate making reservations and it sounds like the walk-in thing is a pain...maybe they should just expand into the Jewel Bako space.

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make the res it's worth it.


does this come in pork?

My name's Emma Feigenbaum.

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even better than uovo's in my humble opinion.

1. Mine too. I just didn't want to say anything bad about the dead.

2. I actually would have thought it was a dill cucumber sauce, too, but I could swear the menu said "mint". I was gonna mention that, but it seemed too involved. Now that you say this, too, though, my recollection of the menu has to be wrong, if it differs from both our recollections of the actual dish. Especially since one of us (the one who isn't me) actually knows what she's talking about.


Edited by Sneakeater (log)

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I had thought it was a cucumber sauce as well... I had the sweetbreads a few weeks ago and they were marvelous...

Wes is sweet and his girlfriend is probably the nicest person on earth.

-spaetzle.

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his girlfriend

Hear that, Ll?

perhaps I should introduce her to my adorable boyfriend! :rolleyes:

and on topic....

I think the quail should dcome off the menu, it's underwhelming. Chef could put something new on...which I'd appreciate.

:wacko: Last time I ever say someone's cute on the internet...geez you'd think I was stalking the guy... :cool:


does this come in pork?

My name's Emma Feigenbaum.

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I think I'm going to have to make a reservation here for sometime next week. Sweetbreads? Banana and chocolate? Awesome.


"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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I think I'm going to have to make a reservation here for sometime next week.  Sweetbreads?  Banana and chocolate?  Awesome.

ditto, perhaps we'll see eachother!

The spains 10 thing was the only time I've ever run into a egulleter...can you believe that? I'm going tostart going to more events it was fun....

and back on topic...would most of you like to see more desserts on the menu? I wouldn't but that's just me, perhaps.... I could happily live without dessert most nights...wine, no.


does this come in pork?

My name's Emma Feigenbaum.

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I think I need to leave work right now and eat some croquetas, great salad, something else, something else and chocolate mousse with caramelized bananas. Yay!

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I think I'm going to have to make a reservation here for sometime next week.  Sweetbreads?  Banana and chocolate?  Awesome.

ditto, perhaps we'll see eachother!

The spains 10 thing was the only time I've ever run into a egulleter...can you believe that? I'm going tostart going to more events it was fun....

and back on topic...would most of you like to see more desserts on the menu? I wouldn't but that's just me, perhaps.... I could happily live without dessert most nights...wine, no.

Hmmmm...would be great to see you! :biggrin:

As for dessert...I don't always need it, but in the absence of coffee, I do enjoy something sweet. That said, I didn't really love the first two desserts, so I'm psyched to try the banana and chocolate creation.


"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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I'm going for dinner on thurday night. I'll be interested to see how they handle a large party (3 people)


does this come in pork?

My name's Emma Feigenbaum.

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I'm going for dinner on thurday night. I'll be interested to see how they handle a large party (3 people)

I did that once. We requested a corner when we reserved, were seated 30 minutes late, and almost led to a straight-away. We reminded them of our corner request, and were seated accordingly with smiles.


"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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I'm going for dinner on thurday night. I'll be interested to see how they handle a large party (3 people)

I did that once. We requested a corner when we reserved, were seated 30 minutes late, and almost led to a straight-away. We reminded them of our corner request, and were seated accordingly with smiles.

yep. I requested the back corner, they said the'll try :smile: I really do think my taste in seating is unparalled :raz: really though, I'm quite particular sometimes.


does this come in pork?

My name's Emma Feigenbaum.

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Having wanted to try Degustation for quite some time now, I wasn't sure what I'd been missing. After going this past Saturday, and trying literally every single item on the menu, I'm still somewhat unsure what I've been missing. Frankly, I was just not that impressed.

Being forced to wait 45 minutes past a reservation is, on a Saturday night in a restaurant this small, forgivable. Once seated, I really liked our seats. The first two tucked into the left corner once you step in. So we only had people on one side of us, and we were right in front of the pass, so to speak, so we saw most of the food going out, and were able to engage the chef in conversation now and again.

As I mentioned, we ordered the entire menu among the two of us. Not actually as crazy as it sounds. It was actually a nice amount of food, leaving us full but not dying at the end.

Thoughts on the food: The tortilla was, to me, instantly forgettable. One of those one-bite dishes you pop into your mouth expecting a bit more flavor-wise. The croqueta was tasty; warm, crispy exterior, luxuriously creamy interior. Would never have guess that apple was part of the filling, but it worked quite well. The plancha items were delicious, if a bit overpriced. $10 for a langostine? This is not L'Atelier, people. The poached egg with jamon serrano, chorizo, rice cracker crusted asparagus and smoked cheese foam was quite tasty, with the yolk turning the dish into almost a soup. The grilled mackerel with trio of apples was also nice. The seared scallops? Eh, not so much. My friend hated this dish, actually. I didn't think it was that bad. But honestly, I didn't think it was that good either. Mediocre flavor and a bit boring. The squid stuffed with short ribs and the sweetbreads have each received some praise here on eGullet, and rightfully so. Both delicious, and among the standouts of the evening. I'm not sure the squid is quite as revelatory as some on this thread and elsewhere may have suggested, but it is pretty tasty. The sweetbreads, essentially chicken-fried, should absolutely replace popcorn as the movie snack of choice. The quail and the rabbit were passable, if a bit lacking. The kind of dish you eat expecting to have a new flavor, or a new texture surprise the palate at any moment, yet that moment never comes. The suckling pig was quite flavorful, but I wish they'd crisped the skin a bit better to create some textural contrast. The lamb belly was, for both of us, terrible. Quite easily the weakest dish of the night. I've had ____ belly countless time before: pork (mmm Fatty Crab pork-and-watermelon salad), lamb, tuna, salmon, you name it. I recognize it's about the wonderful interplay between flesh and fat, meatiness and unctuous fattiness. This block of lamb belly was, unfortunately, all fat. Essentially inedible. To make things worse, the hash brown alongside it had long ago passed the stage of being crispy and was now simply black. Overcooked? I'd say so. Overall, the flavors in this dish could have and should have worked together well, but both the raw ingredient (the lamb belly) and the cooking (or more precisely, overcooking) were its downfall. As I said, absolutely the weakest dish of the night. Luckily, the kitchen soon redeemed themselves with a very flavorful ribeye, which, at $15, I consider a pretty damn good deal for the price. We finished with a nice cheese plate of four different cheeses, two Spanish and two Italian. I really enjoyed the marcona almond butter they provided as an accompaniement. And just to round things out properly, we ordered the lone dessert on the menu, an apple "tarte tatin" with greek yogurt. Decent, but its inclusion on the menu was clearly an afterthought. If you're not going to do dessert, fine. But don't do a half-assed dessert for no reason at all. Finally, we closed things out with a class of highly unremarkable sherry, and that was that.

Overall, there were some hits and some misses. Nothing was terrible (well, the lamb..), but nothing really sticks out in my mind as having been outstanding either. Nothing I'm craving to return and have again. As I mentioned in another thread, with Momofuku Ssam Bar just a short walk away, I'm not sure I'll ever be back to Degustation, actually. To me, the cooking at Ssam is clearly several steps above what they're putting out at Degustation, and, at the end of the day, the quality of the food is what it all comes down to.

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wholesale price on langoustines is $26.95 a pound.

they couldn't serve it for cheaper.

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Retail, the big Spanish cigalas like they serve at Degustation go for $75 a kilo, and you get about 18 of them, so that works out to $4.17 a piece. Maybe they can be had a little cheaper from a restaurant supplier. But since most restaurants run in the range of 24-34% food cost, $10 seems like a reasonable price from an economic standpoint. They are totally not worth $10, though. The plancha items just aren't worth it.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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