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NY Mag Top 101 Cheap Eats


Sneakeater
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http://www.newyorkmetro.com/restaurants/ch...ats/2006/18479/

Hey, look, a whole new set of stars!

So in what universe is Degustation "Cheap Eats"? Oh, I see: the one where "cheap" means that "entree prices seldom exceed $20".* I guess if you're a restaurant that doesn't have entrees, then it doesn't matter that an agglomeration of small plates sufficient to constitute a meal will exceed $50.

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* I know I'm showing my age, but THAT'S CHEAP?????????????? I remember when an entree price that exceeded $20 seemed astronomical!!!!!!!!!!!

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
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This issue made me want to gag. It could not have been a more misleading title. Totally geared towards food snobs with money to burn. (Which I suppose represents NY Mag's demographic)

With all due respect to a place like Momofuku, $15 ramen hardly qualifies as a cheap eat in my book. And to recommend the chilli crab at Fatty Crab - it's $28!

I know the star rating topic has been talk-talk-talked about to death, but this one really took it over the top for me. I'm officially over taking any critic's opinion seriously.

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http://www.newyorkmetro.com/restaurants/ch...ats/2006/18479/

Hey, look, a whole new set of stars!

So in what universe is Degustation "Cheap Eats"?  Oh, I see:  the one where "cheap" means that "entree prices seldom exceed $20".*  I guess if you're a restaurant that doesn't have entrees, then it doesn't matter that an agglomeration of small plates sufficient to constitute a meal will exceed $50.

________________________________________________________

* I know I'm showing my age, but THAT'S CHEAP??????????????  I remember when an entree price that exceeded $20 seemed astronomical!!!!!!!!!!!

Excellent point Sneak!

I was thinking the same thing when I remembered the $120 I dropped (for two). Don't get me wrong, I love Degustation. I think everyone esp on here sh/chk it out but Cheap Eats? No way. You need atleast 3 or 4 plates (per person) to make a meal of it.

Maybe the piece should be renamed: "Cheap Eats After You've Already Eaten" :wacko:

Is it me or does it seem like every year they stretch further to add higher end places for one dish?

That wasn't chicken

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Degustation shouldn't be there no matter how you slice it, but the problem is that they shouldn't have said "Cheap Eats". What they really mean is "Mid-Level and Below."

Like maybe they're right and Lupa belongs on a list like this. But there's NO WAY you could call it "Cheap Eats".

(Not to mention my beloved Franny's -- Franny's probably belongs on this list, but anyone who followed this list's recommendation of DiFara would be pissed as shit, if they also followed the Franny's recommedation, to see Franny's getting the same designation of "cheap".)

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
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Maybe the category should be

Eats that are Cheaper than they Should Be

or

Food that is Cheaper than its Comparable Quality Level

but that just doesn't sound as good as Cheap Eats.

Herb aka "herbacidal"

Tom is not my friend.

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Maybe the category should be

Eats that are Cheaper than they Should Be

or

Food that is Cheaper than its Comparable Quality Level

but that's not as good a sound bite as

Cheap Eats.

Edited by herbacidal (log)

Herb aka "herbacidal"

Tom is not my friend.

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what a fun piece. great choices in there. considering the following, i really can't get too worked up over critics or editors writing titles of articles:

And what, exactly, do we mean by cheap? A little clarification is in order. For the purposes of our monthly “Underground Gourmet” column and this “Cheap Eats” issue, we mostly limit ourselves to restaurants where entrée prices seldom exceed $20. On rare occasions, we make allowances for the compulsory splurge—or bottom-feed at the lower end of a pricier menu. But even the most literal-minded penny-pincher must agree that in this town, cheap is a relative term. Madison Avenue cheap is very different from Red Hook cheap (unless you’re Tony Dragonas, No. 86 on our list, whose estimable pushcart stands kitty-corner to Hermès, at Madison and 62nd). In our world, and in the greater context of the New York food scene, cheap is sometimes five-dumplings-for-a-dollar dirt cheap, sometimes fancy-chef-tackles-burgers-and-dogs cheap, and sometimes, as at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery, not cheap, per se, but still a heck of a good deal. In our book, they’re all stars.

"good deals" abound, for sure.

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Yeah, most of these don't categorize well as "cheap" eats. But in this sucky economy, even "$25 and under per person" is about as good as we can get.

Do you mean it's hard to pay less than that for lunch or dinner? Not in New York. To take one example, there are plenty of places in Chinatown where you can have a bowl of noodle soup made to order for $3.50, lunch or dinner.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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what a fun piece.  great choices in there.  considering the following, i really can't get too worked up over critics or editors writing titles of articles:
And what, exactly, do we mean by cheap? A little clarification is in order. For the purposes of our monthly “Underground Gourmet” column and this “Cheap Eats” issue, we mostly limit ourselves to restaurants where entrée prices seldom exceed $20. On rare occasions, we make allowances for the compulsory splurge—or bottom-feed at the lower end of a pricier menu. But even the most literal-minded penny-pincher must agree that in this town, cheap is a relative term. Madison Avenue cheap is very different from Red Hook cheap (unless you’re Tony Dragonas, No. 86 on our list, whose estimable pushcart stands kitty-corner to Hermès, at Madison and 62nd). In our world, and in the greater context of the New York food scene, cheap is sometimes five-dumplings-for-a-dollar dirt cheap, sometimes fancy-chef-tackles-burgers-and-dogs cheap, and sometimes, as at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery, not cheap, per se, but still a heck of a good deal. In our book, they’re all stars.

"good deals" abound, for sure.

Not to nit-pick, but to me Bouchon Bakery is a perfect example of where they go wrong. I think Bouchon Bakery is good, really -- but overpriced for what it is. I don't think that anyone who went there without knowing Thomas Keller was behind it would feel differently -- except for moneyed out-of-towners visiting the TW Mall, who would expect to be overcharged for lunch there as a matter of course.

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Not to nit-pick, but to me Bouchon Bakery is a perfect example of where they go wrong.  I think Bouchon Bakery is good, really -- but overpriced for what it is.  I don't think that anyone who went there without knowing Thomas Keller was behind it would feel differently -- except for moneyed out-of-towners visiting the TW Mall, who would expect to be overcharged for lunch there as a matter of course.

i've never eaten there so i don't have an opinion one way or the other. but apparently they think differently.

i'm always tempted to read through these things looking for the places that i know and like. probably has something to do with wanting affirmation. i need to train my eyes to actually look for places that i've yet to discover. :sad:

Edited by tommy (log)
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But the problem with this New York Magazine thing is that it's not only a fun list, but a new alternative star system for "cheap" places. And the problem -- as it inevitably would have to be -- is that they're having trouble defining the category and keeping it separate from the "regular" category.

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
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I think it's close to 25 of the 101 that flat out would be extremely difficult to make a meal out of for under $25. (incorping tax/tip). How can a cheap eats meal for two run around $70? It should be $20 total.

Here are but a few that grab me as ineligible:

Degustasion

Lupa

Wichcraft

Casa Mono

Blue Smoke

Alta

Yakitori Toto

The issue is consistency in the criteria for a nomination. Is it a meal or a dish? To me, it should be a meal. Otherwise you could go through thousands of mid level restaurants in NY and include their best plate which might seem like a value for it's qlty.

I feel that this list used to be much more about obscure super cheap ethnic meals for around but more often under $10

That wasn't chicken

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But the problem with this New York Magazine thing is that it's not only a fun list, but a new alternative star system for "cheap" places.  And the problem -- as it inevitably would have to be -- is that they're having trouble defining the category and keeping it separate from the "regular" category.

i guess that's where we ("we" as in "me and the rest of the world") disagree. i don't have much of an issue with they way they've defined it, and i think their definition is reasoably clear and encompasses a different type of restaurant, in general, than the usual strictly "cheap eats" definition or a non-cheap eats (regular?) category.

bouchon bakery is cetainly not expensive, and if they're serving great quality tuna in the form of a great sandwich, i want to know about it. it's like Riingo, which is certainly not an inexpensive restaurant by any stretch, but they have a fantastic tuna sandwich for about 13 bucks. it's simply a great value, and i don't think it's a lot of money for a meal. when you throw a glass of their 15 dollar wine on top of that, however...

either way, it was a tall order, and i think all of the words they used to explain what the eff they were doing probably supports your point (that they haven't done a very good job defining the category) than it does mine. :smile:

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I feel that this list used to be much more about obscure super cheap ethnic meals for around but more often under $10

i was under the impression that this list didn't exist until yesterday or so. is this not the first year? if not, they've certainly not figured out how to make their point clear.

'wichcraft's sandwiches are 8 or 9 bucks.

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Here are but a few that grab me as ineligible:

Degustasion

Lupa

Wichcraft

Casa Mono

Blue Smoke

Alta

Yakitori Toto

I forgot to mention Yakitori Totto.

I overspend on eating out pretty much habitually, but it disturbs even me to see a place whose expense makes me feel guilty about dropping into it casually (although I do, often) on a "Cheap Eats" list.

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
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i guess that's where we ("we" as in "me and the rest of the world") disagree.  i don't have much of an issue with they way they've defined it, and i think their definition is reasoably clear and encompasses a different type of restaurant, in general, than the usual strictly "cheap eats" definition or a non-cheap eats (regular?) category.

Obviously this isn't even important or anything, and everything we (or at least I) say should be taken with that caveat in mind.

As I said before, a lot of the problem is with the term "Cheap Eats". Which was just appended to this list in this issue, and will not (as I understand it) have any future life as the title of this category.

But having said that, I do see a big problem at the upper margin of this category. No matter what can be said, I can't see how Degustation could be included on any list of inexpensive restaurants.

And although this is more nit-picky, how can you justify Little Owl's getting a colored-in all-red Adam Platt star rating, but Al Di La's getting a red-outlined "cheap" star rating? They're restaurants of simlilar ambition and (from what I can tell) not wildly different prices. To put them into different categories cuz Al Di La's Brooklyn rent allows it to charge slightly lower prices than Little Owl seems to me to be misleading. I don't think I'm saying this just because Al Di La is a personal favorite, but to be clear, it's not that I think the "cheap" rating is a dishoner or anything. Just that I think that the categories should alert readers what to expect when they go to a restaurant, so similar places shouldn't be categorized differently.

If there's a solution, to me, it would be to create yet another separate category for the "middle". Cuz I don't think it's fair to the Al Di Las and Little Owls of the world for them to be lumped together with EITHER the Le Cirques and the Altos on the one hand OR the DiFaras and Tanoreens on the other. (This is obviously an even bigger problem at the Times.) And I think it's absurd for places like Al Di La and Little Owl to find themselves in separate categories based on fairly insignificant price differences.

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
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Doing a star system for cheap eats is ridiculous, particularly when you don't include how much a dinner would set you back. I'd much rather see a list with categories like:

Date places/celebration places where you won't have to sell your car to go

best of the cheap midtown lunch places

Where to eat cheap in notoriously expensive neighborhoods - like pre-theater for Lincoln Center

Places for when you're digging the change out of the sofa but you've still got a metrocard.

A list like this would have room for Lupa and for some dive in outer brooklyn that you can eat well for $2.

But this list felt completely useless to me - interesting to look through and criticize, but never something I'd go to.

The Kitchn

Nina Callaway

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And I think it's absurd for places like Al Di La and Little Owl to find themselves in separate categories based on fairly insignificant price differences.

According to the NY Times two-star rating, Little Owl competes with the big boys (WD-50, Gilt, The Modern and many, many, many, many more), just fine.

"Cheap Eats" is just a marketing tool. It draws readers to the article and they determine what's useful. The Times does the same thing with its $25 an under column - it's quite rare you can eat in any of those places for that price, but it's poetic license. New York Magazine puts out a top 100 list in a couple of categories (my wife has been listed as one of NYC's top 100 doctors by NY Mag for the last 10 years).

It's more for show and reference - a smaller version of Zagat's that attempts to eliminate the riff raff and pretenders in the "sub lux" category.

Edited by rich (log)

Rich Schulhoff

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

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And I think it's absurd for places like Al Di La and Little Owl to find themselves in separate categories based on fairly insignificant price differences.

According to the NY Times two-star rating, Little Owl competes with the big boys (WD-50, Gilt, The Modern and many, many, many, many more), just fine.

Yeah, and Al Di La has THE SAME two NYT stars.

That's part of my point. The Times gives them the same rating in the same category, whereas New York defines one as "cheap" and one as "normal." (Admittedly, Al Di La's first NYT review, shortly after it opened, was in the "$25 and Under" column.)

My other point is that, while Al Di La and Little Owl have a lot in common with each other, anyone who goes to those two places thinking they're going to have much in common with such fellow NYT two-starholders as WD-50 or Gilt or The Modern or Alto or Le Cirque is going to be, ummm, surprised.

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
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I feel that this list used to be much more about obscure super cheap ethnic meals for around but more often under $10

i was under the impression that this list didn't exist until yesterday or so. is this not the first year? if not, they've certainly not figured out how to make their point clear.

'wichcraft's sandwiches are 8 or 9 bucks.

T, NY Mag has run this issue for several years (sorry, I don't know exactly how many. Atleast five)

And I just want to say, as much as I disagree with the reasoning for many of the listings, I look forward to this issue and believe it sheds light on many interesting new and existing places I've yet to try.

That wasn't chicken

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My other point is that, while Al Di La and Little Owl have a lot in common with each other, anyone who goes to those two places thinking they're going to have much in common with such fellow NYT two-starholders as WD-50 or Gilt or The Modern or Alto or Le Cirque is going to be, ummm, surprised.

I know I'm preaching to the choir with you SE, because we share the same sentiments about the star system, but this has been one of the problems with the star system from the beginning.

When the star system was developed, the layers of retaurants we now have didn't exist and the system worked to a degree. Under present conditions, the star system is archaic and adds even more confusion to the current, complex restaurant scene.

The one thing about NY Mag's list is it at least makes an attempt to re-define stars based on perceived value. So in a "sub lux (price not quality) category" Franny can get five stars and DiFara four (a rating which I happen to agree). And Tia Pol can get five and on and on...

PS - And we can add Sri to the NY Times two-star list as well.

Rich Schulhoff

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

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i've long stopped paying attention to the fact that ny mag calls uncheap stuff cheap and just look at their "cheap eats" list the way i now look at the Times' "$25 and Under" column: a reference for not-expensive, but probably not-cheap, meals. in the times column, rarely is the whole meal under $25, but maybe one of the entrees is. at least "$25 and Under" gives prices of dishes in each category, so it's a bit easier to predict how much everything is really going to cost, factoring in getting full and ordering beverages. and what about the tastes-like-another-one effect that happens at places that have what i call "addictive" food -- things like dumplings and little salty things that taste so good that you figure you'll just order just one more plate of them. it always adds up.

as much as i love and adore al di la and franny's, you simply cannot get out of either one of those for "cheap". indeed, last week when i decided to just "drop in" to momofuku for some pork buns and a bowl of soup, it was only thanks to seeing certain posts on eGullet that i knew ahead of time that, with sake, it'd set me back $50. but, for some reason, every publication seems to want to describe it as "cheap".

the ny mag list is more a list of places with a high rapport qualité/prix. guess it's up to us to keep track of the truly "cheap" eats.

(edited to correct typos.)

Edited by bethala (log)

can't believe it's not butter? i can.

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