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Bruni and Beyond: NYC Reviewing (2007)


slkinsey
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I got a whole duck at Per Se.  It was brought to the table to be presented - and then carved.  Served with a lot of other things.  Yet I don't think of Per Se as a 1965 restaurant.  And I know I couldn't make that dish.  Doubt you could either.

So the issue is - why did Thomas Keller think that Breast of Stone Church Farm's Challan duck roti a la broche with braised swiss chard leaves and ribs en ravigote with poached pluots and sauteed mollard duck foie gras was perfectly ok in 2004 - 2005 - and 2006 - but somehow not ok in 2007?

Breast of Stone Church Farm duck with swiss chard is *still* on the tasting menu at Per Se, BTW:

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=97465

Mayur Subbarao, aka "Mayur"
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I got a whole duck at Per Se.  It was brought to the table to be presented - and then carved.  Served with a lot of other things.  Yet I don't think of Per Se as a 1965 restaurant.  And I know I couldn't make that dish.  Doubt you could either.

So the issue is - why did Thomas Keller think that Breast of Stone Church Farm's Challan duck roti a la broche with braised swiss chard leaves and ribs en ravigote with poached pluots and sauteed mollard duck foie gras was perfectly ok in 2004 - 2005 - and 2006 - but somehow not ok in 2007?

Breast of Stone Church Farm duck with swiss chard is *still* on the tasting menu at Per Se, BTW:

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=97465

So what do you get on the tasting menu - 1/4 pluot? Robyn

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The commenter also notes that no professional critic has been impressed with GR.

Pretty much the same with Ducasse at opening, except that the reactions to Ducasse were an order of magnitude more hostile.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
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The commenter also notes that no professional critic has been impressed with GR.

Pretty much the same with Ducasse at opening, except that the reactions to Ducasse were an order of magnitude more hostile.

Yup - your review at your old web site was about the only positive thing I read about AD before eating there. Just shows the pros can't always be trusted.

One thing that really confuses me. There's all this talk about GR's dishes being old-fashioned. Apart from molecular gastronomy - you know - things cooked in nitrogen - or whatever I had last time I ate at one of those places - what dishes do people think are "new-fashioned" these days? (Note that this is a serious question - in the US at least - I haven't seen too much that's novel in the last couple of years.). Robyn

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I wonder how this will affect the decision of how many Michelin stars to give him, in NY.

There are plenty of examples where Michelin has diverged from the NYT hierarchy. I don't think the inspectors care one way or another what the Times thinks.
with that said, if they give GR three stars I imagine that we'll have to reconsider the general supposition that NY restaurants have gotten a half star bump up from Michelin.

I'm not aware of that general supposition, and I'm not even sure what you mean.

I do not think GR will get three Michelin stars. Though I enjoyed my meal there, it was not as good as Per Se, Alain Ducasse, or Jean Georges.

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One thing that really confuses me.  There's all this talk about GR's dishes being old-fashioned.  Apart from molecular gastronomy - you know - things cooked in nitrogen - or whatever I had last time I ate at one of those places - what dishes do people think are "new-fashioned" these days?

For a comparison, take a look at Marlene's account of her recent meal at Per Se. Obviously you cannot judge the success of the dishes from photos alone. But the platings and combinations of ingredients are simply more interesting than anything I had on the tasting menu at Gordon Ramsay. Edited by oakapple (log)
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with that said, if they give GR three stars I imagine that we'll have to reconsider the general supposition that NY restaurants have gotten a half star bump up from Michelin.

I'm not aware of that general supposition, and I'm not even sure what you mean.

I do not think GR will get three Michelin stars. Though I enjoyed my meal there, it was not as good as Per Se, Alain Ducasse, or Jean Georges.

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One thing that really confuses me.  There's all this talk about GR's dishes being old-fashioned.  Apart from molecular gastronomy - you know - things cooked in nitrogen - or whatever I had last time I ate at one of those places - what dishes do people think are "new-fashioned" these days?

For a comparison, take a look at Marlene's account of her recent meal at Per Se. Obviously you cannot judge the success of the dishes from photos alone. But the platings and combinations of ingredients are simply more interesting than anything I had on the tasting menu at Gordon Ramsay.

I actually dined at RHR and Per Se within about six months of one another - and although I had excellent meals at both - I wasn't blown over by anything extremely new at either place (except for the dessert at RHR - which was extraordinary). (Marlene said in her piece that when she dined at Per Se - it was the first time she ever had oysters or caviar - I think that is unusual for the average diner at Per Se.)

I don't usually consider "plating" in terms of "newness" (I have nice dinnerware - 5 sets of plates - and 3 sets of flatware - plus misc. pieces made specifically for things like Asian food - etc. - and I can plate a grilled cheese sandwich better than most places can plate foie gras). But if you get points for plating - then I have to give them to Tom Aikens in London - where the dishes looked like abstract expressionist paintings (meaning some people really love them and some people really hate them) - or to some of the places we dined at in Japan (e.g., one plate we had during cherry blossom season was designed to look like a village with cherry blossom trees). Robyn

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One thing that really confuses me.  There's all this talk about GR's dishes being old-fashioned.  Apart from molecular gastronomy - you know - things cooked in nitrogen - or whatever I had last time I ate at one of those places - what dishes do people think are "new-fashioned" these days?  (Note that this is a serious question - in the US at least - I haven't seen too much that's novel in the last couple of years.).  Robyn

I think part of GR's appeal is the classical feel and structure of its dishes. Restaurants like Per Se and Daniel blur the line between more traditional and more modern platings and combinations in the fine dining setting.

Otherwise, look at Chef Humm's food at EMP or Chef Kreuther's in the main dining room. Or Shola's work in the StudioKitchen thread. Going slightly furhter beyond traditional, that of Chef Liebrandt at Gilt. All these chefs have created successful modern food in plating and flavor combinations without becoming as discretely molecular/hypermodern/constructivist as Chefs Kahn, Dufresne, Stupak, Mason, Achatz, Andres at Minibar, etc.

Edited by BryanZ (log)
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with that said, if they give GR three stars I imagine that we'll have to reconsider the general supposition that NY restaurants have gotten a half star bump up from Michelin.

I'm not aware of that general supposition, and I'm not even sure what you mean.

Check the Michelin thread.

I checked it. I couldn't find anything like that.
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I also feel as though--desite the inherent irationality of this statement--that higher expectations necessitated a lower rating.

Ramsay himself said in opening interviews that he was going after 4 stars (and that he felt on par with NY 4-star chefs, i'm sure that got factored in as well.

and, frankly, NY is notoriously hard on newcomers. ouside of Keller (more of a return) and Robuchon, nobody gets an open-arm welcome...

Alcohol is a misunderstood vitamin.

P.G. Wodehouse

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with that said, if they give GR three stars I imagine that we'll have to reconsider the general supposition that NY restaurants have gotten a half star bump up from Michelin.

I'm not aware of that general supposition, and I'm not even sure what you mean.

Check the Michelin thread.

I checked it. I couldn't find anything like that.

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=94734&st=120#

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=94734&st=120#

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=77027&hl=#

(FG was particularly vocal with this claim)

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=77027&st=30#

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=77027&st=30#

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=77027&st=30#

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=77027&st=30#

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=77027&st=60#

and so forth

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with that said, if they give GR three stars I imagine that we'll have to reconsider the general supposition that NY restaurants have gotten a half star bump up from Michelin.

I give up. Can you just explain what you mean? Edited by oakapple (log)
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numerous people have asserted that Michelin graded NY restaurants on a .5+ curve compared to equivalent restaurants in Europe. (i.e. JG would be a high-performing 2-star in Paris, etc.)

I make no claim as to the truth of this assertion, but it has been propounded often on both NY Michelin threads.

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numerous people have asserted that Michelin graded NY restaurants on a .5+ curve compared to equivalent restaurants in Europe.  (i.e. JG would be a high-performing 2-star in Paris, etc.)

I make no claim as to the truth of this assertion, but it has been propounded often on both NY Michelin threads.

In my experience - it's more like a full star or more at the top. Michelin doesn't seem to demand as much from US restaurants in terms of things like wine service - or even service - as it does from European restaurants. Our "wine server" at Per Se would have been laughed out of Europe (ditto with the "wine server" at JG). OTOH - ADNY was perfectly fine. Europeans would never tolerate going to a place like Per Se 20 minutes early and standing around waiting in a mall for the doors to open (very uncivilized). Robyn

P.S. But I'll let you know. I'm going to a new country - Germany - this spring. Will see how some of its 3 stars stack up against 3 stars in the US.

Edited by robyn (log)
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In my experience - it's more like a full star or more at the top.  Michelin doesn't seem to demand as much from US restaurants in terms of things like wine service - or even service - as it does from European restaurants.  Our "wine server" at Per Se would have been laughed out of Europe (ditto with the "wine server" at JG).
I've been to just one three-star restuarant in Europe, the Waterside Inn in Bray, so I certainly don't count as an expert. The Waterside Inn is one of the most lovely restaurant settings imaginable. However, I did not find the food there at all superior to Jean Georges or Per Se. Indeed, as food goes I would rate it a little lower.

I'm even less of an expert on European wine service, but I found the wine program at Jean Georges sub-par even by my amateurish standards. At Per Se, there were no flaws that I was able to perceive.

Europeans would never tolerate going to a place like Per Se 20 minutes early and standing around waiting in a mall for the doors to open (very uncivilized).

Time for another analogy. I got to The Waterside Inn about 20 minutes early, and had to wait in a hotel lounge before it opened. Should the star rating be different because one is physically located in a hotel, and the other in a mall?
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In my experience - it's more like a full star or more at the top.  Michelin doesn't seem to demand as much from US restaurants in terms of things like wine service - or even service - as it does from European restaurants.  Our "wine server" at Per Se would have been laughed out of Europe (ditto with the "wine server" at JG).
I've been to just one three-star restuarant in Europe, the Waterside Inn in Bray, so I certainly don't count as an expert. The Waterside Inn is one of the most lovely restaurant settings imaginable. However, I did not find the food there at all superior to Jean Georges or Per Se. Indeed, as food goes I would rate it a little lower.

I'm even less of an expert on European wine service, but I found the wine program at Jean Georges sub-par even by my amateurish standards. At Per Se, there were no flaws that I was able to perceive.

Europeans would never tolerate going to a place like Per Se 20 minutes early and standing around waiting in a mall for the doors to open (very uncivilized).

Time for another analogy. I got to The Waterside Inn about 20 minutes early, and had to wait in a hotel lounge before it opened. Should the star rating be different because one is physically located in a hotel, and the other in a mall?

I am perhaps a bit more experienced - but I try to compare "apples with apples" (meals in recent years in the US with meals in recent years outside the US). Most recent experience I had was New York versus London in 2004-2005. Can't count Japan in 2006 - there's no Michelin guide there - and I pretty much stuck to Japanese restaurants (which are hard to compare to western restaurants). So we'll see what happens with Germany.

Just curious - what didn't you like about the wine service at JG? What we didn't like was they just picked a positively dreadful bottle of wine for us. And it wasn't cheap - almost $100. Would have been better off with a $15 bottle from Costco. At Per Se - our server was relatively new - and obviously unfamiliar with the wines offered by the glass (apart from a bottle of champagne which we picked - the table was doing wines by the glass to pair with various dishes).

As for waiting in a hotel - was it comfy? Could you have ordered a drink if you wanted to? In other words - was your wait pleasant? At Per Se - there is basically no place to sit down - and certainly no place to order a drink. It was kind of like getting to a department store 15 minutes early and milling around waiting for the doors to open.

By the way - I am not sure the Michelin star US "upgrading" applies to the lower starred restaurants - at least in cities outside New York. For example - I've dined at 3 1 star restaurants in San Francisco fairly recently - Chez Panisse/Quince/La Folie (and they are every bit as good as 1 stars in Europe). Can't say the same about all NY 1 stars. But my experiences with some (Nobu/Cafe Boulud) aren't very recent (loved Nobu - Cafe Boulud didn't wow me) - and I know my negative opinions about another (Babbo) aren't shared by all. Maybe Michelin has started to grade more harshly as it tackles more restaurants in the US.

I think we will perhaps have to wait for the Michelin Guide to Las Vegas to start doing some serious comparisons (because that's where a lot of the new big money restaurants are being opened these days in the US). Robyn

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Just curious - what didn't you like about the wine service at JG?
We ordered the tasting menu and requested a wine pairing. At restaurants of this calibre, I expect a sommelier to come over and ask us for preferences, likes, dislikes, etc. Instead, wines just started to appear, most of them poured by runners or junior servers. Several times, the wines weren't properly timed to the courses they purportedly went with. One server would drop off a glass; then another would try to pour wine in a glass we'd already used. I also found the actual choices rather uninspired, and there wasn't any kind of "progression" to them. Mind you, most of this would have been perfectly acceptable at Vong. I expected better at Jean Georges.
As for waiting in a hotel - was it comfy?  Could you have ordered a drink if you wanted to?  In other words - was your wait pleasant?  At Per Se - there is basically no place to sit down - and certainly no place to order a drink.

The hotel lounge at The Waterside Inn was certainly more comfortable than the Time-Warner mall, but I could not order a drink while I waited. It was like sitting in a hotel lobby (albeit a very cosy one).

As far as I'm concerned, the restaurant is not obligated to entertain me if I arrive before their scheduled opening time. If they are open, but not yet ready to seat me, that's a totally different story. In that case, Per Se has a quite comfortable lounge where they serve pre-dinner cocktails.

Edited by oakapple (log)
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In my experience - it's more like a full star or more at the top.  Michelin doesn't seem to demand as much from US restaurants in terms of things like wine service - or even service - as it does from European restaurants.  Our "wine server" at Per Se would have been laughed out of Europe (ditto with the "wine server" at JG). 

Yes....I completely agree. I've dined at Per Se a number of times, and once, my partner asked our sommelier how it was he got into wine. "I used to be a waiter" he said, "But I realized there was a limit on the profit I and the restaurant could make with that. But not so with wine, so I pursued that." Can you imagine? Those words, even if true, would never be uttered in a European Michelin 3 star restaurant.

Edited by DutchMuse (log)
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In my experience - it's more like a full star or more at the top.  Michelin doesn't seem to demand as much from US restaurants in terms of things like wine service - or even service - as it does from European restaurants.  Our "wine server" at Per Se would have been laughed out of Europe (ditto with the "wine server" at JG). 

Yes....I completely agree. I've dined at Per Se a number of times, and once, my partner asked our sommelier how it was he got into wine. "I used to be a waiter" he said, "But I realized there was a limit on the profit I and the restaurant could make with that. But not so with wine, so I pursued that." Can you imagine? Those words, even if true, would never be uttered in a European Michelin 3 star restaurant.

That kind of fits with the recent NYT article about buying prime time reservations at NYC restaurants. Someone from Per Se was quoted as saying that they save the prime times for people who will spend tons of money on wine - as opposed to people who just want to eat and have modest drink (and - based on the article - it seems that anything less than $100/person for drink is considered modest).

I find it interesting that at both of our bigger deal meals in Atlanta a few weeks ago - my husband had wine pairings which were both excellent and priced modestly. We met the bar/wine manager at the Four Seasons - chatted for a while - and she said that with the wine glut these days - it is relatively easy to serve nice pairings (or bar house wines) - nothing extraordinary - just good solid stuff - at prices that would be unheard of 5 years ago. So there is simply no excuse for paying a lot of money and getting relative garbage these days. Robyn

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How about a slash and burn review? Wow.

Somebody peed in Bruni's Cheerios

I loved it.

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