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Bruni and Beyond: NYC Reviewing (2007)


slkinsey
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How about a slash and burn review? Wow.

Somebody peed in Bruni's Cheerios

I loved it.

Peeping in my undies drawer for my blindfold, so I'll be appropriately attired if someone's nuts enough to take me there. And in fact, I'd leap at the chance.

Apparently, if you leap too high, you'll need medical attention. The ceiling is filled with sharp objects.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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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.

This sort of thing makes me absolutely, positively thrilled with joy. Please, please spread this meme so that I can actually eat out at my NYC faves in peace.

FWIW, I disagree with this assessment completely. While I found Per Se lacking, it was by the standards of restaurants in general, and actually by the standards that Keller himself had been stating for the resto. Compared to dining experiences in Europe? Certainly not lacking. More to the point, the places I actually *like* (JG, Bouley, etc.) stack up quite nicely against their Parisian equivalents in my most recent experience. JG probably rates a shade below L'Astrance in terms of overall food and service quality, but not too far below.

And don't get me started on places like Gordon Ramsay RHR, the Fat Duck, et cetera. I can say with certainty that in my highly biased opinion, those restos don't score at all against the best in NYC.

Edited by Mayur (log)
Mayur Subbarao, aka "Mayur"
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The Kobe Club review posted on the Times website lacks the usual zero-star adjective. I'm assuming it's Satisfactory, as Bruni has filed only one non-Satisfactory zero-star review (Ninja: Poor).

Of course, Satisfactory is a misnomer. Bruni's Satisfactory reviews seldom convey much satisfaction, and this one is no exception. But for that matter, his one-star reviews often don't sound "Good," even though that's the purported meaning of one star.

Edited by oakapple (log)
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Robyn,

You say: "Europeans would never tolerate going to a place like Per Se 20 minutes early and standing in a mall for the doors to open".

From my experience that's pure nonsense. I realize that in terms of ambience Chez l'Ami Louis is not Per Se. However in name recognition and price tag, it very well might be.

Last year on the last Sunday in January, a group that I am affiliated with was hosting an international gathering for which we had reserved all of l'Ami Louis. The dinner was scheduled for 9.00 PM. Several of the folks had arrived as early as 8.45. It was freezing outside as it can be in Paris in January. The waitstaff were just hanging around. They were well aware of the perhaps 20-30 people freezing outside. Nevertheless they didn't open the doors until 9.00 PM SHARP. The vast majority of those waiting were Europeans, yet the Americans complained the most.

I would submit that I for one would be much more willing, not to say comfortable waiting in a beautiful mall than freezing outside on the Rue Vertbois in one of the more decrepid neighborhoods of Paris.

Porkpa

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To add my two cents to the Robyn-disagreeing:

Last week I had my first European three star meal, at Arpege. The room is an embarrassment, a dated, shabby stab at plainness that, while apparently a daring statement for a three star aspirant when it opened (in 1986 as far as I can tell), looks, well, precisely like a daring minimalist statement from 1986. Don't get me wrong, it's a warm and friendly room, and the intent certainly matches the feel of the cuisine; but it hardly compares to, for instance, the decor at Jean Georges or per se. (And I hated the room at per se.) I'm not even sure it compares favorably to Blue Hill. There was, for instance, a discolored rectangle on the wall above the entrance to the kitchen where an exit sign had clearly been ripped out and not painted over. Like, it's bad.

The wine list is terrible, too--short, overpriced (or so I've been told; certainly it is extremely expensive), and painfully missing the ancient verticals of big name wines that you expect at a high-end place. Only the middle complaint really applied to me, and there is the saving grace that if you order carefully a single, mid-priced bottle of white can match your whole meal, but again this is a list more appropriate to a NYT three-star than a four-star.

The service was fine, and quite warm and friendly, but certainly nothing impressive and occasionally somewhat clunky. Nor was there anything particularly impressive about the flatware, china, glasses, wine service, and so forth. (The wine is served in custom-made Lalique glasses etched with the restaurant's signature wavy logo, but this is yet more 80s-style cheesiness.) And the informality extends to the clientele: while we were there, we saw several diners wearing schlumpy casual sweaters, and I've read reports of locals wearing Polo knit shirts to Arpege during the summer months.

All of this was made moot by the food, which was utterly phenomenal and a clear level above that at per se (where I was quite impressed), or frankly any other restaurant in America. (I would still rate Alinea as my favorite meal overall, but that is clearly a matter of personal preference not objective excellence.)

The point is not to deny that most Parisian three stars achieve a level of elegance and formality in decor, service, plates and flatware, etc. beyond what you find in New York. (I have no personal experience, but it is my impression this is not true outside of France.) The point is that there are extensive historical and cultural reasons unique to France why this is the case; and that while the Michelin guide's long history in France may have influenced those standards, in extending the guide to other countries Michelin clearly has to take the restaurants they find on their own terms, rather than trying to situate them back in Paris. (Of course there are conflicting opinions how well they have achieved this, but it is clearly not the case that they don't even try.) Whether it's the influence of the non-France Michelin guides reaching back to the mother country or whether the "Michelin three star" mold was never as inflexible as assumed, the fact is that Arpege not only carries three stars but is considered among the top of the three star restaurants. You may get a different level of service and formality at "French Michelin three stars" as a class than at American ones, but don't be so quick to assume this means Michelin is grading on a curve.

Having said all that, I'm quite open to the charge that the New York Michelin is grading on a curve. But that's just because I don't think Jean Georges is all that good, not because there's some minimum standard of formality it fails to meet.

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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.

Well - I think part of this arises from the silliness of having dinners starting at 5:30 (when Per Se opens). I can see that at early bird specials in retirement areas in Florida - but not in fine dining restaurants in cosmopolitan cities. I don't care what restaurant I'm dealing with - after that 5:30 "seating" at Per Se - if I can't get a reservation at a reasonable dining time - I'm not going to eat there.

I will note that I am willing to pay a fairly large premium these days for restaurants that have single seatings. It's simply an elegant way to dine. Robyn

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Robyn,

You say: "Europeans would never tolerate going to a place like Per Se 20 minutes early and standing in a mall for the doors to open".

From my experience that's pure nonsense. I realize that in terms of ambience Chez l'Ami Louis is not Per Se. However in name recognition and price tag, it very well might be.

Last year on the last Sunday in January, a group that I am affiliated with was hosting an international gathering for which we had reserved all of l'Ami Louis. The dinner was scheduled for 9.00 PM. Several of the folks had arrived as early as 8.45. It was freezing outside as it can be in Paris in January. The waitstaff were just hanging around. They were well aware of the perhaps 20-30 people freezing outside. Nevertheless they didn't open the doors until 9.00 PM SHARP. The vast majority of those waiting were Europeans, yet the Americans complained the most.

I would submit that I for one would be much more willing, not to say comfortable waiting in a beautiful mall than freezing outside on the Rue Vertbois in one of the more decrepid neighborhoods of Paris.

Porkpa

That restaurant isn't a fine dining place - it's a bistro with attitude (used to have a lot when I dined there a couple of times 20 years ago - luckily with a "friend of the restaurant") and I can only assume it has more now since Esquire (or maybe it was Vanity Fair) wrote it up in the last couple of years as the venue for a big birthday party for that famous American food writer who died recently (sorry - but I am never great at names and tonight I am terrible - I am sure someone can give me his name).

That said - you were treated poorly. It is - unfortunately - all too easy to get treated poorly in restaurants both in the US and outside of it. Robyn

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Agree with the above. l'Ami Louis, while an interesting restaurant, is indeed a bistro quite impressed with itself. It does not pretend to be, nor aspire to, haute cuisine anything along a Michelin ** or *** experience.

Edited by DutchMuse (log)
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To add my two cents to the Robyn-disagreeing:

Last week I had my first European three star meal, at Arpege. The room is an embarrassment, a dated, shabby stab at plainness that, while apparently a daring statement for a three star aspirant when it opened (in 1986 as far as I can tell), looks, well, precisely like a daring minimalist statement from 1986. Don't get me wrong, it's a warm and friendly room, and the intent certainly matches the feel of the cuisine; but it hardly compares to, for instance, the decor at Jean Georges or per se. (And I hated the room at per se.) I'm not even sure it compares favorably to Blue Hill. There was, for instance, a discolored rectangle on the wall above the entrance to the kitchen where an exit sign had clearly been ripped out and not painted over. Like, it's bad.

The wine list is terrible, too--short, overpriced (or so I've been told; certainly it is extremely expensive), and painfully missing the ancient verticals of big name wines that you expect at a high-end place. Only the middle complaint really applied to me, and there is the saving grace that if you order carefully a single, mid-priced bottle of white can match your whole meal, but again this is a list more appropriate to a NYT three-star than a four-star.

The service was fine, and quite warm and friendly, but certainly nothing impressive and occasionally somewhat clunky. Nor was there anything particularly impressive about the flatware, china, glasses, wine service, and so forth. (The wine is served in custom-made Lalique glasses etched with the restaurant's signature wavy logo, but this is yet more 80s-style cheesiness.) And the informality extends to the clientele: while we were there, we saw several diners wearing schlumpy casual sweaters, and I've read reports of locals wearing Polo knit shirts to Arpege during the summer months.

All of this was made moot by the food, which was utterly phenomenal and a clear level above that at per se (where I was quite impressed), or frankly any other restaurant in America. (I would still rate Alinea as my favorite meal overall, but that is clearly a matter of personal preference not objective excellence.)

The point is not to deny that most Parisian three stars achieve a level of elegance and formality in decor, service, plates and flatware, etc. beyond what you find in New York. (I have no personal experience, but it is my impression this is not true outside of France.) The point is that there are extensive historical and cultural reasons unique to France why this is the case; and that while the Michelin guide's long history in France may have influenced those standards, in extending the guide to other countries Michelin clearly has to take the restaurants they find on their own terms, rather than trying to situate them back in Paris. (Of course there are conflicting opinions how well they have achieved this, but it is clearly not the case that they don't even try.) Whether it's the influence of the non-France Michelin guides reaching back to the mother country or whether the "Michelin three star" mold was never as inflexible as assumed, the fact is that Arpege not only carries three stars but is considered among the top of the three star restaurants. You may get a different level of service and formality at "French Michelin three stars" as a class than at American ones, but don't be so quick to assume this means Michelin is grading on a curve.

Having said all that, I'm quite open to the charge that the New York Michelin is grading on a curve. But that's just because I don't think Jean Georges is all that good, not because there's some minimum standard of formality it fails to meet.

I think the most telling part of your comment was about the food - that it was fabulous. Restaurants - like hotels - homes - whatever - do get old and tired after about 20 years. And it is at that point that their owners have to decide whether to bite the bullet and spend a lot of money updating them - or sell them - or let them slide slowly into decay. That is a problem being faced especially by luxury hotels these days. Those Ritz Carltons and Four Seasons from the 70's and 80's have to be redone - or abandoned (and in many cases they're simply being sold - abandoned - and new properties are being built).

The worst in my opinion is when not only is the property tired - but the food is tired too - or exhausted. Quite a few years ago - I went to a famous French restaurant in New York. Can't remember the name (but those of you in New York might - it was one of 2 New York French restaurants that had almost identical names). It had received rave reviews from the New York Times which were hopelessly out of date. Well - we tried it - and it was awful. A sad caricature of a French restaurant from the 1950's (which was even before *my* time!). After that - as a general rule - I think it's best to avoid 20 year old restaurants with stars dating back at least a decade or more - or places which used to have X stars - but now have X minus 1 or 2. I break that rule once in a while - but usually regret it.

The most fun is finding a place that is relatively new - but is hitting its stride after a year or two - and is clearly destined for bigger and better things. That is kind of hard to do when you're a tourist - but it happens every once in a while and it's great. There is so much restaurant hype in New York these days that I'm not sure this kind of thing is possible there. But who knows? I loved Tom Aikens in London - and there have to be people in New York opening restaurants like that who are flying just a bit under the national media radar - at least for a while. While Bruni is reviewing "Ninja" meets "Kobe beef" restaurants - there have to be more interesting things going on.

And - if you go to lesser places (people from New York do go to places other than Miami Beach - yes :smile: ? - it's entirely possible). The kind of restaurant that might get the James Beard award for best restaurant in the northwest 8 years from now (4 years too late) - or the 1 star in a lesser city in Europe that might wind up with its third down the road. Or those millions of restaurants in countries virtually untouched by western journalism (which is just about every country outside of North American and western Europe) - where we will never hear anything.

The wine issue is something else. And is really quite properly the subject of another thread (of which I recall a few here). Best I can tell - many restaurants haven't kept up with the trends in wines (a lot of very solid wines are relatively cheap these days). It is one thing to have a great expensive bottle. Quite another to have a mediocre extremely overpriced bottle. Overall - I have found that I am relatively lucky because still wine doesn't agree with me. I am very fond of champagne - familiar with the most common ones I'm most likely to find - and - overall - they aren't miserably overpriced in most places. I especially like restaurants with champagne trolleys - and that cool way the servers pour the bottles over the side of their arms. Give me a Plymouth martini before dinner - and some champagne with - and I'm a happy camper (with a relatively small liquor bill). Robyn

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There have been some changes to the Diner's Journal format. Other members of the Times dining section team are now going to be contributing to it, and they seem to be doing some experiments with format. Frank Bruni explains the changed here.

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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There have been some changes to the Diner's Journal format. Other members of the Times dining section team are now going to be contributing to it, and they seem to be doing some experiments with format. Frank Bruni explains the changed here.

Just like many bloggers, Bruni's posting pace slowed down after it was no longer a novelty, and the posts were dominated by non-food topics. I think some fresh blood will be beneficial.
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  • 2 weeks later...

Lost amid the hoopla about Chodorow's full page ad was another of Bruni's gratuitous, self-congratulatory attacks on fine dining in his laughable review of Momofuku Ssam Bar.

"By bringing sophisticated, inventive cooking and a few high-end grace notes to a setting that discourages even the slightest sense of ceremony, Ssam Bar answers the desires of a generation of savvy, adventurous diners with little appetite for starchy rituals and stratospheric prices. They want great food, but they want it to feel more accessible, less effete."

Just who are these new "savvy" diners? I'm not sure, but one thing is clear, they are not savvy enough to realize they are sitting on chairs without backs.

Apparently it is ok to subject your customers to hour long waits rather than take reservations, punish them with seating that borders on torture and rush them through their meals at warp speed as long as you don't perform any "starchy rituals" like those effete French guys.

I love Chang's food as much as the next guy, and of course there is a very welcome place for this type of restaurant in NYC, but to suggest, with careless abandon, that it (or Sripriphai) is as good restaurant as GR at the London (and one notch below ADNY and Bouley) displays dizzying ignorance.

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fwiw, I think this was both the most defensible of Bruni's reviews...ever...and his most insightful.

Ssam Bar, right now, is one of the top restaurants in NYC. period. (so long as it is actually food that matters to you.) yes, it is conceivably the archetype of a new type of dining...one where what's on the plate is everything.

there may be a zillion restauranteurs in NYC that are p___ed right now that Ssam Bar got two stars...but you won't find many chefs that are. (heck, JG just called him one of the three best chefs in the city)

it's a new era and a new generation. deal with it.

(I really would have been amused at the apopleptic fits if it had gotten three)

edit: oh, and I'd be flabbergasted if GR proper were better than Sriphithai (the London Bar isn't even in the same league).

(certainly not when price is considered -- which last time I checked was explicitly an official part of the star ratings).

edit2: I didn't mean for this to sound harsh. But my generation spends enough on dining and enough of us are savvy on dining that we don't need to have our preferred culinary zeitgeist maligned merely because it doesn't fit into the classic French (or rather the old NY stuffy caricature of French dining) model. Some of the best cooking in the city at a price that I can afford more than a couple times a year....that makes it a great restaurant.

Edited by Nathan (log)
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I must concur with Messrs. Nathan and Bruni on this one. There's a whole generation of gourmets that doesn't want to pay six hundred dollars, plan sixty days ahead and commit six hours to a meal at Per Se just to get the top level of food available in the city. They'd rather wait the hour than the sixty days.

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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(and I'm not saying that Ssam Bar is at Per Se's level -- but it's at a high enough level (as with Bouley Upstairs) that the differences start getting marginal. throw in that you can stop in and have one dish as opposed to an entire tasting menu...I don't know of any other restaurant at that level where you can do that).

I do think that it's purely Ssam Bar's informality and lack of ambience which kept it from three stars.

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I must concur with Messrs. Nathan and Bruni on this one.
I think it's great that Bruni has given proper recognition to restaurants that serve superb food in casual environments.

But I think Joe Gerard is absolutely spot-on, when he refers to Bruni's overt hostility to traditional fine dining. It is possible — though Bruni has never yet managed it — to praise one without heaping gratuitous insults on the other. I mean, anytime you call something "effete," it's not a compliment.

There's no question Per Se is different from Momofuku Ssam Bar. Is it effete? I don't think so.

There's a whole generation of gourmets that doesn't want to pay six hundred dollars, plan sixty days ahead and commit six hours to a meal at Per Se just to get the top level of food available in the city. They'd rather wait the hour than the sixty days.

There's one obvious fallacy with this argument. Per Se wouldn't have that sixty-day wait in the first place, if there wasn't also a significant population of diners who are eager for that kind of experience.

I don't think it's purely generational, either. I mean, in just about any era you look at, people who don't have a whole lot of disposable income are likely to choose more casual dining options. Many of those folks tend to be younger (since they haven't worked their way up the ladder yet), but not exclusively so.

It's certainly true that "ultra-luxe" service (as in La Grenouille) isn't as popular as it once was, which is why so many of the restaurants in that genre have disappeared. But there are casual restaurants serving serious food, like Perry St., BLT Fish, and the Bar Room at The Modern, where at least you can make a reservation, check your coat, sit in seats with backs, and order off a wine list that has more than 3 selections.

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It's certainly the case that a subset of young gourmets likes to dine at Per Se as well as at places like Momofuku and Upstairs. I'm a little older than the target audience, but at 37 I'm probably still in that category. At the same time, I think fine dining is getting more and more geriatric -- that's hard to dispute, and I don't mean it as an insult because I love geriatric fine dining -- and it's not clear that anybody has yet discovered the formula for capturing the next generation's audience. The Bar Room and several other places do indeed offer serious food in a more casual setting, but these true no-frills restaurants are in a different, post-modern category. They also don't require the same level of investment. It will be interesting to see how that sector develops. From talking to several young chefs and observers of the industry, I can say with confidence that everybody is watching, especially the young up-and-coming chefs who are thinking about starting their own places.

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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I agree with both of your posts.

with that said, at least some small part of the popularity of Perry Street and Bar Room at the Modern is that you can walk in off the street without a reservation, sit at the bar and order as little or as much as you want.

my avid disagreement with Joe Gerard's post is that there is a new fine dining paradigm which can, in fact, co-exist with the old one. I'm 32 and certainly dine in PS, BRM and SB places far more often...but I also eat at the four-stars (when I can afford to and am in the mood for that kind of experience). there's no reason that these paradigms can't coexist and, in my view, kudos to Bruni for recognizing and validating the new fine dining paradigm (not that it wasn't going to happen whether he validated it or not). (I also don't buy that he is inherently opposed to formal fine dining -- he gave four stars to Per Se and Masa and reaffirmed them for JG. He also gave three stars to Country and the revamped Picholine. What I would say is different about Bruni in that respect is that he certainly doesn't automatically grant stars merely for competent execution of luxe food combined with a formal environment and service.)

These are exciting times because for perhaps the first time....you can have access to some of the best food in the city on a moment's notice without having to treat the occasion like an event. What is wrong with that?

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I agree with both of your posts.

with that said, at least some small part of the popularity of Perry Street and Bar Room at the Modern is that you can walk in off the street without a reservation, sit at the bar and order as little or as much as you want.

my avid disagreement with Joe Gerard's post is that there is a new fine dining paradigm which can, in fact, co-exist with the old one.  I'm 32 and certainly dine in PS, BRM and SB places far more often...but I also eat at the four-stars (when I can afford to and am in the mood for that kind of experience).  there's no reason that these paradigms can't coexist and, in my view, kudos to Bruni for recognizing and validating the new fine dining paradigm (not that it wasn't going to happen whether he validated it or not).  (I also don't buy that he is inherently opposed to formal fine dining -- he gave four stars to Per Se and Masa and reaffirmed them for JG.  He also gave three stars to Country and the revamped Picholine.  What I would say is different about Bruni in that respect is that he certainly doesn't automatically grant stars merely for competent execution of luxe food combined with a formal environment and service.) 

These are exciting times because for perhaps the first time....you can have access to some of the best food in the city on a moment's notice without having to treat the occasion like an event.  What is wrong with that?

By no means am I suggesting that Chang's food is not terrific. I would argue that there was no need for Bruni to use his review of Ssam Bar to take another cheap shot at fine dining. You're right, these paradigms can and should co-exist. But I would argue that Ssam Bar is not an example of a new fine dining paradigm. If there are no backs on the seats, for Godsakes, it is not fine dining, and Chang would probably be the first to say so.

Lets remember that Bruni demoted ADNY and Bouley. Lets also remember, that were it not for a recent influx of chefs from elsewhere, we would have two top level French restaurants in this city. Thats one more than Wheeling, IL.

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Its the food that makes it fine dining.

edit: regardless of what you call it, the explicit star criteria for the NY Times make no mention of "fine dining" requirements for restaurants at the two, three and four star level.

furthermore, you stated:

" laughable review of Momofuku Ssam Bar." this implies that you found his praise and assessment of the food to be nonsensical (since 80% of Bruni's review concerned specific dishes).

furthermore, you stated:

"Just who are these new "savvy" diners? I'm not sure, but one thing is clear, they are not savvy enough to realize they are sitting on chairs without backs."

well, as one of those new un-savvy diners too young and stupid to realize that I'm sitting in a chair without a back, I'm also unsavvy enough to think that maybe old fogies shouldn't be dictating what is and is not fine dining (or two star dining) to the rest of us.

Edited by Nathan (log)
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Its the food that makes it fine dining.

edit: regardless of what you call it, the explicit star criteria for the NY Times make no mention of "fine dining" requirements for restaurants at the two, three and four star level.

furthermore, you stated:

" laughable review of Momofuku Ssam Bar."  this implies that you found his praise and assessment of the food to be nonsensical (since 80% of Bruni's review concerned specific dishes). 

furthermore, you stated:

"Just who are these new "savvy" diners? I'm not sure, but one thing is clear, they are not savvy enough to realize they are sitting on chairs without backs."

well, as one of those new un-savvy diners too young and stupid to realize that I'm sitting in a chair without a back, I'm also unsavvy enough to think that maybe old fogies shouldn't be dictating what is and is not fine dining (or two star dining) to the rest of us.

Sorry for not responding sooner but it takes me awhile to get my decrepit body out of my wheelchair and over to the computer. Dude, I'm 48, I have a two year old, so I'm not quite ready to be pushing up daisies.

I think you need to be reminded that this forum is not limited to those who share your many opinions, and that every post that you disagree with is not a personal attack. Lighten up a bit; clearly I was attempting a bit of humor to make a point. Simply because people are willing to put up with numerous inconveniences, if not downright physical pain, to enjoy a restaurant's food does not take its owners off the hook for the decisions they make about the comfort of their customers. Bruni chooses to ignore all of this but if someone looks at him the wrong way in an expensive French restaurant, there goes a star. Two stars is laughable when ADNY has three.

I have suffered the indignity of dining at a six inch deep counter staring at the wall three inches in front of me to eat at Noodle Bar. I have absolutely no problem with it. What bothers me is when people suggest that this is a viable alternative for the classic fine dining restaurant simply because they prefer not to have to wear a jacket or learn enough about food and wine to lose their sense of awkwardness in a French restaurant. And that this makes them "savvy."

It takes effort to develop an appreciation of any art form. Unfortunately, I think many people are no longer willing to do so.

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What bothers me is when people suggest that this is a viable alternative for the classic fine dining restaurant simply because they prefer not to have to wear a jacket or learn enough about food and wine to lose their sense of awkwardness in a French restaurant. And that this makes them "savvy."

It takes effort to develop an appreciation of any art form. Unfortunately, I think many people are no longer willing to do so.

First, it's useless to compare Bruni's reviews between fine-dining and non-fine-dining restaurants. As we've established on these boards many times, Bruni does review a restaurant in a given category, even though he probably shouldn't. That's just the way it is. That's why Ssam and Little Owl can have two stars with Gilt and The Modern.

Furthermore, no one has really suggested this as the new fine-dining. Rather, it represents the way youngish people like to eat. The backless chairs and the two stars don't bother me in the slightest, and I'm more of a "fine-dining" kind of guy. And I'm young. And soooooo damn savvy.

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What bothers me is when people suggest that this is a viable alternative for the classic fine dining restaurant simply because they prefer not to have to wear a jacket or learn enough about food and wine to lose their sense of awkwardness in a French restaurant. And that this makes them "savvy."

It takes effort to develop an appreciation of any art form. Unfortunately, I think many people are no longer willing to do so.

First, it's useless to compare Bruni's reviews between fine-dining and non-fine-dining restaurants. As we've established on these boards many times, Bruni does review a restaurant in a given category, even though he probably shouldn't. That's just the way it is. That's why Ssam and Little Owl can have two stars with Gilt and The Modern.

Furthermore, no one has really suggested this as the new fine-dining. Rather, it represents the way youngish people like to eat. The backless chairs and the two stars don't bother me in the slightest, and I'm more of a "fine-dining" kind of guy. And I'm young. And soooooo damn savvy.

Actually, I hope that "youngish" people like to eat at Momofuku instead of Megu, Spice Market or Buddakan, but I doubt it. Most likely it will be the "oldish" people I see there all the time who will end up supporting it.

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