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Underappreciated NYC Restaurants


Sneakeater
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Compass.

Veritas.

Food, glorious food!

“Eat! Eat! May you be destroyed if you don’t eat! What sin have I committed that God should punish me with you! Eat! What will become of you if you don’t eat! Imp of darkness, may you sink 10 fathoms into the earth if you don’t eat! Eat!” (A. Kazin)

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I think Quality Meats is underappreciated in the real world.  I've had some really fantastic meals there lately.  The steak is as good as anywhere in Manhattan and some of the sides are fantastic (marrow bones, potatoes).  QM is certainly underappreciated by the NY Times.  Why hasn't it been reviewed yet?

Agreed. The marrow bones are almost an exact duplicate of the ones at Blue Ribbon, which is to say they are friggin delicious. Nice charcuterie. Addictive bread. Pretty good steak, even. QM is a solid place.

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Gotham Bar and Grill. I like the combination of service, ambiance, and food available in a bar setting. Particularly for getting a nice dessert.

Ino never seems to get mentioned here but it's remarkably affordable, has great service, tasty food, and it's a no-brainer if there's a vegetarian in the dinner party. The same with Inoteca, for that matter.

Prune.

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Gotham Bar and Grill.  I like the combination of service, ambiance, and food available in a bar setting. Particularly for getting a nice dessert.

Ino never seems to get mentioned here but it's remarkably affordable, has great service, tasty food, and it's a no-brainer if there's a vegetarian in the dinner party. The same with Inoteca, for that matter.

Prune.

Just curious: why do you find Prune underappreciated? They've not exactly been struggling for business during the times I've been by.

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Al di Là may be underappreciated here (I had one of my best meals of 2006 in their wine bar, a truly fabulous experience!), though I think it receives a proper degree of appreciation on Chowhound's Outer Boroughs board.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
Just curious: why do you find Prune underappreciated?  They've not exactly been struggling for business during the times I've been by.

Whoops, I missed this reply some time back. Just for completeness, the original criteria for "restaurants you think are very worthwhile but for some reason don't seem to get much play, either here or in the world?" I haven't seen Prune mentioned much on eG, and certainly not in its eG thread. Anyway.

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Given Sneakeater's original criteria, I would add Etats-Unis on the Upper East Side. It has a Michelin star, but is seldom mentioned here.

'Cept on my blog!!! :wink:

"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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Quatorze Bis

You shouldn't eat grouse and woodcock, venison, a quail and dove pate, abalone and oysters, caviar, calf sweetbreads, kidneys, liver, and ducks all during the same week with several cases of wine. That's a health tip.

Jim Harrison from "Off to the Side"

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79th east of 2nd ave. Bistro food. My wife's obgyn recommended it for the calves liver which we didn't try. Everything we did eat including warm chickory salad with bacon and then later choucroute was exemplary. Lots of octogenarians.

You shouldn't eat grouse and woodcock, venison, a quail and dove pate, abalone and oysters, caviar, calf sweetbreads, kidneys, liver, and ducks all during the same week with several cases of wine. That's a health tip.

Jim Harrison from "Off to the Side"

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By coincidence, Marian Burros posted the following in the Times's "Diner's Journal" blog today:

http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.com/200...f-the-familiar/

I ate at the old downtown Quatorze a lot. I've eaten at Quatorze Bis maybe twice (I'm not up there very frequently). This is another place where, while it certainly doesn't scale the heights, I've never had a bad meal. As Ms. Burros says, the fries are superb, and the tarte tatin (at least as of several years ago) remained nearly definitive. I'm pleased to hear it's still good.

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

Casa Mono, Unappreciated? Tell that to the people stacking up outside the door waiting to be let in. Tell that to Chef Nusser who spends his weekends cooking with the Adria clan in Spain. I have a friend in Nebraska who doesn't appreciate Casa Mono. And another in Oslo

You shouldn't eat grouse and woodcock, venison, a quail and dove pate, abalone and oysters, caviar, calf sweetbreads, kidneys, liver, and ducks all during the same week with several cases of wine. That's a health tip.

Jim Harrison from "Off to the Side"

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Casa Mono, Unappreciated?  Tell that to the people stacking up outside the door waiting to be let in.  Tell that to Chef Nusser who spends his weekends cooking with the Adria clan in Spain.  I have a friend in Nebraska who doesn't appreciate Casa Mono.  And another in Oslo

Exactly. The real subject of this thread is "underappreciated on eGullet." There are numerous restaurants, including Casa Mono, that are very highly appreciated...just not here.
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A dynamic, interactive online discussion is not an index. It can be indexed, but it isn't one. In a well-chosen list, guide or index, the criteria for inclusion are many, generally involving merit in food, surroundings, service, etc. In a free-wheeling discussion format, the primary criterion for inclusion is whether there's something to discuss.

Discussion-worthiness can certainly overlap with merit, but not necessarily. While discussion of the mundane can be interesting when held by interesting people, overall for most discussions to be interesting they have to focus on interesting things. And of course exactly the opposite of merit can also make something eminently discussable.

For me, the interesting question, when looking at a restaurant that is good, maybe popular, but not the subject of much eG Forums discussion, is why isn't it the subject of much eG Forums discussion? There may be several types of reasons:

First, there are the random statistical occurrences. Since the eGullet Society doesn't have 1,200 (I pick this number because it's commonly used in polling to establish a tolerable margin of error) active, knowledgeable, New York-based members who dine out all the time at a variety of places in all five boroughs, it's statistically unlikely that our membership will post evenly about every interesting or otherwise worthy restaurant. Our organization has a commitment to quality over quantity, and therefore among other things we require a membership application process that weeds most people out. I hasten to add, New York restaurant discussion of the review-and-comment variety is a small part of the overall content of eG Forums discussions. Our members can be found all over the world, discussing far more than restaurants. We do have plenty of ecumenical, diverse members who are interested in just about everything that goes on across the eGullet Society's webspace from cooking to the literary essays in the Daily Gullet to various regional food discussions that have nothing to do with dining out, but many of our members focus on a limited slice of content (e.g., New York restaurants) and then identify that selective bit as "eGullet."

Second, there's the psychological barrier to initiating discussion. Our members, overwhelmingly, are more likely to reply to posts than they are to start topics. This of course enhances the statistical anomalies, because it gives the small subset of members who regularly start topics and initiate discussion a disproportionate say in the content of eG Forums New York discussions.

Third, there is the reality that some very good restaurants just don't provide that much fodder for interesting discussion. So, maybe they got discussed by our members in 2001, 2002, 2003, or 2004, and if someone goes to look at the topic in 2007 there's just not much to add. For example, if a restaurant's menu never changes, there's only so large a share of the discussion real estate that it can occupy without something else happening (e.g., a murder at the restaurant, a media controversy).

Fourth, often there needs to be a catalyst for a discussion to get going. A well-publicized opening, a celebrity chef, a restaurant review in the New York Times, a member having an incredibly great or terrible experience -- without at least one of these occurrences, it's possible that nobody will bother to post.

Fifth, there's the matter of reputation. So many people have heard it repeated so many times that eGullet Society members are all fine-dining snobs that many of them believe it. So the ones who are already members don't bother to talk about anything else, or they take that discussion elsewhere, or they don't join up here in the first place, even though we explicitly welcome and encourage that sort of discussion every chance we get. It's particularly irksome when the views of a few members or staff are misconstrued as official positions, when of course they're not. Our official positions are carefully documented (for example, the very first belief listed in our statement of purpose is that "Good food doesn’t have to be expensive or esoteric – just good. Good food and drink aren't exclusive to the rich and well-traveled."). The rest is opinion. And often that opinion is misunderstood. Taking the position that Sripraphai deserves no stars is not a litmus test of whether you like Sripraphai or interesting ethnic restaurants in general. I go to Sripraphai often, and not as a masochistic exercise, but I think it deserves no stars. Perhaps the distinctions are too subtle for the soundbite era, though they seem clear enough to me.

Given all that, and I'm sure there are more issues, I think the question for eGullet Society members who are interested in improving the range of restaurants that are the subject of eG Forums discussion is: what are you going to do about it? Are you only replying to topics that other people start? Are you going out to lots of meals but not reporting on them? Do you realize that the discussion is whatever you make it?

I learn new things every day from my involvement with the eGullet Society. Perhaps one of the most satisfying revelations of late has been on account of the terrific posts of Leonard Kim on the subject of New York Times restaurant review history. Pretty much any tidy generalization anybody has made about the history of the New York Times restaurant reviews has been thoroughly debunked by Leonard's careful research. Those discussions are great examples of the folly of blanket assumptions and hasty generalizations. They're also a microcosm of the fallacies evident in many other discussions, especially the meta-discussions about what happens in eG Forums discussions. I can't claim to have read every eG Forums post for the past five years (the late Matt Hassett may be the only person who ever has), but I've read hundreds of thousands of them. Whenever I see hasty generalizations, and indeed fundamental misunderstandings of what the eGullet Society is, I'm sorely tempted to correct them, Leonard Kim style, with a hundred examples from the written record. But then, that task would fill all my available time.

Bearing in mind all of the above points, I still can't figure out why Esca doesn't get more play.

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 think Quality Meats is underappreciated in the real world.  I've had some really fantastic meals there lately.  The steak is as good as anywhere in Manhattan and some of the sides are fantastic (marrow bones, potatoes).  QM is certainly underappreciated by the NY Times.  Why hasn't it been reviewed yet?

Marrow bones? Could you go into a bit more detail on how they're prepared, please? I love good marrow bones. I've had them at Cafe D'alsace and they were excellent but I'm curious to see how other places do it.

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Given all that, and I'm sure there are more issues, I think the question for eGullet Society members who are interested in improving the range of restaurants that are the subject of eG Forums discussion is: what are you going to do about it? Are you only replying to topics that other people start? Are you going out to lots of meals but not reporting on them? Do you realize that the discussion is whatever you make it?

Steve, I think the entirety of your post was true, but the above paragraph troubles me the most.

As you know I've been around this board for some five years and have seen many people come and go. I have seen many "lukers" (and still do) who are reading and never post and this causes concern.

I'm sure you recall Steve, that about 18 months ago I started a thread titled the "Death of the New York Board." I received e-mails from you and several moderators asking what I meant - and I explained the board was dying because the only posts we were getting at the time were by members asking where to eat when they came to town.

By the end of the day, the moderators agreed with me and the boards improved for a while, but eventually slipped back to that same pattern. Today the NY Board is kept alive by three people for the most part (SE, Marc & Nathan). I would venture to guess they post more than half of the board's posts on any given day - I'm sure Mr. Kim will correct that number if I'm far off. :biggrin:

Yet, at the same time, I notice many, many more people reading the posts and never posting. Why they don't? Well, a couple a factors come into play - fear of sounding foolish and getting bashed; not wanting to stick their heads out with an opinion; feeling not part of the club.

Now I've tried to get people involved in my own way. As you, and probably any other person on eG realizes, I play the devil's advocate at times trying to draw people into a conversation. Sometimes, I espouse a postion I don't believe to keep a conversation going and get reactions. And sometimes I'll write a fictional account of something attempting to get the attention of others.

Last Saturday, I wrote a fictional piece about Luger's reaction to the Times handling of the Robert's review. I received many pm's saying how funny it was and getting the idea it was a joke because I used April 1st as the starting date. Yet not one person responded to it on the board.

I don't know what the answer is, but I do know it's disconcerting that such a small number of people post on the NY Board. So I agree, Steve we need a wider base of real posters in NY - maybe a Spring Sale where we promise that the NY Board is a no bashing zone.

Saying all that, I don't understand why the Mesa Grill doesn't get more play here.

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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Rich, you make good points. At least for me, not living in the area for most of the year hurts. My posting habits vary significantly when I'm in town as opposed to when I am not; I suppose it has to do with some kind of relevancy/salience effect. Similarly, there are lots of us (dare I say B&T'ers) who only get into the city for special meals; we can't just come on in to try some of the underappreciated restaurants. Financial constraints also come into play, as we cannot try a new restaurant every other night.

All of this this introduces a bias in which we only visit restaurants that get a lot of play here and, in turn, only post about those restaurants, as FG clearly points out.

On the other hand, a wider base of posters just puts us that much closer to Chowhound. Ew. Yes, eG is insular, but it's just an internet web board and what makes it great is the relationships and personalities that arise. It's also worth noting that many times these online personalities aren't all too far from their real-life counterparts. Does it suck that there aren't more totally sweet people post? Yeah. Would it suck more if this was Chowhound? Yes, that would be the true death of the NYC board.

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Guys, I rarely exercise my moderator options, but this time I am going to respectfully close this topic. Not that I don't agree with you all, but I think your time could be more constructively used to go out, eat, and post about how great these restaurants are. Instead of ranting about how underappreciated they are. Give them more 'play' on this board, so others can go and appreciate them like you do. Although I never thought I say this, but it's more positive that way. :shock:

Ya-Roo Yang aka "Bond Girl"

The Adventures of Bond Girl

I don't ask for much, but whatever you do give me, make it of the highest quality.

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