Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Sign in to follow this  
Fat Guy

Where to get the haute-cuisine experience, cheap

Recommended Posts

On a couple of other topics we've been discussing the trend (some agree that it's a trend, others think it's nothing new; I think it's legit) in New York City towards inexpensive, casual restaurants -- often with no reservations -- that serve food that has its roots not in the bistro/brasserie tradition but in haute cuisine. Perhaps it's that the generation of foodies now coming of age is demanding this kind of restaurant, or perhaps it's because there are so many young well-trained chefs out there now, or perhaps it has to do with the increased availability of better ingredients . . . or all those factors and more.

What I was hoping to do here is assemble a list of the best places serving in this style: haute-type cuisine, inexpensive, casual, walk-in . . .


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)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i,ve heard prune restaurant is very good and low priced. i haven't been there but a friend told me it was very good.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To get the ball rolling, the two places that started this discussion obviously were

Bouley Upstairs

Momofuku Ssam

I'd also add

Degustation

which I think fits in here, even though it isn't a walk-in.


Edited by Sneakeater (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
i,ve heard prune restaurant is very good and low priced. i haven't been there but a friend told me it was very good.

Prune doesn't fit the description of serving "food that has its roots not in the bistro/brasserie tradition but in haute cuisine." THAT'S what's "new" about the places FG is talking about.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Bar Room at the Modern seems to have pulled in some of this audience for awhile, although I've heard almost nothing but complaints ever since the place got three stars in the New York Times (and my one disappointing meal ever at the Bar Room was I think on the night it got the three stars). Maybe the shift in expectations has done something, or maybe the place just got overwhelmed. I'm not sure -- but it's probably the closest thing Midtown has to a pocketbook-friendly pseudo-haute experience.


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)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
What I was hoping to do here is assemble a list of the best places serving in this style: haute-type cuisine, inexpensive, casual, walk-in . . .

FG - can you define inexpensive - that may well spawn a discussion of its own!


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The Bar Room at the Modern seems to have pulled in some of this audience for awhile, although I've heard almost nothing but complaints ever since the place got three stars in the New York Times (and my one disappointing meal ever at the Bar Room was I think on the night it got the three stars). Maybe the shift in expectations has done something, or maybe the place just got overwhelmed. I'm not sure -- but it's probably the closest thing Midtown has to a pocketbook-friendly pseudo-haute experience.

It's also sort of in-the-middle in terms of the "haute" rather than "bistro" orientation. It's like a step towards this "thing" you're talking about, but not quite.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

the food at Bar-Room at the Modern ranges from rustic-traditional (the superb tarte-flambee, the bakeoffe) to more haute.

I think it belongs on this thread though.

as has been noted, Ssam Bar, Bouley Upstairs, Room4Dessert and Degustation are poster-children for this thread. I imagine the upcoming Tailor will fit here.

Chubo was sort of the first of this generation...the problem with Chubo is that it isn't that good. ditto for a now defunct molecular place that had a brief life in the EV.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm already on record with the view that we are exaggerating this alleged trend. However, perhaps I can be persuaded.

If we take David Chang at his word, Momofuku Ssam Bar was practically an accident. He had other intentions for the restuarant. When he found they weren't working, he had to think quickly, and luckily he hit the jackpot.

The notion of a casual "front room" (serving less expensive food than the main dining room, often without reservations) has been around for a while. Examples include the Tavern at GT, the Bread Bar at Tabla, the Cafe at Aquavit, the Cafe at Country, Nougatine at Jean Georges, the London Bar at Gordon Ramsay, the Enoteca at Del Posto, the lounges at Daniel and Le Cirque. As Peter Meehan observed in an article last year, even Keens Steakhouse has a lounge like this.

You could think of Bouley Upstairs as substantially the same concept, except that the building is across the street.


Edited by oakapple (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Okay but let's not equate good food with haute food. I don't think anybody would contend that the food at Gramercy Tavern's front room is haute. Or the Bread Bar at Tabla. While delicious, the food at those places is much more in the rustic camp. I think the Bar Room at the Modern is the only Union Square group front room that serves a significant number of dishes I'd consider to be haute cuisine.


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)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The ones Sneakeater mentions are definitely the ones that instantly come to mind for me too. (For the record, I like Momo I (Noodle Bar) better than Ssam, but that's ok, because you can all go to Ssam and I can have my kimchi stew and brussel sprouts.) And I agree with Nathan that The Modern Bar Room belongs in this category. I haven't been, but I wonder if Varietal fits in here, at least on the sweet side. Many of the inexpensive, casual, walk-in places I love have great food, but I wouldn't call it haute (i.e., Tia Pol, Mary's Fish Camp, Bellavitae).

Not in NY, but Jose Andres/minibar come to mind . . . And while it's certainly not inexpensive, I think that L'Atelier, at least in concept, is along the same lines.

I think my predilection to dining at the bar at some of the best restaurants in the city (Cru, Gotham, Picholine, Gramercy) is my own attempt at creating what Fat Guy is describing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

oh sure...I think it does come out of the bar dining trend....which is still primarily an uniquely NY phenomenon (do they do this extensively in SF as well?)...but it'll spread.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If we take David Chang at his word, Momofuku Ssam Bar was practically an accident. He had other intentions for the restuarant. When he found they weren't working, he had to think quickly, and luckily he hit the jackpot.

If you read up the Ssam Bar thread you'll find that late-night elaborate chef-driven dishes was the plan all along....what was accidental was being financially forced to start serving those dishes before 10:30 PM.

I do think Bouley Upstairs was a happy accident...a showcase for his cooking school that took off.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think my predilection to dining at the bar at some of the best restaurants in the city (Cru, Gotham, Picholine, Gramercy) is my own attempt at creating what Fat Guy is describing.

Mine too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
oh sure...I think it does come out of the bar dining trend....which is still primarily an uniquely NY phenomenon (do they do this extensively in SF as well?)...but it'll spread.

I think even moreso in SF, as it's a much more casual vibe fitting in with the culture - we love eating at the bar at places like Boulevard, Zuni, even the Slanted Door. And, fwiw, I think Stars was one of the first great bar dining scenes in the country.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
To get the ball rolling, the two places that started this discussion obviously were

Bouley Upstairs

Momofuku Ssam

I'd also add

Degustation

which I think fits in here, even though it isn't a walk-in.

But, c'mon, we have to not call these places inexpensive (other than Ssam), if you're eating a full meal.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't believe that I'm the first to mention WD-50.


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"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
To get the ball rolling, the two places that started this discussion obviously were

Bouley Upstairs

Momofuku Ssam

I'd also add

Degustation

which I think fits in here, even though it isn't a walk-in.

But, c'mon, we have to not call these places inexpensive (other than Ssam), if you're eating a full meal.

What do you mean? Degustation is listed on New York Magazine's "Cheap Eats" list! [sarcastic smilely]

Seriously, I think you have to be reasonable about what is meant by "inexpensive" in this context. in the context of cooking like this, mid-priced is "inexpensive". To me, for example, what is most powerful about Bouley Upstairs is that it has made me virtually incapable of eating mid-priced food in New York without thinking, at some point during the meal (or after I've paid the check), that I could have eaten better at Bouley Upstairs instead.


Edited by Sneakeater (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I can't believe that I'm the first to mention WD-50.

This will no doubt start off another endless definitional discussion, but I'm not sure I see why WD-50 isn't just a normal restaurant (serving abnormal food, to be sure).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I can't believe that I'm the first to mention WD-50.

With most appetizers around $14-17, and most mains $28-30, WD-50 doesn't qualify as "cheap," even in NYC.
But, c'mon, we have to not call these places inexpensive (other than Ssam), if you're eating a full meal.

I don't know what FG meant by "cheap." Here's Bruni on Degustation: "You can easily spend $40 or more to assemble enough modestly priced dishes — maybe four, maybe even five — to fill you." He noted that the five-course tasting menu is $50. By NYC standards, I would call Degustation mid to high-mid priced.

(Of course, I am not taking the quality of the food into consideration. If you love WD-50 or Degustation enough, you might think they're the best-priced bargains in town.)


Edited by oakapple (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't been two WD-50 in over a year. The price isn't really what I was thinking about. More the aesthetics of the front of the house experience. This is to say, the interior, the tenor the waitstaff strikes, the sartorial expectations. It's not a formal restaurant. Neither starchy nor fussy.


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"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...