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Where to get the haute-cuisine experience, cheap


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More grist fr the mill:  Fatty Crab

nope...it's well-executed takes on Asian street food and home cooking. I love the place, don't get me wrong, but that's what it is.

(yes, some of the menu at Ssam Bar fits in that category...but much of it is quite a bit more elevated than anything at Fatty Crab)

in other words, remember where this thread came from - the Bouley Upstairs and Ssam Bar threads.

This is not a "cheap but really really good" thread. (we already have those)

Hard for me to think of anything more elevated than the watermelon belly salad. And I'm not so sure most of those dishes at Fatty Crab actually derive from street food except in the chef's imagination.

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I sort of thought Fatty Crab did meet the paradigm. Although I've been to most of the restaurants named so far, clearly I am not getting it.

I agree that Perry St. doesn't fit what FG was literally looking for. It's not what I'd call cheap, for one thing. But Perry St. does exemplify the general trend for putting haute cuisine in more casual surroundings than it traditionally appears.

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More grist fr the mill:  Fatty Crab

nope...it's well-executed takes on Asian street food and home cooking. I love the place, don't get me wrong, but that's what it is.

(yes, some of the menu at Ssam Bar fits in that category...but much of it is quite a bit more elevated than anything at Fatty Crab)

in other words, remember where this thread came from - the Bouley Upstairs and Ssam Bar threads.

This is not a "cheap but really really good" thread. (we already have those)

Hard for me to think of anything more elevated than the watermelon belly salad. And I'm not so sure most of those dishes at Fatty Crab actually derive from street food except in the chef's imagination.

Pelaccio tweaks the dishes alright...but most of them are quite recognizeable (so the short rib rendang -- a boring dish -- uses short ribs...so? otherwise it's a perfectly plausible rendang)

frankly, I don't think the cooking there is polished enough...it's rustic.

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I sort of thought Fatty Crab did meet the paradigm. Although I've been to most of the restaurants named so far, clearly I am not getting it.

I agree that Perry St. doesn't fit what FG was literally looking for. It's not what I'd call cheap, for one thing. But Perry St. does exemplify the general trend for putting haute cuisine in more casual surroundings than it traditionally appears.

the decor and service at Perry Street are light years away from that at Ssam Bar or Bouley Upstairs. parsecs really.

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I sort of thought Fatty Crab did meet the paradigm. Although I've been to most of the restaurants named so far, clearly I am not getting it.

I agree that Perry St. doesn't fit what FG was literally looking for. It's not what I'd call cheap, for one thing. But Perry St. does exemplify the general trend for putting haute cuisine in more casual surroundings than it traditionally appears.

I agree, esp given the lunch price pt and casual vibe

(I'm sure the self-appointed moderator will rationalize it differently)

That wasn't chicken

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dude, when you walk into Perry Street for lunch you are met by a French guy in a suit (or a similarly appointed woman)...the entire wait-staff is similarly dressed. they pass the napkin test and most other formal service tests. I've eaten lunch there close to ten times, I should know.

furthermore, the Perry Street lunch has the same price point and casual vibe as Jean Georges itself or JoJo. (indeed, the decor in Jean George proper is very similar to that of Perry Street..they're both understated, demure and yet somewhat formal). in other words, the same definition that you're using to get Perry Street in applies equally well to Jean Georges. and if a four star restaurant qualifies for this thread, it has no meaning whatsoever (the only difference in formality between JG and PS at lunch is in the absence of table cloths at the latter).

there already are threads on great lunch deals in NY. this isn't one of them.

FG opened this thread specifically working off of his contention in the Bouley Upstairs thread (a contention echoed by Bruni in the Ssam review...and also made by several of us elsewhere) that there is a new paradigm in NY dining, heralded by Bouley Upstairs and Ssam Bar. if Jean Georges and Perry Street qualify for this thread, it has no meaning.

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I'm with you until you claim that Perry Street is as "understatedly formal" as Jean Georges. I think it's indisputable that Perry Street is an attempt to do JG with less formality, in terms of the food, the presentation, the room, the service, etc. Sure, it's not "new paradigm". It's still a traditional restaurant, in ways that Upstairs and Ssam aren't. But let's not overstate things to the point of transgressing reality.

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
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I'm with you until you claim that Perry Street is as "understatedly formal" as Jean Georges.  I think it's indisputable that Perry Street is an attempt to do JG with less formality, in terms of the food, the presentation, the room, the service, etc.  Sure, it's not "new paradigm".  It's still a traditional restaurant, in ways that Upstairs and Ssam aren't.  But let's not overstate things to the point of transgressing reality.

I was talking specifically about lunch.

Agreed that Perry Street's dinner is considerably more casual and stripped down than dinner at Jean Georges.

edit: the specific reference you objected to referred to the room's decor, not anything else. Stylistically, they're in the same milieu.

Edited by Nathan (log)
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Boy I'm really hoping, since I'm in the uncomfortable position of agreeing with Bruni, that I at least said it first.

Oakapple, I think I am (along with Sneakeater and Nathan and others) guilty of not articulating the trend well enough. At the same time, the fact that Sneakeater and Nathan are triangulating in on the same conclusions I am, at an uncanny level of accuracy, gives me extra confidence that we're talking about something reality-based here.

On the subject of Atelier, it's worth noting that when Robuchon and Ducasse developed, respectively, the Atelier and Spoon concepts, they were looking towards the New World for ideas, which they then processed through their French filters. Atelier and Spoon do serve haute cuisine in technically informal settings, but they are neither inexpensive nor effortlessly casual in the way that Upstairs and Momo-ssam are. Consider that when I said on the Atelier topic that it would be fine to go in and order just one small plate, several people thought I was insane.

I would consider Atelier and Spoon to be transitional restaurants on the way to a new trend in dining. And the French have had similar experiences with young chefs opening restaurants, because a decade or so ago the young sous-chefs from various haute-cuisine restaurants went out and opened haute bistros, which became quite popular. They're different from what we're seeing here, but they're kindred spirits.

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edit: the specific reference you objected to referred to the room's decor, not anything else.  Stylistically, they're in the same milieu.

Much more casual room at Perry Street.

Just think of the different kinds of dress that seem appropriate in each.

(Also, think of how much I like the room at Perry Street and don't at Jean Georges.)

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
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Oakapple, I think I am (along with Sneakeater and Nathan and others) guilty of not articulating the trend well enough.

I think this is a case where the common-law style of reasoning celebrated by Karl Llewellyn is especially apt.

Meaning, you go through a process of deciding what does and doesn't fit, and then you articulate the general principles that you discover to be behind the intuitive common-sensical decisions you've made.

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
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So you find eGullet people who regard Bouley Upstairs as "cheap," even though the average person wouldn't say so.

This is true. But Upstairs and Degustation best fit the contextual "cheap" definition being used on this thread. They should be the paradigm by which we judge other restaurants. As Fat Guy states most items are in the teens (less at Degustation) with the occasional foray into the twenties at Upstairs. Again, in the context of this thread cheap (read: Shake Shack, Papaya, Chinatown) is not "cheap". In fact the "cheap" we are talking about is actually more similar to the "inexpensive" lunch at Jean Georges proper--which rightly does not belong in this thread given the other criteria. While this is not explicitly a "cheap" eats thread, it's still important to understand the right semantic definition.

With that said, Atelier obviously does not fit under this classification, as others have noted. Momo Ssam is also an interesting case . While it certainly is "cheap" is has several undeniably expensive items. Chawanmushi with truffles, steak, seafood hot pot. I am NOT saying that these dishes take this restaurant out of consideration for the criteria set forth in this thread, I just think that we're focusing a bit too much on price here. The "new" paradigm is more about atmosphere and attitude than price.

Even when you ignore price, Atelier still doesn't quite fit the new paradigm that was originally discussed in the other thread because it's not really young and chic; it's like mature and chic. If you look at the staff and feel the vibe at Momo Ssam, R4D, Upstairs its downtown cool. Atelier, Perry St. are not this.

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I'm curious what you consider to be the luxe ingredients at Momofuku Ssam Bar. I agree with Bruni about "Chang’s wicked grasp of flavor and unerring sense of balance." But there's a pretty big gulf between luxe ingredients and french fries, and Chang is somewhere in that middle ground—probably on the luxurious side of the midpoint, without quite getting there (or trying to). If any reviewer were inclined to award three stars when the food justified it — irrespective of ambiance or formality — it's Frank Bruni. And he awarded two stars.

uni, truffles.

edit: per FG, the use of dashi and other "haute" asian ingredients

dashi is "haute"?!?!?!

but i do otherwise agree about ssam bar.

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I think this is a case where the common-law style of reasoning celebrated by Karl Llewellyn is especially apt.

Meaning, you go through a process of deciding what does and doesn't fit, and then you articulate the general principles that you discover to be behind the intuitive common-sensical decisions you've made.

Yeah, well, if you're lawyers.... :laugh:

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Oakapple, I think I am (along with Sneakeater and Nathan and others) guilty of not articulating the trend well enough.

I think this is a case where the common-law style of reasoning celebrated by Karl Llewellyn is especially apt.

Meaning, you go through a process of deciding what does and doesn't fit, and then you articulate the general principles that you discover to be behind the intuitive common-sensical decisions you've made.

d___, how do you remember that? I'm just over four years out and I barely recall that stuff....

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Oakapple, I think I am (along with Sneakeater and Nathan and others) guilty of not articulating the trend well enough.

I think this is a case where the common-law style of reasoning celebrated by Karl Llewellyn is especially apt.

Meaning, you go through a process of deciding what does and doesn't fit, and then you articulate the general principles that you discover to be behind the intuitive common-sensical decisions you've made.

d___, how do you remember that? I'm just over four years out and I barely recall that stuff....

probably helps that he spends part/most of his day actually working with law

That wasn't chicken

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We've had a discussion on what "inexpensive" means in the context of this thread. I think a similar definition needs to be developed for "haute-cuisine." Things that have been mentioned so far include the inclusion of named sources either geographic or producer, emphasis on garnishes, and the use of trendy and/or luxe ingredients. What other characteristics define "haute-cuisine?"

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We've had a discussion on what "inexpensive" means in the context of this thread.  I think a similar definition needs to be developed for "haute-cuisine."  Things that have been mentioned so far include the inclusion of named sources either geographic or producer, emphasis on garnishes, and the use of trendy and/or luxe ingredients.  What other characteristics define "haute-cuisine?"

Haute-cuisine is like obscenity.

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Oakapple, I think I am (along with Sneakeater and Nathan and others) guilty of not articulating the trend well enough.

I think this is a case where the common-law style of reasoning celebrated by Karl Llewellyn is especially apt.

Meaning, you go through a process of deciding what does and doesn't fit, and then you articulate the general principles that you discover to be behind the intuitive common-sensical decisions you've made.

d___, how do you remember that? I'm just over four years out and I barely recall that stuff....

Believe it or not, I remember that kind of thing cuz it's actually what I DO.

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
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Does L'Ecole count? It's been about four years since Ive eaten there but a three course price-fixe dinner at about $30 ($10 surcharge for a few of the entree choices) is certainly cheap. It may not be trendy but it's not casual or bistro food. But you also can't just walk in and expect to get a table unless it's early in the week at a non-prime seating time.

And perhaps the fact that it's subsidized/operated by FCI excludes it from the category.

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Normal meaning not haute cuisine because there tends to be a lack of luxe ingredients and it's not innovative enough? Or normal as in "no different from other restaurants of its type" (i.e. the fact that FCI operates it being irrelevant).

I've always found the food there to be consistent but perhaps the kitchen was run more tightly on the occasions when I dined there. The service, OTOH, although always well meaning, was often less than highly polished (to be expected - the kitchen has FCI chef/faculty riding herd on operations whereas most of the FOH stuff is all students - or so I understand it to be).

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I meant "normal as in 'no different from other restaurants of its type (i.e. the fact that FCI operates it being irrelevant)."

I agree that the lack of a definition here makes this hard to talk about. But I stand by my suggestion that we muddle through until a definition becomes apparent.

One thing that should be emphasized is that when you're in the kind of restaurant we're talking about, you're very aware that you aren't in a "normal" place. It's very clearly different -- not just because of price.

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Oakapple, I think I am (along with Sneakeater and Nathan and others) guilty of not articulating the trend well enough.

I do sorta see the similarities shared by the places you're mentioning. But because there are so few of them that everyone agrees on, I remain a little skeptical that there is an actual trend here.
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