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#16 Adrian

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 12:07 AM

Yes, Compose failed so there's bad precedent at that location. Still, I'm not sure why the hostility. Nor am I sure why there are comparisons to Romera. Romera came in at a much higher price point, with a bizarre philosophy, a checkered history, and had to fill a hotel space. Atera is coming in at a price point in line with other NYC tasting menus, a young chef with a great resume who's cooking in a modern style, who's had great press where he comes from, and he's got to fill a much smaller space. This board is the first to complain when NYC's provincial nature eats worthwhile and interesting projects. And people wonder why Michael White is the only guy able to open up a high end restaurant.

ETA: I should also say that when guys try to do the reverse - Torrisi and Roberta's - some people around here state that they won't try the high end version because the bistro isn't good enough. Or complain that it's too difficult to get a rez (throw BF in there as well). Again, small wonder.

I think you need to interpret what I'm saying in a reasonable way.


#17 Orik

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 12:42 AM

Yes, Compose failed so there's bad precedent at that location. Still, I'm not sure why the hostility. Nor am I sure why there are comparisons to Romera. Romera came in at a much higher price point, with a bizarre philosophy, a checkered history, and had to fill a hotel space. Atera is coming in at a price point in line with other NYC tasting menus, a young chef with a great resume who's cooking in a modern style, who's had great press where he comes from, and he's got to fill a much smaller space. This board is the first to complain when NYC's provincial nature eats worthwhile and interesting projects. And people wonder why Michael White is the only guy able to open up a high end restaurant.

ETA: I should also say that when guys try to do the reverse - Torrisi and Roberta's - some people around here state that they won't try the high end version because the bistro isn't good enough. Or complain that it's too difficult to get a rez (throw BF in there as well). Again, small wonder.


It's not the location. (although the business partners make it likely that the dbag component will be high)

The other day we went to Neta, a place supposedly run by some people who spent a lot of time at Masa.

At $135 a person for food (which ends up being $200 with even half a bottle of sake and change, after tax and tip), it was fine foodie slapstick for us, but I can imagine someone more price sensitive getting angry (and they did)

A general lack of skill and ethics on the side of new businesses means a justifiably suspicious dining crowd.
I never said that

#18 Adrian

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 12:49 AM

Sure. I'm generally unfamiliar with the business guys behind Atera. I just don't see any reason a priori to dislike the place beyond a general skepticism due to Compose. And any reasons for skepticism seem to me distinct from the skepticism towards Romera.

I think you need to interpret what I'm saying in a reasonable way.


#19 Orik

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 12:54 AM

Sure. I'm generally unfamiliar with the business guys behind Atera. I just don't see any reason a priori to dislike the place beyond a general skepticism due to Compose. And any reasons for skepticism seem to me distinct from the skepticism towards Romera.


I agree. It's a very different thing and in my experience people who cooked at Mugaritz for a while are very skilled. I probably won't be able to try it soon but it could be good.
I never said that

#20 oakapple

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 01:16 PM

Yes, Compose failed so there's bad precedent at that location. Still, I'm not sure why the hostility.

I am not sensing much hostility. In my case, it's just amazement. I would LOVE it if this guy's food is: A) Good enough to justify the price; and B) Recognized as such, and therefore successful. There is always room in New York for excellence.

But one has to concede that the odds are not in his favor.

Nor am I sure why there are comparisons to Romera. Romera came in at a much higher price point, with a bizarre philosophy, a checkered history, and had to fill a hotel space. Atera is coming in at a price point in line with other NYC tasting menus, a young chef with a great resume who's cooking in a modern style, who's had great press where he comes from, and he's got to fill a much smaller space.

The issue is not the price of the tasting menu (which is reasonable), but that there is no lower entry point. In THAT sense, it is just like Romera. People are not easily persuaded to commit $150 to a chef they've never heard of. If it were $20 per course la carte, I would absolutely drop in and try a few. I'm not signing up for $150 until I have considerable evidence that he deserves it, and I suspect many will feel the same way.

By the way, there was nothing really "checkered" about Romera. That's revisionist history. His restaurant in Spain was open for something like 12 years. Like a lot of avant garde cuisine, not everyone liked it. But you don't stay open for 12 years without thousands of satisfied customers. I do agree with you that Romera had a tougher job, in the sense that his price was higher and he had a larger room to fill. On the other hand, many folks had at least heard of him, an advantage this guy does not have.

This board is the first to complain when NYC's provincial nature eats worthwhile and interesting projects. And people wonder why Michael White is the only guy able to open up a high end restaurant.

I think you're misunderstanding. No one is rooting for this guy to fail. We're just recognizing the reality that he has chosen a very difficult path.

ETA: I should also say that when guys try to do the reverse - Torrisi and Roberta's - some people around here state that they won't try the high end version because the bistro isn't good enough. Or complain that it's too difficult to get a rez (throw BF in there as well). Again, small wonder.

I'm not getting the analogy.
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#21 mitchells

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 01:26 PM


I saw Ryan Sutton tweeting about the price. A big gap is opening up in tasting menu prices. I've eating tasting menus recently at La Quenelle and Gwynett St for $75. I believe Degustation is still hanging in at that price. Yes, this is ten courses - which is more courses - but it's not like those were small meals at the places I've visited.

It's not so much that $150 is an unfair price for ten courses, as that he is not allowing the option of ordering la carte, which La Quenelle and Degustation both do.

Degustations's $75 for ten courses is really remarkable.


20 to 25 courses (some just tastes) at the Minibar type places run by Jose Andres are ony $150-160 pp. And he has his own TV Show.

All are lunatics, but he who can analyze his delusions is called a philosopher.
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#22 Adrian

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 01:33 PM

1. How can a successful outsider open a high-end restaurant in New York? Going straight for the high-end, in this case a single tasting menu, counter-based format, is met with more skepticism than interest or excitement on the boards.

2. Rightly or wrongly, Romera's reputation here among the food crowd was more bad than good. A google search of L'Esguard reveals two debilitatingly bad reviews and an egullet thread which, while positive, describes him as an outsider in Spain. The first thing that comes up is a headline calling L'Esguard "possibly the worst meal of my life". I'd almost rather call my restaurant "Santorum".

3. There are two plausible ways for a relatively unknown chef to open a high end restaurant without DM, DN, or major hotel type backing. The first is to open a high end resetaurant with backers - the counter dining model appears to be popular now. The second is to open a more casual restaurant and open your high end option later after the more casual restaurant becomes popular. People here seem to be highly critical of both models before even trying them.

ETA: And Romera's food philosophy sounds (was?) stupid. And people here are judging base on food photos.

I think you need to interpret what I'm saying in a reasonable way.


#23 Adrian

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 01:34 PM



I saw Ryan Sutton tweeting about the price. A big gap is opening up in tasting menu prices. I've eating tasting menus recently at La Quenelle and Gwynett St for $75. I believe Degustation is still hanging in at that price. Yes, this is ten courses - which is more courses - but it's not like those were small meals at the places I've visited.

It's not so much that $150 is an unfair price for ten courses, as that he is not allowing the option of ordering la carte, which La Quenelle and Degustation both do.

Degustations's $75 for ten courses is really remarkable.


20 to 25 courses (some just tastes) at the Minibar type places run by Jose Andres are ony $150-160 pp. And he has his own TV Show.


Which is exactly why he can charge those prices.

I think you need to interpret what I'm saying in a reasonable way.


#24 Sneakeater

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 01:44 PM

While I tend to agree with the point Adrian is making, I want to point out (before somebody less sympathetic does) that he's missing a possible middle ground: open up a high-end restaurant with an "a la carte" option. As oakapple keeps saying, his objection here isn't to the price of the tasting menu per se, but rather that it's the entry-level price. Being "high end" doesn't require that.
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#25 oakapple

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 01:56 PM

1. How can a successful outsider open a high-end restaurant in New York? Going straight for the high-end, in this case a single tasting menu, counter-based format, is met with more skepticism than interest or excitement on the boards.

I agree with Sneakeater's response: offer an la carte format, with tasting menu optional.

I have to say it again: I would love it if this guy succeeds. I am not rooting for him to fail. I am just recognizing the unnecessarily high hurdle he has to jump -- a hurdle that is of his own creation.

Personally, I think New Yorkers are FAR too hostile to high-end openings by chefs who are not from here. But as an interested observer of the industry, I would have to be blind NOT to notice that it exists.

2. Rightly or wrongly, Romera's reputation here among the food crowd was more bad than good.

This is entirely valid, if you believe that food boards are the main repository of chefs' reputations. You aren't in business for 12 years without an awful lot of happy customers. Whether they wrote on food boards is another matter entirely.

3. There are two plausible ways for a relatively unknown chef to open a high end restaurant without DM, DN, or major hotel type backing. The first is to open a high end resetaurant with backers - the counter dining model appears to be popular now. The second is to open a more casual restaurant and open your high end option later after the more casual restaurant becomes popular. People here seem to be highly critical of both models before even trying them.

I don't recall criticism of the latter model. Indeed, in the current environment it is probably the best bet. It is hard to name very many examples of the first that have succeeded.

ETA: And Romera's food philosophy sounds (was?) stupid. And people here are judging base on food photos.

This too seems like hindsight bias. This was something he had done successfully before.
Marc Shepherd
Editor, New York Journal

#26 Wilfrid

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 02:39 PM

I am with Oakapple. I don't know where Adrian detects hostility (believe me, when this crowd is hostile, it's possible to tell - try starting a thread here about your "new blog, thanks in advance").

Who wouldn't want Atera to be a great success and a wonderful restaurant? It doesn't therefore behoove one to applaud their business plan.

Oakie has already made the point about the entry price, but on another point of information, "Atera is coming in at a price point in line with other NYC tasting menus..." isn't correct. I mentioned earlier that I've eaten two $75 tasting menus recently, and there's one I haven't eaten (under the new chef) at Degustation too.

He's coming in at a price point which compares with Corton and The Modern ($155), falls a little short of Jean-Georges ($168), and quite a bit short of Daniel, EMP and Le Bernardin ($190s) - but all these restaurants have lower entry points.

What's more, he's doing this not in a luxury restaurant, but at a counter space, and if you make the one obvious comparison, Momofuku Ko's dinner is cheaper, $125.

As for the chef's great resume, he did a stage at Mugaritz and less than two years running Castagna in Portland. That's it - and if you think that puts him on a level playing field with David Chang, in terms of audience appeal, you am wrong.

#27 Orik

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 02:46 PM

But that's the issue, isn't it? People want to pay for audience appeal, brand names, etc. Nobody wants to pay for food, and everyone is implicitly assuming it's not going to be nearly as good as the PR.

I wouldn't think twice about spending 100 Euros* at Agape Substance, where the chef has even narrower name recognition, because the a priori probability of having a good experience there is much higher.


* granted, $150 + tax + tip + markup is much more than 100 Euros right now
I never said that

#28 oakapple

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 02:50 PM

* granted, $150 + tax + tip + markup is much more than 100 Euros right now

Right, and you probably won't be drinking water and diet cokes, either.
Marc Shepherd
Editor, New York Journal

#29 Wilfrid

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 02:51 PM

I'm not implicitly assuming that at all. I wouldn't be at all surprised if it's less production-line than Daniel and less predictable than Ko. It ought to be.

I am commenting on the wisdom of opening at that price point, which of course is a comment on what I think people, rightly or wrongly, are looking for.

#30 Wilfrid

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 02:53 PM

I was also commenting, of course, on Adrian's assertions that $150 is "in line with" tasting menu prices -- it's considerably more expensive than Adour -- and that the chef has a "great resume," both of which are highly arguable no matter how terrific Atera is (or is going to be).