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oakapple

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Everything posted by oakapple

  1. I think we are actually agreeing, as I wasn't trying to suggest that a restaurant needs to use that label, to be recognizably a part of the movement. Well, nothing stands still for 35 years, but as noted by others in this thread, you can draw a line from 1980s "New American" to today, even though they are not the same thing. I agree that farm-to-table and Platt's "Haute Barnyard" are different words for the same concept.
  2. Just pause for a moment, and consider how empty a statement that is. Go to a great French restaurant in France, or a great Japanese restaurant in Japan. Of course most of the ingredients will be local. Practically by definition, an indigenous cuisine is going to develop with the ingredients that are characteristic of the time and place. This is why no other country has a "farm-to-table" movement quite like this one. Anywhere else, the idea that the local cuisine would be sourced locally is a tautology.
  3. "Farm-to-table restaurants" are those that: A) Source locally to a considerable extent; and B) Make that fact a part of their marketing spiel. There must be plenty of places that do the former, but not the latter. Sourcing carefully has nothing to do with sourcing locally. I am sure that Masa sources very carefully, while importing most of his fish from outside of New York. I am not so sure about that: the phrase New American was around well before anyone coined the phrase "farm to table".
  4. Formal in the sense that it has all the service trappings of a Michelin starred restaurant. The FOH is four deep. The somm has two or three on her team. Hard to understand how such a large staff is supported by the pricing, which is about 25% less than I would expect given the number of people in the kitchen and the FOH. How does "size of the brigade" have anything to do with formality? I will grant you, formal restaurants tended historically to be well staffed, but having such a staff doesn't make a restaurant "formal". Even the Michelin folks have loosened up a lot. Among th
  5. oakapple

    Agern

    Thanks: that's a change. I visited on the first or second day it was open, and their stated intention then was to serve only the tasting menu at the tables.
  6. oakapple

    Agern

    The serve à la carte at the bar.
  7. We're basically in agreement except that I think that the story that gets them in the door also affects their experience and then their evaluation afterwards. There is undoubtedly a psychological effect, at least for some diners, and it's hard to really measure the impact: "Oh, it's Niman Ranch, is it? Must be good."
  8. You can't sell taste: "Come to my restaurant, it tastes good" isn't a marketing plan. Ultimately, the biography of the pig won't make you a return customer if the pork chop isn't tasty, but they have to get you in the door first. I don't think very many people are actually evaluating restaurants based on these criteria, any more than I evaluated the Chardonnay I had the other night from the heartfelt father–daughter story the sommelier told before pouring it.
  9. oakapple

    Agern

    I'm putting this here, as it doesn't seem to warrant its own thread...yet. The current proprietor at the Campbell Apartment has lost his lease. Scott Gerber (Irvington, Mr. Purple, Whiskey Park) is taking over. The Campbell's dress code will be one of the first things to go. The Post's article gives a good overview of the history of the space, but it over-states the quality of the current offering. The one time I went, I found the Campbell Apartment over-crowded, and the cocktails mediocre. This seems to be part of a plan to make Grand Central a destination for more than just commuting
  10. How about "good"? There are several related trends at work here: 1) A focus on sourcing, particularly at the mid level; and especially, the belief, whether justified or not, that local is always better. Remember, Shaun Hergatt was criticized for not being local enough. 2) A focus on sharing the provenance of the ingredients with the customer, whether they are local or not; which creates a legion of customers conditioned to believe that some farms are better than others, whether true or not. 3) A focus on "creating a story" around the ingredients and the chef, rather than just
  11. There is only so much prime beef to go around. It is amazing that it took others so long to start cloning Luger, and once they did, it was inevitable that Luger would no longer seem so good. Steakhouses have the lowest entry barrier of any expensive restaurant, because the experience is so easy to replicate. Besides the various "Luger clones", you've got high-end non-steakhouse restaurants offering large-format steak dishes, which wouldn't have been the case 20–30 years ago. (Even Marea feels obligated to offer a massive Creekstone Farms rib chop that could feed a family of four.)
  12. I never dined at Lutece, but I would be surprised if Andre Soltner thought it made no difference whatsoever where he got his carrots from. Would he be doing it the same way today? Just like everything else about Lutece, I am sure the answer is no. The other big difference, is that regardless of sourcing, restaurants 60 years ago generally didn't tell you where the ingredients came from. You dined at a four-star restaurant, expected quality, and generally got it. But you weren't wondering, "Where was my pig raised? What did the creature eat before he died?" You left that decision in the che
  13. Lest I be misunderstood, these are mostly good ideas, and deserve to be more widely adopted — as opposed to, say, the taxidermy decor movement, of which we've had quite enough, thanks.
  14. Restaurants want to be cool: that means a sommelier who is, or is not terribly far from, the age of the desired audience. I've heard this before. Ducasse's late-lamented Adour clamed to be "designed with wine in mind," or something to that effect. It struck me then, and still strikes me, as a needless conceit. As opposed to the wines on so many other restaurant lists that are not ready to drink? This too is not a new idea.
  15. The central conceit of the concept, is that the ingredients pass directly from farm to table, and that the restaurant is choosing particular farms above others.
  16. Who's the "we" in that sentence? I am not annoyed with the farm-to-table trend. Sure, at this point it's no longer new, but most restaurants are copies, to at least some extent, of ideas that you've seen before. I don't hold that against him. I agree with Wells that the manifesto on the website is rather precious and ahistorical. In the end, he gives them practically the best review they could have hoped for, which is a way of saying that the restaurant succeeds at what counts, and it didn't need the appeal to false history.
  17. I consider it hyper-technical, because one needs to make a number of tendentious assumptions to assert that he is as "wrong" as that.
  18. Critics sometimes use reviews to make broader comments about the restaurant scene. It can therefore seem unfair that one review bore the brunt of a minor complaint that could very well have applied to many restaurants — or could have been part of a think piece not limited to one restaurant in particular. But this comes in the context of a 2*/Critic's Pick review, i.e., about as positive a review as Pete Wells could possibly have written, short of giving it three or four stars, which would be ridiculous. If the restaurant's manifesto is twee, he certainly has not penalized them for it.
  19. It depends what the meaning of is is.
  20. I am never wearing my tight black dress at that hour.
  21. How many of those media types had ever been to the real thing?
  22. oakapple

    Agern

    Ha! I didn't even know that that door up the flight of steps wasn't the front door.
  23. oakapple

    Agern

    A fine dining restaurant in a train station would attract a heavy dose of skepticism, regardless of the cuisine.
  24. It's actually remarkable how good he is. He's the rare syndicated chef whose other restaurants do not suffer from his absence. It depends what you mean by "target audience". A number of us go there periodically, and might go more if it were better.
  25. oakapple

    Agern

    I think you're being too pessimistic. The two times we had dinner there, it was busy, and most of the patrons were young. The question is, how many of those people are going to become regulars. You cannot fill a dining room that size with new guests every night, unless Agern becomes one of those rare trophy restaurants that gastro-tourists collect like stuffed animal heads.
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