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Seth Gordon

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Posts posted by Seth Gordon

  1. Holy shit.  This may be the second-best restaurant in New York.

     

    NOTE TO SETH:  The menu changes next week.

     

    NOTE TO ORIK:  You couldn't possibly quibble with the ingredient quality here.

     

    NOTE TO EVERYBODY:  The Korean-inflected cocktails at the upstairs bar are remarkably good -- and they also serve bar snacks (and you can easily walk in).

     

    Right? I always wonder when I'm the first person I know to hit a place if I caught a good night or something. And while I generally trust Ruth Reichl's taste, I also know it's not like she's not recognized by everyone in the industry and doesn't get next-level service, so it's always hard to judge from her blogs. 

     

    Only tried one cocktail (it was whichever one had corn-husk-infused whiskey) and boy, it was a boozy doozy... kind of cemented that a full wine pairing would be out of the question following it. Might have been better to save for after dinner. On future visits, we might drink lightly during the meal and if there's the "I could split a sandwich" issue, maybe just lounge at the bar with a digestif and an additional dessert (if there are any on the bar menu)

     

    I can't speak highly enough of the staff. Especially Jhonel, the somm. It's almost supernaturally pleasant dining there. Their enthusiasm for what they're doing is infectious, but never forced. 

     

    Curious, food-wise, if you had a similar reaction - for me, the only dish that wasn't particularly memorable was the second-to-last savory course. In our case it was halibut, but from what I've read it's usually turbot (apparently he didn't like the look of the turbot that morning) - a perfectly fine dish I'd be happy enough with anywhere, but didn't necessarily rise to the level of the rest. Though I suppose given that this menu will only be in effect for two more nights, a bit of a moot issue. 

  2. Oddly, I'm going tonight. Wonder if I'll end up at Katz's?

     

    Haha. Maybe grab half a sammie a couple hours before. Or just don't get as drunk as we did. That way you can go to bed with the Nurungji lingering instead of pastrami & mustard. Not that that's a bad thing to have lingering, mind you.

     

    When you're there, ask them how much longer the summer menu will be in effect. Curious when it'll switch over.

  3. First things first: Go.

    If there's a splurge in your future, or if you're just loaded and do places like this all the time - go. Atomix is the 2018 (new) restaurant of the year.

    I took no pictures. It's 2018, search #atomix on Instagram, someone out there already took better pictures than I would have anyway, I'm sure.
    So I hesitate to do a whole course-by-course write up, because the plan at Atomix is to change the menu every season, and for all I know the current menu may turn over as soon as next week. But based on our first meal, this is among the most exciting new restaurants I've been to in years. Eliciting memories of the first meals I had at Momofuku Ko, Aska, etc. I don't want to describe them in terms of other places, since they really are their own unique thing, but if I had to it'd be something along the lines of an Aska meets a Kyo Ya. Only with Korean flavors central. The testing menu style is more akin to a Kaiseki than a western one - each course centered around a different technique (raw, fried, steamed, braised, etc)
    So while I won't go into every course, a few dishes I'll note.

    I like the idea of a tasting menu restaurant having one dish that remains from season to season, year to year, so there's always the one touchstone to bring you back to your first memories of dining there. Think, say, the shaved foie gras with riesling gelée at Ko. Or the Oysters & Pearls at Per Se, if that place is your bag. If there's one dish from Atomix that should fill that role, it's the Sukchae - a generous dollop of Osetra caviar in a burrata-like pool of fresh curds, bathed in pine nut milk and chive oil. Hidden throughout are bits of soy-braised artichoke that add little pops of flavor contrast. Like the best dishes, hard to describe, something that you just want to luxuriate in. Let them do little variations on it with the seasons, but this should never leave the menu. Just extraordinary.
    But it was hardly the only extraordinary moment, merely one in a succession of them. Prior to the caviar course were two dishes featuring uni in supporting roles - Hoe, raw sea bream briefly cured in tangerine vinegar paired with Hokkaido uni, and Twigim - deep fried langoustine (a gorgeous, bright note of lemon zest in the batter) next to a dippin' sauce of California uni creamed with nasturtium.
    The Jjim was another favorite, eggplant with eel prepared four or five different ways - eel mousse, caramel-glazed smoked eel, eel sauce (imagine the best tonatto you've ever had, and this was better) and dehydrated smoked eel powder. Amazing tribute to the tasty Anguilla.
    Desserts were stand-out, with little savory notes. Legit, they're on a level with Alex Stupak's legendary (and sorely missed) "pre-desserts" from WD-50. First a simple palate cleanser - creme fraiche shaved ice with fresh strawberries and the teensiest little tteokbuki you ever saw, for a little textural contrast. The final dessert celebrates Nurungji, the burnt stuck-on rice from the bottom of a bi bim bap, the Korean socarrat. A Nurungji rice pudding full of roaty-toasty comforty notes, rice ice cream, drizzled with honey infused with fir and thyme... what a note to end on.
    Service is fantastic, friendly, engaging. You can feel this is a labor of love, and that they love sharing it with you (I mean, as long as you can handle the price of admission they do...)

    The somm was great. We opted to forgo the pairing - we had a cocktail in the bar to start and I didn't want to be blitzed by the final course, so we went with a bottle of champagne that carried us through most of the meal - conveniently right through to the second-to-last savory course, and the menu had been all-seafood to that point. The somm picked out a really interesting red for the one beef course (four gorgeous cubes of gushing, fatty A5 Miyazaki, each with a different condiment...) - a Cyprien Arlaud Pinot Noir that you could tell from first whiff had spent a bit of time on the skins. Not a wine for everyone but definitely a wine for me. Not only did it complement the beef beautifully, but the last few sips were a great match with the strawberries in the first dessert, too. Already a bit tipsy, we split a glass of Sauterne (Château Climens '09) with the Nurungji. Very vibrant as sweet wines go, a bit of zip in that one. Really great, thoughtful pairings. Good wine list, too - we went with a somewhat fancy bottle of Champers (Paul Bara "Special Club" '05) but there were many bottles in the $60 range for anyone who didn't want to spend nearly as much on wine as on the food. The markup was surprising not insanely egregious - probably averaging 2X retail. (The pairing, if one wanted to go that route, is $135, and looked worth it... saw some nice bottles being decanted for it.)

    The menu... what a fun concept. Delivered as cards along with each dish, with little stories about the inspiration behind it, or the history of it, and an ingredients list with everything down to the xantham gum almost like a challenge to the chefs among us to "try this at home" - then at the end of the meal they pack them all up into a little deck to take home with you. (Though sealing the deck in a mylar bag was unnecessary... let's not put more plastic in the world than needed...)
    Any cons? Yes but no. Worth every penny? Absolutely. Did we both feel that maybe a few more calories could have been delivered? Yes. I'm not the sort of diner who wants to leave food-coma stuffed. But... I'm gonna be straight up here: after we got home, having noticed that there was no line when we drove by (it was well after midnight) we walked up to Katz's and split a pastrami. Did we need to? Of course not, we could have gone to sleep satisfied as it was. And admittedly, we were pretty tipsy at that point, so not thinking clearly. But the fact that we had room for it... I'm not saying there needed to be more courses, but maybe a couple of dishes could have used a little padding. At Ko (back in the early 10-course days) say, the final savory courses would be more "half-entree" size. Or, say, in a typical kaiseki, the final savory is usually a rice pot - the "just in case you're still hungry" course. There are little things they could do to fill it out here and there without necessarily raising the price, or only raising it marginally. I wouldn't want, say, more of the beef (there's only so many ounces one can eat of something that rich and decadent) but a few extra carbs here, a couple ounces of fish there, it'd make all the difference without affecting the price much. What's half a Katz's? 8 oz or so? Divide that amongst 10 courses, not so hard a fix.

    That minor quibble aside... really, just fantastic. Go. Go soon, before Wells and Sutton weigh in and it's impossible (prediction: 3 and 4 stars, respectively)
    • Like 1
  4.  

    I don't know if this bodes well...

     

    Bâtard’s Chef Joins the Kitchen at Augustine

     

    Glocker tells Eater that he started this week in the kitchen at Augustine in the Beekman Hotel, at 5 Beekman St. at Theatre Alley. He remains a partner at Bâtard, co-owned with restaurateurs Drew Nieporent and John Winterman, and will be splitting his time between the two restaurants.

     

     

     

    To be honest, my last couple meals at Batard didn't bode well. The spark seemed gone. It was all okay, but nothing I'd suggest anyone make a destination of. They're kind of off my rotation, now, though admittedly they were never really in heavy rotation to begin with. I guess they're still one of the better options in their price range in that neighborhood. Maybe.

     

    Crowd seemed skewed significantly older than when they first opened, so it could be they've become a neighborhood standby for the aging Tribeca crowd for whom Frenchette would be too noisy.

  5. This is interestingly sticky. Would anything be served by making a point of a quiet conversation with the manager regarding your objections to the fish? Kind of a non-accusatory statement that said fish slipped by their rigorous product inspection protocol?

    It's no different than sending back a corked wine.

     

    Only good things could come of it:

     

    1. You get a new dish

    2. The chef (at any decent place) immediately goes to the walk-in to give the ol' smell test to the rest of the product.

    3. If the rest of it smells like Clorox they appreciate the fact that you tipped them off. Unless you ordered the Lutefisk, in which case that's on you.

     

    The waitress certainly doesn't care. All she's going to do is go tell the chef what you said.

     

    I think people think it'll be a bigger to-do than it actually ever is. You're not dining at Kenny Shopsin's, it'll be okay.

  6. Unless the green cook sauces the fish with ammonia, I can't see how the restaurant or distributor keeping it for too long could be fixed by screaming.

    The fish itself couldn't be fixed. But the fact that bad fish wound up on a customer's plate could be.

     

    That aside, it probably doesn't require screaming. But if the cook got a stern, slightly-above-conversational-volume talking-to about smelling the product before and after cooking it would help. Especially with fish. There's only one letter separating poisson from poison.

  7. Ha, we must have missed each other - we were there Saturday night too! Popped in around 10 / 10:30 on our way back to the 'hood from dinner at Txikito (which is still good, if anyone was concerned) - it was nice. Only had a couple drinks, a Rhum Smash and something I also forgot the name of that involved Calvados and Mezcal, both good. The latter maybe a smidge sweeter than I go for, but a nice medicinal / bitter backbone. Very reasonably priced with all drinks $13 - a price I suspect will not last more than a month or so.

    Surprised it wasn't very busy - maybe a little over half full.

    Didn't try any snacks but I've always found Le French Diner kind of uninteresting, so I wouldn't expect too much from them.

    • Like 1
  8. Finally took the Frenchette plunge and...

    First impression: OH MY GOD IT'S LOUD IN HERE. Clearly they share their old boss' affection for acoustically reflective surfaces, though they managed to pull it off without the McNally™ Subway Tiles.

    Amuses: Smoked Eel Beignets that contained no detectable smoke or eel (though the dippin' sauce was lovely), Trout Roe Tortilla (solid, if not structurally solid), and sardines (perfectly nice)

    Apps: Oeufs Brouillade (delish, snails were beautifully sweet with a little hint of bitterness on the finish) & Terrine de Campagne (It's a terrine. Dug the pickled fruit.)

    Entrees: Calf's Liver (very good, though liver as an entree is always a bit much) & lobster (great texture, the rotisserie preparation really works... but there was supposedly curry in it? Coulda fooled me. Accompanying fennel salad really needed acidity.)

     

    Fun wine list.

    All in with a cocktail each and a bottle of wine, $170/pp.


    With the caveat that it's only one visit, comparing it to places with similar vibes at similar-ish price points (Minetta, Beatrice, etc) we both felt the meal lacked a certain something-something... everything was fine, but nothing was memorable. It was all good, but in this city just "good" isn't gonna hold my attention, not at the upper-mid-range point at least. Like, if I lived in the area I'd sidle up to the bar once every couple of months when I didn't feel like cooking, maybe - or at least more often than I would their neighbor to the South, which was starting to feel a little stale last time we went... so I guess it's good for the 'hood. I'll certainly give them another whirl at some point, try some different things.

  9. My first meal there was a mixed bag - I ordered the uni mazemen, which they'd neglected to mention on the menu had truffle oil in it, so I had to send it back. I got the curry ramen instead - not something I'd normally order, but I just wanted the strongest-flavored thing to get the taste of dithiapentane out of my mouth. It was decent, if nothing I was in a rush to go back for. The beer I had (Kagua Blanc) was fantastic though.

  10. Same (other) owners, new name (Madre Cucina), new chef, revised menu.

     

    The new chef is from Mexicosina in the Bronx - very solid place, which in an odd coincidence used to be right next door to the old El Atoradero until Atoradero took over their spot.

  11. Finally got around to trying the "Choucroute a la Juive" - have to say, I was a little surprised at the size of the "for two" dish. Given that many of the "for one" dishes are easily split between two people I suppose I was expecting something enormous. And perhaps I misinterpreted "duckling" as meaning "whole duckling" or something. Honestly, I'm not sure there was any more protein in the dish than in the rabbit, which is half the price. Not that I'm knocking the price of it - the two big ol' honkin' slabs of foie help justify the $98 tag. Compared to, say, the $120 duck-for-two at Beatrice - which is admittedly not as refined - there's less than half as much quacker on the LCC dish. We got three meals out of the Beatrice duck (the original, some leftovers with a salad the next day, then I made the scraps into duck tortellini that I served w/ braised octopus and confit tomato - and I still have a quart of brodo I made from the bones left.) The LCC duck on the other hand was six thin slices of breast (it didn't seem to have even been an entire breast, unless it was a particularly small one) plus one leg, the foie, and a few slices of heart scattered throughout. Where's the rest of the bird? Even if it was a half duckling they started with, it seemed like there should have been more breast meat, and maybe they could have done something with the thigh / wing / scrap meat (a sausage. maybe?)

     

    Tasty, though. I suppose I just expected it to be a bit more "next level" - a la the rabbit, with the three separate dishes - rather than everything piled in one bowl. (That said, the rabbit is a stone cold classic so comparing anything to it is inherently unfair.)

    Other dishes we had: a couple new ones, the "Oeufs Printanières" ("Spring Eggs") which was like a shakshuka in an herb emulsion with spring peas and little gem lettuce. Utterly lovely (more lovely after a pinch of salt made the herbs really pop - was little underseasoned, oddly). Also the Boudin Noir - put blood on the menu and I'm gonna order it. Very classic, perfectly done. Put a couple slices of the boudin on top of those eggs and you might have my ideal brunch entree. Also tried the eel for the first time. Didn't dislike it, though it didn't really excite me either - just personal taste. I know a lot of other people love it - it's been on the menu since the beginning after all.

    Had cocktails with the apps. Nice Zusslin Gewurtz with the Choucroute, because when in Alsace... Kudos to the somm and her infinite patience putting up with me taking ten minutes to decide between the Gewurtz and the Riesling.

    Favorite dish of the night, though, was my dessert - one of those ludicrously simple but effective dishes, poached rhubarb (in planks, with a little bit of chew still) over fresh cream and pistachios. Three ingredients, nothing added but sugar and perhaps a little salt. Delightful. A perfect example of what Alex Stupak (IIRC, though maybe it was Wylie) called the "Universal Theory of Peanut Butter and Jelly" - basically, put anything fruity and sweet and anything nutty together, and it's hard to fail.

  12. What about the punk dive bar in the basement?

    Much like the rest of the East Village, I don't think it's been particularly "punk" in awhile. Last time I poked my head in it was holding acoustic singer/songwriter night.

     

    That aside, it's all the same business, so I assume it's closing down too.

     

    I'll go out on a limb and say the space will get gobbled up by Ravi Derossi, who'll put in a vegan haggis restaurant with a Scotch-themed cocktail bar in the basement.

  13.  

     

    While here I'll add: we had a lovely (if nothing reinventing the wheel) meal at La Mercerie the other night, came in a smidge above $200 IIRC. Two apps, two entrees, a shared dessert, and two glasses of wine. We did have cocktails too, but we paid for those separately because they still don't have that fancy modern tab-transfer technology. The entrees aren't huge, but well prepared, nice for a light dinner.

    Just don't look at the prices on any of the dinnerware they're selling. I did, the other day, and decided I could live without!

     

    Haha. And they stuff they serve your food on (that they give you the "tableware menu" for in case you're interested) is their cheap-ass crap compared to the stuff on the shelves in back. I was looking at a sake set that turned out to be $850... oops, I mean the decanter was $850, the little cups were an additional $120 a piece...

     

     

    • Like 1
  14. Can we reflect on what an absurd number 200 bucks for dinner for two really is - making the fact that this is even a conversation even crazier.

     

    Well, it's only an absurd amount for dinner - or a somewhat slight amount - at a semi-fancy to fancy American or European place. I ate like an Emperor at Guan Fu for about $75. I can leave Cevicheria El Rey or Auttharos in Jackson Heights stuffed and then some for $50, give or take.

     

    The whole "one glass of wine" thing kind of makes calculating it difficult, though, as who drinks one glass of wine? That's what I'm drinking if I'm just having a couple snacks at the bar somewhere. And everyone's drinking habits are different... when we're going out nice there's a cocktail to start, then a bottle of white or bubbly, maybe a round by-the-glass (or even another bottle) for the entrees if we've depleted the bottle by then. And it varies - some cuisines (like Nordic, or anything Asian) I'm gonna prefer beer to wine for, and that can cut the beverage part of the bill in half.

     

    While here I'll add: we had a lovely (if nothing reinventing the wheel) meal at La Mercerie the other night, came in a smidge above $200 IIRC. Two apps, two entrees, a shared dessert, and two glasses of wine. We did have cocktails too, but we paid for those separately because they still don't have that fancy modern tab-transfer technology. The entrees aren't huge, but well prepared, nice for a light dinner.

  15. You could get out of Cosme for $100... if you were having a light dinner at the bar. Theoretically you could go to Le Coucou for under $100, too - but good luck with that.

    I'd interpret it as being where could you have a fully satisfying meal for $100. And since I don't really dine alone I tend to think of it more as $200 / 2 ppl, taking into account shared courses.

    If you're of the group that will still dine at Babbo, you could get two apps, a pasta, two entrees, and two cheaper quartinos and end up in the $190-$210 range pretty consistently. Same for Osteria Morini, or any Italian place in that general price range.

     

    We were in & out of Beatrice Inn for a little over $200, with two apps, two entrees, a salad, and a cheap bottle of wine once... with only one glass each, it'd be under $100/pp for sure. (On the other hand, another night we had the same amount of food and it came to $500 for the two of us... but that's The Bea for ya...)

    With one glass of wine, honestly seems like almost every place not in the way upper price range is doable...



  16. Been awhile since anyone commented on Kyo Ya, was there the other night and thought I'd jump in. I go fairly frequently, once every month or two, but it's been a couple years since we went for the kaiseki. A couple changes to it: there are no longer three different options / lengths. Just one (currently $130) plus occasionally a special additional one (there's a fugu menu at the moment as well, for $225)

    Finding fugu somewhat boring personally, we opted for the regular one. A fine meal as always...

    The menu:
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    And a few notable dishes:

    18YIYEU.jpg

    - Turnip Potage. Outstanding. Swimming with uni, the brininess contrasting with the bitterness of the broccoli rabe made for some next-level soup.

    XC35JhS.jpg

     

    - wonderful sashimi plate. Those little baby herrings rule.

     

    Cra4G3n.jpg

     

    - King Crab w/ tozasu gelee, fruits, and leeks. Utterly delightful and refreshing.

    CKgHEMb.jpg

    - Chickpeas for dessert? Why not? With some not-sweet matcha cake for dippin'.


    All in all, Chef Sono is still crushing it after ten years.

    • Like 1
  17. I've been, pretty regularly both to Houston and the original Park Slope location - though less so in the Slope since Fleischer's opened. They're very solid. I'd rank them equal to or maybe even above the Whole Foods down the street, with the caveat that there's a smaller selection. But they carry those great D'Artagnan Magret duck breasts for when I'm in a ducky mood, which WF doesn't. For certain things I'll still go to the cheaper butcher at Essex - the difference between a $10/lb flank steak and a $14/lb one is pretty minimal. But when I want a "nicer" cut like hanger or whatever, and it's not a case where I need a lot for some special event (in which case I'd hop the F over to Ottomanelli's) I've been very happy with what I've got from UM.

    • Like 2
  18. 28. Never even been to Delmonico's or 21 Club..

     

    Odd assortment. And if Levain makes the list its a shonda it's missing a classic NY Black & White, say, or Green's Chocolate Babke.

     

    Im not a sweets-for-brunch guy but I'll defend their choice of Clinton Street for pancakes. I prefer Tom's, yeah, and they've been around longer, and the lines are just as long. But CSBC has established themselves as iconic at this point, I suppose. They've been around longer than a number of places on the list.

     

    Id probably add a Roast Beef n' Mutz. Original John's or Roll n' Roaster.

     

    Typical Eater, though, Queens barely exists unless Sietsema is talking about it. The only two Queens places on the map are joints with outposts in Manhattan.

    • Like 1
  19. I recently had an eggplant and string bean dish, and felt horrible afterwards.

    I felt horrible after 90% of of my meals there. But 90% of my meals there have been drunk at 3:00 AM, so there might have been other factors at play.,.

    • Like 1
  20. Just looked at the menu. Taramasalata, $30?!

    I'm guessing it's some fancy-caviar taramasalata? Odd they don't mention what kind they're using though, nor do they for the caviar service. At a certain price point you'd expect to see the word Beluga, Osetra, or whatever. It's like seeing "truffles" on a $70 plate of pasta without white/black summer/winter...

     

    Also seems the menu might have some typos. The vegetarian and bourguignon entrees are only $8? Feels like they're probably supposed to be $18.

  21. Should Chumley's get an asterisk since Chef Blamey just left?

    All The Grill love has me dumbfounded. It's okay. Well executed but completely (and intentionally, I suppose) uncreative. It's like giving the Tony for "best new musical" to a well-produced revival of West Side Story. I'd have given it a solid two though I understand why Wells gave it three. Sutton's four was completely confounding, though, especially given his excoriation of Beatrice for their prices - something The Grill is arguably even more guilty of - just weeks prior.

     

    Interestingly, most of the restaurants on Wells' list made it with two stars. Has he really been that mean with stars this year?

    ETA: In other words, are The Grill, Gran Fu Sichuan, and Empellon the only new restaurants which got three (or more) stars this year?

     

    Seems about average for him...
    2016: 4 new three-and uppers
    2015: 3
    2014: 2
    2013: 3
    2012: 4

    I might have miscounted one of those years... but three seems to be right in line with his usual for "new" places. Though what qualifies as "new" is mysterious - i.e. Aquavit under Bengtsson got three but didn't make it to his "best new" list that year, even though it was a new chef. Whereas Ko got three the last time he weighed in but did make his "new" list... because new digs > new chef, I guess?

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