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UE: some good thoughts in there. Not sure where we're at, but I don't actually think you're a jerk - I'm expressing envy of what no-one who likes food can deny is an enviable collection of restaurant scalps. But some thoughts on the above:

 

1. It's clear that you eat more broadly than the high end. Proper evaluation is impossible if you don't.

 

2. v. NY reviews - I kid about being calibrated again. Clearly, the NYT critic must be calibrated to NY standards. You're opinions are valuable for the local and the out of towner. The out of towner because you offer a non-local's perspective, the local because it lets the local know how their restaurants fit in with what's out there. Your observation that Per Se is the best restaurant in NY but not your favorite is an important critical move - you've got to be able to distinguish the objective from the subjective.

 

3. The value of the blog: people like you, Orik, and a few others, who eat at the top global restaurants and actually give reasons for their opinoin (ahem, Michelin), perform an important service for those of us who don't travel as much - we've got a basis for comparison from largely reliable observers. Otherwise, we're stuck with a bunch of local perspectives that don't understand how local restaurant scenes fit into a broader perspective. When I was in Atlanta, your blog was an important factor in deciding to go to Holeman and Finch; it let me know that it was worthwhile for someone that had eaten at similar restaurants in other cities, that it was distinct. I have friends who live in Toronto, like food, and are shocked when I tell them that there isn't a single globally important restaurant in Toronto. They have no basis for comparison outside the local market.

 

So please, keep writing your "jerky" blog, I'll keep reading.

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I just get depressed when I read that Per Se is clearly the best restaurant in the city.

 

I think my problem with it is that the overall level of the place hugely magnifies its failings. It's certainly not, in my experience, the most enjoyable restaurant in the city.

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I just get depressed when I read that Per Se is clearly the best restaurant in the city.

 

I think my problem with it is that the overall level of the place hugely magnifies its failings. It's certainly not, in my experience, the most enjoyable restaurant in the city.

Mind my narrow definition of "best."

 

... per se is able to accomplish feats, and operate on a level - consistently - that no other restaurant in the city (perhaps the country, other than The French Laundry) can. While I concede that per se is the best restaurant in New York (for those reasons), it isn't my favorite. There's a difference.

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Right. As I keep saying, my favorite restaurant in the City is Minetta Tavern. But I have no problem deciding that per se is the "best." (Unless maybe LeB is because the food is more visionary and "interesting".)

 

Who was it who said, when asked who was the best writer in 19th Century France, "Victor Hugo, helas"?

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... per se is able to accomplish feats, and operate on a level - consistently - that no other restaurant in the city (perhaps the country, other than The French Laundry) can. While I concede that per se is the best restaurant in New York (for those reasons), it isn't my favorite. There's a difference.

 

I think there's some very expensive marketing involved in making people say stuff like that.

 

Per Se, as experienced by people not wielding heavy cameras or expense accounts is just not very good. For people who are so equipped, it can be good in an over the top sort of way that I don't think should be what a fine dining establishment should be using as a crutch.

 

Adrian - I wasn't saying Joe Beef is better just because it's so clearly better for what it is, I was saying it's better because they take better sweetbreads and cook them with greater talent than at Per Se. Ditto for rabbit. I can't think of a single dish I've had at Per Se/FL that made me say "this is the best of its kind that I've had", or "wow, how did they do that", or "wherever did they get this ingredient that I could never in a million years find at this quality", and when you know what's going on you can easily see that they mess with food cost in some unholy ways (like, they bring white matsutake out to impress a table and the next week my white matsutake guy tells me he's got so many of them he'd give them to me for $15/lb if I buy more than 5lbs), which isn't so easily excusable at their current price level.

 

eta: Orik, using Sivan's computer :blush:

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Completely agree with Orik. My biggest wow moment at Per Se was a carrot puree. About the most carroty thing I've ever tasted. But, you know...

 

The claim which is surely correct - and I think it's what UE's saying - is that Per Se can send out the most accomplished food in the city. I see it as analogous to the claim that Daniel can send out four star food to selected guests. I'm sure that's correct too, although Daniel can also send out mediocre food too.

 

ETA: "wielding heavy cameras or expense accounts..." or New York Times restaurant columns.

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Per Se, as experienced by people not wielding heavy cameras or expense accounts is just not very good.

That's surely hyperbole. It serves thousands of meals every year to ordinary guests, and there's no evidence that a majority of them are walking out the door unhappy. Whether it's worth $800 or a thousand bucks for two people is a whole other question, but I've no hesitation in saying that it is at least "very good".

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You have a white matsutake guy? How many mushrooms do you eat?

 

A lot.

 

Even after all this nonsense about farm to table and pork to fork, it's easy enough (and more rewarding) to build a relationship with a specialty ingredient vendor than it is to build such a relationship with a corporate dining room.

 

Wilfrid - of course, having such a column in the nytimes doesn't hurt either.

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Right. As I keep saying, my favorite restaurant in the City is Minetta Tavern. But I have no problem deciding that per se is the "best." (Unless maybe LeB is because the food is more visionary and "interesting".)

 

Who was it who said, when asked who was the best writer in 19th Century France, "Victor Hugo, helas"?

 

Here's something interesting for you - Saturday, when we ended up going to Minetta, I initially thought about trying Adour. Then I looked at the menu and the only entree that seemed appealing was steak, which cost slightly more than Minetta's ($140 vs $124 for two) and, I was convinced, would be very good but not as good. So for about $300 I could have some random appetizers and steak with a bottle of wine from the better parts of the MT list, or for about $900 plus getting dressed up, plus schlepping all the way uptown I could get some very nice appetizers, steak, and a bottle of superbly overpriced wine from the 25% percentile of the Adour menu.

 

The high end places simply don't try very hard at all.

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Per Se, as experienced by people not wielding heavy cameras or expense accounts is just not very good.

That's surely hyperbole. It serves thousands of meals every year to ordinary guests, and there's no evidence that a majority of them are walking out the door unhappy. Whether it's worth $800 or a thousand bucks for two people is a whole other question, but I've no hesitation in saying that it is at least "very good".

 

I don't think it is. Most people don't have the benchmarks. Happy diners is not inconsistent with "not very good" dining - according to the standard Per See seeks to be judged.

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Per Se, as experienced by people not wielding heavy cameras or expense accounts is just not very good.

That's surely hyperbole. It serves thousands of meals every year to ordinary guests, and there's no evidence that a majority of them are walking out the door unhappy. Whether it's worth $800 or a thousand bucks for two people is a whole other question, but I've no hesitation in saying that it is at least "very good".

I don't think it is. Most people don't have the benchmarks. Happy diners is not inconsistent with "not very good" dining - according to the standard Per Se seeks to be judged.

But plenty of people who do have the benchmarks, say otherwise. I don't think Sneakeater would be dining repeatedly in the salon (as he does), at those prices, if he thought it was "just not very good."

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I think "not very good" has to be read as "by the standards on Michelin 3 star restaurants" or "by the highest standards." I

 

I am not going to read Orik as meaning "not very good" like the kebab place on the corner is "not very good."

 

And of course, even with the charitable reading, it doesn't mean you don't go there if you live in New York.

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