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Chevalier at The Baccarat


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One puzzle I have: is there a bar on the ground floor near Chevalier, or is there only the crazy wonderland on the second floor?

 

Ground floor. Right outside the dining room.

 

I've been to that downstairs bar twice, and both times got a seat with no trouble at all.

 

I went upstairs only once. The bar was such a madhouse that a guy in a suit wouldn't even let me in the door. I could've sat in the lounge, but I was by myself and didn't really feel like doing that.

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I saw that the Baccarat's bar is opening tonight. No date yet for the main restaurant, Chevalier. This is the place Charles Masson will be running, with Shea Gallante in the kitchen. Modern take on

I recall the good old days when I went to a restaurant for the food. Now I have all these other things to worry about to determine if I had a good time.

I've been to that downstairs bar twice, and both times got a seat with no trouble at all.   I went upstairs only once. The bar was such a madhouse that a guy in a suit wouldn't even let me in the do

One thing the restaurant needs to do is start selling the Gallante story harder. Masson's presence somewhat overshadowed him.

 

They can call the split "totally amicable" all they want. When the project's marquee name drops before the reviews are in, it doesn't bode well. I agree that Gallante's name now needs to be up-front: either he's the story, or there is no story.

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A Chevalier rep reiterated to Page Six what they told the Times, that everything ended happily: "We are incredibly grateful for Charles' efforts in launching the restaurant. We are happy to be parting as friends and . . . wish him well." But, leaving any job one month in usually means something isn't sitting right.

Mmmhmmn.

 

http://ny.eater.com/2015/5/6/8559017/legend-charles-massons-split-from-chevalier-may-not-have-been-ever-so

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A Chevalier rep reiterated to Page Six what they told the Times, that everything ended happily: "We are incredibly grateful for Charles' efforts in launching the restaurant. We are happy to be parting as friends and . . . wish him well." But, leaving any job one month in usually means something isn't sitting right.

Mmmhmmn.

 

http://ny.eater.com/2015/5/6/8559017/legend-charles-massons-split-from-chevalier-may-not-have-been-ever-so

 

It would have been nice if Eater had gotten the spelling of the chef's surname right.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've been putting off writing this place up for weeks, cuz I'm just not sure what to say.

 

The food is outstanding. This was one of the best restaurant meals I've had in ages.

 

But the place just reeks of cultural irrelevance. Maybe I've finally been won over totally to the "the way we eat now" side, but I can't think of a way this restaurant fits in either with my life or with the current dining scene in New York.

 

Now when you evaluate the food -- which is fantastic -- that doesn't matter. But what good is excellent food at a restaurant you don't think you can use?

 

I sat at the bar. Note that I said the bar, not The Bar. ("Not the Craw. The Craw!"). Not the elaborate upstairs bar-lounge, but rather a small service bar right at the entrance to the dining room. It seemed absurd even to me to eat this elaborate, perfectly cooked meal on a bar stool. And -- the opposite of my usual experience -- service at the bar was substandard (which I'm sure could never be the case in the then-run-by-Charles Masson dining room). As an example, they charge you by the number of courses here (app, app & main, app & dessert). Having a lot of time to kill between an opera matinee and a nighttime concert, I inserted (with some difficulty) a cheese course before dessert. Wouldn't you know, they brought the cheese plate and the dessert out together! And they didn't even tell me what the cheeses were!

 

My idea that this place lacks relevance at least to me began to form when I looked at the cocktail list. Yes, I have now paid $23 or $24 for a cocktail that had no superpremium ingredients. I found this offensive (although not so offensive that I didn't have a cocktail).

 

Indeed, I was getting actively pissed off until a plate of picture-perfect gougeres -- eons better than what they give you at Bar Boulud, just as an easy comparison -- appeared before me. Oh, this kitchen is proficient. Let's see what the substantive food is like.

 

One good sign is that this is the kind of menu where it's hard to choose, so many things look so good. And the kitchen delivers! My appetizer, which I remember (I can't find an online menu that matches the one I was given) as a kind of scallop veloute with various springy ingredients, was smooth as silk, with a strong but understated flavor.

 

My main: a veal loin that was just fabulous. Perfectly cooked, just perfect. Moist but not underdone. I don't remember what the sauce and accompaniments were, but believe me: it was just great.

 

The food was pricey, but (unlike the cocktails) not unreasonably so. If I remember right, the three-course menu would have been less than $100.

 

But culturally! This is the kind of place where the young, friendly bartender is so eager to play up to his upper-middle-aged (and worse) clientele that all he wants to talk about is Steely Dan. (It was so jarring as to almost disprove "Pop Stopped.") The rest of the people at the bar had followed Charles Masson over from Le Grenouille. That's nice, but not my crowd. It's one thing to go into a longstanding cultural relic and find it to be satisfyingly the way it always was. It's another to go into a new place and find it to be like a relic.

 

I felt the same thing when I glanced into the grand dining room. When will I feel like eating there? Never, probably.

 

But the food the food the food. It's SO good.

 

COMP DISCLOSURE: A glass of wine.

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It strikes me that this is the kind of old-time traditional NYT three-star restaurant whose disappearance I've often decried. But now that we finally have one again, I complain that I can't use it.

 

The Other Side has won.

 

(Don't tell Ryan Sutton.)

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For some comparisons, I thought the food here was much better than what Chef Gallante offered at Cru. I thought he was good -- but I didn't think he had THIS in him.

 

I think the food here is better than the food at Batard. But I find Batard much more congenial.

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