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Chevalier at The Baccarat


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I'm way behind on this thread but I'll note that if you go to third/fourth tier restaurant cities in the U.S., Chevalier style service and rooms (including, sometimes, gratuitous French, and a male sommelier (often doubling as a manager) with a tastevin; are actually often standard. this is because only "olds" go to expensive restaurants in those places. this is changing, of course, but gradually.

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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

 

...for that reason those who wish that aspect of high-end french dining would naturally decay are bothered when they encounter it (especially in a new place) at french places but not in italian/japanese/mexican/whatever places.

It really is deplorable to be wishing for the decay of something other people enjoy, but that is doing you no harm.

 

 

 

i guess i should stop hoping that dan brown will stop writing.

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Would anybody here actually prefer to be "bonsoir"ed and "monsieur"ed at a (serious, high-end) French restaurant in NYC? The best I can say is that it didn't bother me all that much, but that I still would have preferred they not do so.

I am utterly indifferent. Doesn't make it better. Doesn't make it worse.

well, that's nice for you. but i don't know why it is hard to accept that a large number of people who do enjoy eating that food would enjoy the larger experience of eating at a restaurant that serves that food far more if it didn't also come with all sorts of other trappings they don't enjoy at all.

 

 

I think it is perfectly acceptable for Wilfrid and I to point out the irrationality of some(**) of these objections. It is, of course, human privilege to behave irrationally, for irrationality to persist (perhaps even for decades or centuries), and for others to protest vigorously that their view is totally rational, however wrong they are.

 

On a more basic level, it's your money, and you certainly ought to spend it where you are happy, even if the professed reasons for your happiness are not grounded in rational thought.

 

** I say "some of these objections," because the objections to Chevalier are not all of the same kind, and some make far more sense than others.

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It is, of course, human privilege to behave irrationally, for irrationality to persist (perhaps even for decades or centuries), and for others to protest vigorously that their view is totally rational, however wrong they are.

 

 

indeed.

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...for that reason those who wish that aspect of high-end french dining would naturally decay are bothered when they encounter it (especially in a new place) at french places but not in italian/japanese/mexican/whatever places.

It really is deplorable to be wishing for the decay of something other people enjoy, but that is doing you no harm.

What I want is the continued survival of something that I love.

 

 

Right. It's the classical music parallel again. Some people enjoy concerts where nothing is played written after WWI, where the concert protocol is arranged to favor those who already know the pieces being played, and where the presentation is in a format that most people find faintly offensive.

 

Those people are killing classical music. The audience for that kind of stuff is dying, and it will not be replaced. And I, for one, resent them and am resolved to fight them for the survival of music I love.

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Would there be any issue serving this food in Jean George's room with Jean George's service? how different is this food from le chronique?

 

If Jean Georges opened today in New York, it would likely fail. Like the other old-guard four-stars, it prospers today, only because of accumulated goodwill, built up at a time when it was considered mandatory for food of this sort to be served in these surroundings.

 

My only visit to Le Chronique was eight years ago, too long ago for me to say whether it's operating on Chevalier's level; but anyhow, Le Chronique is not a New York restaurant. I wouldn't expect the rules for what works/fails in New York to be applicable elsewhere.

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..we can list dozens of restaurants, both French and non-French, in the U.S., Canada and Europe (including France!) that serve equally or more high end food in a formal environment but using a different aesthetic (and not only counters). Second, because it doesn't much look like what it's copying anyway.

I am not so sure that is true. The restaurants you're thinking of, generally aren't serving THIS food. They are serving something else — very good or even better for what it is, but not directly comparable — that is more suited to their aesthetic.

 

 

You're right about this, on the whole. But my side isn't calling for the abolition of JG and Le B. It's saying that restaurants like Chevalier, that do that style in what we consider a vulgar and vaguely unpleasant way, are going to fail, and that somebody is going to have to find a way to do that kind of food in a presentational format that is more palatable to contemporary diners. As, say, Batard does (and, I expect, Kreuther's place will do). Nobody's sayiing Chevalier has to look and operate like Joe Beef or some place in Brooklyn. Just that it won't succeed looking and operating as it does.

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A large number of people who do enjoy eating that food would enjoy the larger experience of eating at a restaurant that serves that food far more if it didn't also come with all sorts of other trappings they don't enjoy at all.

 

The truth of the matter is: that although I don't mind those trappings at all, I would far prefer it if that food were available without them. That fact is: it's not, which was the premise of Sneakeater's post twenty pages ago, or so.

 

Sneakeater's likely choice is that he'll frequent the likes of Rebelle, which is not quite as good, but is good enough, and is far more comfortable — as he defines it.

 

I've been saying the same for years. Although nothing in principle prevents restaurants from serving this food with most of the trappings stripped away, in practice it generally doesn't occur — at least, not in New York.

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But note that I also said in those early posts that the next time I wanted to spend money on a dinner, it would be at Batard rather than here. (I understand Batard is less expensive.)

 

(And note that I also insisted that someone who cares about food like joethefoodie has to try Chevalier, despite his misgivings.)

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My side isn't calling for the abolition of JG and Le B. It's saying that restaurants like Chevalier, that do that style in what we consider a vulgar and vaguely unpleasant way, are going to fail, and that somebody is going to have to find a way to do that kind of food in a presentational format that is more palatable to contemporary diners. As, say, Batard does (and, I expect, Kreuther's place will do). Nobody's sayiing Chevalier has to look and operate like Joe Beef or some place in Brooklyn. Just that it won't succeed looking and operating as it does.

Well, I also think Chevalier is going to fail, so we agree on that.

 

While I know that you personally are not calling for the abolition of JG and LeB, there is a very strong undercurrent (among many who write about these matters) that their trappings are unnecessary. A young JGV or Eric Ripert in New York would probably not be looking to operate that sort of place. There are two or three things at the margins that Chevalier does, and they do not; but to the average observer, they are a lot more similar to Chevalier than different.

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What are the things in particular about Chevalier that make it meaningfully stuffier than JG, or than we expect GK to be?

 

IMO, the population that would be uncomfortable at Chevalier, but perfectly at-home at JG, is not economically significant.

 

My forecast for Chevalier's survival would not be different if they hired the service manager away from JG and implemented JG's service model down to the last detail. They aren't different enough for that to matter.

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