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Chevalier at The Baccarat


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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

Exactly. He knew he was opening a contemporary (and Downtown) high-end restaurant.

 

However, the question was, would Chevalier be more likely to succeed with Jean Georges' service, rather than what it now has. I don't think so. If it had Batard's service, we're having a very different conversation. But they wouldn't have hired Charles Masson for that.

 

As you've noted, Batard is a downtown restaurant. When David Chang tried to open a downtown restaurant in midtown, at Ma Peche, the number of missteps was practically epic. The place is on something like its 5th concept, and it's not a rip-roaring hit: it's bookable (now on OpenTable—another unwanted concession) pretty much anytime you want, and well outside of the culinary conversation. If it were a stand-alone restaurant (as Chevalier is), and not part of an empire, it would probably be long gone.

 

The Baccarat is a luxury hotel, and it probably has to have something approximating a luxury restaurant. I don't know what Jonathan Winterman would've done if he'd received the assignment instead of Masson, but I am guessing it wouldn't have looked like Batard.

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If you’ve been to Japan, you’ll be familiar with the way in which diners are greeted on entering a restaurant (or just about any other establishment for that matter). If you’re not, the welcome at Ippudo could seem a tad odd. “Irrashaimase” — which roughly translates as “welcome” — say the door staff and receptionists, and the entire chef team shout it out as we pass the open kitchen on the way to our seats. They do the same for every single party which goes by, adding a quirky eccentricity to proceedings...

http://londonist.com/2014/10/ramen-reviews-ippudo-and-kanada-ya.php

 

That's happened to me a couple of times in Tokyo but it's the exception, not the rule. I assume it's limited to certain types of restaurants.

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If you’ve been to Japan, you’ll be familiar with the way in which diners are greeted on entering a restaurant (or just about any other establishment for that matter). If you’re not, the welcome at Ippudo could seem a tad odd. “Irrashaimase” — which roughly translates as “welcome” — say the door staff and receptionists, and the entire chef team shout it out as we pass the open kitchen on the way to our seats. They do the same for every single party which goes by, adding a quirky eccentricity to proceedings...

http://londonist.com/2014/10/ramen-reviews-ippudo-and-kanada-ya.php

 

That's happened to me a couple of times in Tokyo but it's the exception, not the rule. I assume it's limited to certain types of restaurants.

 

 

Not really. For example they do it in Ishikawa (a three michelin star place) and in many high end sushi bars, other places that are going for a more subdued experience will just have staff members greet you individually. Some places will do an irrasshai and then also put in an otsukaresama when you take your first sip of your drink. Of course some people think it's silly and will prefer an individualized greeting or will ask you how you've been since last time (with an intention that you'll actually tell them something) but japan is really pretty big on these greetings.

 

France on the other hand... not so much.

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If you’ve been to Japan, you’ll be familiar with the way in which diners are greeted on entering a restaurant (or just about any other establishment for that matter). If you’re not, the welcome at Ippudo could seem a tad odd. “Irrashaimase” — which roughly translates as “welcome” — say the door staff and receptionists, and the entire chef team shout it out as we pass the open kitchen on the way to our seats. They do the same for every single party which goes by, adding a quirky eccentricity to proceedings...

http://londonist.com/2014/10/ramen-reviews-ippudo-and-kanada-ya.php

 

 

That's happened to me a couple of times in Tokyo but it's the exception, not the rule. I assume it's limited to certain types of restaurants.

 

The thing is, whether they do it or not has very little to do with my enjoyment of the restaurant.

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If you’ve been to Japan, you’ll be familiar with the way in which diners are greeted on entering a restaurant (or just about any other establishment for that matter). If you’re not, the welcome at Ippudo could seem a tad odd. “Irrashaimase” — which roughly translates as “welcome” — say the door staff and receptionists, and the entire chef team shout it out as we pass the open kitchen on the way to our seats. They do the same for every single party which goes by, adding a quirky eccentricity to proceedings...

http://londonist.com/2014/10/ramen-reviews-ippudo-and-kanada-ya.php

 

That's happened to me a couple of times in Tokyo but it's the exception, not the rule. I assume it's limited to certain types of restaurants.

 

 

Not really. For example they do it in Ishikawa (a three michelin star place) and in many high end sushi bars, other places that are going for a more subdued experience will just have individual staff members greet you individually. Some places will do an irrasshai and then also put in an otsukaresama when you take your first sip of your drink. Of course some people think it's silly and will prefer an individualized greeting or will ask you how you've been since last time (with an intention that you'll actually tell them something) but japan is really pretty big on these greetings.

 

France on the other hand... not so much.

 

 

Japan is the most foreign place I've ever been to. I made 3 trips and saw something new each time. Girls in uniform greet you enthusiastically when you enter a department store. At baseball games vendors roam the stands selling shots of scotch.

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The thing is, whether they do it or not has very little to do with my enjoyment of the restaurant.

 

 

You're an individual!

 

Everyone else is affected by these framing shticks that are necessary to explain why you're going to eat what you're going to eat and why you're going to pay what you're going to pay.

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Exactly. He knew he was opening a contemporary (and Downtown) high-end restaurant.

 

However, the question was, would Chevalier be more likely to succeed with Jean Georges' service, rather than what it now has. I don't think so. If it had Batard's service, we're having a very different conversation. But they wouldn't have hired Charles Masson for that.

 

As you've noted, Batard is a downtown restaurant. When David Chang tried to open a downtown restaurant in midtown, at Ma Peche, the number of missteps was practically epic. The place is on something like its 5th concept, and it's not a rip-roaring hit: it's bookable (now on OpenTable—another unwanted concession) pretty much anytime you want, and well outside of the culinary conversation. If it were a stand-alone restaurant (as Chevalier is), and not part of an empire, it would probably be long gone.

 

The Baccarat is a luxury hotel, and it probably has to have something approximating a luxury restaurant. I don't know what Jonathan Winterman would've done if he'd received the assignment instead of Masson, but I am guessing it wouldn't have looked like Batard.

 

 

Luxury hotels need luxury restaurants. The question is, how do we define "luxury restaurant" for today? My contention is that Chevalier's attempt to do that failed.

 

Also, even assuming Chevalier's style and format appeals to the Baccarat's guests (an assumption I'm not persuaded to make), the restaurant will only succeed if it generates a significant out-of-hotel clientele. The Baccarat's moneyed clientele won't want to eat somewhere that New Yorkers don't.

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Luxury hotels need luxury restaurants. The question is, how do we define "luxury restaurant" for today? My contention is that Chevalier's attempt to do that failed.

As neither of us is sanguine about Chevalier's long-term chances, I guess I agree with you. But I am not sure what the template is.

 

The Baccarat's moneyed clientele won't want to eat somewhere that New Yorkers don't.

 

A lot of these luxury midtown hotels have upscale, fancy, white tablecloth restaurants that survive for years, despite no coverage whatsoever in the food press, and the lack of any mention on Mouthfuls: a place like The Carlyle, for instance.

 

Last year, the Post's Steve Cuozzo wrote a rave review for Clement, in the Peninsula Hotel. It has garnered no mentions since then, as far as I recall. Its predecessor, Fives, was around for a long, long time (at least a decade, I think).

 

Chevalier could very well have gone that route, and in the end it very well may. Had it hired a coupla no-names, rather than Charles Masson and Shea Gallante, I doubt we would've paid attention to it.

 

As I noted above, although Ma Peche is in the style of a downtown restaurant, and has David Chang's name attached, it is hardly much more relevant to the conversation than any of these other places. Such is the fate of many midtown hotel restaurants.

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Sadly, I don't think there's really much disagreement here, except (1) maybe the extent to which alternative models have evolved (Jean Georges may or may not echo to the sound of "Monsieur," but it's not a solution for anyone who finds Chevalier too formal), and (2) certainly whether mild French signifiers are any kind of big deal.

 

Interested: those of you who don't like Monsieur--are you happy with Sir?

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Again, I share the trepidation, but isn't it sad that we're discussing Chevalier as a failure?

 

But sure, excellence fails if it's perceived to be the wrong kind of excellence, while the right kind of awful (Semilla?) thrives.

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Indeed, I doubt that those who object to "Monsieur" and the $26 cocktail would be in rapture if it were "Sir" and $18. An awful lot more would need to change, such that — whatever its merits or otherwise — it wouldn't be Chevalier, but something else entirely.

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Also question for Adrian: in New York (because talking globally elides all kinds of economic and cultural differences), which restaurants have proposed a non-French formal style of service for western cuisine and at scale (not small dining counters)?

 

WD50 would be a contender, but of course it's closed. Del Posto, of course, is formal French with subtitles. :D

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Indeed, I doubt that those who object to "Monsieur" and the $26 cocktail would be in rapture if it were "Sir" and $18. An awful lot more would need to change, such that whatever its merits or otherwise it wouldn't be Chevalier, but something else entirely.

I'm inclined to agree.

 

If there was any rationality to the process the Times critic would be bound to rate Chevalier at least as highly as La Grenouille, but I suspect Pete will be as dazzled by the trappings as others are.

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