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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

 

 

You should also add that most people can't distinguish between good food and mediocre food. It's not like they eat the mediocre stuff grudgingly. They don't *know* it's mediocre

 

That's true, but if a place is indeed mediocre, eventually informed comments to that effect will pile up.

 

After reading here about the ugly room and mediocre food, I cruised TA. There, Chevalier gets high(est) marks for the exquisite room and perfect French food. (Read that in context.) Comments like "Very well cooked French food that evokes the palate truly." that brought a thank you response from Chevalier management.

 

Reflecting on the Paris Baccarat restaurant, these restaurants are Baccarat theme parks where tourists and (unknowing) celebratory locals go for what they consider opulent surroundings and a fancy meal. Regardless of how Chevalier stacks up with similar level NY restaurants, it seems to be fulfilling its mandate of serving upscale looking food for those with inexperienced palates.

 

 

This is very wrong and requires correction.

 

NOBODY here has said that the food at Chevalier is anything short of fantastic. EVERYONE agrees that it is some of the best food now being served in New York. There is NO controversy about that.

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That is why Chevalier is such a conundrum and, Suzanne nothwithstanding, presents such an interesting topic for discussion.

 

What do you with a restaurant where the food is superb -- but everything about the ambiance and presentation undermines it, making for what at least several of us consider a near-complete esthetic and experiential failure?

 

If I were the NYT reviewer, I'd give it three stars, and put all my reservations in the text. Here, the most I can do is say that the food is fantastic -- but that all the other stuff keeps me from wanting to return.

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I mean, when I wrote up Le Turtle, and I said that despite the surprisingly high quality of the food, the odd pretentious service and the fact that the restaurant seemed not to quite succeed at what it was trying to do (non-foodwise) made me recommend other similar places ahead of it, nobody complained.

 

This isn't any different, is it?

 

I would never send someone there, but Le Turtle does have a destination dish (the chicken) that has shown up on a number of "best of" lists. Frankly, I didn't think the chicken was all that great, but there's no question it has drawn people in — including me.

 

 

Right. Exactly. That's my point. You have to acknowledge that the food at Le Turtle is quite good.

 

But you also have to acknowledge (well, you don't have to; you might like that stuff) that everything else about it is off-putting. So you end up not wanting to keep going there.

 

The same thing I think about Chevalier (except obvs I think the food at Chevalier is A LOT better).

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That is why Chevalier is such a conundrum and, Suzanne nothwithstanding, presents such an interesting topic for discussion.

 

What do you with a restaurant where the food is superb -- but everything about the ambiance and presentation undermines it, making for what at least several of us consider a near-complete esthetic and experiential failure?

 

If I were the NYT reviewer, I'd give it three stars, and put all my reservations in the text. Here, the most I can do is say that the food is fantastic -- but that all the other stuff keeps me from wanting to return.

Okay. I've got it. Sorry I got lost in the conversation. The excellence of the food wasn't clear for several pages.

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I will encourage men to wear shorts and sandals with socks, but I will also accept bespoke suits if they say "sucker paid $2800 ($400 for French cuffs!!! muwahaha)" on the back in black light sensitive thread. Our best table (located in the restroom, ref. Schiller's, but more literally in the restroom) will include a USB charging cable hidden under the baseball cap holder - this shall be known as The Lex.

 

The kitchen will of course be staffed with a team of MFF members' relatives and acquaintances because they all work 73 hours a day at Mugaresa, and can therefore stomach me as a boss for at least 15 minutes a day.

 

typical arriviste maltese shit.

 

 

 

 

 

(wait, is orik malta and me yalta or the other way around? it's been so long.)

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If I were the NYT reviewer, I'd give it three stars, and put all my reservations in the text. Here, the most I can do is say that the food is fantastic -- but that all the other stuff keeps me from wanting to return.

 

Wells reported several food flubs. That didn't happen on either of my visits, but that's why he goes three times and tastes other people's food.

 

Up to about the halfway point of the review, he certainly seemed to be describing three-star food. Platt frequently subtracts a whole star for rooms he doesn't like, but Wells seems to feel that the rating should be mostly about the food. I would gather that Wells was prepared to award three stars, but the food had to be just about perfect, and in his experience, it wasn't.

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Right. Exactly. That's my point. You have to acknowledge that the food at Le Turtle is quite good.

 

But you also have to acknowledge (well, you don't have to; you might like that stuff) that everything else about it is off-putting. So you end up not wanting to keep going there.

 

The same thing I think about Chevalier (except obvs I think the food at Chevalier is A LOT better).

 

Except...you haven't said about Le Turtle, as you did about Chevalier, that it "has no reason to exist."

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Chevalier has a much, much uglier room than either the Modern or Gabriel Kreuther. The Modern's room might be a bit soulless, but it's not... well, ugly. There's nothing objectionable about it. GK's room is somewhat ugly because it's got too much going on with the wood and the dark wallpaper, but the light is nice.

 

Chevalier has no natural light. The artificial light that it does have is just extremely poorly conceived – it's all on the walls, and to top of all off, the red lighting behind the bar is hideous. There's no universe in which anybody with an ounce of taste in decor could say that the Chevalier room is anything but extraordinarily ugly for a formal French-style dining room. It's funny because it wouldn't even be difficult to fix, since it's the way they light it more than anything else, but it's a trainwreck right now.

No, it's fine, you're just wrong about it.

 

And whether you call The Modern soulless or ugly, it's much less appealing than Chevalier.

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No, it's fine, you're just wrong about it.

 

Did Taion ever come up with any basis for this, other than his personal revulsion? I looked at several online review sites, and most people like the room. I realize that we don't know who these people are, but most also like the food, and we seem to be perfectly willing to accept that judgment.

 

And whether you call The Modern soulless or ugly, it's much less appealing than Chevalier.

 

As I recall, the idea of the Modern was that you have the sculpture garden right outside your window, so the room itself was deliberately muted, to avoid trying to compete with that. Here are the first four paragraphs of Frank Bruni's original review:

 

MANY New York restaurants boast great views, glorious architectural flourishes or other sparks and balms for the soul. But perhaps none claims as utterly distinctive and privileged a perch as the Modern, where only a wall of glass separates the dining room from the Museum of Modern Art's sculpture garden.

 

The first time I ate here, at a table for two snug against that wall, Picasso's "She-Goat" kept entering and exiting my peripheral vision, as if grazing in an adjacent field. When I pivoted my head more purposefully, I could take in a Calder or a Miró, each one bathed in moody lighting. Backdrops for fine dining don't come any more mesmerizing than this.

 

In ways sweeping and intimate, the Modern is a visual knockout, an impressive response to the challenge of creating a space as beautiful and refined as the museum to which it is attached. Its glowing white entrance evokes a space-age tunnel to heaven. This corridor opens onto a casual dining area with a 46-foot marble bar, almost 100 seats and a wall-size photograph, by the German artist Thomas Demand, of a verdant, enchanted forest.

 

Beyond that area, behind a partition of frosted glass, is the more formal dining room, with almost as many seats. Its view of the garden is exclusive, but its emphasis on clean, sleek design isn't. Throughout the restaurant, furniture and flatware, water pitchers and water glasses, bud vases and butter pedestals feel like understated works of art.

(That review quickly went downhill, to what was perceived at the time as a 2-star slam.)

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Right. Exactly. That's my point. You have to acknowledge that the food at Le Turtle is quite good.

 

But you also have to acknowledge (well, you don't have to; you might like that stuff) that everything else about it is off-putting. So you end up not wanting to keep going there.

 

The same thing I think about Chevalier (except obvs I think the food at Chevalier is A LOT better).

 

Except...you haven't said about Le Turtle, as you did about Chevalier, that it "has no reason to exist."

 

 

This will probably strike you as a gossamer distinction, but I said something along the line of Chevalier's being an inept attempt to revive a type of restaurant that no longer has any reason to exist. I didn't say that Chevalier itself had no reason to exist: the food alone is a reason.

 

This discussion has clarified my thinking on this. I think the emphasis should be on "inept." More accurately, it's the vulgarity of the whole enterprise (as I see it, of course) that spoils it for me.

 

Along that line, let me respond to a point that Wilf has made a few times. I complained about the expensive $24 (or so) cocktails. Wilf has noted that all of the cocktails contained luxe ingredients except the one I ordered. The luxe ingredient they use most frequently is Ruinart Champagne. I tend not to like Champagne cocktails -- but in any event, I definitely think that use of expensive Champagne in a cocktail is extremely vulgar. That's the kind of thing that turned me off just about as soon as I sat down.

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