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Well, someone has to start this thread, and I did go last night, but it took Significant Eater longer than expected to arrive, so I was content with an aperitif and a glass of Pet Nat, and 5 delicious

By the time this thread peters out,I think that Frenchette may have a burger on the menu...

In keeping with a long-standing tradition on MFF, this response is obligatory:   Having been to neither The Grill or Frenchette, I can unequivocally state Frenchette is certainly more "Mad Menesque"

I went last week.  The food is lovely, the room is nice. The fact you are all so excited about this place is just a sign of how fucked NYC dining is.  If I could eat here are a normal hour I'd love it. I ate at 10:30 after a show, and it feels vaguely ridiculous that I had to do that to eat this food.  

 

(also the wine list was more accessible than ones I had previously seen on line, lots of stuff Rich would like)

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We got together with some friends from out of town on Sunday and they had been to Frenchette the night before, having made reservations a month ago & still having to eat at an ungodly early hour. They liked it well enough but didn't have much enthusiasm about it.  Everything seemed to hit that "good" level without being a destination type place.  They had the goat: "it was okay". 

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It's better than Minetta, and since there's nowhere else left to go, especially in Manhattan, especially late, and you can't discount that they're nice and the wine list is right... 

 

In terms of cooking, the range can be bewildering, both in that they just can't cook lamb to save their lives (at least based on three dishes I've tried) whereas most offal, beef, duck, lobster are very good and occasionally there's something excellent like the very unexpectedly composed kokotxas escabeche and in that the variability in one dish can make it seem like recipes are not a thing. 

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.... the variability in one dish can make it seem like recipes are not a thing. 

 

Nailed it. Restaurants should have recipes aka reliability.   But orgasmic plates often come from a different place, chef's inspiration or more mundanely what's in the larder and close to going south if not used today.

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What you should understand is that it's not that they don't have recipes in order to free the chefs to go with the moment's inspiration.  It's that they don't have recipes because it's a free-and-easy, bistro-y place, and so the same dishes come out differently even though the ingredients in them are the same.  You can't count on inspired improvisations here because, especially after some staff changes after opening, the people who do the actually cooking are not all as skilled as lead chefs Lee and Riad.

 

But this is still my current favorite restaurant.  I think Orik nails why.  I would amplify two things:  (1) what else is there now? (yeah I have to try that Peter Rabbit place), and (2) this isn't haute cuisine, and it isn't meant to be.

 

(Also, those kokotxas were phenomenal.)

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What you should understand is that it's not that they don't have recipes in order to free the chefs to go with the moment's inspiration.  It's that they don't have recipes because it's a free-and-easy, bistro-y place, and so the same dishes come out differently even though the ingredients in them are the same.  You can't count on inspired improvisations here because, especially after some staff changes after opening, the people who do the actually cooking are not all as skilled as lead chefs Lee and Riad.

 

But this is still my current favorite restaurant.  I think Orik nails why.  I would amplify two things:  (1) what else is there now? (yeah I have to try that Peter Rabbit place), and (2) this isn't haute cuisine, and it isn't meant to be.

 

(Also, those kokotxas were phenomenal.)

 

i don't know about that argument man. i think that it should "feel free and easy" but the dishes that are the same as last time should come out mostly the same (i mean, some variance, like that one time there is more sauce, or another time the temp was different, but normal variance) not, like, really different. i have not been and i am sure it is a great place but that argument is also suggestive of some kind of an issue.  

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I see that I've muddied the waters here, so boring as it will be, let me try to clarify.

1. This is a really good restaurant. The food is usually great. The ingredients they use are stupid good (for the East Coast of America).

2. There's a freedom here that has beneficial effects, neutral effects, and bad effects.

3. The beneficial effect is that the menu changes frequently: not daily, but more frequently than weekly.

4. The neutral effect is that the same dish can come out differently at different times. This variance in mode of preparation is usually neutral because the quality doesn't vary much. It's just that repeat diners sometimes can't know what to expect when ordering a dish. It should also be emphasized that this isn't endemic; it's occasional. You just don't expect it to happen at all.

 

5.  The bad effect is that quality of preparation can also vary.  This variance in quality of preparation is different from the variance in mode of preparation I was discussing in the last paragraph:  sometimes dishes look the same as always, but just aren't prepared as well (my much too salty lamb chops, for example).  This is clearly a problem.  But again, I want to make clear that this variance in the quality of preparation occurs even less frequently than the variance in the mode of preparation.  Of course, ideally it wouldn't occur at all.

 

6.  It becomes clear that the freedom present here works when exercised by people at the top of the chain, but becomes iffier when exercised by people toward the bottom of the chain.  My impression (which might be wrong) is that the kitchen staff was more uniformly strong when this place opened than it is now, so this has become more of an evident problem.  Nevertheless, it isn't an overwhelming one:  this is still a great place to eat.

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Have no problem getting great ingredients, just be diligent.

 

What I don't get is the continual bashing of east coast (or for that matter all of) American ingredients. 

 

Having eaten in at least 25 countries around the world, our ingredients are on par with all of them. Sure, most countries have better this or that, but America also has better this or that. In the end it all comes full circle.

 

But I do know this. If I disliked east coast America ingredients, then I would live where I enjoyed the ingredients. 

ingredients they use are stupid good (for the East Coast of America).
 

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But I do know this. If I disliked east coast America ingredients, then I would live where I enjoyed the ingredients. 

 

 

 

I have jokingly told husband that I will gladly move anywhere...within a 5 block radius of where we live now.    Lazy living.

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