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I guess the big question about Del Posto is whether "this kind of food" can ever be worth major restaurant bucks.

 

In the early days, they weren't doing it that well -- the menu just had too many misses -- so it was pretty easy to answer "no" and write the whole enterprise off as nothing more than sheer pretension.

 

Now that the food is actually very good, the value calculation is harder to make.

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It's the Fall Preview issue of New York magazine, and there's a profile of Batali's new Meatpacking District place, Del Posto.     More Fall Preview food stuff

Actually hiring their CdC did

Wow. I don't disbelieve you in any way but those rates are pretty unbelievable.

It's hard to wrap my arms around the fact that this is the same price as Le Bernardin, and more expensive than either Daniel or Jean Georges, and no one yet (except Sam Sifton) has suggested it's as good.

 

That's the problem. It's just nuts to say this is in the same universe of good as Le B or JG. (Daniel is more of a fair fight.)

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I'm willing to give it a try once, especially since the lunch deal is super reasonable.

 

Roughly following this logic, I recently (end of march 2011) ate at Del Posto for the first time. Sidestepping the "tasting menus are for tourists, depending on the developmental state of a country's cuisine" thread, as well as the "super-special Del Posto tasting at dinner for more than the extended tasting at Per Se" discussion: I had lunch at Del Posto and tripled up on the $29 3 course prix fixe lunch. Was actually very pleasantly surprised, but some part of that was due to severe downwards guidance of expectations prior to actually going.

Short version of my expy (can expand on specifics if ppl have interest, but doing so seems of limited utility since ppl lack context as to my taste/reliability):

-Only one of the starters that I tried were really value additive (but one could predict, for instance, that the other two: Lobster SALAD Fra Diavola with Broccoli Rabe & Dried Orange,CARNE CRUDA with Truffled Salsa, Parmigiano-Reggiano & King Oyster were not going to be as interesting/were on menu because they're easy to prep (in advance in the case of the lobster)/were "supplemental fee" collection items via "premium overpriced ingredients." That being said, I wasn't really in the mood for the other 2 starter options, which at the time were I think still "lettuces" and "vegetables." And not obviously, say, in the way that the "salad" at Corton is so much more than just salad...)

 

-the one starter that did provide the opp for display of culinary talent, "Del Posto ZAMPONE with Lentil Vinaigrette & Salsa Verde" (pigs trotter sausage wrapped in pig fat on a bed of lentils with prosecco broth) was quite a standout. This sounds crazy, but between the portioning and the prosecco, it was simultaneously super-rich, yet still felt light and not-overwhelming.

 

Furthermore, the pastas and secondi that I tried were all good in their own ways (not as unidimensionally classic or heavy Italian as I would have thought, given allusions upthread – that is, I'd agree w/the overall critique, but the sample I had was much less so vs the impression _I_ got from reading through the thread), and at the $29 price point, definitely worth the price of admission.

 

-CACCIUCCO Diver Scallop Carpaccio & Garlic Bread Soup: already well described by ue upthread. Excellent, excellent dish that I'd gladly have paid the full amount of the meal cost for at dinner or lunch.

 

As an aside, many of the menu descriptions seem oddly structured. Take the ZAMPONE and CACCIUCCO.

 

I think that most ppl (who hadn't say, come across ue's review previously) ordering casually from the menu would assume that

 

"CACCIUCCO Diver Scallop Carpaccio & Garlic Bread Soup"

 

was composed of "Diver Scallop Carpaccio & Garlic Bread Soup" and that CACCIUCCO was just a descriptor (rather than "CACCIUCCO, with Diver Scallop Carpaccio & Garlic Bread Soup")

 

Similarly, "Del Posto ZAMPONE with Lentil Vinaigrette & Salsa Verde" basically forces the diner to either be fairly familiar w/the Italian idiom, google at the table, or "engage in a discussion with the server." The last option seems consistent w/ue's description of his (admittedly VIP'd, but still relevant) experience at Del Posto, and is admirable in its own way (I'm reminded of EMP's NYT description of its revamped menu re: increased dialogue, but less facetiously*).

 

My problems with this are pragmatic, not ideological:

 

a)this may work at dinner/dinner service levels, but doesn't seem to carry through well at lunch

b)this isn't implemented well – so that the CACCIUCCO example will most likely cause misunderstanding of the menu item rather than forcing server engagement.

 

Anyway, other 2 mids:

 

-Handmade ORECCHIETTE with Lamb Neck Ragu, Lentils, & Green Mustard: much more in the traditional mode, but done very well. Strong permeation of lamb flavor into the orecchiette themselves was much appreciated (_seemed_ as if it had been done deliberately, rather than incidental due to the mixing of ragu w/pasta). The current incarnation of the dish (at least according to the interwebs) seems even more potentially interesting: "Handmade ORECCHIETTE with Lamb Shoulder Sausage, Crispy Morels & Minted Soybeans"

 

-Slow Baked LAMB alla Puttanesca & Garlic Tatsoi: I liked this, again thought it very clearly hit the value button, tho it was definitely more in the well-executed trad/heavy mode.<br style=""> <br style="">

 

Desserts:

 

I'm a big fan. I loved them.

 

Desserts I tried were very impressive. One really stunning (and well known – the SFERA di Caprino with Celery & Fig Agrodolce & Celery Sorbetto), one extremely good (SPEZZATA di Castagne Warm Plum Macedonia, Crushed Chestnuts & Yogurt Gelato), and one of the technically proficient, fancied up, but still at root "thou shalt provide at least one chocolate dessert on the menu" type (Chocolate Ricotta TORTINO with Sicilian Pistachios & Extra Virgin Olive Oil Gelato).

 

The other dessert options at the time seemed less promising (in retrospect lunch dessert list looks shorter than the dinner one), I didn't feel like I could ask them if I could get the lunch tasting menu desserts added a la carte to my meal (as I might do elsewhere), and I was so enthused by the outperformance of the meal (over expectations) that I have to admit that I suckered it up by getting their chocolate/rum pairing. (Even more of a rip-off in the % margin vs % value-added sense, I know, and I usually strictly restrict my alcohol consumption during meals to basically 0.)

 

Also, they spontaneously did the custom menu printup thing w/o being asked, though in another one of those lunch/dinner service level disjunctures that I'm hypothesizing about, it took a very long time to do so (and they repeatedly apologized about the delay). [this is a bit unfair – I suspect the amount of food that I ordered might have driven this.]

 

From a pure value standpoint, the amuses (including the meaty creampuff), bread basket (yes, I did try the rosemary lardo whip), and mignardises that come standard also add a lot of value. [No, I didn't ask for 3x of the the amuses and mignardises. I would have if I thought I'd still be hungry (amuses) /had been hungry by the end of the meal (mignardises) tho :P]

 

 

I did try to go back for dinner, but

 

a)seemingly pretty hard to get reservations (by calling in and opentable), at least for a party of one (could just be some messed up PR policy/etc, but the first table I could get on a random same-day Sunday would have been at 10pm). [This is of course off a sample size of 1…]

 

b)they got rid of the Enoteca a while back, and do NOT serve food at the bar – so that's almost entirely a dealbreaker, given my tendency to dine at the last moment.

 

*-ETA: I like EMP - really - EMP mafia, pls don't kneecap me for this throwaway comment

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b)they got rid of the Enoteca a while back, and do NOT serve food at the bar – so that's almost entirely a dealbreaker, given my tendency to dine at the last moment.

 

Me, too. I'm genuinely sorry about this. I'd eat here if I could do it on that basis.

 

ETA -- One of the dishes they comped us Wednesday night was the lamb orecchiette, but it seemed more like the one you had than the one you say is now on the menu. I liked it a lot.

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One thing I also want to emphasize is that the food is no longer unduly "heavy" or anything like that. (If anything, I'd say the purportedly Mediterranean food at Ai Fiori is much "heavier".)

 

The knock here now is that the food may be too traditional and even (in a way) basic (to warrant very high prices and four NYT stars -- other than that, what's to complain about?), not that it's too heavy.

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b)they got rid of the Enoteca a while back, and do NOT serve food at the bar – so that's almost entirely a dealbreaker, given my tendency to dine at the last moment.

 

Me, too. I'm genuinely sorry about this. I'd eat here if I could do it on that basis.

 

ETA -- One of the dishes they comped us Wednesday night was the lamb orecchiette, but it seemed more like the one you had than the one you say is now on the menu. I liked it a lot.

 

Yep - it's quite, quite annoying (tho again, there's little reason for restaurants to accommodate the rel. tiny minority of ppl who dine in this fashion - last minute, not the enoteca/bar options).

 

Glad to hear re: your orecchiette; should caveat that my comments re what is "now" on the menu are based on my assumption that the online menu is newer than the menu I (physically/personally) encountered. Seems pretty likely that the online menu is not accurate, but still "newer" than what I had a while back.

 

Just discovered one other "alternative" - if one were willing to eat saturday dinner at Del Posto at 4:30pm, it's relatively easy to get a 1-person seating on ~0 notice. (eg, just tried calling them today - however, the next available for 1 is at 10:45pm or something like that.)

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@cellardoor--if you don't mind me asking, what do you do for a living? that was an extremely rigorous analysis in the "short version of the expy"

 

I don't mind at all, though I'll pm you in a bit instead of posting in thread. Probably not what you think tho.

 

ETA nothing particularly exciting /scandalous/unusual etc

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  • 4 weeks later...

had a really nice evening at del posto. call me a philistine but I love the space, thought it would be appropriate for a business meeting, romantic event, celebratory meal, etc. service was nearly flawless except for the a dessert brought while one member of the party was in the restroom (which was a little anxiety inducing due to frozen element, but no worries). planning on returning for that great lunch deal in the near future.

 

assaggi: bread soup was fine, speck with sauerkraut was spectacular, lobster+caviar sandwich was pleasant but unexciting

 

antipasti:

raw veal and tuna cubetti with mustard and fennel hearts--again, pleasant but unexciting. grated egg and capers were a clever touch.

snipped herbs and lettuce salad--didn't taste

insalata primavera--didn't taste

 

primi:

whole wheat tonnarelli, spicy cicerchie, fried rosemary, shaved bonito--the aroma of this was awesome, hammy and smoky. unfortunately, the pasta was overcooked.

orecchiette, lamb shoulder sausage, crispy morels, minted soybeans--pasta in this was much much better than lincoln's take, no clumping, beautifully formed and not too thick. crispy morels were texturally dazzling, but they lost a lot of their mushroom funk. i would have liked this better with peas, not soybeans. still, I would gladly eat a huge bowl of this, no problem.

 

secondi:

wood grilled lobster with artichokes, hazelnuts, basil--best rendition of lobster i've had in a long, long time. super tender and sweet. but the basil really made this dish come to life.

young lamb alla romana, garlic yogurt with ceci and swiss chard ragu--succulent and appreciably lamby. came highly recommended by u.e., and we weren't disappointed.

grilled pork, smoked whey, white asparagus, fava beans, cherry blossoms--grilled pork was cooked maybe a little medium for my taste. didn't love the smoked whey, it came out a little chalky. but with the cherries (didn't spot any blossoms??), the pork was incredible. white asparagus was a little bitter.

 

dolce:

sfera di caprino, celery & fig agrodolce & celery sorbetto--ok, I don't get the hype over this. the celery sorbet was acceptable, vegetal as expected, similar to some fennel bulb sorbets I've made at home but with a better texture. the fig agrodolce was way out of balance though, tasted like a pure hit of vinegar. the cheese helped bring the celery/acidic elements together, but I just didn't buy the actualization of the concept.

Chocolate Ricotta tortino, Toasted Sicilian Pistachios & Extra Virgin Olive Oil Gelato--this was not astounding, standard chocolate/olive oil stuff going on. visually stunning though

carrot cake, sage gelato??--not really sure what the component were. the carrot cake was standard, the sage gelato (I think) was tasty.

 

headley's desserts didn't wow me. I thought that concept was overreaching technique. i also just don't think vinegar+celery+goat cheese makes for a great dessert when executed like this. the mignardises were all very good, especially enjoyed the milk jam stuffed grapefruit.

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