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Crispy morels is kind of an odd idea. Why not stuff them with lamb's brains? :

 

I was reminded of a previous discussion on confit when I got a handful of morels recently, baked them in a cup with butter, pork fat and olive oil until they were soft, then removed/drained them and broiled them lying down (on whatever side they were facing up) to make that surface crispy. I was trying to achieve the crispy texture of oven roasted hen of the woods that you get sometimes, was pretty pleased with the end result.

 

I'm guessing the menu description refers to fried morels though?

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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.

Don't be fooled by the lipstick and necklace. The guest who enters Del Posto at 25 seconds into the video is clearly a dalek. Or possibly a very short person on roller skates, swivelling his head suspiciously from side to side.

 

Exterminate.

 

(It's less funny after that...)

I need to back away from the computer before I start barking "I do not need a reservation. I am a dalek. You will be exterminated."

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I took my girlfriend to Del Posto for her birthday (blog post here), my second choice after it proved impossible to get into Eleven Madison Park. My only other visit to Del Posto was in 2006. I found it underwhelming at the price, and I was in no great hurry to go back. After Sifton gave it four stars, I had to try again.

 

Del Posto isn't a four-star restaurant. You probably already knew that. Didn't everybody? The food, it seems to me, is not much better than the city's other three-star Italian restaurants, like Babbo and Marea. Not that it's stylistically the same as those places, but the food just isn't a category killer, as it needs to be at a four-star restaurant.

 

The atmosphere and service, on the other hand, are a quantum leap above any other Italian restaurant in the city. If Italian cuisine were going to adopt the French luxury model, Batali and Bastianich couldn't have done a better job. If they left anything out, I can't think of it.

 

After getting four stars, Del Posto promptly ditched their à la carte menu (the more casual "Inoteca" had been dropped about a year earlier), and jacked up the price of what is now their lowest option, a five-course prix fixe, to $115. At that price, I think there are better options in the city. I would certainly go back for the right special occasion, but it probably won't be anytime soon.

 

This is not to say I disliked my meal: after waffling back and forth, I gave it 3½ stars on my site, as I do think one needs to give credit for the service and atmosphere, which are excellent. An abalone salad tasted flat; a lobster risotto was too salty and soupy. Everything else was very good for what it was, but just not the "category killer" food that I think a restaurant must have, if it aspires to four stars.

 

But as it's Sam Sifton, not me, who gives out the stars, Del Posto gets to charge as if it were as good as Jean Georges.

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1. It's interesting how hard it is to rate Del Posto. I think it's because Sifton's four stars, just as a data point, is something that you can't ignore but is hard to wrap your head around.

 

2. So we all agree that Brooks Headley is the secret hero of Del Posto, right? Let's give that man a shout out: BROOKS HEADLEY! LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!

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1. It's interesting how hard it is to rate Del Posto. I think it's because Sifton's four stars, just as a data point, is something that you can't ignore but is hard to wrap your head around.

The difficulty for me is:

 

Ignoring price (as I believe you should at this level), the overall experience is better than Babbo, Felidia, Esca, Marea, Ai Fiori, or Scarpetta. And all of those places have 3 stars. That's why I gave it 3½ stars. If they gave me Sifton's job tomorrow, I'd round down, not up.

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...Babbo, Felidia, Esca, Marea, Ai Fiori, or Scarpetta. And all of those places have 3 stars. That's why I gave it 3½ stars.

But those restaurants probably shouldn't have three stars. I suppose Marea is arguable (haven't been to Ai Fiori).

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I was looking forward to reading the NYJ review. I just visited Del Posto myself (I am behind writing up my reviews). I won't be disagreeing overall with the NYJ assessment, but - and this relates to other conversations here - I did enjoy the evening enormously. Much more than I expected. I like dining this way (okay, yes, it is a little de trop, but still...).

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...Babbo, Felidia, Esca, Marea, Ai Fiori, or Scarpetta. And all of those places have 3 stars. That's why I gave it 3½ stars.

But those restaurants probably shouldn't have three stars. I suppose Marea is arguable (haven't been to Ai Fiori).

One could certainly argue about a few of those places (I didn't give them all 3 stars myself). But to the extent the stars are debatable, the conversation needs to have moorings. If you say that none of the current Italian 3-stars deserves it, then nobody knows what the boundaries are any more.

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