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Is there less to this than meets the eye? All EMP is doing, really, is bringing its price into the zip code that Per Se and Brooklyn Fare already occupy -- and in Per Se's case, has occupied for a long, long time. I might add that Atera is $150 and Ko is $175 at lunch. If they have a 200-person wait list every night, as was reported, then EMP is under-priced at $125.

 

Exactly.

 

And expect price hikes at the other well-established four stars too.

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I've been a couple of times before and although perfectly ok I found it pretty ho hum; neither as exciting as a top tier restaurant (the Danny Meyer effect) nor as satisfying as a decent bistro. But a

I look forward to the next iteration, when he transforms it into the first NFT restaurant, with menus of Non-Food Tokens for 500 Ethereum. You sit at a table and look at pictures of food and wine bott

EMP Miami 🤣

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Running out, I'll have more to say later about EMP in specific, but aren't you being a little selective? Couldn't look at the food at, say, Per Se, Le Cinq (or whatever), Noma, Alinea, and arrive at a very different conclusion (without even looking at the Asian stuff)? It seems that we're kind of playing into the game if you look at San Pelligrino restaurants (for lack of a better term). No doubt ideas diffuse further and faster than ever, but the rate of new ideas seems to be pretty high.

 

Of course I'm being selective, but I think there's more exploitation of information imbalances than actual new ideas (like, people believe the PR saying that the chef at Atera combines Mugaritz with his own foraging thing, but really it's all Mugaritz all the time, just not very well executed)

 

 

I can go to Paris and enter, say, the recently opened Oriental-W-Shangrila-Mandarin, where Alain Arola Robuchon operates Le Petit Pet - a dining room that appeals to Russian oligarchs but also discreetly mocks them (but then even more discreetly mocks the people who get it). There I will be offered a menu that starts with a series of amuse-tapas and continues with one seafood, one from the garden, one meat, three desserts. It'll cost more or less 250 Euros all in, plus 80 Euros for water. It'll be made of food worth about 30 Euros. The fish will be cod or halibut, the meat veal or beef that tastes like veal, the tapas will include something vaguely Spanish, probably a gram of jamon, because what else is there in Spain these days? The meat will come, of course, with pureed butter (Robuchon, Robuchon, famous, the waiter will point out). Desserts will remind us of the old days of fairly standard mignardises, but with all kinds of clever surprises - the mini eclaire will be filled with foie, and the pistachio thingie will have matcha, wow, are we international yet or what?

 

Oh, vadouvan, I forgot.

 

Or I can go to EMPer Se. Very different, very clearly American dining rooms, although for some reason the waiters are pretending to be from Andromeda (but they do not speak Andromedan, odd). The amuses will be made from American things, like salmon, butter, sugar, corn, the meat will most definitely be beef, or chicken, the fish will be so old it won't really matter what it was. The waiter will explain that the chef believes in many small courses so that at the end of every course you feel like you've had nothing of any substance or interest. Water won't be 80 Euros (water is free, environment and stuff), but wine will be $1000 for a glass of whatever. In the middle of the meal, two waiters will show up carrying big silver domes, raise them, display a gloved* empty hand, and leave confused. Desserts won't have any foie, but will have a salty component (SURPRISE!)

 

There won't be any vadouvan but there will be a bearded scallion, soil, foam because they saw it in a magazine.

 

More important, though, is what these places can't do. (and of course there's the obvious question - if they're good, why do they primarily need to prey on tourists?)

 

* dirty, ill-fitted glove, of course. America, after all.

 

That's a fabulous post.

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Is it a necessary part of a restaurant's evolution? depends on your horizon - if a restaurant stays good for decades and then goes into profit maximizing mode because the chef or owner has had enough that's different from a business plan that involves hitting all the marks michelin requires and then quadrupling prices.

You've cited a number of examples upthread that suggest that the time scale now looks more like years than decades. And the Michelin-centered business plan you cite also seems to be the same as the caricature of the New York review-central restaurant business plan, though the latter operates on time scale of months.

 

It seems a bit uncharitable to insist that restaurants shouldn't charge market-clearing prices (and you end up with issues like at Frej when they're off by a huge margin). Isn't the issue more that there's relatively little preventing places that have already received (deserved) critical acclaim from just coasting instead of continuing to really excel?

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That's concise.

 

Also, I don't like dessert. (tourists, apparently, love dessert, so tasting menus always end with many of them)

 

I'm not quite as cynical as Orik but agree with almost everything he says (some great posts on the whole though -- Adrian too).

 

as for dessert, I've been generally turned off to tasting menus cause I don't like to eat a bunch of desserts....also, it's no secret that desserts are just about the highest margin item for any restaurant...so no wonder they try to make a tasting menu look like you get a lot of stuff when really half of its desserts that cost them 50 cents a course.

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Responding to a variety of the issues here:

 

EMP's progress v. profit maximization:

 

Good points, Ori. Though cutting back on seating doesn't strike me as obviously profit maximizing behaviour when you're overbooked every night. Also, and I can't personally speak to this, if you go back in this thread, changeup, SE, and others describe EMP as either the best or among the two or three best restaurants in NYC and laud its progress under the first new format. So, at least in the minds of some pretty well informed diners, the changes at EMP have yielded significant improvement.

 

Technical errors at EMP:

 

The black and white cookies were silly, though or parm and truffle ones didn't have the acidic jolt you describe. The foie mousse was technically flawless (the mousse was as light as I've had), but was undermined back a lack of assertive flavours other than from the blackberry crunch thing. Desserts were merely very good. Oh, and the tamale with kind of a mistake - a bit muddy flavoured and mushy. Everything else was well balanced and precise.

 

Mugartiz v. Ibai:

 

Mugaritz appears to me to be a Michelin three star restaurant using cutting edge technique, some unique, some derivative, using largely local ingredients, though not always. Ibai appears to be a vernacular restaurant cooking very good local product simply. What, then, would a Mugaritz that's better than Ibai look like if the criticism against Mug is simply that others use similar techniques elsewhere (though not as well, you suggest)? Ibain strikes me as being better only in that it's less replicable; Mugaritz worse only if you have access to Gagnaire.

 

Radiohead v. Coldplay:

 

Not quite the argument (partly because Coldplay stinks). This seems to me to be more like criticizing all East Coast gangster rap songs because, fundamentally, they're all rewriting Shook Ones Part 1. Or, even, a Beatles/Oasis thing (to turn the board in on itself).

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That's concise.

 

Also, I don't like dessert. (tourists, apparently, love dessert, so tasting menus always end with many of them)

 

I'm not quite as cynical as Orik but agree with almost everything he says (some great posts on the whole though -- Adrian too).

 

as for dessert, I've been generally turned off to tasting menus cause I don't like to eat a bunch of desserts....also, it's no secret that desserts are just about the highest margin item for any restaurant...so no wonder they try to make a tasting menu look like you get a lot of stuff when really half of its desserts that cost them 50 cents a course.

 

Ori, you need to post about the desserts at 400 Coups when you get there. It's the first time in years a restaurant's pastry has made me more excited than the savory.

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The whole premise of a "tourist restuarant," as applied to EMP, is quite silly. I wonder if Orik considers himself a tourist when he dines in another city? Or is the real idea: "I'm not a tourist, but I assume everyone else is less sophisticated than I." Just wondering.

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The whole premise of a "tourist restuarant," as applied to EMP, is quite silly. I wonder if Orik considers himself a tourist when he dines in another city? Or is the real idea: "I'm not a tourist, but I assume everyone else is less sophisticated than I." Just wondering.

why is it silly? It strikes me as epically cynical and elitist, but not silly.

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The whole premise of a "tourist restuarant," as applied to EMP, is quite silly. I wonder if Orik considers himself a tourist when he dines in another city? Or is the real idea: "I'm not a tourist, but I assume everyone else is less sophisticated than I." Just wondering.

why is it silly? It strikes me as epically cynical and elitist, but not silly.

 

 

Yes, it's cynical and elitist too, which I equate with silliness, but some may not.

 

Imagine that. Folks accusing Orik of being cynical. I wonder what he'll think.

 

As for elitist... well, gee whiz guys, who among us doesn't consider ourselves at least one step above the unwashed (especially in sections of Bklyn) masses? That Orik is actually a couple of steps above me (and many others on this board) in experience, knowledge and cash flow (& knows it) isn't exactly a revelation any more than my recognition that I probably know more than quite a few of my friends (and that they know I know it & act accordingly). "Elitism" is always the accusation people hurl at those above themselves.... not that the elite attitude of those accused may not be irritating at times (who is Chambolle anyway?).

 

And, as for "silly" -- well... no. There are lots of folks who come into NYC for many reasons other than food (witness the upcoming tennis US Open) who, if asked, will tell you that they're "foodies" (whatever the hell that means anymore) and I will tell you that they have a lot of ready cash to burn on high end eating, including places like EMP. That they will then know enough to go to the most highly regarded &/or trendy places to eat so that they can show off their taste to others while here and when they get home is readily apparent to anyone who cares to look. There are many upscale "tourist restaurants" and its not silly to think that some are actually good places to eat and not just tourist traps. That EMP might fall into that category over time (or might already be there) is not silly, but a reasonable opinion. It's certainly headed north of my stature and better have a market share more than NYC area residents.

 

(does anyone realize how much the above took out of me? siding with Orik's cynical views... what have I become?)

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I actually don't think cynical or elitist is so harsh a statement. Especially elitist - this is a board obsessed with fancy food. It is as you say, by definition elitist.

 

I called EMP a "tourist restaurant", not Orik, as a tourist. The point was twofold. First, that EMP rapidly becoming part of a class of high-concept tasting menu only restaurants designed to appeal to the San Pelligrino list among other things and that such a model means that you're not attracting "regular" diners (ie. even the locals that go there are, in some sense, tourists). Second, that you jaded New Yorkers shouldn't reject it as such, despite the clam bakes and egg creams, because it's really quite good.

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