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Wallowing Gourmet's Profile

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Eric Ripert restaurant t open next week!!

We went there on Friday night, and while Westend Bistro is by no means Le Bernardin (yes, I did dine there - once), it does do a very good job and I only wish there were more of these places around. Eric does seem to be expanding his empire slowly, so perhaps there's hope for something similar in NYC. After all, Daniel Boulud has Daniel, as well as DB Bistro Moderne (which I also loved). One can dream, because my budget won't accomodate dining at Le Bernardin on any frequent basis. I'd recommend Westend Bistro in a heartbeat.

Hudson Lounge or West End Bistro?

Went to Westend Bistro on Friday night - loved it. I had the tuna carpaccio with olive oil and chives, and the wife had the mini pork pies and we both loved them. I've never seen tuna pounded that thin in my life, Had the skate with brown butter, and the wife had the Chesapeake stew for entrees. Both were excellent. The wife had the mac/cheese side and I had the ratatoiulle, both very good. Desserts were also very nice - strawberry shortcake on a brioche and the pineapple upside-down cake with the coconut sorbet. All in all, I'd go back there tomorrow, but unfortunately I am now back home in NJ. Had a great four nights in town, with Komi, Olives, Capital Grille and Westend. All hits, no misses, but Komi did take the crown, for sure.

Komi: Excellence at the Next Level

Having dined at Komi on Thursday, agree completely with your assessment. It was a wondrous experience, with such a vast palette of ingredients, that I can't imagine how large the walk-in must be. An utterly phenomenal experience in every way, from food, to wine pairings, to service, to the hip and cool relaxed ambience. I've probably already posted on Komi threads far too much, but I am that impressed. The only dining experience I've had that even is in the same plane is Cyrus, in Healdsburg, CA, and I'd be hard pressed to choose the better, given the large differenced between them. This place, to me, is a gem that will undoubtedly only get better, and consequently harder for me to get a reservation for, but I shall return.

Looking for Fine Dining Recs. in DC

On Komi, I agree completely. Just ate there Thursday, and it was transcendent and fun. Good dollar value too, for my money, at least. The three hours we spent there just flew by, and the food was some of the most remarkable of my life. I highly recommend doing the degustazione menu with the five glass pairings, if you really want to see what Komi is all about. I agree the wine list is mostly Mediterranean, but that works very well for this place, considering the mostly Greek influences in the cuisine. Of the four nights I spent in DC, this was the first, and the best dining experience.

Brasserie Beck and Central

Komi was the best dining experience of the four nights I just got back from today. Went there on Thursday night, and did the degustazione menu with the five glass wine pairings. The wife opted for a single white wine, not being a big drinker at all. Simply put, I'd have to say that the only thing that compares in my recent experience is Cyrus in Healdsburg, CA. It was stellar, but you have to commit to the format of the tasting menu to really enjoy it. We started out with nine or ten "mezzethakia" courses, which are basically beautifully presented small plates of one or two bites each. Things like amberjack ceviche with chives, diver scallop cevice two ways - one with tarragon yogurt dressing and a hint of mustard A "breakfast radish" with sea salt. A "caesar salad crouton" which was a crouton filled with wha tasted like caesar salad - a one bite fantasy. A date filled with mascarpone cheese and topped with sea salt (you might gather that Chef Johnny Monis likes sea salt by now. So do I. A cornet filled with beef carpaccio (or was it lamb?) and a quail egg - fabulous! An eggshell filled with butter poached lobster, egg yolk and quince - Oooooeeee, baby! The cutest little mini "gyros", which were great.

Then, for the mains, I chose the house made spaghetti with the lobster, sea urchin and habaneros - to die for. I love uni sushi. The wife had the grilled baby octopus with the fava caramella, and then we shared the "Katsikaki for two", which is spit-roasted goat that was so incredibly moist, tender and tasty, that I feel like a sinner for not having tried goat before. By that time, I was feeling pretty full, but there's always room for dessert, of which there were three courses, two of which the chef chose, and one of which we chose. The first was a goat cheese, with a balsamic cherry, and the second was a mango puree shooter, if I recall. Both were great. The ones we chose were a basil panna cotta for myself, and the Greek doughnuts with honey for the wife. We each loved them. I wouldn't have thought of basil as a flavor component of a panna cotta in a million years, but it really worked for me, as I love basil.

The wine pairings, and the knowledgeability of the sommelier, were tremendous, and in at least one case iconoclastic, but the pairings all worked. The sommelier was great, and he and I hit it off from the outset. Too bad the wife wasn't up for the pairings, but she wanted to be able to walk home, and I'm not up to carrying her.

The service overall was wonderful, passionate, knowledgeable, and friendly - in a word, totally professional. It's so nice to deal with people who love and believe in their work. It took about three hours to get through this procession of dishes, and that was just about the perfect amount of time for us.

I can't recommend Komi highly enough, and to me, it is a "destination restaurant" worth the over four hour drive from the North NJ area I live in. Of course, it helps to have a Bed and Breakfast to stay at that's only about five or six blocks away.

Komi is definitely in my top ten tier of restaurants, and may well be in the top five.

great meal for special occasion, under 100$ per person

Just went to Komi on Thursday night. It was fantastic. There must have been nine or ten mezzethakia courses (hors d'oeuvres, amuse bouche, appetizers or whatever else you want to call them), a pasta entree with sea urchin and lobster, a meat entree (spit-roasted goat for two - it was a lot for us) and three dessert courses. Had the five glass wine pairing. Sommelier was very, very good. They don't do a la carte, but have five or six choices of each main, and the mezzethakia are some of the most entertaining and delicious things I've ever put in my mouth. Highly, highly recommended. The wife and I absolutely loved it. You don't get any choice on the mezzethakia selections, and that's good, at least to me. Wide variety of some really unique things done with lobster, diver scallop, beef carpaccio, egg, and on and on. To have to select them individually would negate the tasting menu concept. I'd go back in a heartbeat.

Brasserie Beck and Central

I'm going to Komi on 5/29, and I will be sure to post the results here. I'm already pretty excited about it, as it will be our first night out in DC in a couple of years. Also going to Olives, Westend Bistro, and Capital Grille, in order. Can't wait to get there, as the wife and I just love DC. Too bad Laboratorio is down for renovations, but I'll get there one day or another, for sure.

We came, we saw, we ate (long)

Well, I haven't been to Babbo in over a year, so maybe things changed, as they often do. My memory of the service was that it was very good, knowledgeable and attentive, without being overbearing. The food was tremendous, and if I could score a reservation without that hassle, I'd love to go back. Sometimes you need to reassess places, albeit at a price.

Apr 12, 2008
Wallowing Gourmet in Manhattan

Distinctly New York restaurant for 8?

Well, applying the term "distinctly New York" to what is essentially a very French restaurant, is a bit of a stretch. However, Le Bernardin does have numerous multi-cultural influences in its dishes, from Asian to Peruvian, so I suppose that it may well be 'distinctly New York", at least in terms of some degree of multi-cultural eclecticism. But, at its core, Le Bernardin is French, and that will always be the prevailing influence. I like that.

If you're looking for really, really distinctly New York, then the deli and steakhouse scenes would probably be more true to form, and yet somehow, although I appreciate them, I don't consider them to be what I would call "high-end". I almost never dine out on steak, considering that I can generally produce a superior result with my own charcoal grill and local prime meat purveyor, and as much as I like the deli scene, my doctor considers it anathema to good health, so I indulge infrequently.

No matter where you dine, at least in Manhattan, I think it would be difficult to find a top-flight restaurant that didn't have at least a predominance of one particular cultural or ethnic influence or another. I worked in Manhattan for almost thirty years, and I can't say that I ever recall being in a really fine restaurant that I could characterize as distinctly New York, but perhaps I missed something along the way.

Good luck in your search.

Apr 09, 2008
Wallowing Gourmet in Manhattan

We came, we saw, we ate (long)

Glad you had some memorable meals! We've been to both Babbo (twice), and Le Bernardin, and to attempt to compare the two is folly. However, we loved both of them, but the Le Bernardin experience was much more relaxing, to say nothing of ethereal.

Babbo has a buzz, and a vibe, and if you're looking for quietude and a genteel atmosphere, you're in the wrong place. It is, however, exciting, fun, and absolutely terrifice, both from a service and a food standpoint. Sometimes, you need that kind of semi-raucous, yet controlled atmosphere, to make your night. Other times, Le Bernardin has that kind of almost regal, reserved, calm, somewhat quiet and yet hip atmosphere that makes you feel like you really are one of the Masters of the Universe, even if only for a few brief moments.

If I had to choose on price alone, Babbo would win, and it ain't exactly cheap when you go with the tasting menus and the paired wines. But, if I want to repair the many wounds to my mind and soul over the last couple of months, Le Bernardin would be my choice, despite the significant price difference.

Netted out, it comes down to whether I want to feel like the King of New York, or I just want to rock. LB does the coronations, and Babbo rocks. There are other choice, as I'm sure you know, but most of the time, I want to rock. If I need to get rid of the crown of thorns from the previous week, then LB wins, hands down.

Just my two cents.

Apr 08, 2008
Wallowing Gourmet in Manhattan

ClassyFrench:Le Bernardin, Le Cirque or Jean Georges

Not having been to either LC or JG, but having been to LB very recently, I would certainly recommend it without hesitation. Notice I didn't say without reservation, since certain times on certain days, particularly Friday and Saturday nights, can be difficult, if not impossible, unless you reserve very far in advance. To me, at least, Le Bernardin personifies and exemplifies everything about fine dining, French or otherwise. We did the Chef's Tasting Menu with the paired wines, and it was simply unbelievably good. If I could afford to go back there tomorrow, I would do so without a second thought. I have yet to experience any place more elegant and fine. While there are those who complain about "icy" and "haughty" service, we experienced no such thing. I suppose, at least for some people, professionalism and reserve constitute those pejoratives, but for us, it is simply representative of the standard expected.

I do not wish to know my server's or sommelier's grandchildren's names, or to look at their photographs in feigned awe. I simply want everything to be performed properly, on time, and with passion and enthusiasm, which the Le Bernardin staff does admirably well, and perhaps more so than any other restaurant I have visited in the last five or so years. Icy? No, cool and professional. Haughty? No, respectful and accommodating. That is what I want, or should I say, demand.

I am by no means a corporate expense account diner, and everything is on my dime. Having spent many of my dimes at Le Bernardin and elsewhere, I can credibly make an unqualified recommendation to dine there at least once in your life, or you will miss an experience that you may regret having done so. I certainly intend to visit the other two places, in due time, but one cannot accomplish everything one wants to in a short time frame. Let us know how whatever your choice may be works out. I've been developing somewhat of an interest in JG lately, so it's good to have current input when making a decision.

Apr 08, 2008
Wallowing Gourmet in Manhattan

Indulgent lunch for one?

I second Bar Americain. We had brunch there on a Sunday,with my younger daughter and her beau, two or three weeks ago, and by God, it was fun! Having had dinner at Le Bernardin just the night before, it was somewhat of a study in contrasts, but not negatively so, just different. My daughter and her SO are big fans of it, and as a matter of fact, I probably plan on having dinner there the next time the four of us get together. Not everything has to be haute cuisine to be enjoyable. The mimosas were fantastic, and the Cajun Eggs Benedict I had was really great. I'd go back tomorrow, even though it would be on my dime (yeah, the kids treated us, and that pretty much capped a Manhattan weekend very, very nicely). BTW, the hot potato chips with the blue cheese dip was a favorite for all.

Apr 08, 2008
Wallowing Gourmet in Manhattan

Decandent/Impressive Dinner for 4 in NYC!

I'd go for the chef's tasting menu at Le Bernardin. Just did it for the first time a couple of weeks ago, with the paired wines, and it was superlative. Service? Perfect! Food? Beyond perfect! Wines? For me, perfect! I can't recommend them highly enough. I'm spending my own, hard-earned money, and not the corporate dime. I'm not well-off, but I know value when I see it, and LB delivers, and then some. Of course, some others may disagree with me, but I accept that, and still stand by my rec.

Apr 07, 2008
Wallowing Gourmet in Manhattan

Distinctly New York restaurant for 8?

I second Le Bernardin, the site of what is probably the best meal of my life. Yes, it costs, but if you are serious about "high-end", it's hard to do better, and in terms of seafood, I haven't done better anywhere, ever.

Apr 07, 2008
Wallowing Gourmet in Manhattan

Restaurant ideas for Boyfriends B-Day

I just went to db Bistro Moderne last Friday night, before theater. While they do have the prix fixe pre-theater menu, if you go a la carte, and get a bottle or two or wine, dessert, maybe a glass of champagne or two, you can easily run the tab over three hundred, plus tip. I know this because I did so, and it was remarkably easy, and yet great fun, too. Someday I will have to try the cheaper offerings, but I was in town for a no-expense-barred anniversry weekend, and it was entirely fitting to run up the tab that high at that time. If it were an ordinary night out, I would probably be much more price-conscious.

Mar 18, 2008
Wallowing Gourmet in Manhattan

Daniel or le bernardin?

Well, I just did the Le Bernardin chef's tasting menu last night, and my experience was completely contrary to to one that John and Dottie from the WSJ had. I can state that it was one of the top two or threee meals in my life, and that the pairings worked for me without any problem. I would do it again in a heartbeat, and when I consider all the angst that WSJ review generated for me, I feel like a fool in allowing it to. We were not rushed, the pace was excellent, and the food and wine complemented each other in amazing ways.

I also went to db Bistro Moderne the night before, and it was also amazing, and I can't wait to go to Daniel just to see how it compares. My wife didn't go with the pairing at LB, since she gets trashed fairly readily when she does that, and simply went with the sommelier's recommendation for a white wine that met her needs nicely. She was able to make the glass last the whole meal, whereas I would have not gotten past the second course with it. I have done pairings at many other restaurants - Babbo, EMP, Vong, Michael Mina, Cyrus and others, and this experience was even better than them, on the whole. The fish courses were some of the most perfectly prepared dishes I have ever had, and I doubt anything before or since could match or exceed them.

I wholeheartedly recommend Le Bernardin, without any reservation. I had also heard the assertions that the wait staff was "icy", "haughty", "snooty" and "hovering". I experienced no such thing, and felt it was the most exemplary service I've ever had so far. I haven't been to Per Se yet, but hope to some day, just to compare the two.

Mar 16, 2008
Wallowing Gourmet in Manhattan

Once-in-lifetime NYC dinner: Four Seasons vs. others

I'd vote for EMP. Was just there Saturday with the wife, youngest daughter and her BF, and it was quite a stellar dining experience. The only thing that surpasses it in my experience is Cyrus, in Healdsburg, CA, but that's a whole 'nother world. I found the presentation, flavors, imagination, professionalism of service and general ambiance to be one of the finest I've experienced in Manhattan (no, I haven't been to Per Se, Daniel, and others, but hope to one day, when I can splurge a little more).

Aug 20, 2007
Wallowing Gourmet in Manhattan