StevenCinNYC's Profile

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Aquavit vastly exceeded expectations!

I had no idea about the Groupon. Thanks!

Glad that this thread resulted in your trying it, too. That's great!

May 02, 2014
StevenCinNYC in Manhattan

Aquavit vastly exceeded expectations!

Sorry for the slow reply, but I'm very glad you enjoyed it, and I hope if you return, your expectations will only be higher!

May 01, 2014
StevenCinNYC in Manhattan

Aquavit vastly exceeded expectations!

I couldn't agree more! I had a wonderful Christmas Eve dinner there at the end of last year (traditional Swedish cuisine) and then a wonderful "regular" (innovative Swedish) dinner in March--excellent! I don't that the Michelin stars make any sense in the US. Per Se and Daniel are completely unexceptional and unimaginative--and undeserving of 3 stars. I will say that EMP delivers a great experience and great food, but Aquavit is more cutting-edge at this point. So glad that you agree!

May 01, 2014
StevenCinNYC in Manhattan

Aquavit vastly exceeded expectations!

I'm so glad you enjoyed it! It's great that more people are trying and appreciating it.

May 08, 2013
StevenCinNYC in Manhattan

Dinner recommendation Midtown/Upper East Side for Sat night

even better!

Apr 27, 2013
StevenCinNYC in Manhattan

Dinner recommendation Midtown/Upper East Side for Sat night

Yes, it's in a funny spot in a way--even though I think it's great, I never think to go to that neighborhood. The only reason I made it there was friends from CT chose it. I'm really glad that they did, but I don't think that they generally book up too far in advance so I agree that they could have tables available, and it would certainly make it a more special occasion.

From what I can tell, if you really want to stick to midtown or UES Italians, I'd say Ai Fiori as the best choice for more inventive fare and Uva for what sounds like great but perhaps more straightforward food (I've never been to Uva, but btwn a hound mentioning it and great reviews and nice menu online, it does seem like a good choice).

Let us know what you decide and what you think...

Apr 25, 2013
StevenCinNYC in Manhattan

Dinner recommendation Midtown/Upper East Side for Sat night

Never been to Uva, but it looks good. Thanks for mentioning. It seems more straightforward fare than Ai Fiori so it depends on what they want. Good to know for me, too!

Apr 25, 2013
StevenCinNYC in Manhattan

Brunch for 40 people upper west side

Thanks. I'll keep Tolani in mind! I've never tried it.

Do you like Ocean better than Atlantic Grill overall? I tend to think of Atlantic Grill Lincoln Center as the best of the BR Guest's fish places, but I only went to Ocean once a long time ago so maybe it warrants a second look?

Apr 25, 2013
StevenCinNYC in Manhattan

Brunch for 40 people upper west side

Sorry. No offense intended. It's just that I think that Sarabeth's does a good job at brunch, and I've done with 15 people and felt it was relaxed, and they had young children, etc. so it seems on target, and I don't understand your basis for objecting to Sarabeth's, particularly in terms of being rushed. On the other hand, I wasn't in a private room, and maybe they charge by the hour for that? I don't know.

I tend not to think of the places you suggested for brunch, but I've never eaten at any of them for brunch except Arte Cafe so you probably have a better knowledge of what they can do. The truth is that though they aren't really places I like so I just admit that. Thanks.

Apr 25, 2013
StevenCinNYC in Manhattan

Brunch for 40 people upper west side

What's your basis for saying this? Have you ever been rushed out of Sarabeth's? I never have. Is that why you recommended a bunch of Italian restaurants instead of brunch places?

Apr 25, 2013
StevenCinNYC in Manhattan

Brunch for 40 people upper west side

Yes, I think that the 59th St. Sarabeth's should be better for a large party than the Amsterdam location. I've done the 59th w/ about 15, including kids, and they did fine. I just wanted to clarify because both are on the UWS.

I agree about Atlantic Grill being the best of the rest, and Calle Ocho does a nice job, but when I wanted to do a private party there, they wanted a lot of money, plus people have to like garlic and/or hot peppers.

Apr 24, 2013
StevenCinNYC in Manhattan

Corton or The Modern?

Let me know because I was unimpressed with my one visit. I'd appreciate the perspective of another skeptic!

Apr 23, 2013
StevenCinNYC in Manhattan

Dinner recommendation Midtown/Upper East Side for Sat night

I'll second Ai Fiori! Hadn't thought of that. Marea is really Upper West Side.

Apr 22, 2013
StevenCinNYC in Manhattan

Brunch for 40 people upper west side

40 people is pretty tough on the UWS, especially in a private room and relaxed!

I think your options are really limited.

I think that Sarabeth's Kitchen on 59th St. might be able to do it, and they do a nice job with brunch, and have private dining for up to 90! The Amsterdam location claims to handle up to 70 in the "Garden Room," but I don't know where that would be.

Otherwise, I think the BR Guest group offers the best choices:

Atlantic Grill (Lincoln Center) is very good and can handle large groups in private rooms (up to 150).

Ocean's web site says that they can accommodate up to 50 people in the "Photo Room."

Isabella's mezzanine can just accommodate 40 people, sort of spread out, I believe.

I hate to say it, but one place that is really suited to parties that size is Carmine's. They do a very professional job, but it's really not a foodie place or a brunch place.

I'd love to know if anyone else has better thoughts on this.

Maybe The Smith at Lincoln Center???

Apr 22, 2013
StevenCinNYC in Manhattan

Dinner recommendation Midtown/Upper East Side for Sat night

If you're open to French, you may want to consider Orsay. Also, Artisanal is fun for a group, sharing fondues, etc.

Apr 22, 2013
StevenCinNYC in Manhattan

Corton or The Modern?

Sounds like the two prior replies have much more recent info than I do. I went a couple years ago and found the food very interesting but also a bit dizzying and the service definitely lacking. They definitely did a lot of interesting and complicated plates, but I felt as if they never explained them, and the service was rushed.

The Modern is not as interesting with regard to the food, but the service is much more polished.

In a way, it's an unfair comparison since they are so different.

If I could add two more thoughts: not far from The Modern is Aquavit which is now every innovative and has very good service. It's not as expensive as Corton, and the decor is not as warm, but it is still very special. I'd also suggest Eleven Madison Park.

Apr 22, 2013
StevenCinNYC in Manhattan

restaurant catering for wedding dinner

We had Dean & Deluca cater my father's 60th birthday party. They did a great job with the food, service, and clean up. It was definitely the total package, and not super expensive. I don't remember the price--it was ten years ago, but I remember being surprised that they were priced competitively for the catering even though their prepared food in the store is on the high side.

Apr 22, 2013
StevenCinNYC in Manhattan

Best celebration restaurant for a solo diner

I go out alone all the time on the road, but not so much in NYC.

If it were my 40th, I'd say Eleven Madison Park because it's large enough that you won't stand out.

Another thought would be the Kappo experience at Ma Peche. It's seven people around a counter, more of a chance for participation and interaction. The food doesn't really compare to EMP, but the experience is great and every engaging.

A totally different idea would be a jazz show at The Jazz Standard or Dizzy's Coca-Cola Club at Jazz at Lincoln Center. The food won't be as good, but it could be a very fun way to celebrate.

Apr 22, 2013
StevenCinNYC in Manhattan

Blue Smoke or Beauty and Essex?

Hey, great report! I'm glad you had a good time. Thanks for letting us know! I still want to encourage trying their burger and the brisket for future reference!

Apr 22, 2013
StevenCinNYC in Manhattan

Aquavit vastly exceeded expectations!

Great review. Thanks for posting and linking back!

Sounds like your experience was very similar to mine.

I hope more hounds read your review and this thread.

Maybe it will take a second star or a new Times review as you suggest, for people to really take notice. However, Michelin are idiots outside of Europe (or maybe even outside France). Spotted Pig got two stars in the first US edition and EMP none?

Apr 13, 2013
StevenCinNYC in Manhattan

Top High-End Spots for Visitor

Thanks for the thoughtful and thorough reply.

The dishes look and sound wonderful! I think if I'd had those in my one visit, I would have had a better impression of the food, even though it is not especially innovative.

Elsewhere in this thread, I criticized Ma Peche based on my experience there soon after it opened. I wasn't aware that Chef Paul had taken over and transformed the place, including offering the special Kappo kitchen counter experience. Based on what Kathryn wrote about it here, I went back and had the Kappo meal--it was great. I realized that my initial posts on Ma Peche were no longer valid. Similarly, someone else posted what I thought was outdated info on Aquavit which I wanted to address.

While I don't think my perspective from my one experience at Per Se is outdated, it is limited to one meal which didn't have dishes that appealed to me as much as other meals I'd had, nor, based on your description and photos, did it include the dishes you included which I probably would have enjoyed more, too.

I might have to try those two in the lounge! I doubt I'll be heading back for the full Per Se meal any time soon--maybe if cost were no object--but these dishes sound great.

Thank you.

Apr 12, 2013
StevenCinNYC in Manhattan

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I finally made it to Ma Peche last week and had the Kappu experience. It was great. Thanks for letting me know about it! Rushing to a plane now, but I wanted to post a quick note of appreciation. Chef Paul has totally transformed the place. Having said all that, I still think that I would personally rather go to Aquavit for a high-end meal, but the Ma Peche experience is more unique.

Apr 10, 2013
StevenCinNYC in Manhattan

Aquavit vastly exceeded expectations!

Glad to hear it! Now we're not lone voices in the wilderness! I hope more people recognize how good Aquavit has become.

Apr 10, 2013
StevenCinNYC in Manhattan

Blue Smoke or Beauty and Essex?

Sounds like a plan! Looking forward to your report. Have a great time.

Apr 01, 2013
StevenCinNYC in Manhattan

Old fashioned candy...

The best fudge I've had is from the Fudge Kitchen. They have multiple locations. I've been to the one in Ocean City, NJ, but they deliver everywhere: http://fudgekitchens.com/ This is the best-tasting, creamiest, and smoothest fudge I've ever had. The pumpkin is incredibly good, but only available in Fall/Winter (don't think they have it now, but not sure). After that, the peanut butter is my personal favorite, but there are several chocolate options if that's what you want.

If you want fudge in NYC, Dylan's Candy Bar sells some, and Li-Lac Chocolates. There used to be another place that sells fudge in the basement Food Court of Grand Central Station (in addition to Li-Lac which is upstairs), but I think they closed.

Mar 30, 2013
StevenCinNYC in Manhattan

Aquavit vastly exceeded expectations!

Great! Please let us know what you think.

Mar 29, 2013
StevenCinNYC in Manhattan

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If we didn't all have our own subjective opinions, there wouldn't be much point to having this forum.

While I respect what you're saying about the experience of food being subjective, there are objective aspects to describing a restaurant.

Certainly there are many people who rank Per Se #1 in NYC. However, I doubt any of them or you would describe the food as cutting-edge or innovative. While EMP doesn't use any freeze-dried fishbone in their dishes, it's fair to say that they are very innovative and use techniques of molecular gastronomy in their preparations.

I'm surprised to say it, but the same can be said of Aquavit--very innovative and include molecular gastronomy in their preparations.

I don't think it's fair or accurate to characterize Aquavit today as bland or boring though I would have agreed with that characterization in the past. Today they are bold.

You or someone else may not like the flavors or the preparations--that's subjective. But that the executive chefs have changed, the menus have changed, and the preparations have changed--these are objective verifiable facts.

Some people have raved about the vegetarian menu at Per Se. I've never had it. I can tell you that my mother, who has all kinds of food sensitivities and requirements was very happy with her meal at EMP. One does not negate the other. I am careful to say that I've only been to EMP once, precisely because the food was not to my liking, but I think that for the price the food should be spectacular, innovative, and memorable. People who like Per Se rarely say which dish was so wonderful. It seems to be more about the overall experience, and I give them 100% credit for delivering exquisite service in a wonderful setting with a great view.

Again, I've only eaten there once and can only recall the oyster amuse with the custard--which was great and memorable. After that, I was not impressed. But I like innovation. I was stunned that Aquavit served one butter that was melted, browned, clarified, and then re-chilled. Who does that? To me that is very impressive, and it was yummy and unique. This is the sort of thing that I remember and that impresses me. Serving herring with a buttermilk cream and brown butter foam or toasted gravlax with grapefruit--not your father's Oldsmobile by any stretch of the imagination. While the squab I had last night was not super innovative, it was excellent--probably on a par with Paul Bocuse, the most memorably squab I've had.

Please--what are are the dishes that you love and remember from Per Se? And by all means, if you disagree with me about what I consider to be objective facts, please say so. I come here to learn, but when I feel I have something to impart, I want to be able to state it clearly and strongly and unapologetically--I invite you to do the same.

Mar 29, 2013
StevenCinNYC in Manhattan

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Yes, I just got another post on my Aquavit write-up from someone who had the same experience of a really big change under the new chef. He's been going a while and said that it keeps getting better with time.

Mar 29, 2013
StevenCinNYC in Manhattan

Aquavit vastly exceeded expectations!

I was definitely in the write-off camp until I went back this week. I'm glad I'm not the lone voice in the wilderness!

Mar 29, 2013
StevenCinNYC in Manhattan

Top High-End Spots for Visitor

I had been in that space when it was Town which I really liked. I was surprised by how much more casual Ma Peche was. I ate downstairs, and I remember that they had condiments and napkins on every other table so you had share between tables. It was just much casual and less special than I'd expected. I like the upstairs Milk Bar food and expect it to be casual, but I hadn't expected it downstairs. I only went once, and it was maybe over a year ago, but I wasn't really impressed with the food and was surprised by the decor and feel of the place. From what you say, it sounds as if it's very different now in terms of the food, and I didn't know about the chef's counter at all--that sounds much better.

Mar 29, 2013
StevenCinNYC in Manhattan