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degustingdiary's Profile

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Best Dishes 2014

Jean-Georges: crispy confit of suckling pig, parmesan-crusted chicken and the fried sweetbreads

Del Posto: orecchiette

NoMad Bar: the burger

Eleven Madison Park: everything on the summer menu, but especially the (1) braised sunflower, (2) celtuce with peach and trout roe (3) slow-cooked summer beans and (4) brownie sundae

about 22 hours ago
degustingdiary in Manhattan
1

QUIET restaurant, GOOD FOOD (that's it!)

Tocqueville

Aug 23, 2014
degustingdiary in Manhattan

Where to "wow" a visitor with "do NOT miss this place" recommendations

nsxtasy,

Like you, I live in the Midwest but visit LA 2-3 times a year. Some of my favorites from recent trips include the following:

Connie and Ted's
Pizzeria Mozza (you can make a great meal of their antipasti)
Din Tai Fung
Lukshon
Scarpetta
Red Medicine

Alternative to EMP

Can't go wrong with either restaurant.

Aug 07, 2014
degustingdiary in Manhattan

Seeking Recommendations for a Three-Day Trip in December

Thanks for the suggestion; I'm leaning in that direction.

Aug 02, 2014
degustingdiary in Las Vegas

Seeking Recommendations for a Three-Day Trip in December

Ah, I see they have more flexible menu options than I remember. And I'm hoping there will be an evening free from colleagues; if so, I'll drop you a line.

Aug 01, 2014
degustingdiary in Las Vegas

Seeking Recommendations for a Three-Day Trip in December

Hey uhockey,

Thanks for the recommendations. I went ahead and checked out the Las Vegas section on your website -- you've amassed quite a repository.

Re: Robuchon, I just can't justify the price tag (same goes for Masa in New York). As for Yusho, I'm planning on moving out of the Midwest in the next year and don't know if I'll be able to squeeze a Chicago jaunt in before then.

Aug 01, 2014
degustingdiary in Las Vegas

Seeking Recommendations for a Three-Day Trip in December

Hi,

I'll be visiting Las Vegas for three days in mid-December and was hoping to get some lunch and dinner recommendations. On previous trips--the most recent of which was 2011--I've eaten at Bouchon Bistro, Alize, Picasso, Guy Savoy, Mesa Grill, Twist and Sage.

While I've had some good meals at the aforementioned restaurants, I would like to branch out and try a new set of places. Based on a cursory search, the menus at Lotus of Siam, Le Cirque, Yusho and Gordon Ramsay Steak caught my eye.

What would be some other restaurants (preferably on the Strip) to consider?

Thanks in advance for your help!

Aug 01, 2014
degustingdiary in Las Vegas

Meadowood Restaurant [St. Helena]

No, $500 is for the food (about 20 courses). If I remember correctly, pairings are around $350.

The Cheese Plate at Eleven Madison Park is Awful

Obviously there's a respectful way of notifying a server that a dish isn't to your liking.

In any case, it seems the leitmotif of your trip is that just about every restaurant you visited while in New York--from Slurp Shop to 15 East and EMP--is terrible. Thanks for the public good.

The Cheese Plate at Eleven Madison Park is Awful

No, I went the brownie sundae route. Did you let your server know you were dissatisfied with the cheese course?

Jul 14, 2014
degustingdiary in Manhattan

The Cheese Plate at Eleven Madison Park is Awful

I'm not one to rely on n = 1 arguments, but for what it's worth, I had a fantastic eight-course dinner at EMP's bar three weeks ago.

Photos here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/8276502...

Meadowood Restaurant [St. Helena]

Easy choice: Counter menu (in the kitchen). Outside of my meals at Eleven Madison Park, I haven't had a more enjoyable dining experience than the three counter menus I've had at Meadowood.

Here are photos from our meal last month: https://www.flickr.com/photos/8276502...

Dishes that look better than they taste?

That's an awfully thoughtful breakdown of the plating. I'm tempted to link to the other seven courses--it was an underwhelming meal from start to finish--to have you eviscerate them.

Jul 14, 2014
degustingdiary in Manhattan

Dishes that look better than they taste?

Yes, those are potato chips (also underseasoned). And the random schmear is black pepper-vodka crème fraîche.

Jul 14, 2014
degustingdiary in Manhattan

Dishes that look better than they taste?

Le Bernardin's Wagyu beef tartare topped with sweet shrimp tartare and osetra caviar. It was woefully underseasoned and simply fell flat as the first course of the tasting menu.

Jul 14, 2014
degustingdiary in Manhattan

campton place? [San Francisco]

I'd go with La Folie; it's just an over-the-top savory onslaught.

campton place? [San Francisco]

While it's probably never going to return to the halcyon days of when Daniel Humm was running the kitchen, I was very pleasantly surprised by both the food and the service.

campton place? [San Francisco]

I had a most enjoyable lunch at Campton Place last summer. The duck samoza, in particular, was delicious.

Here are the photos from that tasting menu: https://www.flickr.com/photos/8276502...

San Francisco 4 day, 3 night trip - Wine is important!

Not sure why Crenn is a definite when your other dinner options--benu, Quince, Saison and State Bird--are likely to deliver far better dining experiences.

From the sommelier's decision to serve us a warm bottle of Prosecco to the inconsistently seasoned food, I found very little to like about Atelier Crenn. Here's a short write-up of my experience there: http://degustingdiary.wordpress.com/2...

And photos from the meal: https://www.flickr.com/photos/8276502...

15 east - suffering any downturn ?

Not sure what the nature of the negative reviews is, but having had the sushi omakase about two weeks ago, I would definitely recommend keeping your reservation.

If you want to get a sense of what the omakase entails, here are photos from my dinner: https://www.flickr.com/photos/8276502...

Jul 08, 2014
degustingdiary in Manhattan

Gramercy Tavern and NoMad

Re: NoMad, Scotch olives, strawberry salad, slow cooked carrots, roast chicken for two, and milk and honey.

Jul 05, 2014
degustingdiary in Manhattan

Four-Day Trip Report: Daniel, EMP, Jean-Georges, Del Posto etc.

Daniel was definitely the nadir; 7 out of 9 meals were, indeed, wonderful, so I can't complain.

Jul 01, 2014
degustingdiary in Manhattan

Four-Day Trip Report: Daniel, EMP, Jean-Georges, Del Posto etc.

Below is a short write-up of my visit to your wonderful food paradise last week:

Vacation started with dinner at Daniel, a restaurant I first visited in July 2011. In fact, it had been so long I forgot the entrance to Daniel featured revolving doors. I will always have fond memories of that initial visit: not only did the 15 courses lead a server to remark “that’s the best meal I’ve ever seen anyone eat here,” but it also marks the only time in my life where I’ve been sloshed (a partial wine pairing is to blame for that).

Exercising unusual restraint, I opted for the three-course prix fixe. Service was largely befitting of a three-star Michelin restaurant, but the meal dragged. Close to 35 minutes passed from the time my first course was cleared to when my main arrived. And I nursed a coffee for twenty minutes before finally flagging down a server to settle the bill. Two-and-a-half hours for three courses isn’t the worst thing in the world if the food is spectacular. But it wasn’t. A mushroom fricassée begged for salt—a rib of dry-aged beef was victim of the same transgression two nights later—and the server tasked with delivering the chocolate truffle portion of mignardises never made his way to my table.

The walk from E. 65th St. back to my hotel had me pass through Madison Square Park. Still peckish, I considered a Shake Shack burger but instead thought I would see if the folks at EMP would permit me to grab a seat at the bar to enjoy a few post-dinner vittles. Martha was at the door greeting diners that evening and was only too happy to walk me over to a table overlooking the dining room. Emily, the captain working the bar area, brought over a menu, from which I selected the terrine of foie gras and the honey-lavender roast duck. Two courses seemed ample, but Emily had other ideas, especially after hearing that I ordered a paltry three-course dinner at Daniel on my birthday. What followed included, inter alia, a resplendent green garlic velouté, a luxurious edifice of foie gras, the aforementioned roast duck, which was even better than I remembered with its crisp skin and incredibly juicy flesh, and to finish a chocolate brownie sundae fit for a family for four. It was a crystalline reminder that no trip to New York is complete without a visit to EMP.

Day 2 featured another full day of eating, beginning with a delightful lunch at Tocqueville: buttery brioche rolls, Diver scallops the size of a toddler’s fist and an array of desserts, including strawberry cheesecake and an assortment of creamy sorbets. And yet, for some reason that eludes me, the restaurant was all but empty.

I wouldn’t need to venture far for dinner, as 15 East is adjacent to Tocqueville. Bear in mind, I’m a sushi neophyte, and this was my first time in a Michelin-starred sushi restaurant. 15 East quickly disabused me of my preconceptions that sushi bars were necessarily austere settings. Servers were friendly and prompt, refilling my tea a half-dozen times, and the sushi chef was as jovial as could be, making jokes throughout dinner and often drawing on his small library to educate those of us sitting at the counter. While just about all twenty offerings were delicious, two outrageously successful dishes—a piece of Santa Barbara uni with the texture of a full-fat custard and a fried shrimp head bracing to detonate its top-of-the-seat essence—justified my decision to try the restaurant.

To cap off the day, I made my way over to the new NoMad Bar for a strawberry-pineapple soft cocktail and burger. Envision the tastiest cheeseburger you’ve eaten. Now exponentiate it. That’s the NoMad Bar’s burger. It weeps crimson tears at the slightest touch, and it is a bargain at $17.

On the penultimate day I would return to an old favorite, Jean-Georges, and I was pleased to see the service finally match the high level of the food. The kitchen has an inimitable talent for balancing salt and acid. Crispy salt and pepper sweetbreads mingle with pickled peaches; a succulent mound of parmesan-crusted chicken idles atop a pond of lemon butter; and a competitive eater-sized portion of suckling pig is paired with beets coated in a ginger vinaigrette.

Since it was terribly muggy outside, I had little desire to leave the area. Instead, I elected to spend much of the day within the air conditioned confines of the Time Warner Center. For dinner I would make the short trek over to Daniel, investigating whether Monday’s meal was an aberration. Alas, I was met with another bathetic experience; nothing was bad, but nothing had me hankering to go back any time soon.

My last lunch took me to Del Posto, a restaurant whose four stars from the New York Times is most often called into question. Based on the six-course tasting menu I had, there’s nothing about Sam Sifton’s rating with which I could possibly quibble. A snowy whipped lardo that accompanies the bread basket is addictive enough to merit designation as a narcotic. And Chef Ladner’s orecchiette was one of the best things I’ve eaten this year: heavily caramelized nuggets of lamb neck, stipples of sweet pea purée and ethereal ear-shaped noodles. The magnanimous portion allowed me to both savor each bite and also eat with a kind of desperation.

I ended with dinner at NoMad, knowing I’d be able to get my vegetable fix. Dinner started with a complementary bowl of Scotch olives; it’s finger-food par excellence. I appreciate a posh bar snack as much as anyone, but it was an old classic that had me swooning: tender carrots with a preternatural sweetness, hillocks of wheatberries interspersed with duck skin and the gentlest hint of cumin. It was just a series of simple pleasures and a perfect end to the savory portion of the meal.

I've included more photos on my blog: http://degustingdiary.wordpress.com/

Favorite Pasta dish of the year

Intensely caramelized lamb neck ragu and sweet pea-mint purée.

Jun 30, 2014
degustingdiary in Manhattan
1

Favorite Pasta dish of the year

Del Posto's orecchiette.

Jun 30, 2014
degustingdiary in Manhattan

15 East Question

I did the sushi omakase at the counter on Tuesday evening. Like you, I had a 6pm reservation; the meal lasted a little over two hours for about 20 spellbinding pieces. The folks next to me ordered the tasting menu, and I must say I was happy with my decision. I, however, was not interested in cooked dishes.

Here are some photos from the dinner: https://www.flickr.com/photos/8276502...

Jun 28, 2014
degustingdiary in Manhattan

French Laundry and Meadowood on the SAME day?!?! [Napa Valley]

Re: salmon, if you had the preparation similar to the one in the photo, it definitely featured buckwheat.

You should try the counter menu in the kitchen! I've done it twice and liken it to watching a behind-the-scenes motion picture.

Here are the photos from the most recent one in early June: https://www.flickr.com/photos/8276502...

Business Lunch [San Francisco]

+1 Kokkari. The zucchini cakes and lamb chops are outstanding.

Anyone going to EMP Kentucky Derby Party?

+1. The spring menu is outstanding!

Apr 24, 2014
degustingdiary in Manhattan