InsolentGourmet's Profile

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Alternative to PDT bar

PDT won Best Bar Program at the James Beard awards a few weeks ago so I wouldn't gloss it over, and I've been there when there has been a cool shift of bartenders. Also, while we're talking about them, a little birdy told me that PDT won the bid to open a rooftop bar concession at a new midtown hotel, so they are movin' on up!

Jun 11, 2012
InsolentGourmet in Manhattan

Alternative to PDT bar

I know and like all the bars people listed below... Apotheke (good drinks and great room but cheap base spirits), Pegu, Raines, Mayahuel, D&C. Lately I like Booker & Dax which is attached to Momofuku Ssam Bar. Angel Share is a cool 2nd floor Asian-run speakeasy on 10th Street. I've also heard that the new Parisian import Experimental Cocktail Club is pretty legit too but haven't been. But my favorite mixology spot in NYC hands down is the often overlooked and incredible SUMMIT BAR in Alphabet City. This is where the bartenders from all those other places go drink after their shifts. The drinks are absolutely incredible and inventive. My favorite: the 'Say Hello To My Little Friend' made with coca leaf liqueur. Well designed and intimate room, down to earth and cool staff, incredible ingredients from top to bottom.

http://thesummitbar.net/

Jun 11, 2012
InsolentGourmet in Manhattan

mexican on pell street

Pulqueria. Love that place, it's legit. Some recipes are very old Mayan recipes. Also the drinks made with 'pulque' are nice and mild, very flavorful, pulque is fermented agave juice (vs distilled e.g. tequila).

Jun 11, 2012
InsolentGourmet in Manhattan

Googa Mooga Food Festival in Prospect Park

This "festival" was a pure disaster. I stayed 3.5 hours and still didn't manage to get a single bite of food or a single drop of drink (not even water)... at a food and drink festival. This person's rant on Craigslist actually sums up my Saturday experience perfectly:

http://newyork.craigslist.org/mnh/tix...

Humm and Guidara's Nomad

Did the tasting menu last night. Epic. Review coming soon. Thanks to GM Jeffrey Tascarella for ensuring a memorable experience.

May 11, 2012
InsolentGourmet in Manhattan

Dans Le Noir NYC: dining in the dark

That assumes you have a predefined expectation of having a pleasurable experience, or a predefined expectation of what defines one. If this were a typical dining experience and you were out for a "pleasurable" dinner, I would agree with you. But the point I am trying to make is that this experience wound up being much more than going out for dinner. This was tertiary. The primary and secondary eye-openers (pun intended) were as I recounted.

That being said, it was a pleasurable experience in that it was fun. The whole room was laughing as they clunked around in the dark, especially at the beginning. There was a sort of nervous energy going about and the servers were right there to laugh with the patrons.

May 08, 2012
InsolentGourmet in Manhattan

Chef Dave Santos (formerly of Hotel Griffou) private dinners

As was last night's. They had somehow omitted me from the final emailing with the location but David got it to me just in time.

May 06, 2012
InsolentGourmet in Manhattan

Chef Dave Santos (formerly of Hotel Griffou) private dinners

I have a dinner booked here tonight by UE never sent the email with the address, it just says Roosevelt Island on the confirmation email, would you mind emailing me privately with the address office@insolentgourmet.com, thanks! Starting to get nervous, this starts in just over 2 hours and still no address, been emailing UE all day...

May 05, 2012
InsolentGourmet in Manhattan

interesting food-related panels occurring this weekend

http://foodbookfair.com/program/

I'm going to check some of these out. This one looks particularly interesting:

FOOD + COOKS + BOOKS
Sunday May 6th, 4:00pm-5:00pm

Daniel Halpern, Author, Publisher of Ecco (moderator
)April Bloomfield, Author
JJ Goode, Author

In the past decade, there has been an incredible shift in the way we view and understand the chef; once a profession associated with long hours, tired feet and drudgery in the kitchen, the chef is now an artist, a writer and celebrity. We have seen an unprecedented explosion of cookbook publishing and chefs as writers. Yet, how do chefs manage their professional writing careers with their cooking careers? What is the role of the “collaborator” or “ghost-writer?” This panel illuminates how the reader (and the eater) can better understand the process of how food concept becomes book reality and how chefs manage their newfound author-celebrity.

Book Signing: 5:00pm-5:45pm

April Bloomfield, A Girl and Her Pig: Recipes and Stories
JJ Goode, A Girl and Her Pig: Recipes and Stories
Daniel Halpern, Not for Bread Alone: Writers on Food, Wine and the Art of Eating

May 03, 2012
InsolentGourmet in Manhattan

Top 50 restaurants in the world list released yesterday

You are correct, there are two. But the point still stands that Japan's concentration of Michelin 2/3 far outweighs its presence in this years Pellegrino Top 50.

Top 50 restaurants in the world list released yesterday

http://eatocracy.cnn.com/2012/04/30/t...

I just booked a table at Noma in June :-) Go René! I am bummed that some of my favorites fell off the list, like my Basque favorite Asador Etxebarri... but Joan Marie Arzak is still keeping it real at #8, well deserved, however speaking of NE Spain, where is Carme Ruscalleda's magical Sant Pau on this list, yo? And is anyone surprised to see Momofuku Ssäm Bar on here? I mean, it's pretty good, but top 50? Just had drinks at Booker & Dax last night however and loved the cocktails...

1) Noma (Copenhagen, Denmark

)

2) El Celler de Can Roca (Girona, Spain)

3) Mugaritz (Errenteria, Spain)

4) D.O.M. (São Paulo, Brazil)

5) Osteria Francescana (Modena, Italy)

6) Per Se (New York)

7) Alinea (Chicago, Illinois)

8) Arzak (San Sebastián, Spain)

9) Dinner by Heston Blumenthal (London, England)

10) Eleven Madison Park (New York)

11) Steirereck (Vienna, Austria)

12) L'Atelier Saint-Germain de Joël Robuchon (Paris, France)

13) The Fat Duck (Bray, England)

14) The Ledbury (London, England)

15) Le Chateaubriand (Paris, France)

16) L'Arpege (Paris, France)

17) Pierre Gagnaire (Paris, France)

18) L'Astrance (Paris, France)

19) Le Bernardin (New York)

20) Frantzén/Lindeberg (Stockholm, Sweden)

21) Oud Sluis (Sluis, Netherlands)

22) Aqua (Wolfsburg, Germany)

23) Vendôme (Bergisch Gladbach, Germany)

24) Mirazur (Menton, France)

25) Daniel (New York)

26) Iggy's (Singapore)

27) Narisawa (Tokyo, Japan)

28) Nihonryori RyuGin (Tokyo, Japan)

29) Quay Restaurant (Sydney, Australia)

30) Schloss Schauenstein (Fürstenau, Switzerland)

31) Asador Etxebarri (Atxondo-Bizkaia, Spain)

32) Le Calandre (Rubano, Italy)

33) De Librije (Zwolle, Netherlands)

34) Fäviken Magasinet (Järpen, Sweden)

35) Astrid y Gastón (Lima, Perú)

36) Pujol (Mexico City, Mexico)

37) Momofuku Ssäm Bar (New York)

38) Biko (Mexico City, Mexico)

39) Waku Ghin (Singapore)

40) Quique Dacosta (Denia, Spain)

41) Mathias Dahlgren (Stockholm, Sweden)

42) Hof van Cleve (Kruishoutem, Belgium)

43) The French Laundry (Yountville, California)

44) Amber (Hong Kong, China)

45) Vila Joya (Albufeira, Portugal)

46) Il Canto (Siena, Italy)

47) Bras (Laguiole, France)

48) Manresa (Los Gatos, California)

49) Geranium (Copenhagen, Denmark)

50) Nahm (Bangkok, Thailand)

Lincoln Ristorante - Need soothing words to calm me down!!

Good point, this is true, hadn't considered that.

Apr 29, 2012
InsolentGourmet in Manhattan

Lincoln Ristorante - Need soothing words to calm me down!!

Yep, you see him as you walk by.

Apr 28, 2012
InsolentGourmet in Manhattan

Lincoln Ristorante - Need soothing words to calm me down!!

I dined there last year and loved it. Jonathan Benno rocks. The dining room is incredible, $20M buildout. It was a memorable dinner in terms of service, quality of food, and ambiance. Here's my review from last August:

Named by GQ Magazine as the Best New Restaurant In America in 2010, The Lincoln is a serious new-school Italian standout attached to the magnanimous Lincoln Center complex. At the helm is Jonathan Benno of Per Se and French Laundry fame, also named The World’s Most Influential Chef in 2010 by Epicurious.

Approaching the restaurant’s main entrance on West 65th Street, the first thing that grabs us is the jaw dropping design of the floor-to-ceiling glass exterior of the building, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro at a reported cost of $20 million. Beautiful, a massive 2-story structure, we weren’t even sure this could be the restaurant since, at that scale, it could just be another building within the Lincoln Center complex.

Time to test the seating service. We split up and my dining companion goes in first, I wait on the sidewalk for a few minutes, then follow. At the ground floor entrance I am greeted by a lone maître d’ in a stark foyer who sends me up the stairs to the second maître d’ desk at the entrance to the principal dining room. I say that I am there for my reservation and they tell me my guest has already arrived and is at the bar. One of the impeccably dressed maître d’s then walks me to the bar to show me exactly where my fellow diner is sitting – nice touch, didn’t have to do that. We pass the open-air kitchen and I get a glance at Mr. Benno running the show, through a large aquarium-like window.

At the bar, we are seated in comfortable chairs overlooking the kitchen with the cavernous space of the main dining room behind us. The ever-curving wood-paneled ceiling gives way to the glass walls that surround us on all sides, overlooking the square in Lincoln Center with it’s reflecting pools and sculptures. Large vases contain fresh seasonal flowers and plants, there are large hollow columns stretching all the way up to the 25-ft ceilings, filled with stacks of illuminated wine bottles. The bartender is all about service, explaining the intricate cocktails and the mix & match Negroni game they have – you get to choose, multiple choice style, the 3 ingredients for your Negroni from a selection of niche liqueur options. The bartender even mixes a few versions and gives us tiny tastes before we make our decision. Brilliant. A truly consultative approach to bartending. The Charbay Orange and soda I order is a large honest pour.

We watch a parade of 10 servers pass by in single file line to plate a large table at the exact same time. Impressive. We strike up a conversation with the bartender about Mr. Benno and his exploits at Per Se. Knowing well that Per Se is one of the only Michelin 3-stars in NYC, I naively ask “isn’t pair-see a Michelin star?”. The bartender responds graciously that yes, Per Se is in fact a Michelin 3-star and that Mr. Benno left Keller’s side to take on The Lincoln project. Cool, good attitude, didn’t make me look foolish in front of my dinner companion. Check.

We are seated at a perfect corner table and the bar tab is transferred to the table. Spacing is god with about 1.5 table-lengths in between each table. An expert service team immediately begins the service. An amuse-bouche of a salty tapenade served on bread crisps materializes in front of us. The lackluster breadbasket is filled with slices of whole grain, pizza, white and breadsticks. The well-spoken and elegant lead server walks us through the menu defining every ingredient with precision and efficiency. I naively ask if “guh-noo-dee” (gnudi) is some sort of meat, the server doesn’t skip a beat and politely explains that it is a pasta, without saying the word again correctly – once again, gracious and polite, he could have gasped and been pretentious about it. Cool. We order our food, which is plated simultaneously in perfect timing and sequence.

The antipasti of swordfish belly, watermelon and radicchio ($16) is a serene exercise in juxtaposition with lovely sweet bites of fresh watermelon wrestling with the mild fishiness of the flawless swordfish and large chunks of sea salt interspersed in between sucrine lettuce. It has a rustic feel with the stunning color of the chicory giving way to the lightly seasoned curls of swordfish flesh, and an understated tang of vinegar snaps the palate to attention. Absolutely kickass for the summer.

The softshell crab with giardiniera and emulsione al limone and red mustard cress ($22) is a little less accomplished – the fried crab is not too oily but does have a certain toughness, albeit being fresh and of high quality. The surrounding sauce is too much akin to a standard mayonnaise or tartar and could be more creative for the price and venue, but the giardiniera is refined and balanced and the well-presented pickled cauliflower adds a nice vinegary zap to the ensemble.

The gnudi di ricotta e verdure d’estate ($20) is elegant and wholesome. 7 golfball-sized gnudi are served in a green vegetable puree with snap peas and other summer vegetables lightly placed on top. The consistency is excellent and satisfying, the portion is just right. Sticks to your ribs but doesn’t prevent you from proceeding to your next course.

The burrata ($20) is clean and fresh with crisp celery and cherry heirloom tomatoes acting as a vehicle for the burrata, which was unfortunately too small in proportion, especially for the steep price. It is also plated too hot. The peas and black pepper swim in a buttery sauce that is not too overpowering, salty for sure but we’re loving that contrast to the sweetness once again.

Entrees. The striped bass with summer squash, basil, and sale di pignoli ($28) is perfection. The skin is crispy and salted, and the sublime basil puree is subtle and almost spinach-ey. The roasted summer squash tastes like it was picked out of the garden minutes ago. Whaaaaaat.

The lamb loin chop with “fairy tale” eggplant, artichokes and sugo d’agnelo ($36) is exquisitely prepared, although there isn’t much meat on the bone so this doesn’t appear to be the most copious of dishes on the menu. The eggplant and artichokes are incredibly fresh once again. This is a perfect dish for sometime carnivores who don’t want to load up on a large quantity of meat, but savor a high-quality cut every now and then.

We opt out of desert and are instead served a complimentary sweet plate of nougat wrapped in caramel which is nutty and buttery and delicious. The biscotti has an almost shortbread consistency and lacks the crisp that we want. The mini chocolate cupcakes are a bit too dry, perhaps flourless? No real complaints though, it’s free and the very small portions make sense after the massive meal, so all good.

All in all, this 3-hour marathon is perfectly conceived, served, and enveloped by one of the most impressive dining rooms we’ve seen in New York City in recent memory. The service works like a well-oiled team and is very impressive. The prices are quite high and this is definitely a special-occasion spot. It’s proximity to Lincoln Center suggest a perfect follow-up to a night at the opera. Check it out.

Full review + photos and ratings at http://insolentgourmet.com/insolent-g...

Apr 28, 2012
InsolentGourmet in Manhattan

Where's the best place to buy bitters?

I know there is a fairly new bar (in the EV I think) called Amor Y Amargo which focuses on bitters, not sure if you can buy bottles there but you could at least taste and get a sense of what you want to buy. I would imagine Union Square Wines or Astor Wines would be the place to go to purchase.

Apr 28, 2012
InsolentGourmet in Manhattan

Hakkasan - new luxury Chinese restaurant in Midtown

I do indeed. Lucky for me, most people on this board agree that Hakkasan is of low value and a ridiculously low quality experience for the high price tag. It seems that some just 'want' Hakkasan to be great because NY 'needs' an expensive, high-end Chinese eatery. Oh well, everyone is entitled to their opinions.

Apr 24, 2012
InsolentGourmet in Manhattan

Top 10 OpenTable restaurants

It was an email I got, yes it was the Hot Spot list it appears.

Apr 20, 2012
InsolentGourmet in Manhattan

Top 10 OpenTable restaurants

4/20 indeed. Beauty & Essex used to be the chronic right when it opened, but went down. I like Santos' kitchen at Stanton Social better, esp for brunch. Had drinks at Catch, never dinner... great space but cheesy crowd.

Apr 20, 2012
InsolentGourmet in Manhattan

Top 10 OpenTable restaurants

Some spot in Manhasset. Never heard of it. Co-Op seems to the the only legit spot on this list, although I've never heard of Marble Lane... The rest is pretty much schwag.

Apr 20, 2012
InsolentGourmet in Manhattan

Top 10 OpenTable restaurants

OpenTable's top 10 list from today, which I assume is based on number of reservations processed through their system?

1 Catch
2 Beauty & Essex
3 MPD
4 Beaumarchais
5 Co-Op
6 Abe & Arthurs
7 Marble Lane
8 Toku Modern Asian
9 STK Meatpacking
10 STK Midtown

Funny how most of these are Meatpacking weekend-y spots. What do you guys think of this list?

Apr 20, 2012
InsolentGourmet in Manhattan

Hakkasan - new luxury Chinese restaurant in Midtown

My pleasure Bob. If you are interested in photos, as well as ratings on the individual components of the experience, the full piece is at:
http://insolentgourmet.com/insolent-g...

Apr 19, 2012
InsolentGourmet in Manhattan

Um Segredo Supper Club - anyone been?

Sorry! I did search for it and did not find any matching threads, not sure what happened. Enjoy the dinner, I look forward to hearing about it.

Apr 19, 2012
InsolentGourmet in Manhattan

Um Segredo Supper Club - anyone been?

http://newyork.grubstreet.com/2011/10...

Got tickets to an upcoming dinner, I'm curious if anyone has experienced this yet.

Apr 19, 2012
InsolentGourmet in Manhattan

Hakkasan - new luxury Chinese restaurant in Midtown

Nope, Kai is not inexpensive, but I felt like I got what I paid for. Haven't been to Wing Lei but I'm aware of it, what were your thoughts on it? Was it good?

Apr 19, 2012
InsolentGourmet in Manhattan

Hakkasan - new luxury Chinese restaurant in Midtown

There are too many to count. Sons And Daughters (San Francisco), l'Auberge de l'Ill (Alsace), Kai Mayfair (London), and Cinc Sentits (Barcelona) come to mind readily.

Apr 19, 2012
InsolentGourmet in Manhattan

Hakkasan - new luxury Chinese restaurant in Midtown

Agreed. There are many restaurants, many outside of NY or the US, that I feel stunned by the lack of value, and exorbitant bills are shocking and unjustified. There are just as many - at higher price points than Hakkasan - that I am amazed by, and feel that artistry and innovation are being rewarded by patronage and spend. This has recently been the case in America, Europe, Japan, South America. Some feature cuisine that is American, French, Chinese, or Martian - that's not the point. Value is value. To ScoopG's point, I wouldn't pay for a $60+ entree and Daniel nor Hakkasan, regardless of the genre of food, unless it was mind-bending and opened new doorways. Stir-fry lobster will never be that mind-bending, nor will a stock dish at a Boulud restaurant that "pays homage" to the chef's bank account. As we have mentioned in this debate, there are multiple factors that determine the overall quality of a restaurant experience. Value is definitely one of them, which I think we are focusing on here.

Apr 18, 2012
InsolentGourmet in Manhattan

Hakkasan - new luxury Chinese restaurant in Midtown

Thanks Lau, that is what I was looking for, I appreciate your response. I have some guests coming in from out of town and they posed me that general question which I was unable to answer. I saw from your site that you had specific tendencies, especially in Flushing, so I thought I'd ask for your opinion in Manhattan's Chinatown since you are clearly well-versed on the topic. Thanks again!

Apr 18, 2012
InsolentGourmet in Manhattan

Hakkasan - new luxury Chinese restaurant in Midtown

Absolutely. I am not comparing the entire Hakkasan experience with the entire experience at a lower-grade Chinese restaurant. I was comparing the food, apples to apples. The service, dining room aesthetic, and so forth are obviously high at Hakkasan, and got good marks in my review. Speaking of the food component only, and taking everything else away, was the point I was trying to make. To ScoopG's point, I have been to around 15 Michelin 2-3 star restaurants in America in Europe so far this year, and paid less than Hakkasan. There is something very very wrong in that picture. The value isn't there at Hakkasan, and they really don't deliver the goods imo. For a large-format Asian NYC eatery with excellent marks around Cheeryvisage's points, Buddakan is a far better option, for example.

Apr 18, 2012
InsolentGourmet in Manhattan

Hakkasan - new luxury Chinese restaurant in Midtown

I think the pricing at Hakkasan is out of line for any type of food, regardless of whether its Chinese. But in all fairness, it is true that good Chinese (or Chinese-American) food can be obtained relatively cheaply in NYC, which comparatively is generally not the case with French food, so I don't think your Robuchon/Boulud analogy works. Why would I pay $60 dollars for an entree at Hakkasan that I can pay $15 for at a good locally owned Chinese restaurant? But to answer your question, I would pay the same amount for high-end Chinese food that was unique, interesting, compelling, singular... as I would for the same from French, Mexican, or any other type of food.

Apr 18, 2012
InsolentGourmet in Manhattan

Hakkasan - new luxury Chinese restaurant in Midtown

Lau, a side question for you. What, in your opinion, is the best overall Chinese restaurant in Manhattan's Chinatown, regardless of style or regional classification?

Apr 18, 2012
InsolentGourmet in Manhattan