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Calibrating Yelp reviews for Manhattan/NYC

Thanks for all the responses, they are all pretty much in line with how I already use Yelp at home and sort of indicate that Yelpers are universal.

Here's what prompted my question: Fatty 'Cue has been on my radar for the last couple of visits -- I thought that it was highly regarded on CH and elsewhere -- but I was poking around Yelp and saw that the West Village location had 3 stars over 200 reviews, which struck me as surprisingly (and perhaps meaningfully) low for Yelp for that many reviews. I started digging through the reviews to see what was weighing them down and it seemed that portion size was a common theme. For some reason, that struck me as a more "Portland" complaint than a "Manhattan" complaint, and in general, it made me wonder if there are distinct biases in the two cities.

Mar 25, 2014
jeff_pdx in Manhattan

Calibrating Yelp reviews for Manhattan/NYC

I live in Portland, OR, and have learned through experience how to calibrate Yelp overall star ratings and specific reviews to extract meaningful and helpful information from them, especially for smaller places that don't get the attention of local food blogs.

I'm wondering if there are some rules of thumb for how Yelp ratings in Manhattan are best interpreted by someone with what I might call "Chowhound sensibilities" -- because sometimes, a quick check of Yelp is all one has time for.

Mar 24, 2014
jeff_pdx in Manhattan

Does Peter Luger take walk-ins?

Thanks, gentlemen, for the sage advice (apologies to Sluggo if you are in fact a lady). I fully understand the culinary standing of PL which is why I referred to it as the "Luger experience".

I'm probably too shy/beta-male/West-coast to attempt to grease a palm, but given the proximity to Motorino (which is on my "might do" list) as a back up plan, I think I'll still pay PL a visit and see what happens.

Mar 12, 2014
jeff_pdx in Outer Boroughs

Late Fri dinner after show at Hammerstein

I'm seeing a show in a couple weeks on a Friday night at the Hammerstein and was looking for post-show dinner options (seating after 11pm). I see that the Breslin serves dinner until midnight which sounds great to me. Any other suggestions?

Mar 11, 2014
jeff_pdx in Manhattan

Does Peter Luger take walk-ins?

I'll be in NYC at the end of March and was thinking of taking in the Peter Luger experience. After reading old threads, it seems that reservations can be hard to come by less than a month in advance. Would it be unwise to just show up between 7 and 8 pm on a mid-week night and hope for a table for 2 within a reasonable time (say, under 90 minutes)?

Mar 11, 2014
jeff_pdx in Outer Boroughs

Sausage Casings

To follow up: I recently made my second batch following the bratwurst recipe from Charcuterie, first using hog casings from New Seasons. While I believe I was definitely at fault for overstuffing the sausages, I think the New Seasons casings were significantly thinner and weaker than what I'd used from Pastaworks -- I had one blowout while stuffing, and I basically burst almost every link when forming links. I salvaged the mixture and tried again the next day using casings from Laurelhurst Market, paying attention to not overstuff, with much better results. I'll give the New Seasons casings one more try in the future and be a little more careful, because they are the most convenient option.

The bratwurst recipe in Charcuterie is phenomenal, by the way.

Jul 06, 2012
jeff_pdx in Metro Portland

Sausage Casings

I know everyone else is saying it too, but rather than reducing the fat content, since you are making it yourself you can totally control the link size and diameter (use sheep casings for the smallest ones). I think that would be far more satisfying than a low-fat sausage.

Also, my math says the following: the 20 ft of casings I got at Pastaworks for their ridiculous price works out to $0.44/ft. New Seasons' quote would be more like $0.19/ft. Sasquatch350's claim of the price and quantity for salt-packed works out to $0.20/ft.

And if you don't have it already, pick up "Charcuterie" by Ruhlmann and Polcyn. I also took a sausage making class from Portland Meat Collective which (if they still offer it) will give you hands-on experience with stuffing and you'll walk away with 5 to 10 lbs of sausage to boot. The basic recipes they use in the class were all quite good.

May 25, 2012
jeff_pdx in Metro Portland

Acadia

I have thoughts on Acadia: it's quite good, and has been consistently good for the 10-or-so years they've been open.

www.creolapdx.com

May 25, 2012
jeff_pdx in Metro Portland

Sausage Casings

A follow-up: I made my first batch of homemade sausages this weekend using casings from Pastaworks on Hawthorne. I asked for 10 feet but probably got 20, which at $35/lb cost $8.75. I happened to be at New Seasons the same day, and they sell them for $15/lb. I'll be buying my next batch at New Seasons...

Also, to correct my earlier suggestion: Olympic Provisions does not sell them retail.

May 21, 2012
jeff_pdx in Metro Portland

Brunch in Portland

syrahgirl, I'm encouraged by your endorsement of Gracie's. We used to enjoy the occasional brunch back when it was the Mallory dining room, as the food was good enough but the atmosphere was unique. Then the transition to Hotel deLuxe and Gracie's and several chef changes sent the food and service quality way down and the prices way up, so we gave up on it. I'd be curious to know if you were ever there during their low years and can say that it's definitely gotten better.

May 17, 2012
jeff_pdx in Metro Portland

Sunday Brunch at Beast

No, more like 90 minutes. Seatings are at 10am and 12pm.

Apr 02, 2012
jeff_pdx in Metro Portland

steak in Portland OR

The best steak I have ever had in Portland was at June. The preparation varies, but it seems to usually be a bone-in ribeye with a lot of dry age on it (40+ days, and sometimes 50+ dollars...). I'm not sure I would call the atmosphere "impressive" but the rest of the menu is excellent as well (and going to be far more varied than a steakhouse, if that is important for your side of the meal), they have a great bar and the service is exceptional.

Feb 03, 2012
jeff_pdx in Metro Portland

Sausage Casings

Pastaworks has them for sure, and I'd bet you ought to be able to get them from places like Laurelhurst Market's meat counter, Chop, and Olympic Provisions.

Jan 27, 2012
jeff_pdx in Metro Portland

Thai Restaurants in Manhattan Galore but where is the real thing (please advise)

Crap, didn't realize that it's going to be in Brooklyn. Hope I don't get CH-disbarred for that transgression...

Jan 06, 2012
jeff_pdx in Manhattan

Thai Restaurants in Manhattan Galore but where is the real thing (please advise)

Perhaps Pok Pok will satisfy you when it opens:

http://ny.eater.com/archives/2011/10/...

I've never been to Thailand so I can't weigh in on any authenticity-based arguments, but I can guarantee that Pok Pok is unlike every other Thai restaurant in Portland. Search the NYT as well for a recent write-up that they did when they tagged along with Andy Ricker on a trip to Thailand.

Jan 06, 2012
jeff_pdx in Manhattan

ISO a sourdough mom

You might check with Ken's Artisan Bakery to see if they will sell you some... I took an artisan baking class from Ken a few years ago and maybe remember him saying something to the effect that people interested in sourdough could get starter from the bakery. Then again, my memory could be completely wrong...

Nov 30, 2011
jeff_pdx in Metro Portland

Italian Supplies in/near Gresham?

I'm a fan of the Escalon 6-in-1 tomatoes, which I used to go downtown to Martinotti's for, but Whole Foods carries them now as well. Not that there's a Whole Foods anywhere near Gresham, but it's slightly more convenient with respect to parking and hours of operation...

Nov 30, 2011
jeff_pdx in Metro Portland

Turchetta with Vermouth Gravy

Used this recipe for Thanksgiving this year and it was absolutely delicious and got rave reviews. I ended up with 4 lbs of deboned meat (starting with a 12-lb turkey, and not using the drumsticks) but used the entire batch of rub/marinade (which the recipe states is for 8 lbs of meat) and didn't feel it was over-seasoned. It took me about 2 hours to skin and debone the turkey and then trim the meat. I can't see ever doing a normal roasted turkey again.

Also, I highly recommend making stock from the carcass and bones and using it as a gravy base, which you can do on the day that you start the meat marinating. I got very little pan drippings from the actual turchetta and am glad I didn't depend on it for making gravy.

Nov 28, 2011
jeff_pdx in Recipes

Best place for churros in Portland?

Toro Bravo.

Nov 10, 2011
jeff_pdx in Metro Portland

Thanksgiving Dinner - Country Cat, Urban Farmer or other?

We've done Country Cat for Thanksgiving three times now and have always loved it. I've only been to Urban Farmer once (not Thanksgiving) but I would think you would feel more like you are having a family meal at CC than UF -- casual and comfortable it is. There's nothing either particularly awful or charming about the neighborhood that CC is in, but it is close to Mt Tabor Park -- which is nice for a daytime walk but I've never been at night.

Nov 10, 2011
jeff_pdx in Metro Portland

Le Pidgeon vs. Little Bird?

Here's how I frame the difference between the two: Le Pigeon is destination dining, and Little Bird isn't. There's nothing wrong with Little Bird, but unless you are dead set on French cuisine, there are at least a dozen other restaurants in Portland that someone visiting from out of town should consider first.

Nov 09, 2011
jeff_pdx in Metro Portland

Bar Forte

I'll be in Vegas for a couple days soon and Bar Forte sounds like my kind of place. How late do they serve their full menu (the website has them open until 3 AM)?

Nov 08, 2011
jeff_pdx in Las Vegas

Short list of MUSTs in Portland

I had taken a look at Pok Pok's online menu when I replied above, and noticed that the salad/hen/wings make up the "Specialties of the House" section. While they are indeed the dishes that launched the empire (well, the wings came when the first sit-down space opened), I wonder if they are still listed that way because they are the least likely to get sent back for being too challenging on the palate for the casual tourist who saw them mentioned in Sunset Magazine... compared to, for example, Da Chom's Laap Meuang which includes lots of little bits of offal and is served with very unfamiliar herbs on the side.

-----
Pok Pok
3226 SE Division St, Portland, OR

Nov 07, 2011
jeff_pdx in Metro Portland

Short list of MUSTs in Portland

What's this you say about a 6-course tasting menu at Le Pigeon? I've never heard that they do such a thing...

Nov 04, 2011
jeff_pdx in Metro Portland

Short list of MUSTs in Portland

I have to say that you if you only got the game hen, wings, and papaya salad, then you definitely ordered the least mind-blowing dishes at Pok Pok. The real gems on the menu are things like Hoi Thawt, Khao Soi, Kaeng Hung Leh, and Muu Paa Kham Waan. I also find that the wings pop a bit more if you order them heavy on the fish sauce -- the preparation has seemed to weigh more towards the sweet than it was when the place first opened.

In other words, try it again on your next visit and order more from the right side of the menu. :)

Nov 04, 2011
jeff_pdx in Metro Portland

Hollywood district recommendations?

You're welcome. BTW, just outside Hollywood is Gustav's/The Rheinlander, the former of which has been a favorite of ours for years. (The latter is also good but just induces too much of a food coma.) Gustav's does seem to go through quality cycles though, so if you try it and don't have a good experience, try it again 6 months later. They've recently upped their game on the German beer service, perhaps because Prost (on N Mississippi) showed them how it's done, or perhaps a local distributor is doing a better job with pushing authentic glassware and service techniques.

Oct 21, 2011
jeff_pdx in Metro Portland

Hollywood district recommendations?

If you want to talk strictly Hollywood (37th to 47th Ave, north of I-84, south of Thompson):

I recommend:

- Shandong is probably the best overall restaurant. It doesn't win points with the authenticity police but is a very good neighborhood Chinese takeout (or sit-down) joint. Recently added pork soup dumplings to the menu that were quite tasty, and their handmade noodles are excellent.

- Moon and Sixpence is a great English pub, and IMHO has far better fish and chips than the oft-mentioned "best F&C in town" Horse Brass.

- At the very edge of Hollywood is Killer Burger, which is renowned for their peanut butter and bacon burger.

- Hama Sushi.

- Fleur de Lis Bakery.

I would not recommend:

- Columbia River Brewing was easily the worst place I've been in Portland in a long time (bad food and worse beer) when I went there in their first few months in business, but some recent chatter on pf.org was far more positive. Go figure.

- Wild Tiger Thai, if it's actually still in business. (I heard rumors of an Indian place going in around 42nd and Sandy, and Wild Tiger's location is the only one that would seem to fit.)

I will also mention:
- Tony Starlight's won some sort of "Best Burger" thing a couple years ago (limited to businesses in the Hollywood/Beaumont/Alameda neighborhood), but I've never been. I will say that it has lasted longer than almost every business to occupy this location in 15 years.

- Too bad Poor Richard's just closed, because it was like eating in a time/space warp that transported you to the Midwest circa 1965.

- My Canh is decent Vietnamese but it's been at least a decade since I've eaten there. There are certainly better options not far from Hollywood.

- Chameleon has been open for-e-ver, but I've only been once. It was fine but just didn't click with me. FWIW, they do get 4.5 stars on Yelp across 30 reviews. Perhaps you could take one for the team and report back!

- Pal's Shanty apparently does good things with fried seafood, but again I've never been. It's been on the list for a while but I guess the urge for fried seafood doesn't strike me that often.

Oct 20, 2011
jeff_pdx in Metro Portland

Toro Bravo or Little Bird?

Little Bird is good, but I don't think it's quite in the category of a destination restaurant yet. Either Beaker and Flask or Clyde Common would be a better choice and both can be the creative cocktail type place you are looking for.

Aug 18, 2011
jeff_pdx in Metro Portland

Experimental food in Portland

Aviary is also incorporating some of the techniques of that realm into their dishes with decent results. I ate at both Aviary and Castagna in June, and would categorize Aviary as the more accessible of the two.

I figure if you take the combined population and wealth of NYC and Chicago, and the half-dozen major experimental/molecular gastronomical restaurants in those cities, and scale that ratio down to Portland, I figure we can support about one-seventeenth of a restaurant in that category. In other words, Aviary and Castagna. :)

BTW, I have no idea what's going in that realm in Seattle...

Jul 26, 2011
jeff_pdx in Metro Portland

The Gilt Club , Portland, OR

It's quite good -- probably the best restaurant in town for a late (after 11 pm) dinner. I know nothing about the quail dish you speak of though, other than it is still listed on their online menu which is dated late June.

Jul 26, 2011
jeff_pdx in Metro Portland