Recent New York City restaurant experiences

Oct 11th, 2009, 09:13 AM
  #41  
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Aduchamp1, you're right -- reliability of the reviewer when it comes to restaurants is critical. And problems are to be had at about any venue:

--Fodor's, Frommer's, Time Out, Let's Go, and other guide books are often written by no more than a couple people, sometimes only one person, with editorial oversight. In other words, you're often getting one person's (at least somewhat screened) restaurant opinion -- great if the writer is reliable, not so much if they aren't.

--Zagat's is an average of respondents views. Problem here is that you don't know what percentage of the respondents are knowledgeable or misguided or shills or kooks. And there's no way to see individual responses to try and sort things out.

--Yelp and Chowhound and similar sites consist of a mass of posts collected over time. The advantage to sites like these is that you can see individual posts and a poster's history to try and evaluate their reliability. But this means your critical reading skills need to be at a certain level to know the capable from the shills from the misguided from the nutcases. I've found that active subsections with plenty of traffic provide more chances to run into ideas you might be able to rely on. And Chowhound does have the advantage of being strictly food focused -- though sadly, my experience suggests their site administrators have a dual problem of being needlessly intrusive (sometimes Draconian) in several cases while doing a less than good job responding to and culling out shills.

Add to this the fact that restaurants sometimes change ownership or lose personnel critical to the place's success. The Union Oyster House may have been a great spot to eat at some point years ago, but not in my experience now for some time.

In short, it's like anything else out there -- read and research, but know the limitations of your sources and how best to employ them. And realize that yesterday's reality can change overnight on a restaurant.
bachslunch is offline  
Oct 11th, 2009, 09:52 AM
  #42  
 
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Wait a minute. Who was the one who started talking about "name calling" here?

I'm sorry that once again I dared to suggest something so vile as the idea that there are actually some decent restaurants in the theatre district (Times Square Area), but I am even more sorry that one poster has once again drawn me into some attempt to argue about personalities rather than simply discuss the basic issues, and that I fell for his bait.
NeoPatrick is offline  
Oct 11th, 2009, 09:57 AM
  #43  
 
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Interesting discussion. BTW, I do have Robert Passon on my list of TS restaurants. ;-) I also loved Hell's Kitchen, and will go back. Except for our special occasion event, we will be staying around the TS area... I agree with Patrick and the cab thing.
Judyrem is offline  
Oct 11th, 2009, 12:48 PM
  #44  
 
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Now, boys - play nicely. There is a bit of truth in all these responses i.e. Times Square area just isn't the best in the city for dining - although - as pointed out - there are several decent dining spots. Sad truth is that the bulk of those places cater to a tourist trade that is not going to return and that does affect food and service plus - these places have to get their customers out in time for the show - not the best environment for the kitchen staff. And - dollar for dollar and square foot for square foot - you will find the best and best bang for the buck eating in the East Village (And Adu is a maven for that) and also great dining in the Flatiron area, Tribeca, SoHo.And ok- one-time or two-time visitors to town have often given their recommendations on the basis of the few meals they experienced - these may not be exactly very reliable. But I do find that some of the experienced hands herein (including Adu) do have some savvy recommendations. But - can we eliminate the use of words such as "idiot" or "idiotic" merely because one disagrees with an opinion.
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Oct 11th, 2009, 01:26 PM
  #45  
 
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Thanks, jroth, for trying to bring a sense of civility to this thread. I apologize for my breach of etiquette! I shall henceforth ignore the rude comments.
In response to your comment about Times Square restaurants catering to the tourist trade. obviously you are right. However, I will add that the four restaurants I recommended previously all have a substantial number of regulars who are locals among their customers.
HowardR is offline  
Oct 11th, 2009, 01:30 PM
  #46  
 
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I also bought Michelin for NY the first year it was issued and have not since. It was so Francocentric as to be useless. I was naive enough to think they would have left their prejudices home.

For example, if they could not find it in their hardened little culinary hearts to award Aquavit at least one star, than one could only attribute that to gallic snobbery.

I have been subscribing to Time Out NY for years. They are probably the most susprctible to creating new trends to reamin relevvant but in doing so they often ignore some old favroites.

When you read reviewers, wherever they may be, I guess the best you can do is get a general consenus.
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Oct 11th, 2009, 01:39 PM
  #47  
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jroth, will agree by and large. Just one thought.

It's true one- and two-time visitors give restaurant recommendations here -- but if they're tourists, it's not likely one can expect greater depth of experience as a rule. Heck, I've visited New York on several occasions, but I'm not likely to go back to the same place many times. There are just too many restaurants in NYC I want to try! Well, maybe for the pastrami (juicy) on rye at Katz's (guaranteed I'll get there again one of these days).

In fact, one-off reviews are probably what we'll see here most often. Folks like you and Aducamp1 will probably be the exception, I'm guessing. Whether this means the one-off review is reliable or not -- well, who knows? Might be, might not be. I'm biased of course, but I think my thoughts could prove useful, even if only as an example to bounce off of; Aducamp1 and I clearly have different ideas on the best NYC area pizza experiences.
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Oct 11th, 2009, 03:07 PM
  #48  
 
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Bachslunch

Here is one advantage of the one time or casual tourist observations.

We had a friend in from out of town who worked for a cooking show. We took her to 2nd Avenue Deli and when she ate the chopped liver, she literally spit it into her napkin. The flavor was too intense. The same thing happend at Cacio e Pepe where the signature dish is pasta with pepper rolled inside of a hollowed wheel of pecorino so it is smothered in the cheese. That too was too intense.

Thus, those who are unfamilar with certain dishes may be in a better postion to offer recommednations.

Just had Totonno's pizza last night with the meatball topping. Pig heaven.
Aduchamp1 is offline  
Oct 11th, 2009, 03:26 PM
  #49  
 
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sylvia's was the biggest waste of cab fare i have ever experienced. absolutely no point in going there whatsoever; food stinks, atmosphere dreary, drinks puny
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Oct 11th, 2009, 04:11 PM
  #50  
 
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jroth, I'm not in favor of name calling (and I find comments like "Well back Neo, it was amiable while were you gone" just as bad or worse than name calling. But in all due respect, it is more than a mere disagreement of opinion when someone says anything as blatantly silly as "you have to get out of the Times Square area for a decent restaurant" or "there are no good places to eat in the theatre district". Sorry, but that isn't anything even remotely like the very true statement, "Times Square is not the best place for good dining". Surely you see the difference.

Sorry, but I'll stand my the term "idiocy" when anyone insists there is NO decent restaurant in the theatre district/Times Square area. I just can't think of a better way to put it.

I'll repeat what I've said many times. Auduchamp is an expert on good and reasonably priced restaurants in much of the city and his suggestions for such are usually right on the mark. I've taken some of them and liked them all. But that still doesn't explain the idea that a couple looking for just a decent meal when they are in New York staying in the Times Square area and seeing a show then returning to their hotel should HAVE to travel half way across the city, because there is NO decent place to eat which would be convenient for them.
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Oct 12th, 2009, 05:33 AM
  #51  
 
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Adu - Re; Michelin's NY restaurant guide - yes - I also was of the opinion that they were coming in with their sort of gallic prejudices et al. But I have to tell you that I leafed through the very latest edition and note that - first: they obviously have taken to heart that sort of criticism and the comments and descriptions are very New York and hip and quite often right on the mark and I get the impression that these reviewers are savvy New Yorkers. Yes - they are very stingy with awarding stars - even one star is a very big deal. But the mere listing in the book is a sign of quality - two or three forks can be clues to worthwhile visits ( in France we use their book knowing that). I do object to the fact that the very few three star NY places are the highest priced places in town (e.g. Per Se).I'd like to see a guide that factors in price with stars it awards - thus super great food at low or reasonable prices should get stars even though they may not have the ambience, level of service etc. of those they now award the 3 stars.
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Oct 12th, 2009, 05:50 AM
  #52  
 
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Jroth

I guess they were stung my the freedom fries movement.

I am glad they are acting like humans. The discussion of actually how many stars a restaurant ahould be awarded is as arcane as how many critics can sit on the wrong end of a pin.

But you will get no argument from me on recognizing places that charge less and offer fine food. I have long argued that for many places in mid-town you pay exponetially more for an incremental increase in quality,

The major differences in cheaper places are usually presentation, ambience, and service.

Unless it is a special occasion or the service is ridiculous, I care most what is on the plate.
Aduchamp1 is offline  
Oct 12th, 2009, 08:34 AM
  #53  
 
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Adu - (and BTW - some of the previous stuff on this thread was - much adu about nothing) But re - those upscale and priced restaurants - bear in mind that many are in very high rent districts (E. 50's and 60's rent - a little different than Ave. B - although Ave B is catching up). And they have larger staff - linens, silverware, dishware - the expensive stuff - so they charge. But one thing I cannot abide by is the overpriced wine lists - and that goes for just about every place in town - exception: Landmarc. When will they catch on that there are very nice wines that they can sell in the 30's and 40's - even 20's - and make a decent profit. I have discussed this with maitre'd's and if more customers do - they might change.
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Oct 12th, 2009, 09:03 AM
  #54  
 
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jroth, I couldn't agree with you more. I was particularly surprised (shocked, actually) at the prices on the wine list at Craftbar when I ate there recently. Perhaps a dozen bottles on a list of well over 100 that were under $100. (I could exaggerate, but not by that much.) And this is a fairly casual restaurant. I find many good wines at Trader Joe's for well under $20 per bottle, but restaurants in NYC almost always mark the wine up by 3 or more times the retail (not even wholesale) price of the bottle.

I've actually found some of the more expensive restaurants (like Le Bernardin and even 11 Madison Park) to be exceptions, where I can find several well-priced bottles.

I was a little annoyed at the list at The Modern this weekend. It appears the bar room has done away with the well-priced bottles they were offering earlier this year. Now they are back to the inflated prices served in the more expensive museum-size dining room. The food is still reasonably priced, however.
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Oct 12th, 2009, 09:28 AM
  #55  
 
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Yes, overpriced wine! What's up with that!? I rememberBecco having a nice 25$ wine list. I always feel like such a chmp when I see the lists! I shop for wines a lot, and their prices are ABSURD!
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