Montrachet and La Caravelle
- judith Mar 20, 1999 07:47 AM
Would appreciate comments re your experience re food,
service, decor at these restsaurants - if you have
eaten at both and had to choose between them which
would you choose for anniversary celebration?
I have been to both, and personally, I would choose
Montrachet, but we're different people and what I like
you might not, and what you like, I might not, etc., so
I'll tell you what I thought of both and my reasons for
doing so and you can take it from there.
I love this place, although I've only been there for
lunch and not for dinner. However, I liked it so much
after the first time that I went back three or four
more times that same summer. In my humble opinion,
definitely one of the best restaurants downtown near
the financial district (along with nobu and bouley
bakery) and one of my favorites in the city. The decor
is nice, clean, new, cozy, wood paneling, more modern
than la caravelle, noise level not too bad. The food
is outstanding. In particular, they do fish very well
there. I had one dish, chilean sea bass, which is
definitely one of the best dishes I've ever had. The
fish was cooked perfectly; it practically melted in my
mouth like butter. And the beans and greens that it
was paired with accompanied it to perfection. A truly
unforgettable dish. I practically licked the plate
clean. They also have one of the best warm chocolate
tortes in the city, and as i'm sure you know,
practically every restaurant in the city has one
nowadays. Service was good and they supposedly have
the best wine list in the city according to wine
spectator (since it was lunch i wasn't able to verify
firsthand). I very simply love montrachet.
Let me start by saying that I am not a huge fan of
classic French cuisine, and La Caravelle is very
classic French. The decor is nice, very bright and
very pastel, lots of pinks and light greens. It's one
of those places where they seat couples side by side
against the wall, so everyone is looking out into the
room, which is a little odd because you can see
everyone and it seems like everyone's watching you as
well. nevertheless, it's nice if you're with your
significant other since you can hold hands and do that
sort of stuff, and i'm assuming you will since it's
your anniversary. The food, while very good, just did
nothing to excite me. But again, let me say that I'm
not a huge fan of classic French cuisine. I prefer
food with a little more sass, a little more boldness,
different flavors that come together in your mouth and
make you say "wow, now that's different, but it works"
instead of dover sole, which although good, ain't that
much different than dover sole at any other french
place. that same goes for atmosphere as well. to me,
all those classic french places are just a little too
uptight; you have to wear a jacket, everyone inside is
white and over 70 and you just feel like if you don't
use the right fork the whole place will stop, look at
you and turn up their noses. i just can't get
comfortable in a place like that. but like i said,
that's just me; to me, la caravelle, la cote basque, la
reserve, they're all the same, same food, same
atmosphere. i prefer the montrachets, the aureoles,
and the bouley bakery's of the world. places where
there's a little more life, both in the room and on the
plate. and to top it off, you're likely to spend a lot
more dough at la caravelle than at montrachet. i don't
mind spending a lot of money if the food is worth it,
but if it's not, it just leaves a bad taste in your
mouth. montrachet is worth it; la caravelle is not.
i guess my opinions are a little strong, so let me
temper them a bit. la caravelle is still a very good
restaurant, as are la cote basque and la reserve. the
food is certainly above average and service and decor
are all pleasant. my girlfriend likes la caravelle a
lot. it's one of her favorite places. if you like
classic French cuisine, la caravelle is for you.
and if you're over 70 and white, i certainly didn't
mean to offend you or anybody else for that matter,
it's just that i'm asian and under 30, so i tend to
feel a little weird at places like that. and this is
not to say that montrachet is some hip happening night
spot like asia de cuba or something like that. it's
still very conservative, just not as uptight.
well, that's my take on things. so, i guess, as far as
decor and atmosphere go, which you prefer would depend
on the type of person you are. as far as food, though,
hands down i think montrachet has the better food.
good luck, and to be honest, despite my personal bias,
i don't think you can go wrong either way; there are
certainly worse restaurants to have to choose from.
hope i was helpful, and let me know what you think.
also, feel free to ask me more specific questions if
re: Wonki Kim
Sorry to be so remiss in getting back to you, Kim, but- wanted to let you know we really enjoyed Montrachet so thank you. Also, we ended up dining at Union Pacific (based on your recommendation), which was wonderful as well.
Am devastated that Ruth Reichl is gone. Will really miss her.
hey, i was wondering what happened to you. i thought
maybe you hated all the places i touted and was
renouncing chowhound forever. glad you liked both
montrachet and union pacific. they're both really
among my favorites. now you have to try tabla. :-)
yeah, it's a shame ruth reichl has to go, but maybe her
replacements will be good. give them a chance.
Hey Wonki: I have a reservation at Tabla in May. Did
you have any dishes with tapioca in the preparation?
Also I visit in your neighborhood (E.77th). Have you
yet tried the rib joint in that area that you
mentioned a while back? I have kept your posts of
other offerings so maybe we'll order in one evening.
Do you ever shop at Citarella? Do you know if they
have razor clams yet? Thanks a lot. pat
re: Pat Hammond
hey pat, how are you? happy for you that you've got a
spot at tabla. wish you could take me with you. ;-)
i don't actually recall if i had anything with tapioca,
though i don't think so. i remember the goan spiced
crabcake being excellent as an appetizer. my
girlfriend had the duck samosa which was good though
not amazing. i believe i had the rice crusted bass for
an entree which was very good, but i can't remember
what my girlfriend had. i think you should definitely
go with a chardonnay or a white wine with dinner. i
believe we got a sonoma-cutrer which was both
reasonably priced (probably in the $40 dollar range or
so) and went well with the food (although my one knock
on the place is the wine "glasses" which looked more
like candleholders). as far as the vanilla bean kulfi,
i have to admit i thought it was a little weird at
first since it was so thick, but then the vanilla
flavor really comes through and the thickness isn't as
synthetic as it first may feel. basically, don't
expect to get your socks knocked off at first, rather,
expect to be pleasantly and increasingly surprised.
haven't had the ribs at pret a porter yet. i promise i
will soon and will leave a post about it.
sorry, don't shop at citarella. you can probably tell
i eat out just about every meal and although i would
love to learn how to cook well, i don't really have the
time. that will be something for the future. in the
meantime, too many places to try in new york without
having to do the dishes.
Hi, Wonki. I agree with you on Tabla! I ate there
recently and it was GOOOOD. The beautiful, cheerful
room & the friendly service were nice, too. I had the
foie gras appetizer (with hazlenuts & sunflower
sprouts) & the mushroom ragout as an entree. Liked 'em
both. I meant to get something with tapioca but forgot
after the third glass of chardonnay. Oh, well. I had
that vanilla kulfi for dessert, expecting to have my
socks knocked off. That didn't happen, though it was
tasty. (The rhubarb/strawberry/vanilla creme next door
at 11 Madison was better.) Susan
re: Wonki Kim
WOW, Wonki, this was a GREAT review! Although I'm white
and waaay under 70, I like the "stuffy" classic french
restaurants now and again. I will be in NY again in
June and having never been to either of these, will
definitely make a point now of going to one or both.
How can I not after reading this? Does the NY Times
know about you yet? You could give Ruth or her
replacement a run for their money, I'd suppose.
Thanks, again, and I look forward to reading more from
WOW, adlai, i'm crazily flattered that you would say
something like that (but you are the second person to
do so so maybe there might be some truth to it . . .
yeah right, i could only wish :-) ). well, glad you
liked my review. some of my other picks: union
pacific, tabla, aureole (but bring extra dough to
really enjoy this one). let me know how it goes. take
Wonki - I ate at Union Pacific last year and it was one
of the best meals I've had in a long time anywhere.
Also been to Aureole several times, although I felt the
last 2 visits were not up to par. Tabla is on my
ever-growing list, as is Patria, and now Montrachet and
La Caravelle are there, too.
Thanks, and I look forward to more of your reviews...
don't know if you're still around, but thought i'd
check up on you. you're right about aureole, that
place has definitely slipped of late. unfortunately,
so has montrachet. went there the other night and was
rather disappointed, especially with the entrees. they
had an excellent seared foie gras appetizer, however,
on top of a potato pancake with figs and a port wine
sauce. unbelievable. entrees are not nearly as
sophisticated as the apps. whatever you do, don't get
the chicken, and the sweetbreads were only so-so. gone
is the chilean sea bass with white beans. so is the
old chef, who left for the tonic (a better bet than
here for now). the new chef is much more strictly
french, and frankly, a bit boring. check out the tonic
or veritas (search for my review on this site). and
definitely if you have the inclination, le bernardin
for some excellent french seafood without the stuffy
atmosphere. catch you later.