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Jun 7, 2000 06:00 PM

Daniel v. Veritas

  • d

Chowhounds, Please Help!

I am taking my wife for her 30th Birthday in a couple of weeks to either Daniel or Veritas. I always take her to an upscale place that we haven't tried before. To give an example of my tastes and likes/dislikes, we have had great experiences at the following: Union Square/11 Madison/Gramercy Tavern, Babbo, Il Mulino, Jean Georges, and Le Bernadin. Was unimpressed by the following: Gotham, Aureole and Nobu. I am really looking forward to this meal. I was all set to fire up all the cylinders and head to Daniel, but saw some dismal posts on this board. My reservation is at 6:45, but I also have a 7:30 at Veritas. We are into food first and foremost (as opposed to say, Wine, dessert or cheese, all of which we happen to really like as well). We just had a baby girl a couple of months ago and this will be our first night out in a while, so we want it to be special.

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  1. r

    oooohhhhhh, you are in TROUBLE - they're going to get you for those two out

    6 Replies
    1. re: rebeccahodgson

      "oooohhhhhh, you are in TROUBLE - they're going to get you for those two out"

      whatever for? - i'll take the reservation he doesn't want :)

      seriously, though, consider the wine. celebrate with a 30 year old bottle of your favourite producer - if anyone will help you find something reasonable, it'll be veritas. if you do go for that suggestion, i'd call up the sommelier, tell him what you are going to eat and ask him what he suggests in the price range you think is reasonable. it could even be a luscious dessert wine! or simply throw the question open to the chowhound community....

      wine and daniel is a complete crapshoot, as i've sorrowfully discovered. perhaps it was the move, perhaps its a bad cellar, but i've TWICE had to send some very expensive wines back. but as for food, service and ambiance in general, chances are daniel is going to give you a superior experience.

      1. re: howler

        "as i've sorrowfully discovered. perhaps it was the move, perhaps its a bad cellar, but i've TWICE had to send some very expensive wines back. but as for food, service and ambiance in general, chances are daniel is going to give you a superior experience. "

        I don't understand the problem. Am I missing something. Assuming the bottles were really off and the restaurant didn't charge you for them, why is it an issue. Generally speaking the next bottle of the same wine is usually fine and if the entire supply has turned, it's no worse than if the wine wasn't on the list.

        I assume that when a wine is "bad" you ask for another bottle of the same wine. For me, asking for something else is like saying maybe the wine is OK, but I ordered the wrong wine.

        1. re: Buxbaum

          "I don't understand the problem. Am I missing something."

          here's what i was trying to say: i suspect that either daniels cellar isn't optimally regulated (hard to imagine) or the move to their present premises destroyed a large part of the collection. its surprising to me to have twice encountered bad wines, and now paranoia reigns. you order a fine bottle for which you are paying through the nose, and it smells not *exactly* right and perhaps the taste is just a tad off, you can't be sure, and then lo and behold, the $#@@% wine dies after half the bottle is gone and then you are REALLY pissed.

          1. re: howler

            It is indeed a huge deal to send corked wine back, and I have often had sommeliers tell me that totally stinky wine--wine you could smell across the table--was just fine. I KNOW wine, and I end up sending only one of five bad bottles back. One imagines that the vast majority of customers, who are a little intimidated about the ritual to begin with, just drink the dead stuff down, vinegar or not.

            1. re: Pepper

              i entirely agree. you get that suspicious look, and the bottle gets taken away so that the sommelier can sip it aggrievedly in the corner and the waiter starts walking around with this injured air - very, very tiresome. and certainly not the best way to kick off an enjoyable evening.

              1. re: Pepper

                I suppose you're correct about many diners drinking questionable wines withour complaining. Although I have little fear of returning a bottle I suspect there those times when the bottle is neither gone, nor prime and I drink it with less than the full potential enjoyment. Truth is that with older wines, there's always a risk.

                Then there's the other situation where the diner sends back a perfectly good wine. Often it's to impress a date, although I recall reading an article in the NY Times about dining with a guy who just enjoys being a pain in the ass and making people jump through hoops for him. Finally there are those who just don't like the wine they picked and figure they have the right to enjoy their wine if they're paying for it whether or not they know what they're doing.

                Not too long ago, we had a problem with a wine by the glass at Danel. I took a sip and it seemed alright. A few minutes later my wife took a sip and made a face saying it was off. I took another sip and it didn't taste like the wine I had just tasted a few minutes before. I called the sommelier over and he sniffed the glass and took a sip. His reaction was that it smelled fine and didn't taste over the hill, but that it definitely had an off taste that shouldn't have been there. He noted that he had opened several bottles that night and that this was the frist one that tasted like this. The off taste seemed to grow stronger as we talked.

                I've seen the cellar at Daniel. It's not got the allure of the cellars I've seen in Burgundy but it's climate controlled and should be as good a home to wine as any cave. I can't imagine anything about the transport from old to new that should have a lasting effect either. I recall Jancis Robinson speaking about bad corks and was amazed at how high her estimate of bad bottles was, although I now forget the exact figure.

      2. Danny--

        I would vote for Veritas, unless neither of you drink wine at all. The times I've been, the food has been uniformly very good--nothing mind-blowing, no magical, unexpected combinations--but just really well prepared, straightforward (and rich) dishes. The wine is what brings it up to exceptional. The list is a little ridiculous in length and breadth, but if you ask Tim, the wine manager, to help you manuever through it, there are some really great buys on older vintages and fantastic, lesser-known wines. He's one of the best sommeliers in town--none of that wine geek attitude at all. Plucked out a Cote Rotie for me once that turned a good meal into a stellar experience. In addition to the wine equation, Veritas is small, dark, and not on the Upper East Side. Hope you have a great meal whereever you decide to go.

        1. Mundane consideration as to how much emphasis you want to put on the wine: if your wife is nursing, she may not want to drink too much.

          1. I vote for Veritas, we just had a wonderful meal there the other night. Daniel left me a bit cold (try Lespinasse perhaps instead).

            Veritas was really just right, a nice room, not "too" anything. Very nice service. The sommellier was extremely friendly and helpful with the absurd wine list (pricy stuff at good prices for what it is).

            The food was consistently excellent. Excellent seared scallops with corn salsa and fabulous white and green asparagus with truffle sauce for appetizers. Both our cod and rack of lamb entrees were really nice as well. Nothing incredibly flashy but a really solid experience all around.

            I really had no complaints at all (and that's rare).

            Have fun.


            1. I would strongly recommend Veritas knowing that your wife enjoys Atlantic Char. In addition to the great food, the ambiance is right up your ally - warm and somewhat cozy - not stiff in the least. Besides, the location of Veritas beats Daniel on the UES. Knowing your wife, she will overeat and complain about how full she is -- it is a prime location for a little stroll after a big meal. Stop into Grammercy for an after dinner drink and some decent people watching. Knowing you both, you will have a great time no matter where you go. Enjoy!