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Can Westchester Restaurants Make It If....

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aspiringchef Aug 23, 2007 12:11 PM

...We Are Their Judges.

I am rather new to this board, certainly a foodie, my palate in development, and enjoy a variety of dining experiences. The postings I have read to date have run from interesting and informative to controversial and arrogant. Some on this board seem to feel that every restaurant needs to do it as well as the very best in Manhattan or Europe. I thought it was time to talk about what we really expect and want from restaurants and whether our tastes really represent Westchester.

There is fine dining and there is casual dining. When I went to Trotters (now closed) I expected, and always got, cutting edge, thoughtfully presented dishes. But I also enjoy a taco from Tequila Sunrise, a burger from Chat 19 and a dish of pasta from Louie and Johnnies. Do you share the sentiments of some on this site that think that every taco has to be authentic as they make it in Mexico, every burger utilizing prime ground meat and every casual Italian needing to hold up to the standards of Batali? If so, can the restaurants make it here?

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    dolores RE: aspiringchef Aug 23, 2007 12:22 PM

    Trotters is CLOSED?????

    Good grief. See what I mean?

    aspiringchef, I have long maintained that really good restaurants don't have a chance in Westchester. No, I don't mean the 'let's see is my napkin cut on the bias at a 33-1/3rd degree angle' restaurants, I mean a restaurant like Trotters. Here it was, in the HEART of downtown White Plains and it has closed. Closed!

    I agree with you. I am as happy with a pizza from Francesco's or Frank's in Portchester as I am with Northern Italian from Pinocchio as I am with a burger from Blazer as I am with a burrito from The Little Mexican Cafe.

    But no, now that you've disheartened me further -- just why DID Chef Denzil leave Zen Tango? Why IS MacMenamin's getting bad press? -- with news that Trotters has closed, I am even more convinced that the diners in Westchester don't know what they want.

    More's the pity for the restauranteurs who have to figure it out to make a living.

    Closed. Trotters is closed. Sheesh.

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      aspiringchef RE: aspiringchef Aug 23, 2007 12:27 PM

      Dolores, I just realized that I might strike fear in many and I apologize. Trotters is closed BUT, it is being redesigned as a tapas bar by the same owners and only closed BECAUSE they are taking over the space at the top of the Ritz Carlton only a few doors down. The name, I heard, will be different. Same ownership and obviously, chef.

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        dolores RE: aspiringchef Aug 23, 2007 12:47 PM

        Thanks, aspiringchef. But I guess the original Trotters and its menu is gone.

        Now since you've mentioned it, is there another place local to White Plains that is a tapas bar? I read about it here and now can't remember the name.

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          Dim Sum Diva RE: aspiringchef Aug 23, 2007 12:48 PM

          I have heard it said that one way for a restaurant to make it in Westchester is to own the real estate (for example, Peter Pratt's).

          There's stories like this all the time: remember Wrapsody on Mamaroneck Ave. in WP? They took something simple like a wrap and took it to the next level. Loved the moo shu wrap, the shrimp pealla (sp?) wrap, and the community table. They spent a fortune doing up that place before they opened. They were a moderate success but the minute the landlord raised the rent, when all of the new downtown stuff got approved, that was the kiss of death.

          If Trotters is opening as a tapas bar atop the RC, you know it ain't going to be cheap. Let's just hope that they validate parking...

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          aspiringchef RE: aspiringchef Aug 23, 2007 12:50 PM

          DimSum

          The tapas bar is going where Trotters currently is. The new restaurant is going on top of the Ritz.

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          1. billyparsons RE: aspiringchef Aug 24, 2007 03:25 AM

            Go the Candlelight in Scarsdale. Go to the Bayou in Mt. Vernon. I'll bet you Batali would love the burger from the Candlelight and I doubt the owners would even recognize him.

            Who thinks that restaurants need to be in line with those from Manhattan or Europe? Whatever you do in the business, do the best that you can. Simply care about your business and your patrons.

            A great example is your buddy from Primavera. Sitting in your dining room, treating it like an office, without even saying hello to your patrons is absurd, especially when you barely have any business. This is the hospitality business. You can blame it on a slow season, but the Candlelight has a waiting list every single day. And, can you believe it, no foie gras burgers.

            By the way, who's got the Prime meat burger. I wanna check it out.

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            1. HungryRubia RE: aspiringchef Aug 24, 2007 05:26 AM

              Very good question... and the answer is no. I don't think that every taco/plate of pasta etc has to be exactly the way they make it in that country. Primarily because many countries have variations in their national cuisine based on the local ingredients.
              It is very typical American arrogance to say "Oh I lived in ***** and I NEVER had a taco/pasta dish/dumpling that was like this, so this is not authentic".
              On another note, I HATE the term foodie because it connotes food snobbery and I am not a food snob, I just like good food. I love Babbo and I love a great diner. I just ask that the restaurant use good quality ingredients, that the food is prepared well, and that the service is friendly and competent.
              If Westchester diners are the type of diners who DEMAND to me wowed a la Per Se/ French Laundry/Babbo at every single meal, then most restaurants in the area have ZERO chance of ever making it and most folks should just move to Manhattan or stay home and cook.

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                dolores RE: HungryRubia Aug 24, 2007 05:34 AM

                Exactly, HungryRubia. I've stated my deal breakers here, and the more I eat out, the more I expect them.

                I still can't get over the fact that Trotters closed down their original restaurant. A good case in point. They must have sat and thought, well the Ritz Carlton is opening next door, let's close down our very good restaurant where we were (assumedly) making good money and take it to the penthouse of the Ritz Carlton where we can make even more money. Ah, how joyous.

                So now if I want to try out their new cuisine, I have to oooh and aaaah my way through the Ritz Carlton and pay who knows what for food. Oh, and does the Ritz Carlton validate the parking for those dining at Trotters II?

                I wish I could recall the name of the tapas place that was favorably mentioned here. I was attempting to try it out but have forgotten it. It most likely had free parking, which the tapas place in the former Trotters won't.

                I find it amazing, that restaurants come and go so quickly around here.

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                1. re: HungryRubia
                  billyparsons RE: HungryRubia Aug 24, 2007 06:28 AM

                  Rubia-

                  Where do you draw the line though?

                  If you order a lobster roll for $18, and its imitation crab meat and the owner says "I come from a poor country and this is how we make it", will you accept it as regional?

                  If you go to a German restaurant and order sauerbraten and it's made from pork, not beef, is "the chef prefers pig over beef" an acceptable answer? Would you choke that up to regionalism also?

                  Or how about chicken parmigiana in an Italian restaurant, and they change the mozzarella to provolone because it’s "the way the chef learned it from his mom". You eating it?

                  A good reason why restaurants often continue their behaviors is because over 90% of patrons that weren’t completely satisfied with some aspect of their visit don’t complain.

                  I think certain dishes are just too straight forward to worry about someone changing it up on me.

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                  1. re: billyparsons
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                    aspiringchef RE: billyparsons Aug 24, 2007 06:50 AM

                    Billy, agreed on your last reply to my post. NO owner should use their dining room as an office (unless maybe its 3-5 pm). And this is a hospitality business. You won't get an argument on that point either.

                    But the inspiration for this thread was your "review" of Primavera and Coyote Flaco. I think that you set extreme standards and I wanted to see whether others are similar.

                    In any event, my hat is off to you for your knowlege.

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                    1. re: aspiringchef
                      billyparsons RE: aspiringchef Aug 24, 2007 12:09 PM

                      OK, OK so it's all good. But I get bashed so often I tend to hit hard sometimes. Sorry. But Flaco still isn't worth the gas money. Your post is great though.

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                2. The Chowhound Team RE: aspiringchef Aug 24, 2007 12:39 PM

                  Chowhound's regional boards work best when they're focused on where to find deliciousness. Speculation about restaurant economics and discussing how you discuss chow are off topic for those boards. We've left this thread up because there are some chow tips that have been posted, but since the original post is looking for off topic information, we're going to lock it now.

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