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Sep 10, 2007 05:09 PM

Restaurants everyone loves--except you

Sometimes I think I must have mutant tastebuds: Everyone in the world seems to love Telepan except for me. What are the restaurants where your tastebuds stubbornly refuse to see things the way everyone else's seem to? The really divisive restaurants (like WD50) don't count.

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  1. Il Coralo on Prince St in SoHo is ALWAYS crowded.
    I've actually given it 3 chances. It's terrible. Really not good at all. What is everyone thinking?

    1. Hearth
      Ate their for my birthday (shortly after it opened), after reading the raves on CH. It was OK but nothing that great.

      7 Replies
      1. re: bxgirl

        I'm going to second Hearth. We tried it this weekend, and maybe caught them at a hectic point in the night, but we were underwhelmed. The wait between our courses was really really long. And the service just didn't make us feel as "special" as we should have for the prices. We didn't stay for dessert cause we were just so tired. and $10 ice cream? really??

        The chilled corn soup w/ crap was great.
        My sturgeon wasn't really impressive, and the accompanying beans weren't cooked through thoroughly.
        The beet salad was good, but nothing new.
        His veal entree was small, but good.

        1. re: erin07nyc

          can we assume it was, in fact, CRAB in the corn soup? :)

          1. re: erin07nyc

            agreed on hearth...small portion sizes negate the value of the prices and they rob you on the wine.

          2. re: bxgirl

            God yes...Hearth. Nothing distinctive or memorable about the menu, over priced for what it is, despite the chef's pedigree. In general, a generic experience I could have had at any number of places in the area not worthy of the price tag.

            1. re: claireness

              In that case, please name the other places, so that I can check them out.

              1. re: Pan

                Maybe that should be on a separate thread? (But my main point is that Hearth isn't anything special--to me, it was like going to cafe deaville but with better service or pangea whose service is always good. For those prices i expected the food to me more memorable, with a little bit of a twist so i was disappointed. I felt I was paying mainly for atmostphere. I would have rather spent my money on a meal at Shima, devil moon, orologio or mercadito, typhoon.)

              2. re: claireness

                What did happen to Hearth? Does anyone know? I ate there about two years ago and it was as memorable, fantastic, etc as I expected. In fact to this date, it's the best meal I ever had from appetizer to dessert. But lately, it's barely half full. Did something happen to the chef, or the staff?

            2. Balthazar is one of those places that I find Ok, but not worth all the hype.

              17 Replies
              1. re: SweetPea914

                COMPLETELY AGREE re: Bathazaar. I am less enthusiastic about Pastis lately as well--it has been taken over by the B&T crowd and the food quality doesn't match the prices.

                1. re: Ora

                  Pastis has always (for past 6 years) been overwhelmed by the b&t crowd and had trouble keeping it's serving (and food) head above water. Best are not-busy times, if you can manage---salad nicoise, fish & chips, cod dishes good.

                  1. re: rosemary1008

                    I had the fish and chips at Pastis in the last month--awful dish.

                2. re: SweetPea914

                  Could you precisely describe this "hype" that supposedly surrounds or surrounded Balthazar?


                  1. re: Chinon00

                    I am a fan of Balthazar. I like their steak frites, moules, and also when they have them, soft shell crabs. I've had a couple of dishes I didn't care for, but I still think the food is solid and good. I don't mind the noise of other people, so it works for me. It's right near my place of business, so for business lunches it's good. I've never been there for dinner. As far as hype goes, the place has been there long enough that I don't see any hype. Not sure what that would be. I think if there is hype it's because the food is good and hasn't changed much since it 1st opened.

                    1. re: michele cindy

                      I agree with you - I enjoy their steak tartare, the frites, the plateau de fruits de mer, the reasonably priced house wines by the carafe. I've actually always had very good service there, despite the crowds, and often manage to snag a late lunch reservation for two on the morning I want to go. I've never tried eating there without a reservation though. If there is hype, I guess I've just ignored it.

                      1. re: michele cindy

                        In your post that I was responding to you stated:
                        "Balthazar is one of those places that I find Ok, BUT NOT WORTH ALL THE HYPE."
                        I'm asking you to clarify this "hype" that you mentioned.


                        1. re: Chinon00

                          I think it was actually SweetPea who wrote that.

                          1. re: MMRuth

                            Actually I feel the opposite -- love Balthazar and not so keen about Pastis.

                            1. re: sugakc69

                              Not sure if this threading is funny or something - but I agree with you - not a fan of Pastis and love Balthazar.

                              1. re: sugakc69

                                I feel the same...Balthazar has always provided me with a great meal. Pastis on the other hand always leaves something to be desired. It doesn't help either that they left a big wad of aluminum foil in my friend's entree... oops.

                            2. re: Chinon00

                              Sorry to make you wait for my response. I see you have been waiting on pins and needles ;-)
                              I think what I meant is that if you go to any post on this site regarding which restaurants are "not to miss" at least 3 people will tell the poster that they "must" go to Balthazar. I honestly have not been in a few years, but that is partly due to the fact that reservations always had to be made so far in advance for a "prime" time dinner.
                              I much prefer a low key place like Raoul's with wonderful French food over Balthazar any day. This is of course MY opinion, I guess since you are willing to go to Balthazar from PA that our opinions must differ. As someone who lives in the city, I think there are much better restaurants to go to. Although I have to say that I am a bit confused, since you seem defensive about a restaurant that you also seem to think has no merrit??? Can you please clarify the reason for your previous comments?

                              1. re: SweetPea914

                                Having read Raoul's menu and having been to Balthazar it is obvious that the former's menu is much more ambitious. Having said that though as far as my idea of a French bistro goes Balthazar is a much more accurate example of one. The look, the noise, the speed, and the simplicity of the food define (for me) a French bistro. Of course there is "better food" but sometimes you're in the mood for a quick Steak Fritte and a bottle of Moulin a Vent.

                                1. re: Chinon00

                                  raoul's menu changed recently and became more ambitious. they used to have great steak frites.

                        2. re: SweetPea914

                          I'll second Balthazar. Totally underwhelming.

                          1. re: howboy

                            Count me in too. Been to Balthazar twice, both times was totally unimpressed. Had dinner at Pastis one night recently and enjoyed the food and the ambiance much more.

                          2. Gramercy Tavern and Union Square Cafe. Hated the food, hated the service. Strangely, I was entranced by Craft, which had the same chef as Gramercy Tavern (Mr Colicchio)

                            23 Replies
                            1. re: Brian S

                              EMP. I found it pretentious and the food boring

                              1. re: princeofpork

                                I like the food pretty well, but can see what you mean about the pretentiousness. It wasn't so much the service in my experience as it was some of the other patrons.

                                1. re: princeofpork

                                  Agree. Pretentious, stuffy. Miniscule portions. I don't get it.

                                  1. re: princeofpork

                                    I found EMP way too quiet in a huge space. Totally not happening , and the food missed the mark although it wasnt bad it just want all that it was cracked up to be.
                                    Yasuda I think is way overrated and the management need an attitude adjustment.
                                    Babbo is really not good.
                                    Malatesta deesnt deserve the raves, alot of cream and cheese.
                                    Sarge's is about the worst deli in the metro area.
                                    Blue Water Grill is not too good.
                                    BLT fish the blt myst stand for bad, lousy tasting
                                    Bubby's is absolutely horrible and always has a crowd
                                    Magnolia Bakery has inedible cupcakes and they always have a line to get in
                                    Mr. Chow's famous and overrated ,,is terrible and a rip off

                                  2. re: Brian S

                                    Hmm, I think I agree with you on all counts! Not so unusual to like one place by a chef, but hate another. I'm the same way with Anthos and Kefi. I loooove Kefi. Anthos is just ok.

                                    1. re: Brian S

                                      I second Union Square Cafe - although I didn't hate it. I was just terribly underwhelmed.

                                      1. re: BaconBits

                                        Agreed. Union Sq. Cafe was perfectly decent but far from great. I see no reason to ever go back there.

                                      2. re: Brian S

                                        When did you go to GT? Colicchio is no longer involved in Gramercy Tavern, and even before he left, he didn't have a big hand in the kitchen/cooking (from my understanding).

                                        1. re: kathryn

                                          Since when and who is running GT now??? Who is cooking there too? And who is running Po (not related , but hey... :))

                                          1. re: rosemary1008

                                            Colicchio left in August of 2006 to focus on Craft/Craftsteak/wichcraft/etc.

                                            John Schaefer, the chef de cuisine under Colicchio, ran the kitchen at Gramercy Tavern until Michael Anthony was brought in. Anthony took over in the fall of 2006.

                                            1. re: kathryn

                                              the new issue [oct 2007] of cooking light magazine has an article about the curret trend of restaurant offering more healthful options...and there's a paragraph about the changes michael anthony has made to gt's menu, creating lighter, vegetable-centric dishes.

                                              unfortunately, people in this country have beecome accustomed to dining out on such unnecessarily heavy and unhealthy dishes, that i have to wonder if some of the dissatisaction with recent dining experiences at gt is not because the quality has gone downhill, but is instead simply because the food is now lighter/more subtle or less decadent than the diners have come to expect.

                                            2. re: rosemary1008

                                              Kathryn is correct that Tom Colicchio had not spending much, if any, time in the Gramercy Tavern kitchen for quite a while. Too busy with his various Craft restaurants. He finally severed his relationship with Gramercy Tavern and Danny Meyer's USHG in the middle of '06. Last October, Michael Anthony, formerly of Blue Hill, took over as executive chef. Also, Nancy Olson became the new pastry chef shortly before Chef Anthony's arrival.

                                              Here is info about Po:

                                          2. re: Brian S

                                            Thank you -- when I saw this -- the only place that I really don't like and can't understand is Uuion Square Cafe -- been there 3 times and all the time I just think it is an overpriced diner.

                                            1. re: sugakc69

                                              Ditto, I never liked Union Square Cafe................

                                            2. re: Brian S

                                              Gramercy Tavern has a new executive chef; Michael Anthony, who used to work at Stone Barns at Blue Hill. He has been at GM since September 2006.

                                              We have visited GM a couple of times during the past month and find chef Anthony's cooking quite delicious. Fresh, local ingredients, the flavors are clean & delicious, sometimes subtle, sometimes big. We love it that he uses broth a lot, instead of heavy sauces. Very refined, but homey at the same time.

                                              1. re: FoodWine

                                                Actually, the bulk of Michael Anthony's time at Blue Hill was spent in GV. If he did spend any time at Stone Barns, it was relatively short. Dan Barber was, and still is, the guiding force at Stone Barns.

                                                1. re: RGR

                                                  Maybe you should let Danny Meyer, chef Anthony & whoever is on charge of GT's web site know that.
                                                  There it says:
                                                  "Prior to joining GT, he (Anthony) was Executive Chef of Blue Hill at Stone Barns and earlier, the co-executive chef of Blue Hill in Manhattan..." (etc)...

                                                  All I said was the he used to work there. Not how long -or even in what capacity. Did not feel the need to write his resume.

                                                1. re: Brian S

                                                  Gramercy Tavern - exceptionally poor service given the hype, reputation and cost.

                                                  1. re: loveroffood

                                                    I know this is an old thread, but I can only assume that this talk of Gramercy Tavern not living up to expectations of food or service are being made by people living in an alternate universe.

                                                    Seriously. There is no comparison. There is Gramercy Tavern and then there are all others. It is the restaurant by which all others should be judged.

                                                    The tavern side of GT is extremely UNpretentious - welcoming, served by knowledgeable and well-trained staff, extremely high level of quality control at all levels and components, with food that is delicately prepared, beautifully presented, expertly served, and extremely tasty. the dining room is an experience unto itself.

                                                    Gramercy Tavern
                                                    42 E 20th St, New York, NY 10003

                                                    1. re: ChairmanMeeow

                                                      I haven't eaten there in quite a few years but my experiences have been as you described. Very nice staff, competent and (mercifully) unobtrusive service, excellent, non-cutesy food. I was the guest of a dear friend most recently and he and I were both bemused afterward when his lover claimed to have been "intimidated" by the place. Go figure.

                                                      I don't know that I'd rate it as the standard by which all others are judged but that doesn't detract from the fact that GT's wonderful.

                                                      1. re: MacGuffin

                                                        My wife and I eat there at least once a week, sometimes more frequently. We actually find it tough to eat at other places, because of the standard being set so high by GT. I think that Danny doesn't hold this high level of service at USQ or EMP. It's a function of the GM Kevin Mahan and beverage director Juliette Pope.

                                                        Your comment about unobtrusive service is spot on. One (my wife calls it crazy) measure I use of a well-trained staff -- besides their extreme attention to thorough knowledge of what's being served every day and the wines/beers on the glass list -- is the lack of "clanking" of dishes, silverware, and glasses while serving and clearing.

                                                        This is not just in the formal dining room, but on the tavern side and even dining at the bar (which is where we dine a majority of the time).

                                                        Anyway - I'm a fan as you might be able to tell

                                                        1. re: ChairmanMeeow

                                                          In addition to clanking et al., I don't like wait staff hovering to fulfill my every wish, either. I like them to be available and helpful but pretty much undetectable for the most part.

                                                          I remember eating years ago (actually, it was just prior to 9/11) at Cipriani in SoHo. We were repulsed that the maitre d' and waiters were alternately arrogant (with a hint of condescension) and obsequious. Needless to say, we never returned. Too bad because I enjoyed the food itself.

                                                2. CELESTE. Ate there twice the first year it was open. The first time the food was good, the second time they forgot to cook my wife's mussels before serving them yet still had plenty of time to schmooz the regulars. The noise and the crowding were remeniscent of the subway at rush hour. Haven't been back.

                                                  6 Replies
                                                      1. re: LeahBaila

                                                        Third that! And it wasn't b/c of the scientific food, either. I've eaten that inventive fare in Spain, but i didn't care for WD-50.

                                                        1. re: brownie

                                                          wd-50 was the second most disappointing meal in my life

                                                    1. re: Brian W

                                                      Yes, I've noticed the completely bipolar service at Celeste, too. I've heard it's a difference of when the manager is in or not. There are evenings I've been where it's honest to goodness 5 star service. Other days, it' more like a 2. There's very little in between.

                                                      1. re: Brian W

                                                        I completely agree with Celeste. I have been twice in the last couple of weeks and thought it was so bad. The pizza was WAY to salty, the service was just annoying and the way they pack you in is terrible. They had to move two tables just for me to get out (and I am not by any means a fat person). I found everything to be soaked in olive oil, expect for the almond crusted chicken, for which their was oddly no sauce or olive oil at all and the crust was hard as rock. Look, I get the whole Italian bistro charm with the guys up front schmoozing and that, but the guy working the door and walking around was just downright annoying and talked to hear himself talk.