Consistently Good Kosher Restaurants
Thanks for the feedback on T Fusion Steakhouse (except for the one nasty, mean-spirited, and "over the top" personal rant, which I'm glad to see was quickly deleted by the Chowhound Team). I tried to describe my own experience there fairly, and honestly, and though some of you had very different experiences I believe that yours are valid as well for the particular time that you were there; and I respect your reports and opinions. I think that honest opinions are what Chowhound is supposed to be about.
The very mixed feedback confirms the problem that I see with just about all the kosher restaurants I've been to. I don't think that it's so much that different people have higher, or lower expectations - but that the food and service are frustratingly inconsistent from visit to visit, so it's hard to count on them. When you read a good review, you have a right to expect that your experience will be just as good. When you're spending your money, you expect a consistently nice experience, (and even more so when you're bringing guests).
I'm sure that this is a problem with non kosher restaurants as well, but I have a feeling that the "best of the best" can be counted on pretty consistently. Are there any particular kosher restaurants that you've returned to at least several times and have found that they for the most part live up to expecatations?
I'll agree with Tomby, my experiences at Le Marais, though limited, have been uniformly good. I must say, though, that it's my perception that steakhouses, in particular, get high marks in that regard. First, they do basically one thing, and if they do it well, they prosper, and if they do it poorly, they flounder. How hard is it to broil a steak properly and bring it to the table while still hot? Well, in a high volume place, it may not be easy, but it's probably easier than juggling a tremendously varied menu, trying to make a broad spectrum of items come out perfectly at the same time for a table populated with varied tastes. By more or less limiting the menu and learning to do things properly, by having uniformity of ingredients (steak thickness, for instance) and uniformity of cooking temperature, I'm sure it makes cooking things to order much easier. In any case, I like the steaks and service at Pat's in LA for the same reason (not that impressed with their braised items). Here in LA, I also like the Fish Grill for uniformity of food and good service. I must say that until the last time or so that I went, Levana also impressed me with all around good service and properly prepared food- I'd try them again if I were in New York. They were one with a more varied menu, but which consistently did well, and I used to visit them pretty often when I was in town.
One last thing- a server can't usually make up for poorly prepared food, or timing mistakes in the kitchen, but he can communicate with the customer. So if there's a problem in the kitchen, and a person's food is not ready at the same time as the other people at the table, sometimes a visit to a restaurant can be salvaged by the waiter or waitress simply communicating to the customer that there was a problem, and that he/she is trying to remain on top of it, rather than just keeping the customer in limbo. If the front of the house is running smoothly, sometimes it can make a difficult time in the kitchen into an overall positive experience for the customer. Unfortunately, I don't go out to restaurants that often, but I would think that getting to know the waitstaff in multiple visits would help make future visits even more enjoyable, as the waistaff becomes an active advocate for the customer's experience.
Le Marais is good for what they're good for- they do a good job on steaks for a reasonable price. Mike's Bistro is generally well liked, though make sure you have some time if you're ordering lots of courses. They're expensive, but the food is to die for.