Fabulous dining: Review of my experiences
- ponocat Mar 15, 2008 04:11 PM
Just got back from a feasting experience in NYC, which included stops at Daniel and Per Se (both outstanding), a pretty good lunch at Le Bernardine, and absolutely lousy meals at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon and Masa.
Have written extensively on these on my website, but, briefly, want to report on one of the best dishes I've ever had: "milk-fed pig 4 ways" at Daniel. It was beyond belief. A lightly smoked succulent chop , a boudin blanc, some jambon, and a rib—all were perfectly cooked, perfectly spiced. The quality of the food, the expertise in cooking and spicing it so well, and the delightful presentation convinced me that Daniel Boulud is a fantastic chef. I recommend Daniel to anyone with $ to spend on a high-end meal and wants truly great food. I should add, however, that you should go to Daniel only if you don't mind miniscule-sized tables!!
As for Masa..well, I am very sorry I went there. Quality of the fish in the sushi is very varied, service was spotty, and the price was way out of line for what you get. My advice: stay away.
Glad you had a good experience. I know the food must be great there sometimes, otherwise JR wouldn't have the exceptional reputation he has.
To answer your question, chocokitty, the worst part of the meal was the “onion tart, smoked bacon, and shaved parmesan” for $24 each. We tried to cut it with the knives we’d been given. It would not cut. We asked for better knives, but even the serrated steak knives we got would not go through the crust. When I finally got a bite chiseled free, it was unchewable. We asked the waiter to find out what the crust was made of. Answer: “wonton wrappers that have been rolled thin.” We ate the sautéed onion and the two slices of parmesan (which were definitely not shaved).
That said, even the good parts of the meal were not very good. I also had the carmelized quail, the sauce to which was very bitter tasting to me. When I mentioned this to the waiter after the first bite, he went to the kitchen and then came back and announced that "there are no bitter ingredients." No offer to exchange. I didn't eat it. Just a poor experience.
I am also surprised to hear that you have "lousy" meals at Masa and Robuchon as they are my favorite restaurants. I just dined at Masa not so long ago and I couldn't find any flaw in either food or service. Did you go to Bar Masa or Masa? What was the "bad" things that contributed to the lousy meal? I am curious.
Kobetobiko, I know that there are a lot of people who must find Masa flawless, or he couldn't get away with charging what he does for what he gives. Having said that, my particular experience was just awful. And this was even when we went there hungry, with good attitudes, and high expectations. As I noted, I give a complete rundown at my website, but to give you a concise answer here, I think that the worst part of the meal was the majority of it, i.e., the sushi. 80% of the meal was a series of 20 sushi morsels (all served the same way). Now, I am a sushi nut and I eat it all the time (I live in Hawaii, so we have a lot of really good sushi places), but the sushi at Masa was NOT all up to standard. The toro, in particular, was of very poor quality, as was the mackeral, unagi, and mushroom. Yes, there were good ones (scallop, orange crab), but I think that for the price that there should be absolutely nothing NOTHING that you put in your mouth and then either spit out or wish you could spit it out. Was there anything good? Of course! The sea urchin risotto with black truffle shavings was out-of-this-world good! But when I pay $400+ prix fixe for a meal, I expect everything to taste good, if not wonderful.