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Jul 11, 2008 01:46 PM

Benoit- go or no??

We are considering going to Benoit. Does anyone have any opinions?

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  1. It seriously is just a bistro. Go without expectations you will be fine. Don't expect to be wowed or amazed or beddazzled because you will probabaly not be. I think a bistro is probabaly the french equivelent of a diner. If you are hungry and need to eat dinner, then its perfectly fine. It's absolutely no destinations by any means.

    1 Reply
    1. re: donnywarchild

      I went there for quenelles and duck a l'orange...both were terrific..stick with the classics and you'll have a fine dinner.

    2. If Adam Platt took a very dim view of the place, if his opinion carries any weight with you.

      1. I went about a month ago and thought the food was pretty good. Had escargots, halibut, and baba rhum. The latest professional reviews are making me a bit nervous to go back. But, I think donnywarchild is right that if you go w/expecations of good, basic food rather than of eating at a Ducasse restaurant, you should be OK.

        1. We went before the current spate of reviews came out. I would disregard them. (I never care what Bruni says, and Platt doesn't like French bistro food, so his view of Benoit doesn't count for me.)

          We really enjoyed our dinner. Escargots, cassoulet, duck a l'orange, baba au rhum were all delicious. As others have said, it is a bistro, not haute cuisine. As long as you don't go with ridiculously high expectations, you will have a good experience.

          Note: We did not have the very popular chicken for two because they were out of it. However, given that so many people whose opinions I trust have said that the quality of its preparation is very inconsistent, at this point, I'd probably avoid ordering it.

          3 Replies
          1. re: RGR

            I've been there about 5 times. It is very inconsistent. I would not recommend it at this point.

            1. re: RGR

              Cheers RGR! I agree. It was as if Platt was having a grand ol time destroying Benoit's chance here in NYC. He probably had a ball going there knowing he and his entourage hate French bistro cuisine. The article was quite funny. I did agree with a few of his points. The interior's a bit cheesy etc. But it is worth a try.

              1. re: kissy28c

                Hey, kissy28c,

                Many people think the NYC restaurant critics take some perverse pleasure in beating up on Ducasse.

                I thought Bruni's review seemed relatively fair while Platt's was gratuitously negative.

                Obviously, since we've only been there once, I can't speak to the issue of inconsistency. To be sure, if our first experience hadn't been a good one, you can bet your sweet baba au rhum that I would not go back or recommend it..

            2. I've been and was less than impressed. The service was abysmal and the food wasn't remarkable. Some people have said that you shouldn't expect any evidence of Ducasse's vaunted hand at work here but I have to disagree. If you've got a reputation that preceeds you then you have to work to protect that reputation. You don't stick you name on every label that comes along because doing so will ruin your brand (Halston or YSL anyone?). If Benoit was merely very good, I could give him a pass because it is, "just a brasserie." Yet Benoit isn't very good. I've followed Benoit since before it opened because I really wanted to see some of the Ducasse magic work in Manhattan. Sadly, once again, Ducasse has fallen flat. He underestimates his competition and has no clue what makes a great restaurant in New York. Ducasse is on record as saying that if Adour didn't make top reviews then he would consider it a failure. By his standard, it's a failure. Adour is no Daniel and certainly no Per Se. That's why I had such hopes for Benoit. Maybe Ducasse could hit a home run and make that space the best brasserie in the city as it once used to be. But no. Ducasse has put Benoit on autopilot and tailored it to appeal to American tourists who he assumes won't know from good food. Why has he done this to both his restaurants? He's got Thomas Keller a few blocks away and Joel Robuchon, the only French chef who he can claim as a rival, across the street.

              You have to bring your A game when you're a star chef and you have to bring your A game to New York. Essex House was wrong for New York, no question. The food was terrific, if overpriced, and the absurd fawning staff was not something Americans appreciate. I truly think Ducasse does not understand America or the New York sensibility. Something tells me has never once dined at Le Bernardin or Daniel or any of his competition here because he is, obviously, a great chef who knows something about the restaurant business, and likely assumes he doesn't need to. Ducasse just doesn't know how to do it here and, it seems, hasn't bothered to learn. As his empire expands, he seems less and less able to manage it. I'm sorry to see his talents spread so thin.

              1 Reply
              1. re: jason_els

                We have been to Benoit, and as French bistro cuisine goes, we thought the food we had -- escargots, duck, cassoulet, and baba au rhum --- was nicely prepared and tasty.

                I would be interested in some specifics of what you had at Benoit and why you found it disappointing.

                P.S. We never went to A.D. at the Essex House and have not been to Adour. However, I would like to know what you had at Adour and, again, why it didn't measure up.