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EMP--now what?

r
rudysmom Jul 27, 2012 12:23 PM

NYT article:
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/28/din...

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  1. loratliff RE: rudysmom Jul 27, 2012 12:36 PM

    I have to say I'm shocked. I love EMP (both pre-grid and with the grid), but this all just seems strange to me... Maybe I just don't get it. It just seems like an odd thing to do. (Particularly quite soon after releasing a cookbook.)

    1. p
      peter j RE: rudysmom Jul 27, 2012 12:37 PM

      I can just see the black and white canapes served on smoking rocks set upon on lavender scented pillows and headphones with a soundtrack of chirping birds. The problem with such gimmickry is that it's so infantilizing, as if the chef is trying to entertain a five year old. There's no need to change anything afaic.

      3 Replies
      1. re: peter j
        s
        Scott_C RE: peter j Jul 28, 2012 04:32 PM

        While it's premature to judge EMP. hiring a magician to develop the dessert course does seem to be an idea copied from Alinea.

        1. re: Scott_C
          uhockey RE: Scott_C Jul 28, 2012 05:29 PM

          Who did Alinea hire?

          And, um, if we're really splitting hairs here then didn't Alinea copy Adria?

          http://endoedibles.com

          1. re: Scott_C
            buttertart RE: Scott_C Jul 30, 2012 10:01 AM

            Must have been something that originated in the midwest, my husband remembers tableside magicians at Johnny Hartman's restaurant in Davenport, IA in the late 50's...this whole thing strikes me as way off the rails.

        2. ellenost RE: rudysmom Jul 27, 2012 01:03 PM

          Can't tell whether the menu will become set for the entire dining room or whether there will be still some choices. Also wonder what will happen to their lunch menu.

          6 Replies
          1. re: ellenost
            k
            kathryn RE: ellenost Jul 27, 2012 01:11 PM

            "The grid menu will remain, but it will now be blended with a tasting menu of about a dozen dishes. The $195 price will be the same as for the restaurant’s current tasting menu, but a $125 option will no longer be available."

            So I'm guessing they'll let you choose a few of the dishes on the tasting but everyone has to get the tasting? And it'll be the same menu for lunch & dinner.

            "The changes are daring for Eleven Madison Park, which has worked so long to reach its perch and where the new marathon meal will become the only option — even at lunch."

            1. re: kathryn
              ellenost RE: kathryn Jul 27, 2012 01:40 PM

              So it sounds like I'll be more frequently dining at The NoMad and saving EMP for only very special occasions. What a shame--used to love going to EMP on a regular basis just for a nice dinner out. EMP has now moved into the Per Se stratosphere where I'll probably dine there once every few years. I'll miss them.

              1. re: ellenost
                k
                kathryn RE: ellenost Jul 27, 2012 01:44 PM

                I'm wondering if they'll keep the a la carte in the bar area for dinner. Kind of like Per Se's lounge.

                1. re: kathryn
                  l
                  Livetoeateattolive RE: kathryn Aug 6, 2012 07:39 AM

                  I heard the physical bar area will not change and if I understood the conversation I believe the menu in the bar will still exist post format change.

                2. re: ellenost
                  loratliff RE: ellenost Jul 27, 2012 01:55 PM

                  Ellen, when I first read that, I thought that was the idea. I agree—it is a shame. Per Se was once in a blue moon, whereas EMP still felt approachable for a (very) nice dinner out. This current iteration doesn't seem that way.

                  1. re: loratliff
                    t
                    tpigeon RE: loratliff Jul 27, 2012 02:02 PM

                    My guess is they feel they have the casual covered with Nomad so they want to use EMP as a place to experiment and push their craft. I wish them well.

            2. r
              rrems RE: rudysmom Jul 27, 2012 02:59 PM

              From the article:

              "Will the transformation delight customers, or alienate them by seeming gimmicky? "

              I wrote off EMP after my one experience with the "grid" (after many great meals in the original format), so it doesn't matter as far as I am concerned, but this new plan sounds truly ridiculous.

              14 Replies
              1. re: rrems
                Cheeryvisage RE: rrems Jul 27, 2012 03:01 PM

                I agree with you on this. I'm not a fan of the grid menu either. This new change sounds terrible to me.

                1. re: Cheeryvisage
                  sgordon RE: Cheeryvisage Jul 28, 2012 07:42 AM

                  I don't see how the "Grid" menu is (was) any different than any other four-course prix fixe. The only difference was that at EMP, you could ask about different preparations. Seems a silly thing to be a fan / not a fan of, it was about as relevant to the meal itself as what font they used.

                  1. re: sgordon
                    uhockey RE: sgordon Jul 28, 2012 08:29 AM

                    I'm not a fan of that font. ;-) Overrated and overpriced.

                    http://endoedibles.com

                    1. re: sgordon
                      Cheeryvisage RE: sgordon Jul 28, 2012 09:21 AM

                      Honestly, I'm the type who does all the research about the menu beforehand and already knows what to order going in. EMP's grid menu throws all that out of the window. I don't appreciate not knowing what's on the menu and having to play the "coax more details out of the server" game.

                      1. re: Cheeryvisage
                        r
                        rrems RE: Cheeryvisage Jul 28, 2012 01:06 PM

                        Agreed, and our server was not at all helpful in explaining it or offering choices. She was really pushing us to just be surprised.

                        1. re: rrems
                          ellenost RE: rrems Jul 28, 2012 01:20 PM

                          I never let Chef "surprise" me. I always asked for a detailed description of each dish that I was possibly interested in trying. The grid was wasted on me since I always requested detail. All of the servers that have taken care of me have always been extremely gracious in providing all of the requested detail.

                          1. re: ellenost
                            uhockey RE: ellenost Jul 28, 2012 02:55 PM

                            ...must be difficult dining at Ko, then.

                            http://endoedibles.com

                            1. re: uhockey
                              ellenost RE: uhockey Jul 28, 2012 05:56 PM

                              When I used "Chef" I was referring to Chef Humm. I've enjoyed the surprise of the menu at Ko for more than 4 years.

                              1. re: ellenost
                                uhockey RE: ellenost Jul 29, 2012 01:56 PM

                                Not trying to be difficult, but I find this perplexing - you're willing to "trust" whichever random chef Chang has on the line that night to "surprise" you, but not willing to allow a decidedly more celebrated and talented chef the same opportunity?

                                http://endoedibles.com

                        2. re: Cheeryvisage
                          uhockey RE: Cheeryvisage Jul 28, 2012 02:55 PM

                          ...then I guess the entire concept of a "Chef's tasting" that varies day to day is lost on you anyhow.

                          http://endoedibles.com

                          1. re: uhockey
                            Cheeryvisage RE: uhockey Jul 28, 2012 03:12 PM

                            What? I was talking about the prix fixe, not the tasting menu (which doesn't use the grid).

                            1. re: Cheeryvisage
                              uhockey RE: Cheeryvisage Jul 28, 2012 03:46 PM

                              The tasting borrows directly from the grid.

                              What I meant was, if you like the concept of pre-choosing everything before you arrive then I have to imagine a Chef's Tasting Menu is probably never right for you, just like the concept at EMP where you choose an ingredient and Humm prepares it however he likes.

                              http://endoedibles.com

                              1. re: uhockey
                                Cheeryvisage RE: uhockey Jul 28, 2012 04:33 PM

                                No, I in fact enjoy chef's tasting menus when I'm in the mood for it. But I'm not in the mood for tasting menus all the time, therefore I order prix fixe or a la carte instead. And this is why I don't appreciate getting something tasting menu-ish (unknown ingredients/dishes) when I order prix fixe.

                                1. re: uhockey
                                  s
                                  Sneakeater RE: uhockey Aug 12, 2012 08:23 PM

                                  But Chef Humm DOESN'T prepare the dish "however he likes", if by "however he likes" you mean to imply improvisation based on momentary whim.

                                  It is clear that, for each dish on the grid, there is a default preparation. Which everybody who orders the dish gets. Just like at restaurants with normal menus. It's just that at EMP, they don't tell you what that preparation is (unless you ask).

                                  (To be sure, details might change based on daily availability of ingredients. Again, just like at restaurants with normal menus.)

                    2. uhockey RE: rudysmom Jul 27, 2012 06:05 PM

                      I'll speak up from the alternative view point - these guys haven't failed yet, and $195 hardly matches Per Se's $295 price tag.

                      EMP has been an ambitious project from the day Humm started there - they're taking a gamble and shooting for the stars. I wish them well and will certainly put it on my agenda for visit #4 the next time I'm in town.

                      http://endoedibles.com

                      14 Replies
                      1. re: uhockey
                        k
                        kathryn RE: uhockey Jul 27, 2012 06:21 PM

                        Per Se is service included but not tax, right?

                        1. re: kathryn
                          uhockey RE: kathryn Jul 27, 2012 06:37 PM

                          Correct. Plus the Foie supplement of $40.

                          I'm not saying EMP is on the level of Per Se - I love EMP but find Per Se to be a superior restaurant - but what I'm saying is that Michelin, the Times, and (slowly but surely) S.Peligrino consider them both to be superior restaurants. In addition, as good as Per Se is, EMP has truly become "NEW YORK" - a slow progression of Will and Daniel truly embracing the culture and heritage of New York.

                          If a friend with unlimited funds was going to New York and asked me what the BEST meal in New York was, I'd say Per Se for the $550 Extended Tasting. If someone asked me what the most memorable New York 'experience' meal was, I'd likely say Eleven Madison Park.......and if they didn't have unlimited funds, I'd be hard pressed to choose between EMP's tasting or Per Se's tasting.

                          http://endoedibles.com

                          1. re: uhockey
                            t
                            tpigeon RE: uhockey Jul 27, 2012 06:44 PM

                            +1. Well said.

                            1. re: tpigeon
                              uhockey RE: tpigeon Jul 27, 2012 07:06 PM

                              I remain stunned at the backlash they continue to get.

                              Back when they were essentially giving away Michelin 3* food and service (my first visit in 2008) all people did was complain that the restaurant was underrated.

                              Then the restaurant got 'rated' and continued to have a substantially underpriced lunch deal and people still said they needed more stars.

                              Next they really change things up - go to the 'grid' - which really wasn't all that different from prior (and a bit gimmicky, imo, since the dishes did not vary from table to table,) they up the ante in amuses, mignardises, and Humm's food evolves to an even greater degree - plus they get 4 stars from the Times and 3* from Michelin - and all people do is complain about the grid.

                              Now they come up with this new concept and without even trying it people want to hate it, critique the price point, etc.

                              It is a special restaurant. It is a great restaurant. It is cheaper than Per Se, Masa, Brooklyn Fare, Meadowood, French Laundry, Robuchon, and Alinea.......all 3*s, as well, and it continues to evolve.

                              http://endoedibles.com

                              1. re: uhockey
                                r
                                rrems RE: uhockey Jul 27, 2012 08:14 PM

                                <they up the ante in amuses, mignardises>

                                No they did not. Back in the old days before the "grid" I got more amuses and mignardises than after. The trick is that instead of serving one plate of canapes they divided it up and served several plates in succession, but overall there was less than there used to be.

                                1. re: uhockey
                                  s
                                  sugartoof RE: uhockey Jul 29, 2012 02:37 PM

                                  What you just outlined is confusion for many casual visitors. Unless you go yearly, it depicts a lack of consistency - not in food quality, or service - but approach.

                                  They've gone from affordable bargain sleeper to highly rated big splurge. They've gone from finessed classic, with some inventiveness to puns, and gastronomy.

                                  1. re: sugartoof
                                    uhockey RE: sugartoof Jul 29, 2012 03:22 PM

                                    They aren't a "causal restaurant" anymore. They are a destination restaurant. El Bulli didn't start out as it ended, either.

                                    http://endoedibles.com

                                    1. re: uhockey
                                      s
                                      sugartoof RE: uhockey Jul 29, 2012 09:56 PM

                                      They were always a destination restaurant, now they want to become an event. A backlash is natural.

                                      There are still people talking about their signature duck dishes from the old incarnation. Who can keep up?

                                      1. re: sugartoof
                                        uhockey RE: sugartoof Jul 30, 2012 06:58 AM

                                        They were not a "destination" until they got the 3* from Michelin. Whether people like it or not, the pull of those stars to the European/Asian tourist is HUGE.

                                        People who want "EMP-lite" now have Nomad which is certainly closer to EMP than Bouchon is to Per Se.

                                        Besides - at ~$200 pp after beverages, tax, and tip (Even before this change) I WANT my meal to be the 'event' of the day/night.

                                        http://endoedibles.com

                                        1. re: uhockey
                                          s
                                          sugartoof RE: uhockey Jul 30, 2012 09:37 AM

                                          "They were not a "destination" until they got the 3* from Michelin. "

                                          Nonsense. They've been the a Chow favorite since Humm arrived, and at least since their 4 stars from the New York Times.

                                          Chowhounders have been recommending it as the standard destination for special occasions, proposals, business meetings, splurges, bargain lunches, and everything in between since it was a Danny Meyer, ala carte affair.

                                          1. re: sugartoof
                                            s
                                            Sneakeater RE: sugartoof Jul 30, 2012 09:39 AM

                                            Yeah. "Destination" doesn't mean that people from Hong Kong go there.

                                            "Destination" means that people from, say, the Upper West Side go there.

                                            1. re: Sneakeater
                                              s
                                              sugartoof RE: Sneakeater Jul 30, 2012 09:45 AM

                                              Right..or both, as was the case of EMP since it opened.

                                              1. re: Sneakeater
                                                uhockey RE: Sneakeater Jul 30, 2012 06:26 PM

                                                You and I both know that is incorrect.

                                                http://endoedibles.com

                                    2. re: uhockey
                                      n
                                      nmprisons RE: uhockey Jul 30, 2012 07:23 AM

                                      Thank you for writing this, uhockey, I couldn't agree more.

                            2. c
                              calf RE: rudysmom Jul 28, 2012 09:28 AM

                              Essentially it is theatrics. Story-telling, drama, history has always been part of cuisine, at all levels of dining. For EMP potentially this could become a big tourist draw (either the well-traveled, or those who are passionate about food). If this drives away regular dining, so be it.

                              I am reminded of the nytimes article on Per Se pointing out that a significant part of its revenue has been from expense account / corporate dining. If more people go to these places really to care about *food*, that is a beautiful thing.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: calf
                                uhockey RE: calf Jul 28, 2012 02:53 PM

                                Amen.

                                http://endoedibles.com

                                1. re: calf
                                  c
                                  cambridgedoctpr RE: calf Jul 29, 2012 01:01 PM

                                  even if dining on an expense account, do you really not want an option for a 2 hour meal?

                                  I wonder about eating at one of the other danny meyers places instead such as gramercy tavern.

                                  1. re: cambridgedoctpr
                                    r
                                    rudysmom RE: cambridgedoctpr Jul 29, 2012 01:04 PM

                                    EMP is not one of Danny's places any more. he sold out to Humm a couple of years ago...thus the changes

                                    1. re: rudysmom
                                      Spiritchaser RE: rudysmom Jul 29, 2012 02:18 PM

                                      Being a SA here. It was actually November 10 2011 when the sale was final, I only remember because we were there when they made the annoucement. They've come a longggg way in under a year.

                                    2. re: cambridgedoctpr
                                      Spiritchaser RE: cambridgedoctpr Jul 29, 2012 01:04 PM

                                      Just FYI, EMP is no longer a Danny Meyer place.

                                  2. p
                                    plf515 RE: rudysmom Jul 28, 2012 03:08 PM

                                    Sounds utterly absurd.

                                    I think maybe they've started inhaling their own publicity.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: plf515
                                      buttertart RE: plf515 Jul 30, 2012 10:04 AM

                                      Mmm hmm, I agree.

                                    2. g
                                      gloriousfood RE: rudysmom Jul 28, 2012 06:32 PM

                                      I, for one, am really looking forward to this. I think it's exciting, bold and daring and it could work out great or fall flat on its face. Still, just the thought that a restaurant such as EMP would think to do something like this elevates them in my mind.

                                      Then again, I've always found the restaurant's ambiance to be pleasant but deathly dull. It can use some livening up.

                                      1. g
                                        germanchris RE: rudysmom Jul 28, 2012 10:09 PM

                                        Sounds like Fat Duck NYC

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: germanchris
                                          Spiritchaser RE: germanchris Jul 29, 2012 06:22 AM

                                          My thoughts exactly

                                          1. re: Spiritchaser
                                            k
                                            kathryn RE: Spiritchaser Jul 29, 2012 09:05 AM

                                            Or Alinea in NYC. Looking at their "competition" in the top ten restaurants in the world in the San Pellegrino list, I can see why maybe they're changing things up.

                                            1. re: kathryn
                                              Spiritchaser RE: kathryn Jul 29, 2012 09:18 AM

                                              Agreed. In anything, survivors are the things that know how and when to adapt.

                                              1. re: Spiritchaser
                                                uhockey RE: Spiritchaser Jul 29, 2012 01:54 PM

                                                Nicely stated.

                                                And I still don't see them moving that far towards 'mg' - having dined at Alinea 3 times I never see Humm's cuisine moving that way, he is too organic of a chef - his use of vegetables simply too refined to go that far into the realm of 'food science.'

                                                Alinea is like nowhere else in the US - possibly nowhere else in the world. EMP is closer to the lineage of the French Laundry, Robuchons, etc of the world - though an entirely distinct entity. If they want to add a few 'tricks' I'm all for it and given the fact that they have been evolving since day one I imagine they'll do alright regardless of what any of us Chowhounders think.

                                                http://endoedibles.com

                                                1. re: uhockey
                                                  k
                                                  kathryn RE: uhockey Jul 31, 2012 06:15 AM

                                                  I see a similarity to Achatz's work in terms of playfulness and theatricality. Dishes where he next course is hidden under the previous course. Containers full of smoke or other scented air. Objects that don't look like food at first being placed on the table. Liquid nitrogen cocktails.

                                                  I'm looking forward to seeing how EMP evolves.

                                                  1. re: kathryn
                                                    buttertart RE: kathryn Jul 31, 2012 03:48 PM

                                                    I had a lovely corn soup at The Modern Restaurant, with hickory smoke under the dome that really added to the experience. It was just done, not trumpeted about.

                                        2. gourmandish RE: rudysmom Jul 29, 2012 06:18 AM

                                          Glass dome full of smoke? Blast of sea mist from a tabletop clambake?

                                          They've already been doing a lot of the stuff referenced in the article. The tasting menu, I felt, was already very New York-centric (black and white cookies? NY style cheesecake?), so to me this concept doesn't really seem like much of a reach. I never ordered off the grid so I can't speak to that. I don't think this will deter me from going back.

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: gourmandish
                                            Spiritchaser RE: gourmandish Jul 29, 2012 06:47 AM

                                            Right, I've already expeirenced several of the "new" dishes (which were excellent) and will of course give the new format at least one go before passing judgement, The real shame is the end of the (relatively) bargain priced lunch option.

                                            1. re: Spiritchaser
                                              d
                                              DaisyM RE: Spiritchaser Jul 29, 2012 07:24 AM

                                              Really wish we were able to go before the change. $200 for lunch is really out there.

                                              1. re: DaisyM
                                                Spiritchaser RE: DaisyM Jul 29, 2012 08:05 AM

                                                You have until Labor Day : )

                                              2. re: Spiritchaser
                                                j
                                                jewelin RE: Spiritchaser Jul 31, 2012 12:55 PM

                                                I agree. I am going this Friday for lunch and it will probably be my last time. By removing the $74 four-course lunch and leaving only the $195 option (which admittedly offers a greater range and number of courses) they may well exclude a lot of people like me who have two hours to enjoy eating great food at a great price.

                                                1. re: jewelin
                                                  s
                                                  sugartoof RE: jewelin Jul 31, 2012 01:11 PM

                                                  The $74 already excluded a lot of regulars as it was, obviously.

                                            2. s
                                              Sneakeater RE: rudysmom Jul 30, 2012 08:20 AM

                                              I think the reason there's so much ill will here is that the Grid turned out to be nothing more than a silly gimmick that was no different from what any top restaurant would do -- they all will change preparations for you if you ask them to -- but which misled naive diners into thinking that each dish was tailored to their unique tastes (somehow magically intuited by the kitchen), while saddling less naive diners with the cumbersome task of interrogating their server as to the contents and manner of preparation of each dish. (Remember the famous CH post in which some outraged diner claimed he was defrauded because the "Lobster" turned out to be a pasta dish?)

                                              The Grid was such an obvious publicity play that it's hard to see this new iteration of the menu as anything different.

                                              I like EMP a lot, and I wish Chef Humm and Will Guidara nothing but success. I know I'm going to go try this new menu. But it seems transparent to me.

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: Sneakeater
                                                h
                                                H Manning RE: Sneakeater Jul 30, 2012 09:47 AM

                                                Agreed. I do find it curious that Humm would rather imitate other chefs' concepts than come up with his own. It sounds like he just wants to move up the S. Pellegrino rankings by imitating the styles of the restaurants ranked above EMP.

                                                1. re: H Manning
                                                  s
                                                  sugartoof RE: H Manning Jul 30, 2012 09:57 AM

                                                  What's curious to me is he chose to do it in EMP rather than open a new restaurant, or stick it in Nomad. It's created a void in the NY dining scene.

                                                  1. re: H Manning
                                                    uhockey RE: H Manning Jul 30, 2012 06:28 PM

                                                    Who - precisely - is he immitating by tailoring his presentation to be even more a tribute to The Big Apple?

                                                    http://endoedibles.com

                                                    1. re: H Manning
                                                      n
                                                      nmprisons RE: H Manning Jul 31, 2012 05:54 AM

                                                      Which other restaurant that you have been to, currently ranked above, EMP, is he trying to imitate and how? If anything, this seems like an attempt to separate EMP from the masses.

                                                      --edit: uhockey beat me to it.--

                                                  2. Winterpool RE: rudysmom Jul 30, 2012 04:04 PM

                                                    For a time, perhaps a year or two, Eleven Madison Park was amongst the best deals in New York. For $125, diners received four 'courses' and any number of amuses and interstitials, served with Meyer's blend of professionalism and warmth. And by 2011, one was clearly dining on multi-Michelin star cuisine, no matter what the red guides said.

                                                    After Michelin's confirmation of EMP's 3-star quality, what was there to aim for? Both Humm and Guidara are very young. Some chefs branch out, and we saw Made Nice open The NoMad, which made me worry just a bit for EMP. But now it's clear that Humm and Guidara want to be named in the same breath as Adrià, Blumenthal, Achatz... Can I begrudge them their ambition or audacity?

                                                    I appreciate a bit of theatre when dining at this level, and I've always enjoyed EMP's tableside productions -- the 'egg cream', the siphon coffee service, the tea ceremony. But aside from the duck, most of the 'show' has been confined to the extras. Am I worried? Yes. Will I miss the fantastic bargain of the $125 menu? Certainly. Is EMP becoming a restaurant for the globalising elite rather than humble local foodies? I'm afraid so.

                                                    The direction suggested by the -Times- article sounds rather risky. My great hope is that, as Uhockey remarked, EMP remains -New York-, that whatever story they try to tell unites drama with history and place and, of course, excellent food. The EMP that was an upmarket brasserie is long gone. Now, perhaps, we will have to bid farewell to the Eleven Madison Park many of us loved. What comes next may be fantastic, but something may be lost as well. In any case, I wish them good luck.

                                                    7 Replies
                                                    1. re: Winterpool
                                                      Winterpool RE: Winterpool Jul 30, 2012 04:58 PM

                                                      Besides consulting with Kenneth Jackson, Humm has been reading 'a lot of New York food history, dishes that were invented in the city'.

                                                      http://www.gastronomica.org/interview...

                                                      It was fascinating to learn how, owing to the financial crisis, EMP nearly came a cropper in its attempt to become a top restaurant. Bruni's 4-star review saved them [I can only imagine what Meyer must have been saying to them in those crucial months].

                                                      Also I hadn't realised Humm was originally set to become a professional cyclist! Talk about your Plan Bs...

                                                      1. re: Winterpool
                                                        s
                                                        sugartoof RE: Winterpool Jul 30, 2012 06:13 PM

                                                        So far his take on "New York" appears to be of the Broadway or Vegas variety. We're talking about really obvious Brooklyn Diner choices, done cartoonishly upscale.

                                                        1. re: sugartoof
                                                          n
                                                          nmprisons RE: sugartoof Jul 31, 2012 06:01 AM

                                                          Really? I have found things like the egg cream, appetizing platter, black and white cookies, etc. quite delightful. Not to mention the locally-brewed beers and classic new york cocktails, which seem far from "cartoonish." This thread reminds me of the classic line from Wayne's World.

                                                          But, alas, I also like Broadway.

                                                          1. re: nmprisons
                                                            s
                                                            sugartoof RE: nmprisons Jul 31, 2012 11:23 AM

                                                            You're welcome to like what you like, I'm suggesting it's bordering on corny despite the technique, and price point. It's not really New York, it's just exploiting NY iconography.
                                                            To me, it's conceptually no more valid than making a gummy candy to look like a "pizza by the slice"?

                                                            1. re: sugartoof
                                                              n
                                                              nmprisons RE: sugartoof Jul 31, 2012 05:03 PM

                                                              what is "really new york"?

                                                              1. re: nmprisons
                                                                s
                                                                sugartoof RE: nmprisons Jul 31, 2012 07:32 PM

                                                                Read the forum. It's many things, but it's not a caricature.

                                                      2. re: Winterpool
                                                        uhockey RE: Winterpool Jul 30, 2012 06:30 PM

                                                        Nicely stated.

                                                        http://endoedibles.com

                                                      3. f
                                                        fooder RE: rudysmom Jul 31, 2012 07:43 AM

                                                        For a long time, I'd told people that my favorite restaurant in NYC was Eleven Madison Park while the best restaurant in NYC was still Per Se. To me, Per Se was the more polished and complete restaurant. It knew exactly what it wanted to do, how it wanted to do it, and executed it to perfection. But what stood out to me about EMP was that it was always pushing and evolving. This caused a new sense of giddiness (and slight apprehension) with every new visit. I consider this move them continuing in the same fashion as they always have and keeping all of us on edge. But in the end, I trust that the quality of the food and the grandeur of the experience will still be there.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: fooder
                                                          uhockey RE: fooder Jul 31, 2012 06:06 PM

                                                          Nicely said.

                                                          http://endoedibles.com

                                                          1. re: fooder
                                                            Spiritchaser RE: fooder Aug 1, 2012 06:05 AM

                                                            Yes, what fooder said...

                                                            Excitement comes in all forms. You can look up at a roller coaster and be terrified you are going to get on it but still be excited, you can wait for the curtain to go up on a new play with your favorite actor and be excited, same can be said for me and EMP, okay, it's going to change, maybe after experiencing it I won't like it (doubtful) but it's still really exciting that it's changing.

                                                          2. Winterpool RE: rudysmom Aug 2, 2012 05:48 PM

                                                            Critics [including Ryan Sutton and Adam Platt] weigh in on the changes at EMP.

                                                            http://ny.eater.com/archives/2012/08/...

                                                            1. j
                                                              jerico RE: rudysmom Aug 12, 2012 08:43 AM

                                                              I went last night, and they were doing some of the new "stuff" - for example, I got the on-table-clam-bake thing. The host said they want to bring the sounds and smell of a NY beach clam bake to your table or something like that.

                                                              Other tables were given a dome of smoke, which when uncovered unleashes a BBQ-like aroma, which you can smell from a few tables away (and you can see the smoke pluming up). At first whiff it smells great. After that, I started thinking "ah, another table got the smoke dome..."

                                                              I found this tacky, and it distracted me from the best parts of EMP - the food, the service, the subdued elegance of the room - and made it feel sort of... whimsical.

                                                              Just my humble....

                                                              40 Replies
                                                              1. re: jerico
                                                                uhockey RE: jerico Aug 12, 2012 11:43 AM

                                                                ...they've been doing the clambake for ~year and the appetizing for at least 3 months...

                                                                http://endoedibles.com

                                                                1. re: uhockey
                                                                  Bob Martinez RE: uhockey Aug 12, 2012 02:42 PM

                                                                  Let me ask you a question in light the menu changes which a number of people regard as gimmicky. You go to see a magician and as part of his act he saws a woman in half. It's a great trick, but how many times would you pay to see it again?

                                                                  1. re: Bob Martinez
                                                                    uhockey RE: Bob Martinez Aug 12, 2012 03:21 PM

                                                                    My guess would be that the menu/tricks will continue to change regularly - just as it always has. I think I'm missing the point of this question. I wouldn't go to any restaurant where the menu never changes more than once.

                                                                    http://endoedibles.com

                                                                    1. re: uhockey
                                                                      Bob Martinez RE: uhockey Aug 12, 2012 04:09 PM

                                                                      Where do we draw the line? Harry Potter themed dishes that you eat with magic wands while sitting on broomsticks? Dressing the servers as ninjas? A space theme like Mars 2112?

                                                                      1. re: Bob Martinez
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                                                                        quddous RE: Bob Martinez Aug 13, 2012 11:29 AM

                                                                        Where do we draw the line? Monkeys as servers.

                                                                        Wait, they have that in Japan (and actually I've heard the food there is pretty good).

                                                                        I agree though. Heston Blumenthal does the same thing with an iPod and the sounds of the ocean. I don't mind when it actually adds to the food experience but I think most of these are just gimmicks. I don't think I would ever appreciate a card trick at a fine dining restaurant.

                                                                      2. re: uhockey
                                                                        Bob Martinez RE: uhockey Aug 12, 2012 04:52 PM

                                                                        "I wouldn't go to any restaurant where the menu never changes more than once."

                                                                        Actually, I'm beginning to understand. You're viewing EMP like a tourist might view the Broadway theater that's showing Phantom of the Opera. Once you've seen it there's no reason to go back until they start running the Lion King.

                                                                        1. re: Bob Martinez
                                                                          r
                                                                          Riverman500 RE: Bob Martinez Aug 12, 2012 05:05 PM

                                                                          Such things sell. At Alinea, every course is a gimmick, or divine inspiration, depending on your POV.

                                                                          1. re: Riverman500
                                                                            ellenost RE: Riverman500 Aug 12, 2012 05:54 PM

                                                                            Or as I found Alinea: 50% gimmick and 50% divine inspiration. I expect EMP to do much better.

                                                                            1. re: Riverman500
                                                                              d
                                                                              djquinnc RE: Riverman500 Aug 13, 2012 09:55 PM

                                                                              You have a point. However, what I still carry in my mind from my dinner at Alinea almost a year ago were the magnificent flavors and the wonderful service. Those more than the technology.

                                                                            2. re: Bob Martinez
                                                                              c
                                                                              calf RE: Bob Martinez Aug 12, 2012 05:17 PM

                                                                              Oh come on. There exists a balance, and it is attainable. There are movies and music that are highly repeatable, and the greatest of these works are regarded as timeless.

                                                                              Just because an experience is mostly fixed doesn't mean it's not worth repeating. Yet just because it varies to some extent doesn't mean it is worth repeating.

                                                                              I say, give them the benefit of the doubt. Let them screw up if need be; the NYC dining scene is too conservative—just look at how the International-Haute Cuisine set dominates these discussion boards. (To compare, I think in Asian cities with strong food cultures covering all economic brackets, that would be quite unacceptable.) The city will turn out the better for it, and I'm kinda awed that these people have the guts to follow their own ideas.

                                                                              1. re: calf
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                                                                                stevel RE: calf Aug 12, 2012 06:42 PM

                                                                                I also ate there last night and had the smoked dome dish. While it might seem like a gimmick, it was one of the highlights of the meal. I also had the clam bake a few months back and it was fantastic as well.

                                                                                1. re: calf
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                                                                                  Sneakeater RE: calf Aug 12, 2012 08:27 PM

                                                                                  I would humbly submit that the timeless musical classics generally don't involve magic tricks.

                                                                                  1. re: Sneakeater
                                                                                    c
                                                                                    calf RE: Sneakeater Aug 12, 2012 11:03 PM

                                                                                    Well I think there's more to it. For instance literature and poetry are abound with their equivalent of magic tricks. From the other angle, Penn and Teller have several acts watchable on YouTube that are poetic and "haute", from an artistic point of view.

                                                                                  2. re: calf
                                                                                    uhockey RE: calf Aug 12, 2012 09:44 PM

                                                                                    The sheer failure of molecular cuisine in New York speaks volumes to the uptight diners in The Big Apple. For the purported (not that I'm really disagreeing) best dining city in America the lack of outside-the-box thinking is often shocking to me.

                                                                                    http://endoedibles.com

                                                                                  3. re: Bob Martinez
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                                                                                    Sneakeater RE: Bob Martinez Aug 12, 2012 08:25 PM

                                                                                    "Tourist restaurant," Bob.

                                                                                    You've heard that before.

                                                                                    1. re: Bob Martinez
                                                                                      uhockey RE: Bob Martinez Aug 12, 2012 09:41 PM

                                                                                      No, I'm viewing EMP like a Michelin 3* establishment.

                                                                                      Per Se serves dishes in smoking vessels. Alinea serves on aerated pillows. Meadowood serves items on burning hay.

                                                                                      How is the clam bake or appetizing any different from fileting a Dover Sole tableside or making Bananas Foster? It is a presentation - no more and no less. It is interaction with the kitchen and the chef/owner's personality.

                                                                                      http://endoedibles.com

                                                                                      1. re: uhockey
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                                                                                        sugartoof RE: uhockey Aug 12, 2012 11:25 PM

                                                                                        The difference? A banana foster is a banana foster. The presentation, cooking it tableside doesn't represent a reinvention, or deconstruction, let alone whimsical showbiz version of preparation. EMP on the other hand would be serving an iced banana foster for their scallop preparation.

                                                                                        1. re: sugartoof
                                                                                          uhockey RE: sugartoof Aug 13, 2012 06:34 AM

                                                                                          ...they can't just make the Banana Foster in the kitchen and bring it out?

                                                                                          I mean, God forbid EMP do something tableside - like the 10 minute Siphon prep (could be done in kitchen) or the Egg Creams (could also be done in kitchen.)

                                                                                          Those crazy kids - gonna go and ruin their super-serious stick-up-their-butt service.

                                                                                          http://endoedibles.com

                                                                                          1. re: uhockey
                                                                                            Spiritchaser RE: uhockey Aug 13, 2012 06:51 AM

                                                                                            Yeah, sure the staff will be leaving in droves because they will be required to show some personality.

                                                                                            Bottom line for me is this; call it schtick, gimmick, cutting edge, revolutionary, evolutinary, I really don't care, to this day The Fat Duck in all it's glory and whimsy still ranks as probably the greatest dining experience we've had. It was part incredible food, part incredible service, part atmosphere, part presentation. I for one am EXTREMLY excited to see what EMP has in store for us.

                                                                                            People that have already made up the minds about EMP making a wrong move are the same people that, IMO, would hate when a singer changes their style because they "like the older stuff" better.

                                                                                            1. re: Spiritchaser
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                                                                                              Sneakeater RE: Spiritchaser Aug 13, 2012 07:07 AM

                                                                                              Not that anyone cares, but I want to make clear that I'm looking forward to trying the new EMP. Just because I'm skeptical doesn't mean I won't give it a fair shake. I WANT to like it. I LIKE having fun.

                                                                                              But don't you think it's strange that someone who used to be pretty classic suddenly decides he's going to be Heston Blumenthal? (Not that there are any card tricks at the Fat Duck, as far as I know.)

                                                                                              1. re: Sneakeater
                                                                                                sgordon RE: Sneakeater Aug 13, 2012 07:31 AM

                                                                                                This hasn't been sudden by any stretch of the imagination. While he's not, say, Dufresne or something (he's not as adventurous in terms of flavor pairings, for one) he's definitely had one foot in the door of modern techniques and presentation for quite some time now.

                                                                                            2. re: uhockey
                                                                                              n
                                                                                              nmprisons RE: uhockey Aug 13, 2012 07:24 AM

                                                                                              uhockey, if we are ever in the same city together, i would love to share a meal.

                                                                                              1. re: uhockey
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                                                                                                sugartoof RE: uhockey Aug 13, 2012 10:03 AM

                                                                                                "I mean, God forbid EMP do something tableside "

                                                                                                Is that really what you're taking away from this? It's the preparation, and approach that's being questioned, not whether they do it tableside. The black and white cookies aren't any less of a high brow Vegas/Epcot send up of New York because they "bake" them in the kitchen.

                                                                                                1. re: sugartoof
                                                                                                  n
                                                                                                  nmprisons RE: sugartoof Aug 13, 2012 10:32 AM

                                                                                                  i just don't understand this response. the cookies (especially the savory one) are also really freaking good.

                                                                                                  it doesn't matter much to me whether they are a high brow version, an epcot center version, or a bastardized version of some quintessential nyc dish. they taste good and are fun to eat. that is enough for me.

                                                                                                  1. re: nmprisons
                                                                                                    Spiritchaser RE: nmprisons Aug 13, 2012 11:01 AM

                                                                                                    nm - I agree, maybe a lot of this is lost on me but what is the hang up with people hating on the idea of a salute to NYC?

                                                                                                    1. re: Spiritchaser
                                                                                                      n
                                                                                                      nmprisons RE: Spiritchaser Aug 13, 2012 11:06 AM

                                                                                                      I don't know. It's weird though. My grandfather owned a pharmacy way back when. My mom, as a young girl, would go and get stuff like egg creams. She hadn't had one in decades before I took her to EMP. She absolutely loved it. Talks about it to this day. Was the thing precisely like the one her father once made? Not at all. But that didn't keep her from enjoying both the dish and the experience of having it made table side.

                                                                                                      I am certainly not too educated, too cool, too proper, too prudish, or too whatever to enjoy the food and the show. But, to each his/her own.

                                                                                                      1. re: nmprisons
                                                                                                        s
                                                                                                        sugartoof RE: nmprisons Aug 13, 2012 03:43 PM

                                                                                                        nmprisons, not to say the egg cream at emp wasn't the best egg cream in new york, but i would encourage you to take your mother to 2nd ave. gem spa and get the real thing. if not there, farmacy in brooklyn.

                                                                                                        1. re: nmprisons
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                                                                                                          elevate RE: nmprisons Aug 13, 2012 03:45 PM

                                                                                                          We ate at EMP last month and were treated to a Colony cocktail made in-kitchen using liquid nitrogen. I didn't find it distracting at all, the timing of it gave a nice pause the parade of dished - and has probably been the single most talked about part of the meal.

                                                                                                          I think having too many of these "theatrical" dishes could be distracting, but as long as they're done in moderation - or in a way that compliments the flow of the meal - I'm fine with them.

                                                                                                      2. re: nmprisons
                                                                                                        s
                                                                                                        sugartoof RE: nmprisons Aug 13, 2012 03:39 PM

                                                                                                        A theme meal will provoke strong responses, and when it's exploiting a city like New York that is trying hard to hold on to it's real culture, it's treading on the offensive.

                                                                                                        Ultimately, it's great you like the taste of it. I'm sure there are bakeries that can make you an edible taxi cab shaped cake for a birthday that will taste great too.

                                                                                                        1. re: sugartoof
                                                                                                          n
                                                                                                          nmprisons RE: sugartoof Aug 13, 2012 03:55 PM

                                                                                                          actually, my wife once made me a cake shaped like a yellow cab. it was delicious, though she cooks for a living. i didn't realize that each bite caused an unseen existential crisis for the city and its residents. oops.

                                                                                                          also, i just don't understand what you mean by "exploiting" the city and hurting its "real culture." it implies denigration, but EMP is paying homage. great cities are vibrant, living things that change, adapt, evolve, and grow. don't be scared, it will be alright.

                                                                                                          1. re: nmprisons
                                                                                                            s
                                                                                                            sugartoof RE: nmprisons Aug 13, 2012 04:13 PM

                                                                                                            Sorry, but they're paying homage to vibrant thriving traditions, they're taking experiences many New Yorkers haven't experienced first hand...appetizing...a proper egg cream...and they are making a rich man's theme park by creating experiment send ups of said traditions. That's not growth,. It's actually rather crass.

                                                                                                            1. re: sugartoof
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                                                                                                              Sneakeater RE: sugartoof Aug 13, 2012 08:29 PM

                                                                                                              I almost never agree with what sugartoof says.

                                                                                                              But I agree with this.

                                                                                                              1. re: Sneakeater
                                                                                                                e
                                                                                                                elevate RE: Sneakeater Aug 13, 2012 08:47 PM

                                                                                                                I do too. As a visitor to New York I quite enjoyed the emphasis on local ingredients and traditions. Even if they're a bit theatrical in their presentation, I think their heart is in the right place.

                                                                                                                Per Se on the other hand seemed to be extremely California heavy in their list of purveyors. I was a bit sad to see so many things from home, even if they are great.

                                                                                                                1. re: elevate
                                                                                                                  uhockey RE: elevate Aug 13, 2012 08:58 PM

                                                                                                                  ? You're going to fault a restaurant from sourcing from their own garden ?

                                                                                                                  It would be illogical to have Per Se sourcing from one place and The French Laundry from another when Keller has gone through so much effort to assure he gets the best of what every supplier has to offer. There are wines, cheeses, cuts of meat, eggs, and vegetables that literally sell to no one but TKRG - it would be foolish for him to not exploit those supply chains.

                                                                                                                  http://endoedibles.com

                                                                                                                  1. re: uhockey
                                                                                                                    e
                                                                                                                    elevate RE: uhockey Aug 13, 2012 09:44 PM

                                                                                                                    I'm sure when they were sourcing products for The French Laundry there was some bias towards California - and that's fine. One would expect to see local ingredients showcased when eating there.

                                                                                                                    But I felt that same expectation should apply to Per Se. I'm sure TKRG would have no problem filling out their list of suppliers if they chose to do so, without compromising their standards.

                                                                                                                2. re: Sneakeater
                                                                                                                  uhockey RE: Sneakeater Aug 13, 2012 09:00 PM

                                                                                                                  ...so for a restaurant to truly embrace the traditions of New York - even if they are refining them - is somehow a bad thing? I don't know.....especially when the main complaint that many people have about Per Se, or Daniel, or other 'fine dining' places in other cities is that "it could be a French Restaurant anywhere in the United States."

                                                                                                                  http://endoedibles.com

                                                                                                                  1. re: uhockey
                                                                                                                    q
                                                                                                                    quddous RE: uhockey Aug 13, 2012 11:36 PM

                                                                                                                    One of the only things I remember a chef saying is from TK - "If you have better product than I do, you can be a better chef than me. I guess you can't blame him for using his best and most trusted suppliers.

                                                                                                                    Side: I think this is one thing that prevents most home chefs from being able to create high quality food. Home chefs will easily spend $60 on a bottle of wine but won't spend that same $60 on a bottle of olive oil which will last much much longer (or other ingredients which are more expensive than normal)

                                                                                                                    Another place where I see people be cheap is on items that are not the main part of the dish. I see people at my grocery stores trying to save $2 on a 10lb bag of rice by buying cheaper varieties which are far inferior to the more expensive variety. That $2 - this $2 works out to about 2-3 cents per meal.

                                                                                                                    Sorry for the rant but I've had this on my mind for a long time.

                                                                                                                    1. re: quddous
                                                                                                                      uhockey RE: quddous Aug 14, 2012 06:40 AM

                                                                                                                      Well said.

                                                                                                                      http://endoedibles.com

                                                                                                                    2. re: uhockey
                                                                                                                      s
                                                                                                                      Sneakeater RE: uhockey Aug 14, 2012 09:06 AM

                                                                                                                      If a chef who grew up in New York started serving egg creams at a haute restaurant, I'd think that was a silly gimmick, too. It would at best be marginally less contrived.

                                                                                                                      Note how different this is from Wylie Dufresne's playful riffs on New York vernacular food. Done without fanfare -- without waiters announcing, "this is our tribute to the everything bagel." Just as a feature of his style of cooking.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Sneakeater
                                                                                                                        q
                                                                                                                        quddous RE: Sneakeater Aug 14, 2012 09:31 AM

                                                                                                                        Another side note while we are talking about EMP, I recently emailed them asking if the lunch and dinner tasting menu differed:

                                                                                                                        "Thank you for your email. Our tasting menus for both lunch and dinner are exactly the same."

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