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Reserve Cut at the Setai - NYC

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AdinaA Jan 24, 2014 11:41 AM

The first thing to know is that the space is fabulous. If there is a better looking, more stylish kosher restaurant, I haven't been there.

The menu emphasizes sushi, which I'm a little bored with. And
Since I was going to eat a steak, I started with a salad: HEIRLOOM TOMATO & CANDY BEET SALAD
Avocado, Micro Arugula, Basil Puree, Honey Meyer lemon
Vinaigrette

They sent mache in place or arugula, not a problem, though perhaps the waiter should have mentioned it. I don't know what they meant by "candied beets"; these were plain boiled beets cut in fancy shapes. The plate looked nice. But the "heirloom" tomatoes were tasteless winter supermarket tomatoes, granted, one was yellow. The vinaigrette was nothing special except that there was too much of it, the salad was drenched in oil and altogether uninteresting.

Other salad, similar story. Menu: ORGANIC BABY SPINACH
Artichokes,
Grilled Portobello, Balsamic Vinaigrette. A mountain of baby spinach heaped on sauteed portobellos, a couple of pieces of what seemed to be frozen artichoke hearts, all drenched in oil.

I ordered a side dish of WHITE ASPARAGUS WITH
WILD MUSHROOM. It was a large dish of white asparagus with sauteed mushrooms all drowning in oil. Really, what is the point? Dinner companion's meal came with "Potato Galette and Cider Braised Red Cabbage". This turned out to be a mushy slice of bland potato kugle and some cabbage sauteed in vinegar and oil. Two thumbs down.

So, the vegetables were a total disappointment. The chef made no effort, none at all. Not even the effort to buy tomatoes with flavor, which is a pretty minimal effort to expect of an upscale restaurant.

I ordered the house steak, Reserve Cut which, was at about midpoint on the price list. And it is the steak they give their name to. It was layered with slabs of fat. It was pretty good once I had cut the meat from these unpleasant fat layers. Came with a Bordelaise sauce which was merely OK. Really , all they had to do was choose a great piece of meat. And they didn't.

The rack of lamb was fabulous. Perfect. A simple, perfect cut of lamb roasted to a perfect medium rare, juicy, tender perfection.

In a perfect world, I'd order the Rack of Lamb at Reserve Cut with a salad from Mason & Mug.

Shared a Meyer lemon tarte , which proved to be two cylinders of sweet frozen lemon custard on a cookie crumb base topped with lemon gel. The frozen custard seemed to be suffering from freezer burn, but the lemon gel was delicious. Really lovely.

The service was so inferior as to approach insulting. We had booked a table for 8pm on a weeknight, the restaurant was about half full. The downstairs doorman was courteous. But the hostess conveyed the feeling that asking my name and seating us was beneath her dignity. The waiter was neither courteous nor helpful. The busboys hovered like vultures and cleared far to aggressively. A pleasant place to relax over dinner with a friend it is not. Even on a weeknight at an hour when many tables were empty.

So, the front of the house staff has no apparent interest in making guests feel welcome or comfortable. The kitchen staff did not, in my sole visit, demonstrate any particular interest in food beyond the ability to choose and grill a perfect rack of lamb. It's noisy. And dinner with a glass of wine will set you back ~$150 per person. Why go?

I think it's all about the look of the place. It really does look fabulous. Like a place where fabulous people enjoy fabulous food.

(That said, they've been open a year and things wear out. In the ladies' room, one toilet was leaking onto the floor and another wasn't flushing)

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    DeisCane RE: AdinaA Jan 25, 2014 10:08 AM

    This service issue is bordering on pandemic in kosher dining. But I would probably be happy with the locale and rack of lamb. Which I suppose says a bit about kosher diners. :-(

    1. l
      Ljordan RE: AdinaA Feb 13, 2014 04:30 AM

      What's funny about your review is that we ate there two weeks later and had so many identical experiences.

      First, we ordered two cocktails, just to sample the bar's ingenuity - they were both very sweet, despite no mention of sugar in the description. Only someone who enjoys those Smirnoff things would like these.

      Next our waiter did not return to take our order, after we had closed our menus. Maybe a half hour passed- we finally had to flag him.

      When we pointed out the issue with the drinks, he didnt seem to understand that we were inviting him to help solve it by suggesting another cocktail. It was more like, "what would you like me to do about it?" This lack of helpfulness was at theme throughout the dinner -

      I had the beet/tomato salad and again: mâché, regular yellow beets, and sure enough - very non- heirloom, pale tasteless tomato. Quite false advertising.

      We also had the spinach salad, broccolini, green beans, creamed spinach, all exactly as you mentioned.

      Even the red pepper garnish on the cocktail was literally spoiled.

      My husband had the wagyu steak - he isn't too finicky, but when asked how it was, he answered, "it was ok" - meaning, tasty, but not transcendental, not better than many other steaks. Except this one was $88, so one would hope for a few oral fireworks.

      The sweetbreads were excellent and the pecan crusted sea bass was perfect too.

      But between the very poor abilities of the waiter and the indifferent quality of most of the dishes, it's sad that I wouldn't look forward to returning. Take the time to head to Pardes - it's clear that their focus is in the kitchen, not the interior design.

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      1. re: Ljordan
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        AdinaA RE: Ljordan Feb 13, 2014 05:21 AM

        Thanks for posting this. Since I have only been to Reserve Cut that one time, I knew it was possible that they were having an off evening or something.

        Just about to schedule a dinner where I can choose any restaurant in the city, choosing Pardes, of course.

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