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How is Alma doing?

They have a tremendous amount of negative Yelp reviews now it seems.

Have they actually become awful? Was the Bon Appetit actually "the kiss of death" as on yelper put it?

Or did it just draw too much attention from people who don't understand what they are doing?

Anyone been particularly recently?

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  1. I haven't been since Taymor changed the menu format to all tasting menu, but Alma has never been a place that's going to please the majority of the hoi polloi.

    It is food that is not immediately approachable and to a certain degree needs to appreciated on its own terms without any preconceived notions.

    In many ways, it reminds me of a poor-man's version of Saison with a bit of Dufresne flair and whimsy thrown in.

    The Yelp ratings do not surprise me, esp. based on what Alma is trying to do. In fact, I would be surprised if the reviews were overwhelmingly positive. In this respect it is a bit like the now-shuttered Sona -- it's just going to be a very polarizing restaurant. And I don't think that's a bad thing.

    8 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      "I haven't been since Taymor changed the menu format to all tasting menu, but Alma has never been a place that's going to please the majority of the hoi polloi."

      Why not? The reviews of places like Saison are all positive on yelp.

      Btw, cool tip, you can just say "hoi polloi" as "hoi" = "the" in Latin (it helps with the snob factor I find ;))

      1. re: BacoMan

        Look, dude, if you want to find a reason not to go just say so.

        If you want someone here to tell you not to go to Alma, it ain't going to be this doofus. I'm not so bored nor gullible enough to play Plato to your Socrates.

        I've given you what I think is a fair and balanced perspective of the place.

        I've enjoyed Alma before BA anointed it the best new restaurant of 2013.

        If you want the Chowhound perspective of Alma then just fucking come out ask it.

        If you want what Yelpers think about Alma your best bet is to start one of those asinine Yelp threaded discussions that always seem to disintegrate into whether you should perform oral copulation on the first date.

        Don't come here and ask us to justify Yelp ratings for Alma, or any other eating establishment.

        1. re: ipsedixit

          "If you want someone here to tell you not to go to Alma, it ain't going to be this doofus. I'm not so bored nor gullible enough to play Plato to your Socrates."

          So you don't enjoy discussion about food?...

          I liked Alma when I went.

          Just wondering if it's gone downhill. Rarely see so many negative yelp reviews for a place of that level.

          You're attempt at justifying a vacuous opinion does not help much in saying that Alma is still doing well.

          If the food is only good to people who explicitly don't think about food then it seems likely it has gone downhill since I went last.

          1. re: BacoMan

            Yelp is a game of The Emperor Has No Clothes. It hasn't gotten that mass momentum that is hard to stop and honestly Yelp shouldn't be a measure of how good a restaurant is. Taste are subjective and sometimes some people are really anal on what constitutes "good service".

            Why is Saison even in this conversation? Its a restaurant on a whole other scale and its Yelp users are of a different temperament.

            1. re: Johnny L

              Someone called Alma a "lesser Saison" on this very thread...

              Seems like they're targeting similar audiences to me.

        2. re: BacoMan

          hoi polloi , from Greek hoi polloi (plural) "the people," literally "the many" (plural of polys; see poly-). Used in Greek by Dryden (1668) and Byron (1822), in both cases preceded by the, even though Greek hoi means "the," a mistake repeated often by subsequent writers, who at least have the excuse of ignorance of Greek.


          (Latin is not the same language as Greek)

          1. re: OscarFox

            Ah yes... mea culpa.

            Point is the exact same though.

            1. re: BacoMan

              "Point is the exact same though".

              Agreed: Quod natura non dat, Salmantica non praestat.

      2. I was there about a month ago, and was very impressed. I thought the food was innovative and, for the most part, very well executed. Service was nice. The room was packed. My only complaint was the wine pairings. Thought they were very uninspired. But...I'd definitely go back.

        1. Or, did they refuse to "advertise" in Yelp, and will now have to pay to get the negative reviews moved?

          3 Replies
          1. re: Tripeler

            This, for me is always the question when I see Yelp reviews and why their star system is totally bogus and the site is just an extortion racket.

            1. re: Tripeler

              Yeah, maybe.

              But restaurants do go downhill...it's not impossible, right?

              1. re: BacoMan

                Yes true, but is yelp an accurate model to assess such things?

              1. Went a few months ago, shortly before they changed format to tasting menu-only: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/920102

                TL:DR - really liked it, but there's still room for improvement

                1. So now that we've had our lesson in greek and latin vocabulary, and some of you got your panties all in a bunch....how is Alma doing?

                  1. We (three of us) went last night for the first time. I had been looking forward to trying Alma for a while now, but was a little apprehensive going in after reading the mixed reviews on Yelp.

                    Our experience was very, very good. Of the ~nine courses served, a few dishes were outstanding, most others very good. One (a scallop dish that left a minerally, metallic aftertaste) didn't seem to work for any of us. But every dish was at the very least interesting, made us stop to think and taste and discuss the food in front of us. This is food as art and some of it challenges the diner -- either with new flavor combinations or with unusual ingredients. Rare pigeon is going to be too challenging for a lot of people. If you're the type of person who doesn't want to think about your food, who just wants to eat and enjoy (or that's the mood you're in at the time of your meal), Alma may not be the right fit for you. I know many more people who would hate the restaurant than I do who would love it. And I think that's why it's so polarizing and the reviews on Yelp are so mixed. The Bon Appetit review did probably draw too much attention from people who didn't know what they were in for.

                    The service we had was warm, personable and professional -- the best we've experienced in a long time. The pacing of the meal was fine. We liked the room and the overall atmosphere as well. All of these were points of contention on Yelp. Either they've made improvements there or we had expectations more in line with what Alma offers.

                    The final, frequent Yelp complaint seemed to be portion size and leaving feeling hungry. The move to a nine course tasting menu probably goes a long way towards fixing this. But this is not a heavy meal. Beyond a small piece of rye bread and butter, there are not a lot of filling carbs or fats -- it's modest portions of proteins and vegetables. All of us left satisfied, but content more than full. Again, it's about expectations. If you have a large appetite, I would not arrive famished.

                    1. I was there after they changed to an all tasting menu. It was a while ago, but it was very good. I had just been to Trois Mec and I thought the tastings were comparable. I didn't like the wine pairing at Alma, though. Thought they were really off.....as if they were trying to present very unusual wines, just for the sake of it. Did not think, except for one course, that they paired well with the food at all.