: views from the Hill

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Daniel Patterson's "To the Moon, Alice?" in the NYT (06 Nov 2005)

A friend (with whom I'd been discussing the recent review in Northside of David Kinch's Manresa restaurant) asked, "Did you read Daniel Patterson's "To the Moon, Alice?" in The New York Times? Super-nice mention of David Kinch towards the end of the story."

I hadn't read the Patterson article, so I tracked it down. Note: NYTimes registration required. If you don't want to register, use bugmenot.com.

This is what I told my correspondent:

Seemed an odd piece. Patterson sounds a bit cranky. Sounds like he's putting down all those fresh-ingredients people and puffing the cutting edged-ness of whatever retaurant space he's about to open.

And it also sounds like he has a slight "no one appreciates my cutting edged-ness" chip on his shoulder.

His remarks re Alice Waters are of a double-edged variety.

What really happened at Frisson?

We never got there while Patterson was there. (We'd never had an opportunity to eat at Elisabeth Daniel either, for that matter.)

Frisson opened in August 2004, iirc, and we intended to eat there but hadn't got around to it. (We still haven't eaten at Michael Mina either and it's been open for almost a year now. Slackers be we.)

By March 2005, Patterson had left and Sarah Schafer, who'd been his chef de cuisine, was put in charge. We made reservations as a show of support and booked for what happened to be Easter.

The Easter dinner was okay fine, but it was a fixed menu for the evening, which I thought was just a bit odd. We went back again because the restaurant had had some raves and I thought the Easter dinner had not, perhaps, shown it in its best light.

I order what was billed as a pork rib, which turned out to be a thick =dry= pork chop, so thick I couldn't cut it with the knife at my place. I had to flag down the wait staff and ask for a steak knife or something. They had none (none!), I was told, but our guy went off to the flatware drawer and found me a "newer" knife, which he promised would be sharper. It was. Slightly. I could at least cut the meat. But still. ...

The dinner was so-so and we haven't been back and don't intend to.

We are booked for a dinner next week at Masa's -- where we haven't been since before they remodeled years back. 2001 maybe? We'll see what the new chef, Gregory Short, (new since, like, January?) is doing.

The dinner is a Dee Vine Wines event where Dee Vine Wines will be pouring German wines from a cellar they just acquired. The wines are gratis to accompany dinner in hopes, more likely than not, that some (or even one!) of us will fall in love and buy up their newest score: "the single greatest collection of Trockenbeerenauslesen ever offered for sale. The entire collection of 1,964 bottles has a combined oechsle totaling over 50,000 degrees."

Well, I don't know German wines much at all. Trockenbeerenauslesen? oechsle? Huh? We're learning, though, and this dinner is more an exploration of German wines and a return to Masa's than anything. Masa's will be serving seared foie as one of the courses so what's not to like?


The first time I had seared foie gras was at Château de Roumégouse, Rocamadour, France. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. Honest. The next time I had seared foie was when we happened into Masa's a year or two later. Oh my! I don't have to fly to France to eat this stuff!

Luke Sung at Isa has the absolute !!best!! seared foie gras in the city. In June, he pairs it with grilled white peaches.

... my ...

Luke always serves his seared foie with some sort of fruit and a slice of custard brioche. Brilliant! You can sop up all the juices and enjoy every last bit.

... well!



Daniel Patterson's NYT piece struck me as whiny. Glad he had good things to say about Manresa.

I'll be interested to see what Patterson comes up with, with this new restaurant he's planning, and I'll be interested to see if Masa's is better than it was the last time we were there, many moons ago.

Oh! I knew there was something else I wanted to say. The Northside article [a review of Manresa] mentioned the laid back staff at Manresa. She made some remark about other less laid back staff.

I don't know who exactly she might've been thinking of, but fwiw, our experience at Gary Danko was good food, high price, starchy staff. The staff was too starchy and didn't seem to be enjoying themselves. Relax. Enjoy your job. We like the staff attitude at Manresa.

Gary Danko is another place we won't be back to. Good to go to once and see what all the buzz is about, but did you love it? This city has 3000+ table restaurants. Why go some place that didn't strike you as wonderful when there are so many other places to choose from?

Same sort of price range as Gary Danko? I'd opt for Rubicon any day of the week. (Well, of course, unless it's Sunday, when Rubicon is closed. ...)

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