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Simon

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  1. This was wonderful last night, too, so delicious yet lighter than you could ever imagine a pizza with burrata could be. The cool burrata added not only richness but also a delightful textural and temperature contrast. I loved the thinner interior, and the delicate layer of tomato puree was just right. A brilliant invention.
  2. +1. Order the pork belly and atsara to go, steam some rice at home, pair it all with an off-dry German riesling, and you've got yourself a great meal.
  3. Yes, this is a completely valid point, but I'd also say that I've observed these issues with the sauces from the earliest, pre-expansion days of Sfoglina. Finesse in the sauces has never been there, even as the pastas themselves have often been excellent.
  4. I've only been to Van Ness. The tortellini was the best of the pastas I've had recently. In general, I've found that the sauces / proteins are not treated with anywhere near the care and refinement you'd expect at Fiola or Fiola Mare: the lobster in the squid ink linguine was tough and overcooked, the lamb ragu over salty. Given what I expect the margins are on these pastas, I can see why they converted Casa Luca to another Sfoglina...
  5. I like to hit the John Dory Oyster Bar at the Ace Hotel before catching the train back.
  6. I believe both of the referenced restrooms are in the attached office building. And, fwiw, I (non-disabled) have always been directed to take the elevator up to the presumably accessible restroom.
  7. This is just one data point, but I do have to stick up for the sommelier at Gagnaire, c. 2006. I was dining solo and looking for a half bottle to go with the seafood-heavy lunch menu, and the sommelier recommended a white St.-Joseph, which was the absolute cheapest wine on the list. And it made sense: a relatively simple, fruity wine to go with really complex food. Gagnaire also had the best overall service I've encountered at a 3-star. My wine sitting in the ice bucket was getting too cold, so I mentioned to a waiter that I'd like to leave it out. A few minutes later, another server came by to top up my glass and returned the bottle to the bucket. Just as I was reaching to take the bottle back out, the first waiter practically leapt across the dining room to do it for me. And it wasn't this dramatic or overly fussy gesture--just an expert reading of the room that gave me confidence that I was in good hands for the entire service.
  8. I really like I Sodi and Via Carota in the West Village, but they're more strictly regional and less fancied than Marea, Ai Fiori, and the like. More along those lines, maybe Del Posto?
  9. Andy, Thanks again for your wonderful contributions on this thread. Based on the places you've visited in this country, what would you say are the comparative strengths and weaknesses of the kind of fine dining restaurants you seek out and review in the United States? And where would you place the U.S. on the scale of Michelin standards (from Europe at one end, to some of the newer Asian guides at the other, as you suggested in a previous answer)?
  10. I'm not Andy but happy to give some recommendations based on my last trip to Paris. Re: 3-stars: they're all so different, so it's difficult to make a recommendation without knowing your tastes. But if you're open to modernist/experimental/molecular cuisine, the lunch menu at Pierre Gagnaire is a steal (at 90 euros now, I think). You'll get less luxe ingredients than ordering ALC, but my lunch there was still perhaps the most exciting meal of my life -- a four-hour-plus thrill ride in the hands of a creative genius. On the more classical end of the spectrum, L'Astrance was underwhelming, and L'Ambroisie was the most perfect meal I've had but probably out of your stated price range. I loved Ledoyen under Le Squer, but he's at Le Cinq now, and Alleno is in (I haven't been to either new iteration). There's a bargain online lunch offer at Guy Savoy, too, but I've never been, and never figured out exactly how it worked -- perhaps you could call and ask. Another great lunch bargain is the lunch menu at Nomicos (65 euros, including wine and coffee), where you'll find excellent, Robuchon-esque food. I found the cooking more correct than exciting, but at that price, I had absolutely no complaints. A major trend is Japanese chefs taking charge of Parisian kitchens, cooking French cuisine (NOT fusion) but bringing a technical perfectionism and attention to detail that are otherwise fading qualities. I had a wonderful dinner at L'Alliance (a one-star) -- elegant, refined, contemporary cooking in a stylish (and intimate) dining room. Tasting menus at 95 and 120 euros. As for more casual eating: Chez L'Ami Jean is a perennial modern bistro recommendation, but for good reason. Great soba at Abri Soba, if you need a break from French food. Jacques Genin for spectacular desserts (his cheesecake was a revelation). Laurent Dubois was my favorite cheese shop (wonderful Comte, among other things), but it's very much a retail shop, and not set up for tourist grazing (though the people there were helpful--though having a modicum of French helped, I think). Georges Larnicol for macarons. Hope this helps. You'll find so many more recommendations than you'll have time for.
  11. Andy, thank you for so much for doing this chat! Two questions for you: 1) Aside from obvious destination cities like Paris, Tokyo, Kyoto, and the like, what cities or regions would you say have the best cluster (say 3-4, or more) of fine dining restaurants? 2) And perhaps a related question: what cities or regions do you think have the best ingredient-driven restaurants? Here, I'm counting both explicitly ingredient-driven places, like Hedone in London, and also places like L'Ambroisie, which source the best ingredients as a matter of course, and excluding molecular gastronomic restaurants. Thank you again!
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