Jump to content

Most Consequential Restaurant Review In At Least A Generation? Pete Wells Carves Up Per Se


Marty L.
 Share

Recommended Posts

Pete Wells carves up Per Se.  Be very interesting to see what the fall-out is, at Per Se and other four-star places.  If it has a possible dampening effect on the ridiculous price inflation in recent years, that will be reason enough to celebrate the review.

I was just about to publish a post lamenting the prices at the D.C. places receiving such raves here of late (Kinship, Metier, Grill Room, the Source, etc.).  I doubt I'll ever eat at these restaurants -- at a minimum, I'd feel deeply uneasy forking over such $$, an anxiety that would temper what I'm sure would otherwise be a great meal.  But they don't even approach the NYC insanity.  Like 99.9% of the population, I'll never eat at Per Se, or Masa, or Eleven Madison Park, etc.--let alone the most recent raved about NYC sushi spots that sound so enticing.  Like the operations that charge $11 for a glass of juice, or $16 cocktails, apparently they've realized that the market will bear it -- there are enough expense accounts out there to fill the tables every night, apparently.  So I don't begrudge them.  Even so, the whole thing is rather depressing . . . and at Per Se level ("Can I interest you in some risotto with truffles -- for merely a $175 up-charge on your $350 plus alcohol and tax?"), positively obscene.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was just about to publish a post lamenting the prices at the D.C. places receiving such raves here of late (Kinship, Metier, Grill Room, the Source, etc.).  I doubt I'll ever eat at these restaurants -- at a minimum, I'd feel deeply uneasy forking over such $$, an anxiety that would temper what I'm sure would otherwise be a great meal.  But they don't even approach the NYC insanity.  Like 99.9% of the population, I'll never eat at Per Se, or Masa, or Eleven Madison Park, etc.--let alone the most recent raved about NYC sushi spots that sound so enticing.  Like the operations that charge $11 for a glass of juice, or $16 cocktails, apparently they've realized that the market will bear it -- there are enough expense accounts out there to fill the tables every night, apparently.  So I don't begrudge them.  Even so, the whole thing is rather depressing . . . and at Per Se level ("Can I interest you in some risotto with truffles -- for merely a $175 up-charge on your $350 plus alcohol and tax?"), positively obscene.

Good thing you're not a Red Burgundy lover!

Seriously, Marty, I feel your pain because nobody would appreciate the type of food (I suspect) they serve at Kinship more than you, and nobody would appreciate a Romanée-Conti more than me, and I'll never again open a bottle. Top-end [name your collectible or indulgence] is out of the price range of everyone save billionaires, and those billionaires - more often than not - have spent their careers making money rather than honing their palates, so-to-speak. Obviously, this isn't always the case, but from my observations, it's the usual scenario. There's nothing I'd like more than to buy a Fazioli, but until this website replaces Yelp  :rolleyes:, that will never happen - I'll never forget the time I sat down with a Bösendorfer in an empty, Georgetown mansion with the owner living abroad. A friend came over weekly to check on the house, and there was this concert-quality piano, just sitting there, unused. Playing that instrument was absolutely bittersweet - of course I'm happy for the owner, but she'd never be able to fully utilize the instrument unless she held concerts at her house with professional musicians. Matt (my son) is of the opinion that you should not upgrade instruments unless the instrument is holding you back, which is a common-sense philosophy that many of us would be better-off having - I can dream, but my Yamaha (*) serves me fairly well, and I can use it for the rest of my life if I need to. I suspect many a mechanic or race-car driver working with Porsche 911s have the same type of mixed emotions, as Jerry Seinfeld picks one out of his collection and takes it for a spin (Seinfeld seems like he at least appreciates top-end automobiles, but he's in the minority of the super-rich, who simply don't have the time to develop multiple expertises).

Apologies to Keith for a poor-man's thread, but it's perfectly fine as we have room for both. I should also add that, despite Kinship and the like featuring consumables, i.e., the product is *gone* by evening's end, most great cuisine remains relatively affordable on the mega-rich scale, although a select few places (the ones you name, for example) have seen to it that this isn't the case. Of course, for a Red Burgundy lover like me, that's where my expertise kicks in - I can get 90% of the pleasure of a Romanée-Conti for 1% of the price (that was not a typo).

The harsh reality is that the top-of-the-top-of-the-top end is reserved for the super-rich, and not the super-knowledgable. Sometimes there's an overlap, and those situations are satisfying to see.

(*) Wouldn't it be cool owning Don Rockwell's piano? :)

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was just about to publish a post lamenting the prices at the D.C. places receiving such raves here of late (Kinship, Metier, Grill Room, the Source, etc.).  I doubt I'll ever eat at these restaurants -- at a minimum, I'd feel deeply uneasy forking over such $$, an anxiety that would temper what I'm sure would otherwise be a great meal.

I think you need to get your mind right before you go in. Accept and embrace the price up front, and then just enjoy the meal. If you can't separate the price from the experience, then you'll be destined to not enjoy it because on every dish you'll evaluating what's in front of you vs. the menu price.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The price curve of many things (wine, restaurants, shotguns, paintings, trophy wives, kitchen ranges, suits, hotel rooms, cars, whatever) is shaped like a hockey-stick, with the price of the very top end jumping wildly higher than whatever is in second place.  There is no correlation with quality increase.  It happens simply because there are many super-rich out there who need to prove their superiority/success/manliness (to others, to themselves) by owning or consuming the best and most expensive of whatever it is, according to reputation as determined by "experts," certainly not because they really understand and appreciate what they are consuming.   I like to think smart folks (that would be me and you, not them) are in some sense advantaged by this, since we get to have the almost as good if not better at a far more reasonable price.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The price curve of many things (wine, restaurants, shotguns, paintings, trophy wives, kitchen ranges, suits, hotel rooms, cars, whatever) is shaped like a hockey-stick, with the price of the very top end jumping wildly higher than whatever is in second place.  There is no correlation with quality increase.  It happens simply because there are many super-rich out there who need to prove their superiority/success/manliness (to others, to themselves) by owning or consuming the best and most expensive of whatever it is, according to reputation as determined by "experts," certainly not because they really understand and appreciate what they are consuming.   I like to think smart folks (that would be me and you, not them) are in some sense advantaged by this, since we get to have the almost as good if not better at a far more reasonable price.

There's no doubt that the cogniscenti can take advantage of this situation, but in some cases, the most expensive, super-luxury items really *are* the best. Not always, and perhaps not even the majority of the time, but sometimes. I like your hockey-stick visual! One irony is that there's often no correlation with quality, but there's also often no correlation with rarity. This is one thing that has always perplexed me, but I've concluded that sometimes, if something is *too* rare, there's no market interest in it. Up until 5-10 years ago, top Bordeaux was more expensive than top Burgundy, and top Burgundy is, quite literally, 100-times more rare (i.e., a top bottle of Burgundy may only have 250 cases produced, whereas a top bottle of Bordeaux may have 25,000 cases (and don't get me started on Rioja)). This lack-of-rarity was one of two major contributors to the collapse of the baseball-card market (the other being that aging baseball-card collectors simply didn't see that the younger generation wasn't showing any interest in them, so it got hit with the devastating 1-2 punch of excess supply coupled with dwindling demand).

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...