Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New York Michelin 2011

***
Daniel
Jean Georges
Le Bernardin
Masa
Per Se

**
Alto
Chef Table at Brooklyn Fare (new)
Corton
Gilt
Gordon Ramsay at The London
Kajitsu (new)
Marea (new)
Momofuku Ko
Picholine
Soto (new)

*
Adour
Aldea (new)
Annisa
Anthos (closed)
Aureole
A Voce Columbus
A Voce Madison (new)
Blue Hill
Bouley
Breslin (new)
Café Boulud
Casa Mono
Convivio
Danny Brown Wine Bar & Kitchen (new)
Del Posto
Dovetail (new)
Dressler
Eleven Madison Park
Gotham Bar and Grill
Gramercy Tavern
Jewel Bako
Kyo Ya
L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon
Laut (new)
Marc Forgione
Minetta Tavern
The Modern
Oceana
Peter Luger
Public
River Café
Rouge Tomate
Saul
Seäsonal
Shalezeh
SHO Shaun Hergatt
Spotted Pig
Sushi Azabu
Sushi of Gari
Veritas (closed)
Wallsé
wd50

San Francisco Bay Area Michelin 2011

***
The French Laundry
The Restaurant at Meadowood (new)

**
Coi
Cyrus
Manresa

*
Acquerello
Alexander’s Steakhouse (new)
Ame
Applewood (new)
Auberge de Soleil
Aziza
Baumé (new)
Bouchon
Boulevard
Campton Place (new)
Chez TJ
Commis
Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton
Dio Deka (new)
Etoile
Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant
Fleur de Lys
Frances (new)
Gary Danko
La Folie
La Toque
Luce
Madera (new)
Madrona Manor
Masa’s
Mirepoix (new)
Murray Circle
One Market
Plumed Horse
Quince
Redd
Saison (new)
Santé
Solbar
Spruce (new)
Terra
Ubuntu
The Village Pub
Wakuriya (new)

Bib Gourmand
A16
BarBersQ
Bay Wolf
Bellanico
Betelnut
Bistro Aix (new)
Bistro Jeanty (new)
Bistro 29 (new)
Bottega (new)
Brown Sugar Kitchen
Burma Superstar
Café des Amis (new)
Cafe Gibraltar
Camino
C Casa (new)
Chapeau (new)
Chevalier
Chu (new)
Coa (new)
Colibrí
Cook St. Helena
Corso
Crouching Tiger
Cucina Paradiso
Delarosa (new)
Delfina
Domo (new)
Dosa
eVe (new)
FIVE
flour + water
Gather (new)
Girl and the Fig
Hachi Ju Hachi (new)
Henry’s Hunan
Hibiscus (new)
Hong Kong Flower Lounge
Incanto
Insalata’s
Kabab & Curry’s (new)
The Kitchen
K & L Bistro
Kokkari Estiatorio
La Costanera (new)
Laurus (new)
Le Charm
Mamacita
Marinitas
Market
Monti’s Rotisserie
Nopa
Oenotri (new)
Perbacco
Picán
Risibisi
Rivoli (new)
Sakae
Santi (new)
Sauce
Slanted Door
Slow Club
Sociale
Sons & Daughters (new)
SPQR (new)
Starbelly (new)
Sumika (new)
Sushi Ran
Tavern at Lark Creek
Thai House (new)
Troya (new)
Vanessa’s Bistro
Willi’s Wine Bar
Wood Tavern (new)
Yank Sing

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hungry in Plano

Jasper's Plano
7161 Bishop Road
Plano, TX 75024
(469)229-9111
Executive Chef Kent Rathbun
Chef Annika Sacher
Lunch and Dinner daily

Jasper's on Urbanspoon

Overcooked ribs with a bizarre soggy flour coating on top. Ketchup-y BBQ sauce.

Dessicated, overcooked home fries coated with flavorless sour cream and bacos-like bacon bits, decimating any hope of a crispy exterior, served as the "baked potato salad" accompaniment to the ribs. Would have been more accurate to call it "baked potato jerky."

Gave up on the plate and tried for a side of macaroni and cheese. Limp, overcooked mini-farfalle such that pasta pieces and boiled ham slices both had the same texture; flavor overall was not bad, but the aged gouda had a very gamey aftertaste-- a bit too aggressive for a comfort food offering like mac and cheese and yet not interesting enough to be a riff on the classic. Nicely seasoned, however.

Yawn-inducing wine list. After finally locating a half bottle that was not horribly overpriced, a 2005 Crianza, the bottle was warm to the touch when the server finally fished it out "from the cellar." Cooked flavor confirmed that the wine had not been properly stored.

Must not be unusual for diners to leave most of the food and more than half of the wine unfinished. Server noticed nothing and cheerily announced, "Hope to see you again soon!"

First impression of Kent Rathbun not so great. Also confirmed that I don't really trust the opinion of Bon Appetit (see menu).

Monday, October 18, 2010

Form Over Function

Benu
22 Hawthorne Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415)685-4860
Chef Corey Lee
Dinner Tuesday through Saturday

Tried: August 2010

Benu on Urbanspoon

Baume
201 South California Avenue
Palo Alto, CA 94306
(650)328-8899
Chef Bruno Chemel
Lunch Friday only
Dinner Wednesday through Sunday

Tried: September 2010

Baume on Urbanspoon


I went to Benu with unbelievably high expectations and to Baume with relatively low expectations, and left with basically the same impression from both-- that each restaurant suffers from too much focus on appearance instead of content. Somewhere underneath the sculted exterior (in the case of Benu) and the unnecessary theatrics (in the case of Baume), the potential for great food is struggling to escape from each chef's blinding vision of what he wants the restaurant to be.

The plating and presentation of every single dish at Benu, from the starting amuse to the concluding petit fours, were flawless. They were easily the most beautiful plates I have ever seen in any restaurant, including French Laundry, and they could all be featured as museusm pieces if anyone were to curate a collection on fine dining. Sadly, the taste did not live up to the beauty and majesty of their appearance. Monkfish liver, one of my all time favorite ingredients, tasted fishy in the context of contorting it to look and act like foie gras torchon-- it was literally fish out of water. In a similar fashion, the components of most of the tasting menu were underseasoned or mismatched, not helped by wine pairings that were overpowering, had too high alcohol levels, or had lost aromatics likely from having the bottles open for too long. The "shark fin" soup, composed of black truffle custard, Jinhua ham, and dungeness crab, and the beef rib cap, served with mitsuba greens with a hint of Korean sesame-soy flavoring, were the only dishes among the lineup that contained a sparkle of vitality and animation, something that made you want to exclaim "mmmm" with a satisfied exhale.

In contrast, the food at Baume, if you could separate it from all of the distractions of the bubbles, foam, smoke, and sodium alginate, was almost delicious. For example, the abalone with matsutake mushrooms would have been pure poetry if not for the off-putting smoke and paint-chip texture of the shiso sorbet, since both the abalone and the matsutake mushrooms were perfectly prepared. Had the chef made a real sorbet, the dish would have been a winner.

Since I had the menu decouverte, I only observed but did not personally experience the sillyness of knocking over the vegetable terrine as the servers were instructing the diners to do with the dish in order to see its stacked presentation (begging the question of why it was not plated that way in the kitchen in the first place). The only thing I discovered from the menu decouverte is why most of these techniques have been discarded by restaurants years ago; I felt like I needed to get an antidote to liquid nitrogen after the meal. Ferran Adria must be turning over in his bed at Harvard. Baume is about as avant-garde as Madonna in ripped lace and plastic jewelry. Almost every dish was foaming, fizzing, bubbling, smoking, or encased in rubbery bubbles of sodium alginate. The most frustrating part is that there might actually be tasty food underneath the smoke and mirrors.

While both of these restaurants show glimmers of promise, I have neither the level of patience nor the credit card limit to be able to indulge in further investigation.

Ambivalent About Momofuku

First, am I the only person who thinks "Momofuku" does not mean Lucky Peach or refer to the name of some obscure ramen person from...