Easy question: Would you prefer to dine at Corton, one of New York’s most envelope-pushing French restaurants, and order an intruging bottle of Champagne, say, Duc de Romet for $80? Or would you rather go to Gaonnuri, the subject of my one-star Bloomberg News review, where the cheapest Champagne, a very un-intriguing bottle of Moet & Chandon, is $160? That’s a 300% markup over the $40 retail price at Astor Wines.*
Below is the menu for the “Governor at Eleven Madison Park” pop-up dinner. The minimum donation is $250 per person, and in return you don’t just get a seven-course wine-paired tasting menu, you also get to help out Governor, a restaurant devastated by Sandy’s floodwaters; all proceeds will go towards the rebuilding of that well-regarded DUMBO eatery.
Yup, we’re calling this one a GOOD DEAL. And those who wish to donate directly to Governor can do so through Go Fund Me; so far the Brooklyn restaurant has raised over $36,000 toward a $150,000 goal (still a ways off).
Next Tuesday, Will Guidara and Daniel Humm will donate their private dining room and various kitchen resources to the Brad McDonald and his team at Governor for a one-night-only pop-up. 50 seats only. Details:
GOVERNOR AT ELEVEN MADISON PARK 11/20/12
DOORS 7 PM, DINNER 7:30
7-Course Dinner with Wine Pairings
$250 PER PERSON MINIMUM DONATION
All proceeds go to the rebuilding of Governor
To book, please call 212-889-0905
Here’s the menu:
+Poached Oyster Toast, Lobster Emulsion
+Nasturtium, Buttermilk, Trout Roe
+Prawn Crackers, Sea Urchin
1 - Caviar, Brown Butter Ice Cream, Sunchoke
2 - Beef Tartar, Pickled Garlic Crisps, Chilies
3 - Celery Root, Clothbound Cheddar, Preserved Egg Yolk
4 - Striped Bass, Kale, Fish Sauce, Cilantro
5 - Oxtail, Salsify, Oyster Sauce
6 - Pumpkin Seed Ice Cream, Mulled Wine, Oat Crumble
7 - Bittersweet Ganache, Maple, Buckwheat Ice Crea
The tartufo bianco is trickling into New York City’s more ambitious restaurants. Slowly. Still nothing yet at Jean Georges or Esca, and a spokeswoman for Eleven Madison Park tells me the restaurant won’t be offering white truffles this season. As for Le Bernardin, a receptionist says the restaurant can order white truffles “upon request.”
Eater published a fine “early-list” of NYC spots already serving white truffles. Here are a few more truffle options that have debuted since:
Keep in mind that many of these prices are supplements. So at Daniel, if you order a supplement on your 6-course menu, you’ll end up spending $255 before wine, tax and tip.
One interesting note: While we were investigating the price increases at Jean Georges, a spokesperson for the restaurant mentioned that it’s “still the lowest priced three star Michelin and four star New York Times prix-fixe in NYC.”
Is that an accurate statement?
So writes New York Times food critic Pete Wells in his largely skeptical take on tasting menu-only restaurants, an odd, albeit interesting world where meals last over three hours, where bread courses are dictatorially delayed until mid-meal, and where dining rooms are filled by “big game hunters,” eager to spend a thousand dollars per couple for the privilege of feasting at a trophy establishment. Instagrams of the now-closed El Bulli must be the ultimate taxidermy, non?
Smart eaters will read the NYT piece in its entirety because it’s a fine lament on an expensive & idiosyncratic slice of modern gastronomy.
But what I focus on here at The Price Hike are prices, and it’s Mr. Wells’ statement about this “epidemic” of expensive tasting menus that piques my interest, as well as another one of his musings: “I can’t feel good about watching great restaurants that were already serving an elite audience taking themselves further out of reach.”
The NYT critic raises good questions. As much as I love American Omakase spots like Alinea, Blanca and Brooklyn Fare, committing the necessary financial resources toward a pricey tasting (or dealing with the subsequent gastro-intestinal distress) isn’t exactly my regular brand of bourbon.
The New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells argues that the stories and “homilies” at the (weeks-old) Eleven Madison Park 3.0 is undermining the fine cooking of Daniel Humm.
We at The Price Hike believe that any dish with multiple components deserves a proper explanation, just as a nice painting has a little placard next to it, offering novice and advanced viewers alike with some much needed context. That said, no diner ever wants a didactic experience, at any price point.
The NoMad, Daniel Humm & Will Guidara’s casual sequel to Eleven Madison Park, serves a pretty spectacular large-format chicken. It contains black truffles. It has foie gras. It comes with pommes puree. It costs $79. It is what The Price Hike believes to be New York City’s most expensive chicken.
So naturally, The NoMad is a perfect candidate to serve New York’s most expensive chicken sandwich (in a good restaurant, at least — we’re sure Nello or Cipriani would be happy to whip up something for more). The NoMad’s sammy contains, of course, black truffles and foie gras. It costs $26, as much as Minetta Tavern’s famed Black Label Burger. The suggested pairing is a $16 growler of Brooklyn Brewery Brown Ale (about two pints). So that’s $42 for a sandwich and beer, or $54 after tax and tip.
Is it a BUY HOLD OR SELL? Your call world. The creation debuts (and is only available) at brunch, which debuts this coming weekend. Click through for the full menu, courtesy of Eater
Here’s an interview with Daniel Humm, the chef at Eleven Madison Park, which holds three Michelin stars. Sometime after Labor Day, dinner at the ambitious Manhattan eatery will start at $502 for two after tax and 20% tip. Yes, it’s is one of America’s best restaurants; I awarded four stars in my review for Bloomberg News.
But Eleven Madison is also one of New York’s most expensive restaurants. And this interview doesn’t mention a single price. If we as business journalists fail to mention the costs associated with the luxurious culinary establishments we write about, we’re doing a fundamental disservice to our readers, who rely on us to tell them whether they afford, and how much they’ll spend, at the restaurants we highlight. This holds true no matter how plentiful or scare the disposable income of our readers might be.
How can we have a conversation about fine dining if we can’t even mention the cost to the consumer?
Now that The Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare has published its wine list, all but two of New York’s top Michelin-rated restaurants have their selection of vino available to peruse online. Le Bernardin and Jean Georges are the two holdouts. We’re hoping they’ll join the club soon, especially since wine can cost as much as (or more than) dinner at these excellent, high-end venues.
Think of it this way: If Le Bernardin’s $190 tasting menu is unlikely to be an “impulse purchase,” then a $190 bottle of bubbly at that restaurant is also unlikely to be an impromptu decision. High-end wine, like high-end food, is something you plan in advance. It requires thought. As such, here are the wine lists for New York’s three Michelin-starred restaurants. Minus two.
This week in my Bloomberg column I review Will Guidara and Daniel Humm’s The NoMad. It’s both a high-end riff on a French-American brasserie, as well as a more casual analogue to its fancy sister restaurant, Eleven Madison Park. I awarded four stars to Eleven Madison in February, and two stars to The NoMad on Wednesday. No real surprises there. But here’s what is surprising:
So here we have two very different establishments, by the same owners, with an IDENTICAL price point. That raises an eyebrow, doesn’t it? Of course, most consumers understand that prices aren’t necessarily indicators of quality, otherwise we’d all (momentarily) shun the $16 cavatelli with foie gras at Gabe Stulman’s Perla in favor of the $49 tagliolini with salmon roe at Nello Balan’s eponymous celebrity hangout.
But since Humm and Guidara are the owners of both establishments, which are located within a few blocks of each other, and since they’re charging the same price for the entry-level tasting menus at both spots, it’s not unreasonable for guests to hope their hard-earned disposable income might buy them a relatively similar level of enjoyment, and impart an equal sense of value, at either venue.
It’s quite a strong statement when the owners behind the fourteen-year-old Eleven Madison, which holds three Michelin stars, four Bloomberg stars, and four New York Times stars, use that very fancy restaurant’s entry-level tasting menu price as the same price for their new restaurant, The NoMad. It’s as if they’re saying, guests should expect the same level of quality here. And since The NoMad advertises seven-courses, compared with Eleven Madison’s four, you might even think you’re getting a DEAL.