Wells sees a bit of an epidemic in this trend. I argue that it’s just another wrinkle, and sometimes a positive wrinkle, in our increasingly diverse culinary world. Agree/Disagree? Let us know in the comments.
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.
Eater’s Manhattan field office reports that New York Times Food Critic Pete Wells might be filing on Brushstroke in the near future. Whether that’s the case or not, I’m a BIG FAN of this excellent restaurant; I awarded three stars in my Bloomberg News column last year.
During my review process, I didn’t notice any supplemental charges, wagyu or otherwise, on the $135 menu, with the exception of a $15 rice tariff during a later meal (I believe that was on the $85 menu). But over the past few months, I’ve noticed that Brushstroke now gives diners the opportunity to experience a bit more luxury for (alas) a bit more money. Currently, the $135 menu can go up to $255 with supplements (or $329 after tax and tip). Here are the current upcharges:
Is Brushstroke still a buy at $135? Or $255? Your call, word. In the meantime, we look forward to the prospect of a New York Times review. Stay tuned.
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.
Michael White is one of America’s best Italian chefs, so it was surprising when he opened one of the most disappointing New York pizzerias in quite some time. I awarded one star to the Wiscopolitan Nicoletta in my Bloomberg News review today, while Pete Wells of The New York Times dropped a zero-star goose egg. TONY’s Jay Cheshes, in turn, handed out two-stars, relatively negative by his standards.
To help soften the blow, The Eater People brought back their “critical cats” feature. Those kittens are so cute!
Of course, we like to focus on prices here at The Price Hike, so it’s worth nothing that Nicoletta isn’t just White’s most poorly-reviewed restaurant. It’s also his cheapest, with pies ranging from $16-$22.
Economic woes notwithstanding, this critic has preferred White’s more ambitious options. Here are my reviews of his pricier spots:
Pete Wells contemplates the prices at Mission Chinese in his two-star New York Times review of the restaurant. A few weeks ago, in an interview with Chef Danny Bowien, we at The Price Hike also wondered out loud whether Mission was undercharging for its spicy fare. For further reading, consider checking out the Bloomberg News review of Mission Chinese by Ryan Sutton (that’s me!).
Jungsik, the high-end Korean restaurant in Tribeca’s old Chanterelle space, has kept its word and now offers a la carte dining. Previously, guests were required to choose from a prix-fixe menu that ranged from $80 for three courses to $115 for five courses. Dishes on the new a la carte menu range from $12-$42, per Jungsik’s website.
The longer 10-course tasting, a recent addition to the Jungsik experience, remains in place, though that menu is now $155, a $5 hike from the previous price point. The tasting is available with wine pairings for $260, or $335 after tax & 20% tip. Recall that Tribeca’s Atera offers a 20-course tasting menu of excellent, avant-garde Oregon food for $150, or $240 with wine. Things are getting pricey down near the Financial District!
Yes, Jungsik is still New York’s most expensive Korean establishment, but the addition of the a la carte option makes the venue entirely more accessible. If you order five courses under the new scheme, which previously cost $115, you might spend as little as $93 or as much as $113. That’s right folks. It’s a PRICE DROP.