28. October 2010 17:57
Eating here is a lot like going to the doctor. Wait 3 weeks for a time slot, phone-sign 2 affidavit confirmations, arrive early or the space is going standby and you still won’t eat before waiting 40 minutes. I’m too old and cranky to play this game but since play this night I must, I took my zen-pills and so should you.
Summed up in a single phrase: it was worth it. When you go in expecting to wait on-site for your 3-week-old 7:15 PM Thursday night reservation, you don’t really start getting irritated until the hour-mark so unless they completely bungle something you’ll be seated in about 45 minutes. Just don’t go with people with whom you don’t have 45 minutes worth of bar-conversation otherwise you might run out of stuff before dinner. One purgatory couple seemed particularly devoid of topics and was not enjoying the wait at all. Maybe they were saving it for dinner.
Anyway, one more comment before the food: when your demand so greatly exceeds your supply and you don’t want to raise prices, you need to manage expectations. A table “paying” for an hour is not acceptable and a sign of gross mismanagement. When there are 5 parties booked on a given table for the night, you take the sum of reserved minutes, divide by the number of parties and the quotient is the available minutes per party. You inform everyone of their limit BEFORE they sit and this way, no surprise will overtake anyone as they’re being rushed out. If you screw up and make an overlapping reservation you get the party you need vacated a bottle of champagne – AT THE BAR. They’ll high-tail it out real quick. If you have ever eaten at Katana in West Hollywood you would know that this style of management can be institutionalized. You have the table until 8 you’d hear before you’re seated and it didn’t matter who you were in town. You would get a 20-minute warning, then a 10 and then your check and a cleared table. Most got the “hint” but there was no shortage of big boys in black suits around just in case.
On to the meal. What do you expect? It was excellent. The portions were good for sharing amongst 4. The prices were mostly good with 1 or 2 exceptions. The Goat pizza was amazing as were the mussels and the scallops. I LOVED the fat bread even though it cost $4. It didn’t last long. My favorite dish that evening was the Hiramasa Crudo which is a crispy pork belly with yellowtail. Who woulda thunk? But you would be errant in not trying it yourself. I was a little disappointed in the pig face not actually being a pig face with which to gross out our party’s squeamish. Sadly, there were no eyes into which we could stare deeply but just 2 pieces of pig’s jowls. I guess if you wanted make a point of French-kissing your dinner you need to order tongue. Oh well. It was still delicious.
Our service was good and attentive. We were “comped” a beet dish but a stickler member of our party asked if a comp is really a comp if you never ordered it in the first place. Mostly out of anger that I wasn’t the clever devil to make this precious insight, I grumbled that the group’s macro increase in happiness after X than before it made microeconomic terminology irrelevant. Luckily for us, no amount of macro happiness could take away from the micro prices of most dishes. Even charging $15 for a glass of Pinot came out in the value wash. Go here with some other people with whom you don’t mind waiting around a while. If I can take the wait, you can too.
9. October 2010 12:36
Wal-Mart had it wrong. Instead of greeters, they should have done farewell-bidders. Dessert comes after the meal to leave a sweet taste in one’s mouth. So why do waiters have the uncanny tendency to vanish in the interval 30 seconds pre-first-bite and not rematerialize until 20 minutes after my last?
DBGB served a great meal. The matzoh ball soup was one of the best on record for this humble dining party. Just portioned really poorly. Would it have killed them to give us 3 more ounces of the delectable broth? If you have the stones for it, finish every last drop of yours, touch your finger in the salty rim and run tear-marks down your cheeks. Then come up to the server holding the miniature bowl in both hands and say in your finest British: “Caa’aan I ha’aave sm’moah’ suh?” Just don’t wear rags to dinner as they’ll clash with the $15 martini.
The crab flatbread was a dead heat meaning half the party liked it and half would have rather had another bowl of soup. Thank goodness that juries don’t only have 2 people. But in the vein of honesty: if you are a crab purist, the cooked rarely matches morsels from the shell. So if you’re going to serve it hot, serve it with a strong, non-mayonnaise sauce.
The scallops were excellent and so was the lamb. As were the prices. Or so it seemed on menu-paper. $26 for a lamb loin is indeed cheap until you realize how little of it is served. About 3 bite’s worth. Suddenly the value of a sub-30 dollar entrée in NY evaporates into dreamland. Maybe I never had the dream though. Could be that someone incepted it inside my brain. Something was in the hotel room that morning but it might have been just drunken neuronal misfires. Or bedbugs. Anyway, we know that we Americans are a bunch of piglets and expect our French dinners supersized but there can be found a golden median between Americana and Amouse. Especially when it costs you 9 bucks a bite.
7. October 2010 23:13
What began as simply mediocre pulled together very well. Mostly due to service but also to the cheese course.
When dining at this level, patrons expect (and pay for) service. It alone can be the difference between star ratings. What would Tru be without their synchronized pours and friendly waiters? Just a really expensive place to eat good grub. There’s a limit to how good can be a dish but really no ceiling to the overall experience. And Colicchio and Sons pulled it through.
The food was great. Exactly as expected. The $12 mixed greens reminded us of how inferior is the selection available to mere mortals at the grocery store. The salmon was delectable and so fatty that even with the outside crisp, the center was nearly raw. Delicious. As was the lamb loin. Except when I order rare, please give me rare – not medium-rare. I want that center cool. I’m not afraid and neither should be the kitchen. I didn’t send it back because it was still great despite the slightly warmish center.
The service suffered initially but pulled out a grand victory. Our server took her time to get us rolling but once she did, she was perfect. Her demeanor was excellent in the way Tru’s staff’s is excellent. They can sense if you’re in the mood to chat or joke or wish simply to be left alone. Indeed, throughout a meal diners will want each of these things in varying degrees and times. It is uncanny how often servers get it exactly wrong by vanishing when needed and hovering when not. By offering pushy advice AFTER the order has been placed. By acting snobby as if they’re doing you a favor. Indeed, our server not only did none of these but also apologized for the initial delay in her own way. She cut our cheese course so generously that we couldn’t possibly finish it. For people that spend more on cheese per year than gasoline (for an 8MPG vehicle), this is remarkable. And with desert, have the Moscato Asti desert sparkling. So, so good it’ll make you want the bottle.