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Does anyone else not "get" fancy restaurants

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Davidoc, Jul 7, 2004.

  1. I was in New York about a week ago visiting relatives. We went into Manhattan once, tourist style. A cousin of ours took us to a fancy (stereotypical Italian) restaurant. Its name was something to the effect of "Gino's".

    I don't really understand the appeal of these places. The menu was very limited. There simply weren't many options, and the prices were ridiculous. (and unjustified) I got some tortellini for $15. It was pretty good, but the portion was very small, less than 1/2 of what I'd get in one of those sealed plastic boxes you get at the grocery tortellini. It tasted pretty good; about on par with the grocery store tortellini, and better than canned ones. It cost $15 for enough to serve a child, and I'm going to go so far as to debate wheather it even tasted as good as the grocery store stuff. Also, the bread tasted weird.

    Is there anyone else who'd just rather go to IHOP?

    edit: btw, I know that I'm an an uncultured slob! :)
  2. vbass


    May 7, 2004
    Bay Area, CA
    Eh, me. I usually just tell guys I'm dating to skip the fancy restaurant and save your money. I guess maybe you're paying for the atmosphere? I'd much rather have a GOOD sandwich at a deli or something and use the 'saved' money to go out to a show or something similar.
  3. jivetkr


    May 15, 2002
    I have to disagree with you. NYC has some of the best food in the world. If you were not wowed by the place you ate at, I would say you ate at a crap restaraunt. I always leave NYC restaraunts very full & very satisfied.

    If you want an italian meal to remember, go to ScalliNatella. I think its on 3rd ave & 62nd.
  4. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    Well, New York is an expensive place, I'll give you that. I'm afraid those are around average prices for an entree in a restaurant. But you can pay much much more if you set your mind to it :)

    I've only ever had one bad meal in NYC in seven years, and that was a really dodgy Italian restaurant in Astoria. In fact, I've found that the overall quality of restaurant food and service is SO good in NYC that I've now got higher expectations when I eat in other cities.

    But anyway, just because you went to a mediocre restaurant that was expensive, it doesn't logically follow that all expensive restaurants are mediocre. Don't get me wrong, I like my Wendys or McDonalds, but I'd go to a great restaurant over an IHOP any time.
  5. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    ditto. Best reason to visit most cities: the food!! I've been to NY more than a few times, and I've always left very happy (with the food, in general is a different story). OTOH vbass makes a good point, it's hard to beat a really good sandwich.

    Expensive ( small portions+crap food) = not a great place to eat.

    Most of the "fancy" places I've been to are not that.
  6. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    I've never been to New York, but from what I hear things are pretty expensive. If you only spent $15 I wonder how much of a "fancy resteraunt" it really was. $15 isn't that much at all for a sit down meal.
    If it was an expensive place and you ordered the very cheapest thing on the menu, you probably didn't really get a very good idea of what their food is all about.
  7. I couldn't care what the restaurant looks like, as long as I get a lot of good tasting food for a decent price.
  8. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    What neighborhood? "stereotypically" Italian sounds like a tourist joint to me. And any tourist joint, be it Manhattan or Weeki Watchee FL is gonna be crap.

    Stay out of chains, stay out of restaurants in Little Italy, Chinatown, steakhouses etc. (unless you're going with somebody who knows their way around) because there are a plethora of joints whose sole purpose is to seperate tourists from their money.

    Fancy restaurants are like fancy cars. They tend to use better cuts, fresher ingredients and a less rigid/more creative approach to preparation. Sure, some are just stupid model hang outs, but most gain the reputation they have because of the output of the kitchen in addition to the opulence of the surroundings.

    My favorite restaurant in NYC is in Park Slope, The Minnow. If you stick to wine by the glass (nice menu) you can get out for $40-50 per person. And the food is GREAT.
  9. Nick Gann

    Nick Gann Talkbass' Tubist in Residence

    Mar 24, 2002
    Silver Spring, MD
    I went to a french restaurant for prom dinner with my girlfriend. $25 an entree, $8 for dessert and appetizers. We each got an entree, a salad, shared a seafood appetizer, and shared a dessert souffle. In the end, after tax and tip, the whole thing cost about $120. Add in another 5 for valet parking. Was it good food and big portions? Yup! Probably the best restaurant I've been to yet, and the food was excellent. Was it worth it? Without a doubt!
  10. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I'd agree with that - it's one of the great pleasures in life - taking your time and eating with friends at a great restauarant.

    So - on the Mediterranean, it's a way of life!! ;)

    So it's a big part of the reason I visit places for holidays (vacations)Sitting outside, looking at a beautiful view, good wine and food, what more could you want in life!!??
  11. canopener


    Sep 15, 2003
    Isle of Lucy
    Yes, that's exactly what I was thinking.


    But my experiences with fancy restaurants, the portions were small, the food was expensive, but it was filling! I've never left a fancy restaurant disappointed.
  12. BustinJustin

    BustinJustin banned

    Sep 12, 2003
    NYC, LI too
    Agreed! Great place!
    In addition-
    L'Impero..... the best chocolate soup EVER!
    Carmine's..... good Italian food. Great a la Vodka!

    Many many more but those are my faves!
  13. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    In a truly fine restaurant, you will always perceive value.

    If you don't appreciate such things as the fact that your servers were paid to come in early to wipe down your wine/water glasses to make sure they had no water spots or that the tines on your forks were perfectly straight, that your linen tablecloth did not have any double-ironed seams, that the your lobster just arrived by air express that morning very frisky, and that your maitre d' can walk up the steps backwards to show you to your table because a host never turns his/her back on patrons......maybe IHOP is the place for you.

    Nothing wrong with that. But, to me, there's nothing more special than a special occasion in a fine restaurant. Hell, I love White Castle, too..........at 3am.
  14. the bigger the plates, the smaller the portions. it just makes the food look fancy. :)
  15. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    I really don't understand those restaurants either, I'm very happy with McDonald's or Wendy's for $0.99, or a nice deli sandwich or diner meal for $7.99.

    I know, I'm cheap. Bass is an expensive instrument and my girlfriend understands that. I'm lucky.
  16. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    Exactly! Have you ever seen "the Thirsty Traveler"? He has the best job in the world.
  17. danshee

    danshee Banned

    May 28, 2004
    Chicago, Illinois
    Sounds like a mediocre place if you ask me. I love a great expensive restaurant. There is a place just outside of Chicago called Bob Chin's. An easy $100 meal for two. But, you'll walk out of there going, " man, was that worth it!"
  18. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    It's entirely possible you simply haven't established a palate for such things.

    (A quick note on portions. I would consider it a blessing that the portion is less than what you would usually get. In my honest opinion, America's obesity is directly tied to ridiculous portions combined with a lack of exercise).

    There is nothing in the world like the epicureal experience. A chef, a truly great chef, is an artist. They can do things that we can't ever even imagine. Like Ed said, the best, freshest ingredients. Caring touch and attention to every aspect of the meal. An expert's combination of ingredients and preparation. And then, AND THEN, then, you pair it with wine. And, my friend, there is nothing in life like enjoying the finest of meals.

    When you take porcini-portobello mushroom ragout, combine it with barley farro pilaf, Italian greens with currants and capers, celery root veloute, Himalayan black truffle mushroom syrup, smoked paprika oil, then savor a glass of '97 Bordeaux, deep and smoky, decanted, and swirled in the glass vigorously, with Max Roach playing in the background, well that's just, that's just ... And you did at a leisurely pace, a 2 and half hour experience. Not that 20 minute experience at a subshop where you shove a huge piece of bread down your gullet. No. NO! This, my friend is what food should be like. We should be challenging our palettes. Looking for something new, something fresh, in both senses. We should enjoy the moment. The greatest cultures we've known have made a point of living to eat. Of eating with passion, with desire. Not shoving some crap down your throat because you're "so busy" as not to stop and enjoy life. Oh my friend. When you finish that with a dessert of almond cashew crust, mocha chocolate filling, raspberry sauce and chocolate mousse, with a '33 Malmsey Madeira, after you've had your Bordeaux, after you've had your Petite Syrah, and you just, you just have a '33 Malmsey Madeira with it, with anything, and you know what life is supposed to be lived like. And when you see those Quiznos and McDonald's and TGI Fridays and Chile's and Applebee's commercials, you realize that those people are evil, inhumane liers. People without the ability to even fathom what we should be eating. And they sell us their crap, AND WE EAT IT!? Can you believe it?! We eat it! But it's not food, it's not epicureal, it's not an experience, it's not dining. And we don't understand why we're fat, and we don't understand ecological problems, and we don't understand why we have indegestion. Oh it's tragic. Oh it's bad. Oh this thread is tragic. And when you walk into Roxanne's in Larkspur, CA, and you have the zuchini cannelloni with garden spinach, sun dried tomatos, pesto and balsamico, all prepared raw, and you try the gazpacho with radish, avocado, cilantro and extra virgin olive oil, and you savor...

    Well, my friend, I must disagree with you.
  19. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    jazzbo - What can you say ??? You live in a city that is on a par with any culinary capitol in the world!!!!.....(except SF can't barbeque worth a dayumm!)

    Your city was the first place I ever had fish tacos, (black bass to be exact) and the pastas I had were outrageous! And don't even get me going about Chinatown!!! I'll take it over NYC's Chinatown, anyday.
  20. Nick Gann

    Nick Gann Talkbass' Tubist in Residence

    Mar 24, 2002
    Silver Spring, MD
    :bawl: That was beautiful, Jazzbo.