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Restaurants & Bars Manhattan


joel tractenberg | | Aug 14, 1998 12:17 PM

On our birthdays my wife and I always take each other
out to a top restaurant. Last night it was Lutece. And
it was shockingly lousy. The room was depressingly
shabby...and empty, too. With no soft music or
anything, just the hum of the air conditioner. The
service was rushed and inattentive -- when I'm shelling
out $300 for dinner and wine, I'd like to have my wine
and water glasses kept full thank you very much. And
I'd also like not to have to raise my hand and ask for
fresh pepper. None of which would have mattered so
much if the food was great. But it wasn't even good.
The amuse bouche was what looked and tasted for all the
world like corner deli lox and cream cheese spread on a
piece of toast. My wife's foie gras appetizer was the
highlight of the evening, nicely caramelized and served
with some kind of fruit compote. The rack of lamb for
two was ordered medium rare and arrived raw. Since they
had already carved the entire thing and presented it to
us, we felt too awkward about sending it back. I mean
they would have had to cook an entirely new rack for
us, right? Or maybe pan fry the individual chops. 4 of
the 8 pieces we were served were inedible. Seems to me
the waiter should have taken us off the hook by
realizing the problem and taking care of it himself.
Dessert was downright lousy. Chocolate souffle that
tasted like scrambled eggs with a little nestle's quik
sprinkled in as an afterthought. Had us looking back
misty-eyed to the intense chocolate mousse we had at
Bouley a couple of years back. My wife had called ahead
to ask them to put together a birthday treat for me,
but had to get up from the table to go remind them
about it, since they had served us dessert without any
sign of her request being fulfilled. Overall, an
extremely disappointing meal. Although we certainly had
fun ripping it apart in the cab ride home. Our rankings
of the birthday restaurants so far go in this order: 1.
Bouley 2. Jean Georges 3. Daniel 4. Lespinasse 5. Le
Bernardin 6. Chanterelle (also very disappointing) 999.

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