after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

10Arts: Too Much Hype?

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t says: One of our favorite shows is Top Chef – we’ve been watching since season 1 (although we skipped season ?3?).  We used to love how ridiculous the challenges were, but now we’re moreso drawn to how talented these chefs are!  One of the chefs on this past season was Jennifer Carroll, who is the head chef at 10Arts by Eric Ripert.  She definitely had “personality” from the very first episode of the season, and her dishes in the beginning and end seemed quite good (she muddled in the middle a bit).  As soon as I spotted 10Arts on last fall’s restaurant week participants list, I knew we were definitely going.  A new restaurant with a semi-celebrity head chef and an association with the michelin-starred Eric Ripert?  How could we go wrong?

9/2009, Friday Dinner, Party of 3, Restaurant Week.  A “bistro-lounge”, this restaurant is in the ground floor rotunda of of the Ritz-Carlton hotel.  The majority of the dining space is not actually set apart from the hotel’s super-large rotunda, making for a very bizarre atmosphere in that it feels both fancy and cheap at the same time.  The hostess was nice, however, our waitress was not – no smiles, no excitement, and no enthusiasm when presenting our dishes.  However, maybe restaurant week was taking its toll on the staff?  It’s a shame because we knew that we’d have to pretty much ignore her soullessness for the rest of the meal, which can put a damper on the food.  But in any case, as we were there for the food, we placed our order and held our breath …

The three of us (g, t, and kp) sampled the Octopus and Heirloom tomato (x2) appetizers; the scallop, hanger steak, and shortrib entrees; and the “frozen snickers” (x3).  The octopus was a bit overcooked and thus, a little tough; however it was indeed well-seasoned and had a nice smoky flavor.  The heirloom tomato was also “ok”, as it could have used a bit more salt and pepper to make the tomato shine (that’s a weird sentence – maybe nonsensical).  All of the mains were well-executed, so we were happy.  That said, nothing was super-novel or screamed out “awesome” (well, except for the fries with the hanger steak – everyone agreed they were exceptional spuds!).  The dessert, on the other hand, was innovative, and did remind me of a snickers bar (although moreso of a Tasty Kake Kandy Kake, which is even better!).  So we were definitely satisfied with the final note of the evening.

Given the paucity of writing/description/criticism (which is unusual for me), you can see that 10Arts had only a “good” showing.  Perhaps quality suffered because it was restaurant week?  Maybe.  Maybe our server’s craptacularocity tainted the meal?  Maybe.  What however is a little scary is that for those portion sizes, even if they managed to cook everything perfectly, it’s just not worth the prices that I’ve seen on their normal menu (?maybe they give you more if you actually went a la carte?  or maybe they’re really aiming for a higher price-point altogether?).  This, in combination with the bizarre atmosphere leads me to believe that most people like us with limited budgets are not going to come here for multiple meals – maybe just hotel patrons, food tourists, and super-fans of Chef Jen.  I hope she/they can prove me wrong!

Written by afterdinnersneeze

22 February 2010 at 9:10pm

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