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L'Etoile or Harvest?

Where are you eating and what do you think? What's opening, closing, succeeding, failing?

Postby buckyor » Sat Aug 05, 2006 11:55 am

Never been to L'Etoile, but I've been to Harvest once, last fall. For a $150 meal for two, I was pretty disappointed. It certainly wasn't an awful meal; in fact it was pretty good. But I want something more than "pretty good" for that price. I can get better at Otto's, Eno Vino, and Fyfe's for less money, and at Magnus for about the same price. And I can get "pretty good" at most anywhere for a LOT less.
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Postby Thusnelda » Sat Aug 05, 2006 4:45 pm

That's the trouble with so many places around here. People are willing to put up with "pretty good" just because "wow" sometimes doesn't mean a lot. Yes, the restaurant uses local ingredients; yes, they're adept at making some sort of fancy glaze, but they can't get their act together when it comes to pouring the wine or making sure the sauce is the correct temperature. People don't complain about little things because they might assume this is a one-time thing and want to just go ahead and eat -- except that the cook then continues sending things out with cold sauce, and the other patrons (wishing not to make a big fuss, and not knowing that other people have the same complaint) don't say anything either. Yeah, it might only be a slipup that night, but if nobody speaks up the restaurant will just keep doing things in a rather slapdash manner and everyone suffers. (This happened last weekend. Can you tell I'm a little bitter?)

I'm perfectly willing to pay 6 or 7 bucks at Noodles. If I pay $24 for a pasta dish at some fancy place, however, they'd better be fuckin' PERFECT.
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Postby cubanat » Mon Aug 07, 2006 1:45 am

Buckyor from Maine: have you been to PRIMO inbetween Camden and Rockland(I think). It is A-frickin-mazing
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Postby buckyor » Mon Aug 07, 2006 9:59 am

cubanat wrote:Buckyor from Maine: have you been to PRIMO inbetween Camden and Rockland(I think). It is A-frickin-mazing


I've not been that far down the coast yet; I've only been as far as Belfast, which is a pretty cool town. But when I get to the area, I'll try to check it out.
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Postby granolagirl » Mon Aug 07, 2006 2:10 pm

I would go with Harvest over L'Etoile. Everytime I've been to Harvest the food has been great, as has the service. I haven't been to L'Etoile since Odessa left, but i was not wowed with it. A lot of hype for nothing spectacular.
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Postby cattyr » Mon Aug 07, 2006 2:23 pm

My requisite mention in these type threads:

Haven't been there in quite a while, but every single thing I've ever had at Morels has been superb. It's lovely when your side dishes give you as much pleasure as your entree. Also a wee bit less expensive than many aforementioned places. Some are creeped out by the mounted game in the bar, I love the atmosphere myself.
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Postby regnad_kcin » Tue Aug 08, 2006 2:41 am

Oh, the asshats I had in my taxi...

From Overture to Harvest or Le Toilet. And a whopping 75 cent tip! Oh thank you kind sir, may I trouble you to ask how tonight's performance of Phantom was? Oh my dear, musical theatre is so delightful! I do so enjoy that Andrew Lloyd Weber, what a gas!

And half the time they'd flag a rival company after calling us. Bitches!
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Postby doddles » Tue Aug 08, 2006 9:46 am

regnad_kcin wrote:Oh, the asshats I had in my taxi...

From Overture to Harvest or Le Toilet. And a whopping 75 cent tip! Oh thank you kind sir, may I trouble you to ask how tonight's performance of Phantom was? Oh my dear, musical theatre is so delightful! I do so enjoy that Andrew Lloyd Weber, what a gas!

And half the time they'd flag a rival company after calling us. Bitches!


So what did you say to them? Maybe a sarcastic "ooh, thanks so much! I hope you have enough money left to pay for your dinner!!" Just goes to show that just as you don't need money to show class, people with money often have no class.
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Postby TAsunder » Tue Aug 08, 2006 12:21 pm

That reminds me of the time I was getting a paid-for-by-zimbrick cab to work, and the driver mentioned no less than 5 times that zimbrick does not tip them. Needless to say I didn't tip him either as a result.

Anyway how much tip is appropriate for the 3 block drive to L'Etoile from overture?
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Postby cristobal » Tue Aug 08, 2006 1:21 pm

Harvest has been excellent for several years afaik. Definitely better than the waning days of Odessa. I haven't been to L'Etoile since she departed. I'm surprised that people have had bad experiences at Harvest there actually. In fact, I'm not sure I would believe those opinions since it really is very good and consistent for me. IMO it's probably the best Madison restaurant.

Cocoliquot is really good as well but has somewhat of a different style from Harvest. I like the tapas-style eating you can do there but it's less elegant because of that, I think.

Lots of other places were mentioned but places like Lombardino's are really a separate category of food from Harvest. It's very good but it's still pretty much your basic Italian. And Morel's? Total supper club.

As for Magnus, it's fun and has decent food but you'd better ask for any meat well-done or it's coming out cold and raw. I'll never forget the double-pork chop I got that was actually RAW inside -- not pink or juicy but cold and raw. Super-nasty. Every time I order meat there, it's way underdone and I even like it reasonably rare. They claim it's "South American" style -- whatever -- it's freaking raw!

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Postby cattyr » Tue Aug 08, 2006 1:42 pm

Hmm, cristobal, we apparently have very different ideas of what constitutes a supper club. I agree the atmosphere is such at Morels, but something like this:

Seared Breast of Duckling
A pair of crisply seared breasts fanned around a petite rosemary custard with a strawberry and balsamic vinegar reduction 18.99

is not what I would find at the supper clubs I frequent. Nor a seasonal menu. Ah well, I'm just happy it's there.
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Postby Wino » Tue Aug 08, 2006 1:52 pm

OMG, I want that duck dish!
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Postby Ducatista » Tue Aug 08, 2006 2:11 pm

cristobal wrote:In fact, I'm not sure I would believe those opinions...

Come again?
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Postby TAsunder » Tue Aug 08, 2006 2:15 pm

Believe what you want, but my unimpressed experience at harvest was on a day when I was in a great mood and didn't really even care how much we were spending. It was a couple of days after consummating a relationship with someone I'd been pining away over for years. You'd think that I would be blinded by libido satisfaction, but no, I was disappointed in Harvest. It wasn't a freudian thing either, because I'd really enjoyed a pb&j at panera the same day. Seriously. The pb&j that comes basically on wonder bread with a little serving of milk. I wish harvest had served that.

The best part of the whole meal was the thimble-sized sample of some sort of gazpacho(sp?) like substance. I also vaguely recall enjoying some cheese. But the entrees and salads were quite underwhelming, and my companion felt the same. Not that they were bad or anything, but they were only perhaps a smidge better than captain bill's.
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Postby cubanat » Tue Aug 08, 2006 11:38 pm

Lots of other places were mentioned but places like Lombardino's are really a separate category of food from Harvest. It's very good but it's still pretty much your basic Italian.
Cristobal[/quote]

Cristobal, you are way out of touch. Basic Italian is is not what Lombardino's does/is. Check their menus out that change every two months, the fact that they use the farmers market as much as possible, their presentations, all Italian wine list, amazing bread & desserts, all don't sound very basic to me. Basic? nah!
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