Q&A with Chef Corey Lee of Benu and Monsieur Benjamin

A dish from Monsieur Benjamin (left) and Chef Corey Lee (right). Photo credit: Alanna Hale. 

A dish from Monsieur Benjamin (left) and Chef Corey Lee (right). Photo credit: Alanna Hale. 

With his restaurants ranked #1 and #9 in the Renzell 2018 Preliminary San Francisco ratings, Chef Corey Lee is a restaurant rock star. Benu and Monsieur Benjamin bring out the flavors of his home, Korea, with the French food and techniques he fell in love with.

Chef Corey Lee has been continuously praised for his skill and vision. “I don’t think anybody understands how remarkable and singular Corey is,” said David Chang of the Momofuku empire in the foreward to chef Lee’s book, Benu.“There’s never going to be anyone like him again. His skill set, what he’s done, and how he’s done it—it’s everything a cook should aspire to.”  

And so, we take brief peek into the mind of the ubiquitously revolutionary Chef Cory Lee.


Renzell: Let’s start at the beginning. What was the first dish you learned to cook?

Chef Corey Lee: Baked ziti. I was 8 or 9, and it was for our Thanksgiving dinner.

R: Describe your ideal food day.

CL: Dim sum followed by dinner at home with someone else cooking.

R: What inspires you to continue to create new dishes?

CL: I think that the creativity in developing new dishes is fueled partly by inspiration and partly by a lingering uneasiness about remaining stagnant.

R: Do you have a favorite ingredient to work with?

CL: Not really, I think about food more through the combination of ingredients and how they harmonize or interact with each other, rather than as individual ingredients.

R: Do you have a favorite dish to cook?

CL: Anything with rice.

R: Do you ever venture outside the typical cuisine of Benu and Monsieur Benjamin?

CL: Personally, I’m open to, and enjoy trying, any kind of food. Professionally, I’m also pretty open-minded. My main interest is delivering delicious flavors and I explore the ingredients of different cuisines to achieve that.

R: How did you come up with the name of the restaurants (both Benu and Monsieur Benjamin)?

CL: Benu is the ancient Egyptian word for phoenix. I liked how it represents rebirth, a new beginning, and longevity.

For Monsieur Benjamin, the name caught my attention while I was in Paris and heard a concierge call out to an American guest. I liked the combination of a French honorific with a classically American name. Benjamin is French term of endearment (for the youngest child), and also Benjamin Franklin was actually the first US ambassador to France.

 

Get a taste of Chef Corey Lee’s culinary expertise by joining us for a private tasting at Monsieur Benjamin on March 21. CLICK HERE to sign up. Stay tuned for more Q&As with the chefs of Renzell!

Swiss Swigs and Piora Pours

On Monday night, Renzell Members in New York made their way to Verve Wine in Tribeca for a wine tasting Experience with Piora. Victoria James, Piora’s beverage director and one of New York’s top sommeliers, chose three Swiss wines from the Piora cellar to taste.

Her selections included two whites and a red:

  • René Favre & Fils, Petit Arvine, Valais 2014

  • Mathier, Fendant ‘Côteau de Sierre’ 2015

  • Cave de la Côte, Gamay 2014

The high altitude and dry climate of Swiss vineyards give the wine a unique balance of acidity and sweetness.  Only 10% of Swiss wines are exported, making this a truly unique experience. Not only are the wines produced in Switzerland also almost exclusively consumed there, but they are also typically consumed within the vintage, satisfying skiers after a long day on the slopes.

Victoria James pours her selections for Renzell Members. Source: Renzell

Victoria James pours her selections for Renzell Members. Source: Renzell

The evening of tasting, hors d’oeuvres, and conversation with Victoria and Dustin Wilson, owner of Verve Wine and the former sommelier at Eleven Madison Park, was topped off with raffling off a bottle of 2012 Futo "OV/SL" Oakville Bordeaux Blend. Congratulations to the lucky winner!

If you are interested in purchasing any of the wines from the tasting, email Verve Wine at hello@vervewine.com.

Q&A with Momotaro’s Chef Mark Hellyar

Every Renzell Restaurant offers unique and balanced experiences. And each chef is an artist, creating dishes with inspired flavor combinations, innovative techniques, and traditional approaches.  

Chef Mark Hellyar of Momotaro in Chicago spoke to Renzell this week, giving us some insight in his passion for fresh, seasonal ingredients, and where he finds his inspiration to create new dishes.

 

Renzell: Let’s start at the beginning. What was the first dish you learned to cook?

Chef Mark Hellyar: The first dish I learned to cook with confidence was braised ossobucco with risotto. By doing this I learned the complicated process of braising along with sauce work, and the ever-challenging risotto.

R: Describe your ideal food day.

MH: I try to eat healthy, so my ideal food day would be lots of fresh shellfish and a simple strip steak executed well. Basically, lots of protein to be turned into lots of energy. I also love cooking outdoors over a fire pit at my parents’ house during the holidays, where I build a stove top over the fire and cook root vegetables buried under the wood coal. 

R: Do you have a favorite ingredient to work with?

MH: My favorite ingredient varies a bit—it is whatever the best fish species we can find at the moment—and nearly always shellfish.  Recently, we received live baby snow crabs from Hokkaido that are amazing and there's nothing quite like live king crab cooked and eaten as is.  Basically, anything pristine and unique and tasty.

Source: Momotaro.

Source: Momotaro.

R: What inspires you to continue to create new dishes?

MH: Inspiration comes from everywhere.  Your team, your friends, family and, most of all, nature.  Creative spells come on strong at times and run their course, but it's knowing and being comfortable with the fact that at times you do not feel creative at all and realizing it will come back to you in another surprising version.  

R: Do you have a favorite dish to cook?

MH: My favorite dish to cook is sausage and kraut, basically my take on a wood fire choucroute. I love all forms of sausage making. For this dish, I like to build a fire and get smoke on an assortment of sausages from knockwurst to brats and blood sausage along with boudin blanc and smoked kielbasa. Then I have a pot on the stove full of beer, kraut, and potatoes that has been cooked in the fire along with mustard. I place all the sausages in the kraut and simmer over the fire until the liquid is nearly evaporated. Then I grill bread and put it on top of the braised sausage kraut to absorb the smoked juices and then serve with pickles and mustards.

R: What other cuisines do you enjoy cooking?

MH: I like cooking an array of foods from old school French to Turkish to Lebanese.  Cooking on a whim with very seasonal products is always a lot of fun.

Stay tuned for more Q&As with the chefs of Renzell!

Out On The Town With Renzell: A Week Of Experiences

Photo credit: Jessica Hernandez

Photo credit: Jessica Hernandez

This was a big week for Renzell Experiences! We held five events around the country—showcasing different restaurants while dining on spectacular food in phenomenal environments. And, in many cases, getting to hear from the chefs themselves.     

We kicked the week off at The Bellwether in Los Angeles on Sunday morning. Chef Ted Hopson put together an eclectic menu—patty melt and grapefruit negroni anyone?—that thrilled the Renzell Members on what was otherwise a rainy and miserable weather night (unheard of in LA!). The toasted sesame cake (pictured above) topped off the evening. You can see the full menu below.

Continuing up the West Coast, on Monday evening we hosted a private tasting at Spruce in San Francisco. Tucked along tree lined Sacramento Street in the historic Presidio Heights, guests mingled and dined in the restaurant’s private dining room, The Library. A curated three-course meal took guests on a tour of Northern California, featuring local foods and wine.

Renzell Members were treated to a unique  Michael White experience over two nights. Osteria Morini played host to special tastings, sponsored by Thuzio and Moet Hennessy, during which White, head chef and co-owner of the Altamarea Group, mingled and spoke to the guests during an early a cocktail hour.. He then prepared and presented a four-course Emilia Romagna-inspired meal.

On Tuesday night, Renzell hosted a grand dinner at Blue Hill at Stone Barns for our Master Members (who had completed 50 surveys for individual restaurants within a year). Chef Adam Kaye introduced each course with a brief history of the ingredients—even going into detail about the progeny of each—and the techniques used to grow and harvest (from their own farm on the premises). We won’t even go into the fresh honeycomb!

Make sure you don’t miss the next Renzell Experience in your city. You can see them all here!

Crispy Pig Face and Bang Bang at Khe-Yo

We hosted a private tasting event on Monday night for Renzell members and their guests at Tribeca’s renowned Khe-Yo.

To kick things off the Khe-Yo chef Soulayphet “Phet” Schwader and restaurateur Marc “Forge” Forgione sat down with Town & Country’s Sam Dangremond to discuss culinary inspiration, food trends, and the uniqueness of Laotian food.

Phet and Forge are former roomates (when they both worked for BLT) and now friends and partners. Forge, who serves “Laotian Sushi” at his own restaurant, had never had Laotian food until living with Phet. Understandable, given that Khe-Yo is one of the only Laotian restaurants in New York. Phet even has to have his mom send Laotian ingredients to New York from Kansas where there’s a sizeable Laotian community. The pair also divulged their perfect food day: eating home cooked meals with family.  

After the interview, we moved on to the tasting…and, oh boy, did we taste! The menu consisted of two exclusive cocktails, four small plates, five large plates, and two desserts; all served family-style and with the recommendation to “eat with your hands.” Take a look at the menu to the right, featuring everything from traditional Crunchy Coconut Rice and Pork Curry Noodles to Crispy Pig Face and Wok Seared Lobster & Noodles.  

Tuna Laap (left) and Lime Mint Sorbet & Pomegranate (right).

Tuna Laap (left) and Lime Mint Sorbet & Pomegranate (right).

Chef Phet making his signature Bang Bang Sauce.

Chef Phet making his signature Bang Bang Sauce.

At the end of the evening, Chef Phet gave everyone a jar of his famous Bang Bang Sauce. But not before demonstrating how to make it at home. Using a mortar and pestle (hence the name “Bang Bang”), he combined Thai chilies, fish sauce, garlic, sugar, lime, and cilantro.  

Now you try!

Thank you to all who joined us for the event! Keep an eye out for upcoming Renzell Experiences!

To Tip or Not to Tip…

Source: Getty Images. 

Source: Getty Images. 

The recent trend among restaurants to eliminate tipping—opting to raise menu prices and distribute the profits more evenly amongst the staff—has produced a number of mixed results.

Thad Vogler eliminated tipping in his restaurants—Bar Agricole and Trou Normand in San Francisco—raising menu prices by 20% and paying servers a salary. In the 10 months the policy was in place, Vogler lost 70% of his service staff who had formerly relied on tips.

On the flip side, Tom Colicchio of NYC’s Craft successfully got rid of tipping during its lunch service, and Danny Meyer eliminated tipping at several Union Square Hospitality Group restaurants including The Modern and Gramercy Tavern, raising menu prices across the board. In cities such as Seattle, restaurants en masse have moved towards a no-tipping policy, often adding a 20% “service charge” to every check, which is distributed evenly among the staff.

Why are restaurants bothering to buck the status quo? And why is it not working out for some?

Tipping, many restaurateurs argue, creates an unequal pay system across the restaurant’s staff. After all, your dining experience does not depend solely on the server. It takes cooks, hosts, busboys and a whole host of other front and behind the scenes players. Why should servers reap the benefit of their own pay system?  

As appealing as evenly distributed salaries for restaurant workers sounds, it turns out diners (and servers!) may actually prefer the tipping system. Diners believe that the prospect of better service is dependent on the private payment system between them and their server. It is, in many ways, the one controllable part of the dining experience. A survey from Horizon Media shows that 81% of restaurant-goers said they would prefer to stick with tipping.  

As Vogler’s experience showed, servers might prefer the tipping system, too. The prospect of a limitless, and sometimes untaxable, salary can be much more appealing than a bi-weekly paycheck. The Horizon study found that 60% of servers would forgo a salary in place of tips.  

Price-fixe and tasting menu only restaurants, such as Eleven Madison Park and Atera have traditionally been more successful in weaving service into the cost. It’s possible when there is no choice to make—and no need to consult a waiter—the relationship between diner and server becomes less driven by economics.

Furthermore, raising menu prices can potentially change consumer dining patterns. Higher menu prices may create less demand for tables or cause diners to choose lower priced restaurants. “It’s a very different emotional calculus,” explains chef Danny Meyer.

What do you think about the movement towards eliminating tipping? Would you prefer to pay more for your meal if you didn’t have to tip? Tweet us @renzell and let us know!

Winter Cocktail Recipes from Top Restaurants

The holidays are almost over...but winter has just begun. We’ve gathered some of the top winter cocktail recipes to help you get through the season. For restaurants, seasonal cocktail menus are essential, because who wants to drink a mojito when it’s 30 degrees outside? So, we recruited the experts to show us how it’s done!

 

Blood Orange Margarita from Empellón Cocina

Empellón Cocina, ranked on our list of New York’s top cocktail lists, is known for putting its signature culinary flair on traditional Mexican fare. This blood orange margarita is no exception!

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 oz Pueblo Viejo Blanco Tequila

  • 0.25 oz New Holland "Clockwork Orange" Blood Orange Liqueur

  • 0.25 oz Agave Syrup (agave nectar diluted with water in a 1:1 ratio)

  • 1 oz Blood Orange Juice or Pureé

  • 0.75 oz Fresh Lime Juice

Instructions:

Combine all ingredients in an iced cocktail shaker. Shake and strain over fresh ice. Serve with a half-rim of citrus salt.

 

Lost In Translation from Daniel

At Daniel, ranked #3 on our New York cocktails list, attention to detail is everything. The Upper East Side restaurant balances taste and presentation for an impeccable dining (and drinking) experience. Plus, adding matcha to a cocktail is one of the trendiest thing you will do this winter!

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz Auva Prata Cacacha

  • 1 oz Mizu Shochu

  • 0.5 oz Lime

  • 0.75 oz Simple Syrup

  • 1 scoop Matcha Powder

  • 0.75 oz Egg White

Instructions:

Add all ingredients into shaker. Dry shake, shake with ice, strain into black clay bowl (or whatever vessel you prefer). No ice. Garnish with dusting of matcha powder.

 

First Frost from Green Zebra

Green Zebra’s new mixologist, James Knittle, has created a list of winter cocktails for the vegetarian restaurant. Knittle’s flair for the dramatic--probably from his tiki bar background--is further elevated by the vintage glasses Green Zebra uses are part of its bar program.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 oz Tanuki Raccoon Sake

  • 0.5 oz Chareau Aloe Liqueur

  • 2 dashes Bitter Truth Cucumber bitters

  • 0.5 oz Yuzu Juice

  • 0.5 oz Lime Juice

  • 0.75 oz Simple Syrup

Instructions:

Combine all ingredients in an iced cocktail shaker. Shake and serve up in a frosted coupe (or your preferred glass) with mint speared cucumber float.

 

There you have it! Three delicious winter cocktails from top restaurants that will be sure to impress this season. We’d love to see you make them! Tag us in your posts on Instagram (@renzellrestaurants) or Twitter (@renzell)!

In case you missed it, check out our list of New York’s Top 15 Best Cocktail Lists!

Closings (and tears)

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Sometimes even the best of times come to an end. A few Renzell Restaurants are, sadly, closing at the end of this year: Betony and Soto in New York, Range in San Francisco, and Perennial Virant in Chicago. And DC's Ocopa has already closed its doors.

Betony, a beacon of urbanity on West 57th St, and one of the original Renzell Restaurants, is run by Eamon Rockey, a restaurateur by trade but a bon vivant by practice, and chef Bryce Shuman. They originally met at Eleven Madison Park before transforming the former kitsch-filled Brasserie Pushkin.  

The numbers don’t lie: Betony ranks #1 in hospitality on Renzell (and top 10 in cocktails, design, food, and service). 

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Soto, the non-descript uni palace in the West Village, and a recently named Renzell Restaurant, is ending a more than decade long run in the West Village. Sotohiro Kosugi—a master with a knife and a multitude of creative glazes and reductions—has run Soto with aplomb for more than a decade. Kosugi is returning to Japan, which may be reason enough for a trip in the future. 

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Range, one of the original pioneers on the Valenica strip in the mission, is closing after more than a dozen years. Phil West, owner and chef, returned to the kitchen a few years back returning the modern dining room to the forefront of creativity. West was a master at indulgent foods, but Range stood alone with it's forward thinking cocktails. 

Ocopa, located along Washington, DC’s H Street Corridor, has permanently closed its doors. The Peruvian restaurant was well known for its signature Pisco Sours, ceviche and one-of-a-kind brunch menu. With touches of Asian influence, Ocopa melded its Peruvian flavors into the raw fish and potato dishes that dot the menu.

In Chicago, Perennial Virant will be closing until the beginning of May. Its chef, Paul Virant, will be leaving at the end of the year. Boka Restaurant will use this break to “reconcept following a final service on New Year’s Eve, and a new restaurant with two new partners should open in the spring,” according to Eater Chicago.

Post updated on December 20, 2016. 

New York's Top 15 Best Lighting Designs

In a restaurant, light isn’t just practical, it’s another layer of aesthetic curation that restaurants play with.

Dimness is a value in a public space—it affords intimacy where spaces sometimes won’t allow it. But visibility is just as valuable: you’ve got to be able to read the menu, get the full effect of the presentation, and know what you’re eating. Striking a balance can be tricky without interrupting the design of the space—but these restaurants have perfected it.

With lighting design that achieves both art and, well, light, here are New York’s Top 15 for Best Lighting Design.

New York's Top 15 Best Bathroom Designs

It’s inevitable: you’ll end up in the restroom at some point during your evening out. The transition between dining room and bathroom shouldn’t feel like a stark interruption, but flow naturally. It offers a moment’s quiet reprieve from the hustle and bustle—it is a restroom after all—but you shouldn’t forget where you are. You’re in a luxury restaurant, and that luxury should extend to all corners of the building.

These fifteen restaurants have restrooms that wowed our members—maybe you should give them a try.

Making The Rounds!

 

There’s often an assumption that, as a founder of a restaurant rating system, I get a lot of free food and drinks. Nothing could be further from the truth! As opinionated as I am about restaurants, my preferences don’t factor into Renzell’s methodology so there’s no need for anyone to impress me.

The upside is that I can talk openly with owners, sommeliers, chefs, servers, bartenders, general managers, private dining directors, and everyone else in between, at restaurants around the country. Since launching our first list in New York City—and expanding to San Francisco and Chicago—and releasing our first set of official ratings in September, I’ve learned a lot about the restaurants Renzell covers and the people on the inside who make them so successful.

Over the past month I’ve hand-delivered each NYC restaurant’s personalized Renzell plaque of recognition. I try to stop by just before service begins, and always find the restaurants buzzing with pre-service energy; prep-work in the kitchen, final touches to the tables, bar re-stocking, uniform-primping, and family meals.

Not one person has been too busy to take a moment, say hello, shake my hand, talk about their restaurant and, in many cases, they’ve pulled back the curtain to show me a whole lot more. Michael White took me downstairs to the underground kitchens at Marea to show off his fresh fish selection and then proceeded to play a video on his phone of his own East River striped bass catch. Jean-Georges Vongerichten happily posed for a photograph in the Jean-Georges kitchen and even allowed a patron to photobomb our shoot. Eamon Rockey laughingly played frisbee with the plaque along with the entire Betony team while posing for a group shot on 57th Street. Cedric and Louise Vongerichten shared stories at Perry Street of their philanthropic efforts with Food Dreams while touring me around their kitchen. Daniel Boulud brought his team out front of Daniel and personally curated the Renzell photo shoot on 65th street while simultaneously greeting fans. I amiably chatted with Ronny Emborg, Matthew Abbick and Michael Stein at Atera about what really drives them—the soundtrack!

 

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Dan Barber let me sit in on the pre-dinner, front of house, meeting at Blue Hill as they discussed that night’s menu. The team at Carbone showed me around their sumptuous dining room while gracefully handling a guest who had showed up at 3:22pm for a 5pm reservation. At ZZ’s Clam Bar, Cody Loiselle made me a Bee’s Kiss; the Eleven Madison Park team insisted that I sit have a midday cocktail; and Christine Wright at Hearth poured me her latest favorite wine (ok, so every once in awhile I do get a free drink!). At Contra I witnessed Fabian von Hauske casually transporting a tray of uni between Wildair and Contra. Matt and Barbara Lambert, and the entire Musket Room team, piled out onto Elizabeth Street for an impromptu photo. At Craft we were given a royal tour even as we barged in on their family meal. Norihiro Ishizuka at Kura, Hirohisa Koyama at Hirohisa and Ju Yong Kim at Jungsik all happily posed for solo shots. Soulayphet Schwader at Khe-Yo claimed to be camera-shy before flashing the biggest smile around. At L’Artusi, the team showed off the 19th century self-published cookbook after whose author the restaurant is named. At Minetta Tavern, I was assured that the Renzell plaque was much better looking than their Michelin stars (we’ll take it!), and Simon Kim at Piora instantly installed our plaque right next to his own star. And at Upholstery Store, Kurt Gutenbrunner covered his boyish face with our plaque. At Momofuku Ko I spoke with Sean Gray, Chase Sinzer and Su Wong Ruiz about the perils of modern journalism and I got into a heavy conversation with Joel Steiger at Morimoto about the Renzell scoring system. At Pearl and Ash, Trae Basore astonishingly whipped up three dishes for us to photograph. On quiet Commerce Street a small crowd of tourists gathered to watch Daisuke Nakazawa, Garrett Smith and the entire Nakazawa team ham it up. Misha Mariani and Jonathan Benno graciously hosted me for dinner at Lincoln. And the Zenkichi team graciously posing for a photo right before throwing a Renzell experience for twenty Renzell members.

Everywhere I go, I’m met with eager kindness and a genuine interest in the Renzell project.

In the midst of all the activity that goes into running a restaurant, I’m grateful any member of the staff would give me the time of day, let alone shake my hand, talk with me, show me around, and pose for a picture. There’s a reason these people are in the hospitality business, and their passion is clear the moment you step in the door. It’s been amazing to talk about what Renzell does and hear that people in the restaurant business see a need for it. From the celebrity chefs to the runners, people who work in restaurants—especially the ones on our list—care deeply about feedback from their guests. And if they hear the guests are pleased, they’re pleased. And so am I.

 

New York's Top 15 Restaurants for Best Artwork

Fine dining is where art and food intersect—we see it on our plates with the presentation, taste it in the carefully balanced flavors of our food and drink, and yes, we see it on the wall.

The art selected for a restaurant is more than a decorative choice. Inevitably it influences the mood of the guests, sets the tone for the night, and says something important about what can be expected.

Of course, it never hurts for it to be beautiful.

New York's Top 15 Best Beer Programs

Is putting together a beer list that different from curating a wine list? Doesn’t it reflect the atmosphere and complement the cuisine as wine lists do? Sure, there’s less prestige, but it’s not about what kind of beverage you choose to drink, it’s about creating an environment where that beverage enhances your dining experience.

As with wine, restaurants need to know which beers go well together, what varieties go well with which particular dishes, and how to match a patron’s description of what they like to what the restaurant has available. Restaurants want to be innovative and offer guests exciting new experiences. Some of us have a go-to draft; some of us like to explore new options. Compiling a  list that manages to capture the classics and the best of the newcomers is no easy task.

Congratulations to these fifteen restaurants who are proving that it can be done. Bottoms up.

New York's Top 15 Best Wine Lists

What’s in a wine list? It may look like a random collection of names, vineyards, dates, and countries. For the restaurant and especially  the sommelier, is so much more.

Building the list is a craft that people devote their lives to; diversity of type, age, region, and price point all need to be taken into account. The list has to balance the menu—or enhance it. Long or short, the list aims to capture a little of everything, because every guest is different. This is no simple feat.

Cheers to the wine directors, sommeliers, and beverage teams behind these impressive lists—we know your work is never done, but tonight we hope you have a glass to celebrate, off the clock.

New York's Top 15 Best Cocktail Lists

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Cocktail making is a careful balancing act, and putting together a list even more so. The best lists have drinks that evoke an emotional and visceral response. Dining out is an experience that often begins at the bar, and cocktails set the mood and tone for an evening. The most creative lists can often tell you as much about the restaurant as a food menu.  Great lists change seasonally, adapt and innovate regularly, and speak to the wider experience of dining out. Cocktails aren’t just for show, though presentation is key. Cocktails have to do it all, and these restaurants are proving that they can. That’s something we can all raise a glass to.

New York's Top 15 Most Knowledgeable Sommeliers

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There is nothing more humiliating  than flipping through an endless wine list while the rest of the table looks on, impatiently. Even those of us who know at least something about wine can have a hard time knowing what might be suitable for that night’s dinner. And nothing is more comforting than being able to discuss your options with an articulate and helpful sommelier.

 

Left to our own devices, we might find something passable, or maybe even luck into choosing something great—but an expert opinion and a personable attitude guarantees an ideal pairing.

 
Congratulations to these fifteen restaurants and their sommeliers: knowledgeable, articulate, and tirelessly helping guests find the perfect glass.

New York's Top 15 Best Dish Presentation

If cooking is a science, plating is an art. Sure, food doesn’t have to look pretty in order to taste good, but it doesn’t hurt. And really, why shouldn’t you enjoy the view?

An exquisite example of number one Le Bernardin's plating expertise.

An exquisite example of number one Le Bernardin's plating expertise.

So how about a round of applause for food that looks so good, it’s almost a shame you have to eat it. (Almost.)

New York's Top 15 Food Scores

Determining what is “best” is difficult in any category, but especially when it comes to food. “Best” is subjective and means different things to different people.  

The “best” restaurants are bestowed with Michelin stars or newspaper reviews, the most subjective of opinions. But what they like isn’t sure to be what you like.

There are so many different kinds of food, all drawing on different cultures, practices, traditions, and ideas. Each chef has a unique approach and a blend of techniques. Each tries to elicit a different response from their guests. Innovative and unexpected, familiar and comforting—who’s to say which is best?  

Restaurant reviews and ratings often come filtered through personal biases and opinions, which  can render them completely useless. That’s where Renzell’s data-driven model—independently verified by KPMG—comes in.

We take a wide range of insights and ratings s and turn them into data: an objective truth. So when we say that these 15 restaurants are serving the best food in New York City today, you know that it means something. So here it is: the list of New York’s restaurants serving the best food. Not our favorite foods, not the most trendy food, not the best Chinese or Italian or French food—the best food. Period.

New York's Top 15 Busser/Runner Teams

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The difference between fine dining and everything else is in the details. There is a unique choreography to the experience, which can be thrown off when a team member is slow to remove a plate or another fails to refill your drink. But when the rhythm of the waitstaff and the experience all comes together, it can make you feel like you’re a part of an elegant ballet.

Here are New York’s top 15 restaurants for the highest quality busser/runner teams. These talented teams don’t let anything slip through the cracks: they are the glue that holds the restaurant together; the stage managers who quietly shine the spotlight on the meal.

Congratulations to these restaurants for keeping fine dining alive and well in New York City.

New York's Top 15 Soundtracks

 

The cacophony of a restaurant—dishes clinking, bottles being uncorked, bubbling conversation—can be overwhelming. But a great soundtrack can make you forget every other bit of noise.  

Why is the soundtrack so essential? Imagine a restaurant without one. Cold, intimidating spaces where guests are petrified to so much as bump their wine glass against their plate, let alone have a conversation. Music diffuses the tension, injects the atmosphere with liveliness, and sets the mood.

Sample number one Momofuku Ko’s soundtrack and you’ll see what we mean.