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Week in Reviews: A Closer Look at the Benoit Take-Down

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Since today's Adam Platt goose egg for Alain Ducasse's French bistro Benoit was no less than scandalous, we think it merits more than a simple link. The man wasn't just upset about the food, he was disappointed in Ducasse, who he thought would know better than to pull these shenanigans in New York. Perhaps if the restaurant were attached to a different chef, a man who wasn't "the most decorated French chef in the world", Platt would have expected less, eased up. After all he does seem to like a number of items (lamb chops, duck à l’orange, halibut, etc.). But alas, there are some offenses you just can't undo. Let's get to Platt's finest jabs:

On the space: "All New York brasseries are, by nature, fakes. But astonishingly, Benoit is faker than most...The cramped dining room is paneled with what looks like blond laminated siding...the tiny chairs look like they’ve been heisted from a second-rate Parisian railway café...'I feel like I’m at the casino at Paris, Las Vegas,' said one of the grumps at my table."

On the Menu's Failings: "...the tedious, connect-the-dots menu at Benoit makes Balthazar seem like a hotbed of culinary invention...The charcuterie platter contains a few pallid flaps of ham and prosciutto, while the presentable wheel of foie gras confit is served with nothing but a slice of toasted brioche...the only pâté is a classic en croûte recipe."

On the Disappointing Food: "An order of quenelles de brochet costs only $19 at Benoit, but they’re covered in a slime of brown Nantua sauce and look like lumps of overworked gefilte fish...The cassoulet at Benoit...appears to have been preheated in a microwave...Among the seafood dishes, the soggy, grayish lobster ravioli is a viscous mess....French chefs are usually sticklers about their roast chicken, which is why it’s a surprise that the one I sampled (it’s cut for two, for $48) was overcooked."

The Final Assessment: "Is it possible to detect even a hint of Ducasse’s touch in any of this cooking? Of course not. In the context of the chef’s far-flung empire (he has 21 restaurants and counting), Benoit feels like a sad border outpost, a place set up without purpose or passion to fly the flag and maybe earn a buck or two."

Now we all have to wonder, will the Brunz be more forgiving?

· Faux French [NYM]
· All Benoit Coverage [~E~]

Benoit Bistro

60 West 55th Street, New York, NY 10019 646 943 7373

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