Ballsy, pricey, mildly pretentious new Dream Hotel Romera opened in the basement of the Dream Hotel earlier this month, offering a menu of "neurogastronomy" dishes with gourmet water to the tune of $245 a head. Because of that hefty price tag, it took a little longer than usual for the usual suspects to get in there and try the place, but after a week a consensus of sorts have been building. People do not like it. And it's not just because of the no photography policy. Perhaps The Doctor just needs a little more time to work out the kinks and find a groove, but expectations run high when that kind of money is involved and the pressure is on to deliver. Brace, because it gets ugly up ahead.
The Bad News: This one comes from the tipline: "Just came back from dinner at Romera - their first night - in the basement of the Dream Hotel. Where to begin? That the Dream is really a nightmare? That this was by far the worst (faux) gourmet meal I've ever had? That the service was a disaster? That with more than 10 courses, not a single one was even remotely worthwhile, let alone memorable? That the pretentiousness was off the charts? The only open question is how long it will take for this misguided (and ridiculously overpriced) misadventure to go under? Can't wait to see the NYT review - this is one flop that is truly of historic proportions." [Eater Tipline]
More Bad News: There are three Yelp reviews. One five star is from someone who hasn't eaten there, one looks like a shill, and the third is this: "Decent space, pleasant service, absolutely mediocre food. I would not pay $100 for the meal (let alone $245), "aromatic water" and all. The water did not add anything to the meal, and most of the food was weird or simply tasteless. The wine pairing was ok, but could not rescue the food that was plainly poor. Most of the sauces had terrible textures, and lots of spices got stuck to the plate. Yes, the food looked good, and I'm sure they were labor-intensive, but I paid $245 for food to eat, not to look at. If Romera publishes a photobook, I might buy it. If Romera invites me back for a free meal, I will pass." [Yelp]
The Suspicious Rave: This is the rave from a Yelper who just opened an account: "My husband took me to Romera to celebrate our anniversary. Let me just say first off that the food is extraordinary. It is about everything that is sensory, visceral and immediate about food: gorgeous visuals of flowers, gardens, jewels and butterflies on the plate; powerful smells wafting from flavored waters and smoking herbs; crisp and airy textures, evoking the transitory textures and sensations of nature and the garden. We thought the presentation was the most stunning of any NYC restaurant and the execution was on par with the city's best." It goes on from there. [Yelp]
The Not Great News: An Eater commenter is not impressed: "So...I ate there tonight. Let's just say that it was extraordinarily ambitious, but completely underwhelming. Dinner for two, with a single flight of wines shared between the two of us, came to $750. Let me save you the two and a half hours of pretense, and the dent in your pocketbook, and advise you to take a pass." Another adds, "I ate there on 9/20. I would guess this place will last about a year give or a take a few months. Even though I understood exactly where I was going and knew the type of experience I was going to have I would still say it missed the mark. Not worth the price, not even close." [Eater Comments]
The Confused News: From @missmassblog: "I been to one of the longest dinner ever, 4 hours dinner in Romera @Dream Hotel! After 4hours idk if the food is good or not, too much wine!" [Twitter]
The Comped Rave: Per handbag designer Katherine Kwei: "We were treated to a very special dinner at Romera last week at the new Dream Hotel. Chef Romera prepared a super yum dinner with beautiful infused waters to cleanse the palette between courses. Pretty amazing and hope to visit again soon." [Katherine Kwei]
More Bad News: Three Chowhounders have been, and they all pan the place: Here's one: "I was there on opening night and this place was terrible. The food is totally unmemorable. The food is flat with no depth. There was one dish that keeps coming back to me as a poor execution. We had foie gras (how can you go wrong?) with a HUGE white chocolate disc covering it. While I understand the idea of sweet and savory together, the amount of chocolate on this dish was out of control. The aromatic waters served with each course are silly. They add nothing and when you order a wine pairing that makes the sheer number of glasses on your table ridiculous. Avoid this place. Wait for reviews. Do what you must to put it off until you hear something from someone you consider a credible source. I have eaten at most of the finer restaurants in New York and this restaurant doesn't deserve to be in the same conversation as any of them." [CH]