Corton at One…and Three?

On Monday, October 5th, Michelin will be releasing its new Guide to the restaurants of New York City. Per Twitter, Michelin has leaked that there will be a new Three Star chef in the City. Who will it be?

I recently returned to dine at Corton. There is no question in my mind that the food at Chef Paul Liebrandt's Corton, having just passed its one year anniversary, is worthy of three Michelin Stars or Four NY Times Stars (it received three from Frank Bruni). The service has also risen to that caliber and the wine list remains outstanding. In addition to Liebrandt' amazing savory plates, Pastry Chef Robert Truitt is doing great work at the back end of the meal. While the room itself is elegant and tasteful, romantic befitting a restaurant of its style, the one element that I see potentially holding it back is the tightness of the table arrangements, especially around the banquettes where the tables are small and almost directly adjacent to one another. It does not have the space of a Per Se or Le Bernardin for example.

It is not even so much that one can often get very chummy with one's neighbors. I have had very positive experiences at that restaurant (and others) that way. No the real question with the tightness of the arrangement and the relatively small tables is that they are too small to fit Chef Liebrandt's generous and beautiful plates. Many courses arrive with multiple small dishes that wind up assuming much very valuable table real estate. That of course, is a very small price to pay for the glorious food and dining experience at one of my favorite restaurants n the planet. However, if it doesn't receive its rumored three Michelin stars and settles say, for two, I believe that will be the reason. Then again, Liebrandt's food, right now, is so sharp, well conceived, well-executed, beautiful and delicious, that Corton may just be able to overcome its relative drawbacks and ascend to the Michelin heights in its first eligible year. I would not be surprised.

Stay tuned for more on Paul Liebrandt and Corton.

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4 Responses to Corton at One…and Three?

  1. RobertR says:

    Wow! That is some high praise.
    Can’t wait to hear the details.

  2. Andy Little says:

    I have to respectfully disagree with you on Corton. I’ve eaten at Michelin starred restaurants in both Europe and North America(which is to say I understand the differences in their ratings depending on which side of the Atlantic you are on) The atmosphere you describe at Corton is a huge hinderance. The small tables make the additional ‘small plate’ additions even more strange than they already are. Also, I don’t think a Michelin three starred restaurant would start a tasting menu with three courses that contained the very same technique(gelee). Much of my food during my visits was not just lukewarm, but actually cold.(cold plates on what should have been hot food courses) As you said, the tables are virtually on top of each other in parts of the restaurant which is, in my opinion, not worthy of three star status. I never do this, but I actually called after my dinner and noted my issues and was told ‘We’re sorry you didn’t like the experience the chef has imagined.’ Which means to me that what I got was what they offer. Is the food interesting? Sure. However, there were ‘simple’ details that I feel were missed. I left dinner sorely unimpressed. For my money, I was 100% more impressed with my lunch at Eleven Madison Park and will be returning there for the full dinner experience.

  3. docsconz says:

    Andy, thank you for taking the time to comment and share your divergent opinion. I agree that the setting of Corton would preclude any chance of three Michelin stars were it located in Europe, but as you mention, the criteria appear to be somewhat different here in the US vs. Europe. Where we seem to have had different experiences, though is with the food. While I can’t say that I was wowed by every aspect of my most recent meal (there were a few minor elements that I found to be below the rest of the meal), I and my party had an incredible meal. Given the number of items and components of each course,having only three minor flaws was remarkable and on a par with most other 3* experiences that I have had. We did not find any issues with temperature for the dishes. While the food has changed somewhat over the course of the past year, my level of satisfaction has not.
    Of course, one of the things that makes the culinary world so interesting is that different experiences can be had by different people at the same time, let alone at different times. That may be for any number of reasons including variation in baseline quality or variation in perception an/or personal preference. Whatever the reasons for our disparate points of view on this restaurant, I respect your opinion and greatly appreciate your sharing it here.

  4. John Sconzo says:

    Congratulations to Chef Paul Liebrandt, Pastry Chef Robert Truitt, Drew Nieporent, Arleene Oconotrillo and the entire staff of Corton for being awarded Two Michelin stars in their first chance at them!

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