Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Danny Meyer Marathon

In 2006, Spoon interviewed pioneering restaurateur Danny Meyer for a story about his book, Setting the Table. At the time, Meyer's empire included seven New York City restaurants, including his flagship Union Square Cafe, Eleven Madison Park, and Gramercy Tavern. Today, his menu includes 12 establishments, from the gleaming bar room at the Museum of Modern Art, to hamburger heaven Shake Shack, and the impressive new Italian trattoria Maialino. So when Spoon & Fork guest bloggers Laura and Patrick, better known as Fillet Knife and Butcher Twine, decided they wanted to do a Danny Meyer Marathon, hitting all Meyer's restaurants in one day, we were intrigued.

For any other restaurateur, the feat wouldn't be either as impressive, or as fun. Just the the thought of a Jeffrey Chodorow marathon, for example, makes one's head spin. Chodorow's restaurants are too theme-park, too inconsistent, and too, well, corporate. But Meyer, even while rolling out a host of new restaurants in a very short time, has never forgotten the key ingredient in any restaurant's recipe for success: hospitality. From Fork's first meal at Union Square Cafe some 20 years ago, to a recent lunch at Tabla (try the skate), Meyer's restaurants never disappoint.

That's because Danny Meyer restaurants make sense. The menus, ingredients, and preparation are first-rate, whether at the top-rated French wonder Eleven Madison Park, or at a picnic joint like Shake Shack, where it is not uncommon for people to wait on line for an hour just to get a hot dog. The rooms are elegant, yet comfortable. And the staff are the best in the city: gracious, efficient, and warm.

So a Danny Meyer marathon also made sense, and, like the restaurants themselves, it did not disappoint. On February 27, over the course of 12 hours, from the Upper West Side all the way down to Madison Square Park, our intrepid bloggers tasted burgers and fries, shrimp corndogs, tandoori octopus, sea bass with spaghetti squash... and wait until you hear about dessert.

It was a day to remember: great food, great fun, a test of gastro-endurance, and a few twists and suprises. The full report will be up soon, don't miss it!--S&F

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How are your guest bloggers stomaches today?