Another rant about wine lists . . .

Please see this post on Hungry Onion about a dinner I recently had in New Orleans, and their wine list. I’d love to know what you think about that list. Please post your replies (if any) here on the wine board.

Thank you in advance.

As someone who drinks wine everyday but knows practically nothing about it and isn’t terribly interested in learning, I’d not go there in the first place. Well, if even a portion of that wine list is online. You know your way around this subject. Could you tell what others were ordering/drinking? I’d think their location in a hotel that has a lot of conferences would be a negative rather than a positive. If you DO know about wines, wouldn’t you got off-site to a place known for their wines? But, hey, what do I know?

Cath, I’m not following you . . . so (hope you don’t mind), let me attempt to address your post point-by-point.[quote=“catholiver, post:2, topic:4380”]
As someone who drinks wine everyday but knows practically nothing about it and isn’t terribly interested in learning, I’d not go there in the first place.
[/quote]

I don’t understand. Why would you not go there? I mean, I can understand not going there if the MENU is too expensive, or the CUISINE isn’t what you’re looking for, but do you often reject a restaurant based solely on their wine list?

I think all of it is online. bottles were not kept on each individual table, but were all on a central table in the middle of each dinning room (there are several; approx. with in the room where we were), along with decanters, ice buckets, etc., etc. Bottom line is that most of the bottles were placed so that I could not see the label(s).

Cath, The Royal Sonesta is in the French Quarter, and thus get a lot of non-locals. (I hesitate to say tourists, because a great many hotel guests are there on business. That said, of course there are tourists, too, and the hotel is not only home to a number of conferences throughout the year, but they are a popular site for weddings.) The hotel entrance is on Bourbon Street, and to be perfectly honest, if it weren’t for the fact that the conference was indeed in this hotel, we’d stay elsewhere. (As a matter of fact, we switched hotels the day the conference ended to one in the CBD.)

That said, the entrance to the restaurant is on Bienville, not Bourbon. To get to the restaurant from inside the hotel, you have to walk across the lobby, find a door to their courtyard, walk across the courtyard and enter the restaurant’s bar through what is clearly the back side, work your way through the bar to the hostess desk . . . or, you just say hello to the hostess when you walk through the door on Bienville.

It’s also consistently “ranked” as one of the Top Ten restaurants in New Orleans by newspapers and magazines, both local and national, so it’s quite well known.

(I am assuming “got” was supposed to be “go.”) I go to restaurants for the food. I want food that my wife and I cannot make at home. I cannot recall ever going to a restaurant, or selecting a restaurant, based first and foremost on the wine list. The exceptions would be a wine bar – where I’m going for a glass or two of wine, and maybe a simple cheese plate – or if a particular restaurant was having a “winemaker dinner.” I won’t go if their food is bad, but I might choose to go to dinner that on that specific night because the winemaker is a friend of mine. If I don’t know the winemaker, however, I’m definitely checking out the menu carefully!

I guess a wine list like that, including the cheapest sparkling being over $100, would just intimidate me. I’d feel overwhelmed. Would I really be able to convince someone that, yeah, I’d like something in the $50-$60 range?

I guess I just have a prejudice against restaurants in hotels. We’re kinda into ‘adventures’ and eating in a hotel doesn’t fit that :slight_smile: Also I’ve never seen a hotel restaurant that I didn’t consider overpriced. Captive audience I suppose.

I probably shouldn’t have replied here due to my extreme ignorance :slight_smile:

For that kind of place I would expect to pay $60 and up for a bottle of wine. That said, an $85 glass of champagne? Just don’t offer it by the glass ferchrissakes.

It’s not really a “hotel restaurant”; it just happens to be in a hotel. Chef Folse made our lunch at Lafitte’s Landing long ago; and Tramonto was still at Tru when we tried it.

Cath, a couple of thoughts. First of all, from an historical perspective, the world’s finest restaurants (think 19th and early 20th century) were nearly all in hotels. It only makes sense: the earliest restaurants were inns – road houses where travelers would stop for the night, have a meal and rest before continuing their journey the next day.

Secondly, BA is absolutely correct:

To me, the term “hotel restaurant” describes the place where you can get bacon & eggs in the morning, before you’re off to that morning meeting, taking the family to Disneyland, or catching your flight home. It’s a place where, maybe, you can grab a mediocre steak or some frozen fish, but you’d be better off with the burger, before you hit the hay, because you’re too tired to go out. Think a Denny’s or Olive Garden equivalent. Those are “hotel restaurants” – restaurants run by the hotels themselves.

Now, think about “restaurants (that just happen to be) in hotels.” Think about Las Vegas, for example (which, admittedly, is the most obvious choice). Well over 90 percent of the best restaurants there – and there are some truly great, world-class restaurants in Vegas – are in hotels. (The three exceptions that immediately come to mind are Lotus of Siam, Chada Thai, and Raku, but there are others.) Even Eater’s 38 Best Las Vegas Restaurants – which includes restaurants in Henderson and Summerlin – has 20 located in hotels.

In New York City, Jean-Georges, NoMad, Café Boulud, Ai Fiori and The Benjamin (among many others) are all located within hotels. In DC, Bourbon Steak, Blue Duck Tavern, CityZen, Plume, not to mention the Inn at Little Washington, are all in hotels. In SF, Kin Khao, Cavalier, Luce, Campton Place (one of the first great restaurants, along with Masa’s, to be located within a hotel). And let’s not forget the three star Michelin Restaurant at Meadowood . . .

I guess my point is that there has long been a trend – stretching back 20-25+ years – for truly exceptional restaurants to “re-enter” hotel properties. I wouldn’t limit myself, Cath, by automatically dismissing them . . .

1 Like

Jason

I echo your thoughts about restaurants in hotels. It is a growing business in Spain, for example, for hotels to be in partnership with top chefs. Presumably it is good for both businesses. I see similar developments here in the UK - for instance, in my own city (Manchester) the restaurant at our “grand hotel” is now in the hands of Michelin 2* chef Simon Rogan.

Returning to your original point, I’d assume that the vast majority of diners will not be wine buffs and may well be daunted by such a list. I hesitate to comment much more, as I no longer drink alcohol. However, my companion in life does drink. It is one thing ordering a cheapish bottle and leaving half of it - as would happen. It is entirely another if that was a very expensive bottle. As such, the wine drunk is most often a selection from whatever is available by the glass. Gets tricky with a multi-course tastning menu but, hopefully, there’s a good sommelier able to advise.

By the by, we used to have a nice place in the metro area with quite an extensive list. The owner was happy to open any bottle on the list and serve a single glass at, I think, 20% of bottle price. Unfortunately, he retired and the place closed.

Off-topic but can’t you take the remainder home with you? We’ve done that many times.

I just reread this post and the responses to it…I thought the point Jason was making was that a list like this one should also include a few reasonably priced selections, so that you could frequent the place for the excellent food without having to overspend for your wine. If there had been a reasonable way to handle this list, he would have found it, and found it quickly, as he is a pro. I certainly agree with his point that the list is very short sighted. There have been previous “rants” like this, and the discussions always seem to wind up that restaurants do this because they know they can get away with gouging customers who buy wine.

2 Likes

“a list like this one should also include a few reasonably priced selections,” They do, granted not many but there are choices under $65/bottle. For this caliber of restaurant with the dinner prices they charge it doesn’t surprise me that most bottles are north (significantly) of $100

In the United States, it depends upon the jurisdiction. Some states permit that, others do not. In California, where I live, you can take the unfinished bottle with you BUT it must be placed in the truck of your car. Otherwise, you risk being cited for driving with an open container (of alcohol). Of course, in New Orleans, you can’t take the open bottle onto the street, but you can pour it into a plastic cup and drink it on the way to your car! :smile:

1 Like

I would disagree somewhat. Yes, there are some wines on the list which are under $100. However, the real question is, “Are they worth drinking?” For example, a 2014 vintage Jean-Jacques Girard Bourgogne Rouge for $65? It’s too young, and I’d pass. On the other hand, a 2011 Moulin-a-Vent “Vieilles Vines” from Domaine de Prion, also for $65, is a much better buy! Newton 2013 unfiltered Napa Cabernet for $125? A very fine wine, but I wouldn’t want to drink it now. But a Ridge 2013 Lytton Springs Zin for $100? Well, OK, still on the young side, but it’s probably showing better, wouldn’t you agree?

In defense of R’evolution, I will say things are easier if one is seeking white wine rather than red . . .

“but it’s probably showing better, wouldn’t you agree?” I’ll take your word for it :wink:

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold