January 23, 2006

101 Restaurants
A hearty prosit [cheers!] to Adam Platt for including three Austrian restaurants (Wallsé, Danube, and Café Sabarsky) in his “Where to Eat 2006” [January 9]. Proper recognition of this fine, oft-ignored cuisine was long overdue and finally confirms what Austrian-food lovers have known for a while: It’s not just about the schnitzel.
—Steve Purk, Manhattan

I wish people would stop encouraging Dufresne & Co. to play with their food. My guests and I were patronized at WD-50 (No. 4) by a waiter preloaded with culinary excuses and who served coin-size slices of slow-cooked pork with an artful, flavorless smear of sludge. We were denied a salad because the kitchen “just doesn’t believe in them.” There was nothing fascinating about what little food we were served—just misfires and remarkably ordinary-tasting fare with pretentious backstories. We skipped dessert and went up the street to a decent bistro.
—Dale Corvino, Manhattan

Adam Platt ranks “Highly Touted Slow-Food Suppliers” as No. 2 on “The 2005 Overrated List” and asks, “Does anyone know where Kloonshee [sic] Farms is? Does anyone really care?” Of course no one recognizes Cloonshee Farm. It’s the smallest farm in the Catskills. It has a farmer who worries about earthworms and will not use a plow. Good grief! It has a farmer who won’t use pesticides or antibiotics and lets chickens sleep in the sun. Thank you for even mentioning my farm, although you might spell Cloonshee without the K. Let’s not upset the sensitive Irish of New York City.
—Marni Hurwitz, Hobart, N.Y.

As a former blue hill at Stone Barns extern, I paused over Adam Platt’s description of Dan Barber (of Blue Hill; No. 10). He extols Barber as “a master of the gentle arts of poaching,” but also lists the poaching technique known as sous vide in “The 2005 Overrated List.” I wonder if Platt would be surprised to learn that the sublime poached chicken and duck breasts gleefully devoured at both of Dan Barber’s restaurants are the products of sous vide cooking.
—Lauren Slaff, Manhattan

Bill Gates
Ever since i heard Bill Gates on Charlie Rose discussing development with the same passion he used to monopolize the PC industry, I’ve been a huge fan [“ The Power Grid: The Softening of a Software Man,” by John Heilemann, January 9]. I was disappointed to see Heilemann focus on what he sees as the demise of Microsoft. Even if Microsoft is doomed, as he suggests, that fate is not the result of Gates’s philanthropy, which will eventually dwarf his very substantial contribution to the computer industry.
—Joe Hunkins, Talent, Ore.

Artist’s Retreat
I’d like to commend Wendy Goodman and photographer Corinne May Botz on “Great Room: La Grenouille’s Garret” (January 9), which resembles an exquisite painting. I love La Grenouille: Its fine Gallic cuisine is always flawlessly presented by a gracious staff. The profusion of towering floral arrangements that grace the restaurant’s velvet banquettes amid brocaded walls and crystal sconces add to the dazzling dining experience.
—Peter J. Fardelli Jr., Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry must have found the atmosphere at Bernard Lamotte’s bocal not just convivial but inspiring. According to the plaque affixed (considerably higher than most people’s sight lines) to the façade of 3 East 52nd Street, he wrote chapters of Le Petit Prince there.
—Susan H. Llewellyn, Manhattan

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January 23, 2006