Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Gripes: Studiokitchen

Foobooz is reporting that "Studiokitchen," the new bar within Speck Food + Wine restaurant in Northern Liberties is offering reservations at $120 "per seat" Tuesdays through Fridays and $150 per seat on Saturdays. If you are intrigued as I was as to what delicious offerings could be in store at this price, click through on the link (http://www.studiokitchen.com/).

There you will find no description or pictures, but the following admonitions:
-"No diet restrictions can be accommodated" to allow "maximum creative flexibility by the kitchen." If you don't like it, they suggest you peruse Speck's regular menu, which is, of course, not yet available.
-Although the meal begins at 7:30, one should arrive at 7:00.
-If you do deign to be late, you may join the meal already in progress (presumably without whatever you missed).

The City Paper reported that Shola Olunloyo announced on his blog that the bar takes after Momofuku in its "draconian" online reservation system.

Oh "Studiokitchen by Shola Olunloyo," go to New York to dish out such pretentiousness at such a steep price. Even better yet, take a lesson from how Thomas Keller manages to accommodate his patrons' wishes while still maintaining his reputation as an amazing chef.

Please feel free to comment on the food if you go.


Anonymous said...

I am guessing that there is a sufficiently large set of people who have already dined at the previous incarnations of Studiokitchen---which had similar rules---to initially support the new Speck version. Also, if one is seriously considering such an experience, one has likely also been following Shola's blog, in which he has all but itemized the initial Speck/SK menus.

Kate said...

Thanks, Anonymous. Shola's blog now also includes a fun overall review of my blog because of this post (in the "Comments" section of the Q&A post), along with a couple of comments on attorneys in general, which seem less than germane. While flattering he (sorry, perhaps his people) spent so much time on this blog (joining the ranks of people like my parents), I think he missed the point - I hope the food is worth $120 but have no basis to judge it, but the rules are a turn-off. In my humble opinion, of course.

Josh said...

Well you obviously dont understand what the Chef is doing then. If you have ever worked in a (good) restaurant, you would know that a special menu for a special group is not an easy task to put out, especially while you have a restaurant full of diners eating off of the day to day menu. IF you read any of his descriptions about the types of food or look at the pictures on the blog PERIOD that could be served, then you realize that 120 isnt that bad. Neither is asking someone to show up on time. But your just a blogger who thinks you know everything about the restaurant industry. Dont like it? stay home and cook for yourself. Ehh, but you probably cant.

C. said...

If you haven't dined at a SK dinner, it probably is difficult to appreciate. Having experienced those meals on a number of occasions, I'm comfortable that the pricing is completely reasonable (relative to other top-end prix fixe neals). Presumably, SK is attracting a knowledgable clientelle. I'd think someone who hasn't had Shola's food would want a table at Speck first.?.

As to no dietary restrictions/preferences - well, that's one of the points of SK. The diner goes with the daily inspiration of the chef. If you don't trust the chef, you shouldn't be there in the first place.

That said (and not meant as snarkily as it reads), that's why you have the Speck option. If you want to order from a menu, and want Shola's food, dine at Speck. SK is one table in the whole place, so why preemptively complain about restrictions?

Kate said...

To be clear, I have no basis to judge whether Shola's food in and of itself is worth $120. Nor did I state that, or that I have, worked in a restaurant, or that I am a professional food critic.

Here's what I am: I have paid upwards of $120 for meals in the past and thought it was worth it, making me a potential customer. As such, I found the rules, in combination with such a high price, off-putting and pretentious, and unlike what I associate with the Philadelphia dining scene. I don't think it unreasonable, especially at such a price, to accommodate vegetarians, or to recognize my time, like the chef's, is valuable enough that I don't want to arrive 30 minutes early for a meal. That's all.

Anonymous said...

This to me read more like okay this is what I've experienced in the past so let me lay out some rules to let diners who what to expect here. Just thinking about how people tend to do things on the serving the public side of things, I imagine that there is good reason for that 1/2 hour window.

And I HATE with a passion when things are labeled NY over Philly. It's like if it's run down and cheap that's us but dare charge a few dollars and have a standard to how things will go it's get out of Philly with that just agitates me in general sorry to take it out on your post!

Kate said...

I agree with your zero tolerance of NY-as-a-higher-standard, Anonymous. I actually like the Philly restaurant scene better than NY and didn't meant to suggest otherwise. My point was more that I am far less likely to encounter the type of unfriendly server who is rude in a condescending way in Philly than New York. Maybe I'm just lucky, but I'd like to think we Philadelphians are a little more authentic in the way that we don't put up with such snobbery as much here. Not about the price at all, but about the attitude.

Anonymous said...

Do you show up right when your movie starts at a theater?Do you show up right when the first pitch is thrown at a game? Sometimes yes, however, most of the time no. Sk is no different than those venues. You don't pay the money and reserve a seat at sk just because you are hungry. It is also the experience, the show and tell and the interaction with the chefs themselves. I feel that some people sometimes forget that when you dine somewhere that isn't a chilis or a mom and pop operation that you are dining out for entertainment. I know for myself that I would feel uncomfortable beginung a meal without all the patrons that requested to be there. Giving the chef and the team a 30 minute window to begin the show I think is very fair and shows respect for those that are preparing an experience for you, the guest.

As far as the Philadelphia/NYC comparison. Philly is no where near NYC. A lot of that has to do with sheer volume of people. More people, more chefs, more competition. Philly is littered with Starr and garces restaurants. Yes, Philly also has it's diamonds in the rough but when compared to NYC or Chicago it has a ways to go.

C. said...

Pardon the slow reply. Presumably vegetarians will just make a reservation at Speck, rather than making a reservation at the one table in the restaurant that does not accomodate any dietary restrictions/preferences, no?

Kate said...

Or eat elsewhere. I think excluding vegetarians from a culinary experience is off-putting, I don't care how many tables it includes or chefs do it.

C. said...

That's kind of petulant, isn't it? You have a whole restaurant. He wants to do something different at one table - and that's a bad thing? Would it be better to not offer the SK option at all, for those who want it, rather than to offer it with restrictions? Why penalize those that want that experience?

It's like you are missing the whole point of that one table.

I'd like the opportunity to sit at a table and eat what the Chef is bringing that one day, because he thinks it is the best thing to eat on that one day. And I suspect it would lessen my enjoyment of experiencing the vision of the Chef if I had someone whining about preferences at the same table. And if he brings something I just can't eat, I'll wait for the next course.

Finally, in your example, the restaurant isn't excluding vegetarians, the vegetarians are excluding themselves.