Tabloids use simpler language than broadsheets, because they aspire to appeal

to a broader audience. So why is it that when I run up against a completely

unknown word or expression, it always seems to be in the New York Post? Here’s

Braden Keil today, on a new high-end restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel:

The fare ranges from an $18 crusty veal pate with foie gras and Sicilian

pistachios appetizer, to a $70 seared tuna belly with crispy onion rings.

Other rib-sticking dishes will include a free range quail stuffed with foie

gras and a $48 lobster salad.

So much to say about this, but first, what does "rib-sticking" mean?

I IM’ed an editor friend of mine, who hazarded a guess that it means expensive,

as in a stick-up with a gun. But no other usages of the term seemed to fit with

that. Dictionaries and glossaries are ignorant of the term, but it mostly seems

to refer to simple and hearty food, not high-end gourmet cuisine, which would

mean that Keil was being ironic. And then I found this,

the closest thing to an outright definition: "rib-sticking is used for

all kinds of filling, rich foods". So now I don’t know if Keil was being

ironic or not, since the food described is certainly rich.

Next, what is a "crusty veal pate"? Again, my friend’s first guess

is that it was a misprint for "plate", but my first guess was that

the Post is bad at diacriticals and meant paté. But who’s ever heard

of a crusty paté? Not that such a thing is inconceivable, of course,

just that the dish seems a little on the improbable side.

In any case, I doubt I’ll be eating any of this stuff. Very expensive restaurants

are a turn-off for me these days: I’d much rather have my expectations exceeded

at a neighborhood place like Chubo

than have them so high to begin with, thanks to these kinds of prices, that

they can barely be met. I went to a freebie lunch at Per Se on Tuesday, and

of course since it was a corporate lunch and everybody had to be served at the

same time, the food was, I’m sure, not up to the kind of quality one would have

as a paying diner. But still. It all looked great, and the dessert

was delicious, but everything else was decidedly forgettable.

Maybe it’s just that I’m moving away from food and towards wine.

Wine needs food, of course, to make it really sing. But I’d rather crack open

a great bottle of wine at a good restaurant than find myself scouring the cheapest

end of the wine list at a high-end place. I had a wonderful meal at Veritas

last year, and I remember ordering the venison; it tasted like venison. What

I really remember is the wine, which was truly magnificent, some of the best

I’ve ever had. Now Veritas has, by all accounts, some of the best cooking in

New York. But a great wine puts any cuisine into a supporting role.

So my new search is for good restaurants which are either BYO

or which have reasonable corkage fees, in the $5 to $10 range. That has to be

the best way to eat well and cheaply in any city. I did it in Australia last

year, at a suburban restaurant in Sydney called Oscillate Wildly. Corkage was

just A$3 per person for unlimited bottles of wine, the food was a mere A$40

for three courses ($30 in real money), and we pushed the boat out on wine from

one of the eight million amazing wine merchants in the city. We ended up with

a bottle of Cyril Henschke

which turned the very good food into a remember-for-years meal.

Any suggestions on where to do the same kind of thing in New York?

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13 Responses to Rib-sticking

  1. 99 says:

    The phrase was fairly common where I grew up (midwest).

  2. michelle says:

    Yeah I agree w/99, that’s what’s brain-sticking to me.

    I want to try to emulate your wine contest but it seems kind of pretentious and confusing:

    a) these wine things always are,

    b) the price $$$ of wines your friends brought (wowzer – everything over $30 taste friggin’ awesome to me)

    c) making the cost known (doesn’t that skew the votes?)

    d) shouldn’t the contest be more narrowed down? How do compare a pinot to a sangiovese?

    I’m more into value wines, in other words, spending $20 or less. I guess that makes me cheap. Maybe no one will come to my wine contest.

  3. Felix says:

    You’d be surprised, Michelle, how many >$30 wines do NOT taste great — especially in a blind tasting where you don’t know how much they cost — which is what we had. We only found out the cost of the wines after we had tasted and scored them.

    Future wine contests might well be narrowed down more, by grape variety or in a lower price bracket. This last wine contest was an experiment, but it was a great success.

  4. Ajay says:

    I believe your buddy Keil was improvising with . It’s pretty funny reading about you, the Britisher, trying to decode American English.

  5. Nic Wolff says:

    I believe The Orchard, an excellent and pretty restaurant on Orchard between Stanton and Rivington, hasn’t gotten it’s liquor license yet and is BYOB – with no corkage fee! – until it does.

  6. Nic Wolff says:

    ^it’s^its, argh

  7. nic Wolff says:

    Oh, and Cube 63 on Clinton St is BYOSake! De Vino a block north has a good sake selection, and prosecco is fun with sushi too.

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