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Alfred Portale's Gotham Bar and Grill Cookbook Hardcover – October 13, 1997

4.7 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Cookbooks by chefs tend to be challenging, obscure, even inappropriate for most home cooks. By contrast, Alfred Portale's Gotham Bar and Grill is articulate, revealing, vivid, and inviting. It is "the next best thing to a day in the kitchen" with Portale. This New York City chef is famous for his elaborate presentations and for creating complex dishes. For some of the recipes, progressive photos show how to duplicate the restaurant's spectacular plating of a dish. (Or you can follow the less ambitious "Everyday Presentation.") For others, you will have to go by the detailed text and a large color shot of the finished dish. This well-designed book uses colored boxes of text and easy-to-read type to help you follow the recipes, many of which are long. Cooks willing to spend money for quality ingredients and commit to serious time in the kitchen should enjoy rave results with dishes such as Squab Salad with Couscous, Currants, and Curry Vinaigrette; Salmon with Artichokes a la Grecque; and Warm Chocolate Cake with Toasted Almond Ice Cream.

From Library Journal

Here are three new cookbooks from popular restaurant chef-owners. Peel and Silverton are the husband-and-wife team behind Campanile, the popular Los Angeles restaurant, and its adjunct, the La Brea Bakery. Peel is the chef, Silverton is the baker, well known for her desserts and delicious breads (Breads from the La Brea Bakery, LJ 5/15/96). They've already written about the simple food they like to cook with their kids (Mark Peel and Nancy Silverton at Home, LJ 2/15/94); now they present their favorite dishes from the restaurant, including earthy, flavorful, often Mediterranean-inspired food that is more sophisticated but not pretentious: Roasted Chanterelle Salad, Crisp Flattened Chicken with Wilted Parsley Salad, Rustic Cherry Pie. Although some of the recipes take time, they are clearly written and thoroughly accessible to the home cook. Recommended for most collections. [BOMC Good Cook Selection.] New York City's three-star Gotham Bar & Grill is known for Portale's flavorful, often visually stunning food; his elaborate, tiered, stacked dishes are often described as "architectural food," and the color photographs in his cookbook show why. This is elegant food to be sure?Roast Lobster with Beet Couscous and Baby Bok Choy, Duck and Foie Gras?and some of it is probably better enjoyed at the restaurant, but not all the recipes are complicated or extravagant, and the instructions are clear and often include advance prep suggestions. The headnotes, however, are rather stiff and pedantic, sometimes sounding more like a publicity release than anything else. For area libraries and other collections where chefs' books are popular. Lagasse (Emeril's New New Orleans Cooking, LJ 3/15/93) is the exuberant chef at Emeril's and two other New Orleans restaurants and one of the TV Food Network's most popular personalities. With Bienvenu, he presents four festive menus for the holidays, from Christmas Eve Dinner for Ten, featuring Truffle Risotto and Beef Tenderloin with Fresh Horseradish, to New Year's Day Supper Family Style, with Jiffy Pop Firecracker Shrimp, Roasted Skillet Duck, and Chocolate Bread Pudding. There is also a selection of his other favorite holiday dishes as well as Stocking Stuffers, gifts from the kitchen. Recommended for most collections.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway; First Edition edition (October 13, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385482108
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385482103
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 1 x 10.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #579,516 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Matthew G. Belge on May 30, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The recipes in this book are wonderful, some of the most creative and inventive cooking I have ever seen. The book seems to be aimed at someone who is a confident cook, but by no means an expert. Your Mom could probably handle anything in this book.
I have made Sea Bass with Port Wine Sauce, which is not only delicious, it has a fabulous sauce that does not start out by using fish stock. In fact, many of the sauce recipes do not require first having some sort of home made stock, and that is a great time saver. Another wonderful recipe, Chicken with Shallots and Endive, also did not require making a stock. I have also had the best soup I've ever tasted from this book - Shrimp Soup with Roasted Corn. Just wonderful!
The book does not have many desserts, but the warm chocolate cake is fabulous. I also find that the instructions are written in such a way that it requires more thinking than seems necessary. Not that the recipes are tricky or anything like that. Its more that they exist in lots of separate parts and trying to imagine what the whole effect will be is sometimes difficult.
On the whole, though, this is a great cookbook, one of the most fun I have seen. And the illustrations and visual design add to the pleasure of using it!
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Format: Hardcover
Portale is not trying to train you to step up to the saucepan at Gotham and will not have you spending your Saturdays peeling grapes a la Thomas Keller's "French Laundry" cookbook. He's also not trying to give you a complete course in basic techniques a la Julia Child's "The Way to Cook". Instead, what you get is more of a philosophy and a sketchbook. The introductory essay, titled "Cooking Like a Chef at Home", is both insightful and inspiring. The recipes, which are presented in their basic form and presentation are sometimes followed with "flavor building" tips (usually additions, like roast shallots for lamb), "variations" (usually substitutions, say of sea bass for red snapper), and sometimes "Gotham Presentation". Given Portale's trademark towering presentations, it's disappointing that there's not more detail in the book (though he does let you in on how the seared tuna with papardelle and red wine sauce is put together in the restaurant, which is one of my all time favorite dishes). Judging from the end of the introductory essay, Portale's just tired of people focusing on presentation more than flavor.
The terse writing and lack of meticulously detailed instructions is a huge contrast with my three other favorite cookbooks named after restaurants: Deborah Madison's "Greens", Alice Waters' "Chez Panisse", and Barbara Tropp's "China Moon". I typically consult all of these books and a few more when I cook something to triangulate both technique and proportions. For instance, consider Portale's recipe for mashed potatos (half of page 206). There are two fundamental clues in this recipe that have transformed my spuds.
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Format: Hardcover
I have been a amateur cook for approximately 4 years and only fantasized about making dishes like the ones in this book. I found all of these recipes very easy to follow and the methods are not confusing. Preparing these kinds of elaborate dishes(seafood salad, soft shell crabs, bouillabaisse, and stocks, etc.)has always intimidated me and I never took the initiative to try. I am so glad I bought this book. It has elevated my cooking and most importantly - my presentation. This book has encouraged me to create dishes on my own. It's a great inspiration.
Also, at the beginning of the book, it talks about how the Gotham restaurant operates and how it (and Mr. Portale) got started - very interesting.
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Format: Hardcover
The basic problem with most restaurant cookbooks is that they're all about impressing you with the simplicity and beauty of the stuff they serve. There are exceptions, of course, like The French Laundry Cookbook, which doesn't pull its punches and lets you know just how difficult and complicated everything is. But Portale is a much better teacher: he wants you to make the dishes, and cares a lot less that you present them his way.

If you are comfortable in the kitchen with complex, multi-step cooking, the sort of thing where you make one thing one day and another the next early afternoon and then finish the dish a la minute, you will find everything here marvelously easy. If you want 30-minute cooking, you will still find gems here to savor.

What stuns me about this cookbook, though, is that once you get the hang of what Portale has in mind for a given dish or approach, you can replicate it without a recipe. My favorite example here is a pasta dish made with pea shoots, prosciutto, garlic, butter, and cheese. Once you understand what he's doing --- making the sauce by using the heat of the pasta and a dab of the pasta-boiling water, thus emulsifying the butter, binding it with cheese, and simultaneously heating up all the chopped ingredients --- you can repeat the dish perfectly with whatever comes to hand that seems appropriate.

Conversely, many of the truly difficult and finicky things here can be done almost entirely in advance. He's got the famous Gotham Chocolate Cake, which you make 100% in advance --- in fact, you should make it at least several days in advance, and let it sit in the freezer. To serve, you take out your main course from the oven, shut it off, and put the cake --- still wrapped in seran-wrap --- in the oven, perhaps with the door cracked.
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