By grace.g.yang · November 22, 2010
Under: Dinner,Italian,Michelin 2010 Guide,Midtown West,My Life,seafood

When I tell people about my blog and about my year of dining at all of the Michelin-starred restaurants, most people ask me the following questions:

1. What’s been your favorite restaurant so far?
2. What are you going to do in 2011?
3. Do you agree with the Michelin reviewers with the restaurants that are on the list and their rankings?
4. Have you ever had a bad experience at a Michelin restaurant?

And my favorite:

5. How do you not weigh 400 pounds?

I usually go through all of the questions and can answer right away –

1. Favorite restaurant: per se (although some of the places I’ve visited recently – Kyo Ya and Kajitsu – are runners up)
2. Plans for 2011: not sure yet, maybe I’ll go through the Bib Gourmand list
3. Do I agree with the reviews: most of the time…I thought Marea should’ve been a two-starred place (and it is for 2011) and I don’t think ALTO‘s food really deserves two stars.
4. Bad Michelin-starred restaurant experience? I hadn’t…until I visited Insieme.

I made reservations for me and Ariel, who I hadn’t seen since early fall, and we were really excited since he’s been with me to multiple Michelin-starred restaurants. We’re used to good service and great food and Insieme fell flat on both. When I arrived for our 8:30 reservation, Ariel was already sitting at the bar and was just notified by the server that there would be a short wait. Waiting for a reservation is completely fine, especially since you can’t tell when someone is going to leave your table down to the minute (I’m not a lingerer because I know how other people would like to use the table). I checked in with the host since the reservation was under my name and I wasn’t sure if we both had to arrive before they would seat us (a pet peeve of mine) and he curtly said to me that it would be a couple of minutes. I checked back with him 20 minutes later and he had no apology or even explanation (there were various tables available in the restaurant). We continued to wait at the bar and I almost wanted to leave but I figured I’d never be so far uptown again and I didn’t want to walk through Times Square again just to eat at this restaurant, so we decided to wait a couple more minutes. At 9PM, we were FINALLY seated with absolutely no apology from the server or the host.

Ariel and I had a chance to review the menu while we were waiting and we knew exactly what we wanted when we sat down; when the server came by to take our drink orders and I told him we were also ready to order, he walked away and said someone else would come take our order (instead, he ended up being our server for the night as well). After we placed our orders, someone else came by and dropped off some whole wheat bread and butter:


They also dropped off an amuse bouche for us:


The amuse bouche was a cheddar-like shortbread that was a little too greasy for both of us and I don’t remember what was on top of the shortbread because the server just dropped it off without explaining to us what it was.

For our starter, we ordered the fettuccinne al granchio – with Dungeness crab, marscapone cheese, and jalapeño peppers:


The server said that he’d split the order for us and he did – the pasta was a bit flavorless but the jalapeño peppers were so hot that it didn’t mix well with the very bland pasta. There was also barely any crab in my dish (maybe Ariel got all of it?) On the positive side, the pasta wasn’t overcooked!

For my entree, I ordered the Steamed Long Island striped bass with surf clams, spiced oils, and aromatic broth:


And Ariel ordered the Braised shortribs and geoduck clams with spigarello, roasted pear, romanesco, and pepperonata:


We also ordered a side of potatoes with rosemary:


The braised short ribs were much tougher than I expected but my fish was actually pretty good (a little light on flavor and the combination of vegetables was strange because some seemed like they were cooked and some weren’t).

When our bill came, the pasta was charged as double, which was surprising to us because we didn’t know “splitting the order” meant ordering two pastas; not a big deal, but kind of deceptive considering the server made it seem like he was doing us a favor by splitting it. He took off the second order without any problem (probably because it’s not the first time they’ve tried to double charge someone). I thought the service was really pushy and definitely not Michelin-worthy. I don’t think I’d return to the restaurant but it’s actually not a terrible option if you’re in the Times Square area and have no other options.

Insieme on Urbanspoon

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