Last Friday, we placed Zak Pelaccio’s Fatty ‘Cue on Our 10 Most Overrated Restaurants list. Needless to say, Pelaccio was less than thrilled about the inclusion, which called out the restaurant for “cynically small” portions and “cynically high” prices. So he wrote in to express his displeasure, and also to explain the costs and labor that go into the food he serves. He has, he says, been listening to the concerns of his customers and has adjusted some portions and prices accordingly. But, he adds, sourcing healthy animals and high-quality ingredients comes at a price. Whether or not customers are willing to pay that price highlights one of the tensions inherent in the sustainable food movement as a whole, and certainly provides some food for thought. Pelaccio has obviously been thinking about it, and his statement follows after the jump.
“We have worked very hard to source all local and sustainably raised meats and, as much as possible, organic vegetables, and serve them to what has become a more educated, health conscious and demanding dining public. We do this because it has always been our philosophy, it’s what drives us and makes our job enjoyable, but it does come at a price.
In an effort to balance fatty, smoky meat with bright sauces and fat-cutting vegetables, we have created smaller and larger portions. A great example is the lamb ribs versus lamb shoulder. The ribs (belly and breast) are very fatty, so we serve less of them and charge $12. The shoulder, which is 6oz of cooked meat (about 12oz if you factor in the yield from raw to cooked), is served with a house made pita bread and a local goat yogurt seasoned with spices we dehydrate and grind ourselves, for which we charge only $18.
We are extremely diligent in our sourcing and our commitment to buying healthy animals, and, just like at all of The Fatty Crew restaurants, we only serve fish that are not on the endangered list. Years ago we served skate, but have stopped that practice as all rays have been dangerously overfished. That’s just one example.
Please be advised we do listen to our clientele and have already made adjustments to portion size and pricing. Like all new establishments, we will continue to adjust and tweak as we go. We are priced competitively with other nearby restaurants (and our price points are less than some), and applaud their commitment to quality and consistency as well. It should be noted that there’s only 1 item over $20 on the entire menu. We also buy product from the same (or equivalent) sources as the most expensive venues in NYC. That said, our average check is just $38 per person, including booze. There’s no conceivable way to charge less and sustain the quality standards that we have set – it’s just enough for us to keep hosting the party and turning folks on to great products cooked in new ways, and with new flavors.
At the end of the day, we’re just trying to serve people a cuisine that’s really unlike anything that’s been done before. We truly enjoy creating an experience that is fun, energetic and full flavored. More than anything else, our return is in seeing our customers having a good time, digging in, getting their hands into the food and toasting to the good times that come with good food and drink. In the process, we are committed to the standards we’ve set for ‘Cue and the other Fatty restaurants and price everything as fairly as possible.”
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