As of tonight, Colicchio and Sons will revert back to its original a la cart pricing in the dining room, abandoning the newly instituted prix fixe format. “People were not happy with paying prix fixe, and we listen to what customers are telling us,” Tom Colicchio told us. “I’m not going to be stubborn. When we call to confirm a reservation, and make sure they know about the prix fixe, they often say no, they don’t want to do that.”
Colicchio said that he felt the economy was mostly to blame for customers’ reticence, and also noted that while many people want appetizer and main dish, they prefer to skip dessert.
As for why he switched to the $78 three-course prix fixe in the first place, he had this to say:
We first went prix fixe because we wanted to offer a full experience, making sure everyone gets an appetizer, entree and dessert. As I did at Gramercy Tavern, I moved into prix fixe one month into it….We cook everything to order, and if you don’t order an appetizer but you do order a roast lamb entree, it will take you 20 to 25 minutes to get your food. We use the time that you’re eating your appetizer to cook the lamb, so there’s no wait between courses. Well, people were complaining that was taking half hour to get their food. So prix fixe was a solution to these problems.
He also noted that he felt the sticker shock of a prix fixe would be less jarring than the sticker shock of a $30 main dish, which clearly wasn’t the case.
“If there’s one thing I’ll say for us, it’s that we’ve always adapted and changed,” he said. “We’re not afraid to make changes and we’re not afraid to say we made a mistake and go back to what we were doing before.”
When we asked if the recent middling reviews had anything to do with the change, he was emphatic that they did not. But he did seem a bit irked by Adam Platt’s recent review in New York magazine.
“If someone’s writing a review and mentions Top Chef–that has nothing to do with this restaurant or my cooking career. It’s television. It’s entertainment. To base a review on what I say on Top Chef…that’s the easiest thing you can do, great. To me it has no place in a review.
“Can you find fault? Sure. But the Adam Platt review, one star? I don’t think so. If I look at a review and there are legit things, I’ll address it, I’ll fix it. There are all new cooks in the kitchen. Probably 12 cooks in the kitchen. Are there going to be inconsistencies? Of course.”
He seems to take particular umbrage at the notion that his television career has taken away from his time behind the stove. He asked us how long we thought it took to shoot a Top Chef season. We guessed six weeks.
“Twenty days. I work every other day, and depending on where it is, like when we were shooting in New York, I can be in my restaurant at the same time. If it took me out of the restaurant for three months, I couldn’t do that.”
The change back to a la cart pricing in Colicchio and Son’s dining room goes into effect tonight.