So uh...has Clifton's gotten any better?

I know they’re on their 3rd+ chef since opening so the question must be asked; I might be heading there soon.

Any salvageable dishes, or should I just get what looks fresh?

Wait, even Chef #2 made shitty food? Now we’re onto #3?! This concerns me–are they not paying their kitchen staff enough??

uhm, good luck!

"Chef Andrew Pastore will be taking over the culinary program at Clifton’s Cafeteria, giving the menu a complete overhaul save a few Clifton’s staples, according to a release. Pastore said via a statement that the goal is to "offer the best selection by combining cafeteria classics as well as modern favorites with a whimsical twist."
Pastore plans to use seasonal ingredients as he combines those cafeteria staples—turkey and pie, for instance—with new dishes, like “a carved watermelon shark eating a mozzarella skewer.” "

mmm watermelon shark eating mozzarella skewer!

IMO their biggest mistake has been going after a chef that is more used to higher end dining. They should get a chef who is used to working in industrial sized batches but can elevate the quality of standard home style dishes. Not a chef who’s used to smaller portions and inventive food.

Early on in Jacque Pepin’s career, that’s what he did with Howard Johnson’s food. Comfy home style food but high quality ingredients and tight control on the process.

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I think their biggest mistake was going after a chef.

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Nothing wrong with going after a chef. But it should be the right kind.

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No need to hire Warren Buffet to help you balance your checkbook.

i happened to be at clifton’s earlier tonight to catch my friend’s band providing the live entertainment. i didn’t order anything to eat, but if the evening ambiance is anything like what it is during normal dining hours, i’d expect the menu to be designed to appeal to the hip vs. the gastronomically inclined; anything even bordering on conceptually brilliant is likely to be a failure in execution. of course, after your 3rd or 4th alcoholic beverage, who’s going to care?

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fwiw, the cocktails are still solid. Clifton’s kinda like The All-American version of Pok Pok.

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What’s the beer situation like? I have friends who like craft beer.

That is interesting!

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Was dragged to Clifton’s a few months ago, mid-afternoon. The only thing that looked good to me was their perennial turkey entree. I can easily see how the upstairs bar area could be a whole different scene at night though.

I haven’t been in there yet, but if as I suspect I would not see pot roast, mashed potatoes and Jell-O I’d regret even having bothered to park the car.

There are too many places around here that still offer good solid renditions of Grandpa Food (which, face it, has become my cuisine of choice) to bother with what appears to be a failed makeover. Pann’s is farther away, but I know the food is good and the parking is a hell of a lot easier.

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I went to the last day of their 4th of July celebration on the 3rd of July. Paid $80 for 2 admissions to their “exclusive” upstairs lounge. When I purchasing my tickets, I was assured that I can order food and get them delivered upstair. Paid parking across the street and was escorted to the 4th lever lounge but was told that food was only served cafetaria style on the 1st floor only and that if I want, I will have to carry it up 4 flights of stairs myself. We ate downstairs on the 1st floor. Entree were limited to turkey, meatloaf or ham. All dorm food quality. Both of their ice tea machine were out of order and only sugary/diet drinks were available on tap. Their upstair bar service were equally pathetic. I tried to order a strawberry daiquiri, but was told that they do not have strawberry pulp and no other fruit pulp and only have passion fruit pulp.
Our exclusive tickets were not exclusive at all. The entrance to the ‘exclusive’ 4th floor lounge on the 3rd floor were open to all to wander thru. And when we arrive at our “exclusive” table with our name reserved written on it were occupied. I had to ask the barman to clear our table for us.

Also food and drinks were not included in the entrance fee.

So you paid $40 a person just to get in? Was their high end entertainment? Anything at all to justify that kind of ‘cover charge’? Sounds very sketchy.

Then there’s this: http://www.cacstudios.com/uso/

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The missing typo on the “Exclusive” passes was,

           "- NOT!"

Is there anything redeeming about this place?

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Well, it’s open, it’s renovated, so that when the idiots currently running it wear out their welcome it can be taken over by someone who knows what she or he is doing. Maybe.

I am getting truly tired of events that charge hefty covers just to get you in the door and then make you buy tickets or pay cash for mediocre food and drink. If it is a trend it will be one that proceeds without me. That this kind of crap is being pulled in a place that famously let any diner pay what he thought the meal was worth, or nothing if that was all he could afford, is a whole new variety of ironic.

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How does pay whatever you want works at Clifton’s?
When I was there, the way it works was choose whoever food or drinks one wants, put it on one’s tray, carry it to the casher, who then tally up your selections, rings up the cash register and collect money from you. Di I then say ‘Sorry, I left my wallet at home’ or ‘Sir, I have no money and I am hungry and I don’t do dishes’?

pretty much, except you need to go back to the old Clifton’s 40 or so years ago