Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Anti-Restaurants


Amy Viny
 Share

Recommended Posts

Has anyone noticed lately the rise of the anti-restaurant--I mean restaurants that serve foods produced by others. I.E. Borough Food and Drink an apparent kaleidoscope of ethnic dishes from restaurants all over the city. In Vancouver there is Salt Tasting Room where they serve wine and charcuterie made out of house. Perhaps it's some version of the local food movement. What other restaurants are doing this--and what do you think? I'm torn. On the one hand it's wonderful to celebrate the best, on the other I think I want a restaurant to have a larger role in creating a meal than just assembling courses.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not sure I agree with the basic categorization here. Salt Tasting Room is a wine bar. Plenty of wine bars serve mostly cheese, sausages and other simple items that don't require a full kitchen with all the attendant cost, ventilation, fire suppression and staffing. Borough Food & Drink is an actual restaurant. It does bring in some prepared items from noteworthy local establishments, but plenty of restaurants do that. For example, at BF&D you can get "Russ & Daughters smoked salmon sandwich," but pretty much any restaurant that serves smoked salmon is acquiring that product, prepared, from somewhere else. If you go to Daniel and get smoked salmon it's from Browne Trading, etc. Also, at BF&D there's a real kitchen there cooking real food. Most of the menu items are not just putting someone else's prepared food on a plate. They're mostly things where there are noteworthy local ingredients incorporated into a dish, such as "Queen Anne's lasagne: eggplant, tomato, DiPalo's ricotta, raisins, pine nuts," and "grilled ny sausage plate: Forest Pork Store sausages, buttered spaetzle, braised red cabbage & currant jelly."

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Steve-

Didn't mean to imply BF&D isn't cooking but aren't they cooking other folks recipes? Isn't this "borrowing" (though with attribution) somewhat different from creating a cuisine? Is this approach less worthy? With regard to wine bars I guess we expect we will be eating and drinking products that aren't produced in house but I feel restaurant patrons have the right to expect the foods they eat to be prepared in house.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There is a restaurant in Boston,The Parish Cafe, whose main shtick is that their sandwiches are the creations of many of the local big name chefs. Todd English, Ming Tsai, Ken Oringer, rtc., all designed personal sandwhiches. As they say here, "wicked cool".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Steve-

Didn't mean to imply BF&D isn't cooking  but aren't they cooking other folks recipes? Isn't this "borrowing" (though with attribution) somewhat different from creating a cuisine?

I don't think BF&D is serving all copied recipes. I think a lot of the dishes incorporate a component from a noteworthy local producer but the dish itself is designed by the chef. More importantly, though, how many restaurants in the world have created a cuisine? Most restaurants are serving dishes invented somewhere else by someone else.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm sure someone said that cooking is like music, there's not a note that hasn't been struck before, just new compositions and interpretations.

TA, can you describe Melange and their menu?

Edited by Timh (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

TA, can you describe Melange and their menu?

Sure thing. Here's something I wrote for OffBeat magazine last February:

I was dubious when I first heard about Mélange, the new restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. The hotel convinced nearly 20 area restaurants to lend it recipes. Its Chef de Cuisine, Eric Aldis, visited every kitchen, watching the chefs—including Susan Spicer of Bayona, Bob Iacovone of Cuvée and Frank Brigtsen of Brigtsen’s—prepare their dishes and snapping photos of the finished products. Now, guests at Mélange can order a rotating selection of dead-ringers for dishes served around town. What bothered me about this concept was that it doesn’t add anything new to the dining scene. Instead, it sounded like the culinary equivalent of a cover band.

The chefs I spoke to had fewer reservations. “I want to support them like they’re supporting us,” says Frank Brigtsen. “I think that spirit of togetherness and unity is the real strength of our city right now.”

The arrangements between the hotel and the restaurants were informal. No contracts were drawn up and no money changed hands. JoAnn Clevenger of Upperline contributed her fried green tomatoes with shrimp rémoulade sauce, which is already a classic on menus around town and across the nation.

“If people fall in love with New Orleans through a meal at the Ritz-Carlton, they’re much more likely to return and be our ambassadors,” she says. “And now, more than ever, we need ambassadors.”

Clearly, Mélange wasn’t created for locals. If we wake up craving Mosca’s chicken a la grande, we consider the drive to Avondale [note: 45 minutes from New Orleans] a necessary appetizer for that meal. Maybe we can’t expect tourists to make that drive these days, and sometimes, even music snobs tap their feet to a cover band.

I've heard rumors that the concept might change soon. I've also heard rumors that they really didn't like my "culinary cover band" comment.

Todd A. Price aka "TAPrice"

Homepage and writings; A Frolic of My Own (personal blog)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It just seems like a double standard to me. If a chef comes to the United States from Italy and serves a menu of Italian dishes as prepared at restaurants in Italy, nobody is going to accuse that chef of being a culinary cover band. When someone opens a French brasserie, serving the same menu as thousands of other French brasseries everywhere from France to the United States to the United Kingdom to Tokyo, nobody says it's a culinary cover band. When a Japanese restaurant opens . . . etc. So why, if someone opens a restaurant serving the best dishes from around New Orleans, is that all of a sudden a culinary cover band?

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It just seems like a double standard to me. If a chef comes to the United States from Italy and serves a menu of Italian dishes as prepared at restaurants in Italy, nobody is going to accuse that chef of being a culinary cover band. When someone opens a French brasserie, serving the same menu as thousands of other French brasseries everywhere from France to the United States to the United Kingdom to Tokyo, nobody says it's a culinary cover band. When a Japanese restaurant opens . . . etc. So why, if someone opens a restaurant serving the best dishes from around New Orleans, is that all of a sudden a culinary cover band?

To me it seem more analogous to the Australian chef who recreated the menu at Alinea. (Yes, it's different. The hotel had permission and they copied single dishes.)

And, like a cover band, it's a one-stop shop for a big variety of styles (yes, there are a variety of styles in New Orleans). One minute the band covers a hair band's ballad and then immediately after they're playing Motown. Just like on this menu. You could start with an appetizer that copies a the food at a funky shack and then for the main have an imitation of an entree from the old-line Creole restaurant.

Here is a link to the menu. (click) (Note: they rotate through the outside dishes, which make up about half the menu.)

Todd A. Price aka "TAPrice"

Homepage and writings; A Frolic of My Own (personal blog)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are a lot more cooking styles in Italy than there are in New Orleans, yet nobody blinks at an Italian menu that includes dishes from various regions. And you can multiply that several times over for India or China. I would have to guesstimate that something like 99% of the restaurants in the world are offering greatest hits menus of one kind or another. If anything, these folks at the Ritz Carlton are just being more thorough about naming their sources. I have no idea what "Vizard's Louisiana Seafood Gumbo" is but is it really some hyper-creative twist on gumbo? Or is it just a version of gumbo? If so, surely there's nothing to prevent a restaurant from serving the exact same dish and calling it "Ritz Carlton Louisiana Seafood Gumbo." That has been standard operating procedure in the restaurant business for ages, so it's kind of nice to see attribution instead of outright copying.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...