So, DI/DO spent some more of Uncle Punch's $ to render a SPFG* verdict on Le Bernardin. SPFG is short for "still pretty fucking good." Actually, better, and it's hard not to be impressed w/ Ripert's relentless quest for improvement and innovation. But! Two oddnesses in the writeup from Wells. One, actually in the headline:
Moving Ever Forward, Like a Fish
It, if my Probationary Ichthyologist amulet is still valid, sharks, specifically who move ever forward. Do we not want to liken Eric Ripert to a fish? He does, in fairness, look more like Jay Manuel than most chefs, but, is he an actual shark? Signs point to no.
It is the description of the saucier that seems a bit wide of the mark:
Granted, even four star reviews note imperfections, but where does "surrendering a critical walk in game four of the 2004 ALCS to noted gourmand Kevin Millar" figure into the analogy? Who is Kevin Millar? Allow the Cod to remind you:
Sez Eater, there is a rumor that the next lead DI/DO critic will be Brett Anderson, who is currently the lead critic for the New Orleans Times Picayune. This is, by definition, puzzling, considering that being a restaurant critic in New Orleans is the best job in the world. Schnelly left the U for the USFL, and that feels like that kind of choice.
Re-edit: Greetings, visitors. First time here? Welcome.
Edit: Hey there, Eaters and Huffpos. The turkey wrap discussion continues over there.
We like to have fun here, but when there is serious business, it's hard to know how to respond. Not everything in the world is about food, or can be related to rap music or hockey. However, a couple of things related to the Bin Laden raid -- first, and thanks to the Great Barstoolio for pointing this out, the surprising intel of the situation room menu:
Gritty. It is oddly reassuring that when the leadership of the free world takes on the most momentious event of the Obama presidency, they eat like academics at a state university lunch meeting. If you have not seem the iconic photo, do so, and do it big. Nobody looks very hungry, and Hilary in particular looks like she's aware of the enormous responsibility of being at the controls of such enormous power.
If being a has-been who never quite lived up to expectations means two Michelin stars and a host of good works, then sign me up.
It's always nice to see David "United States of Arugula" Kamp in DI/DO, but this was a curious sort of piece. Charlie Trotter raised the bar for dining in Chicago, and still runs this exellent restaurant. And he brings in utes, cooks them nice food, and tries to motivate them. His former employee, Grant Achatz, has three stars, while Trotter has to content himself with two. Even that is a dis:
Evidently, a lack of bacon trapezes (Alinea) or wild-boar sloppy Joe (gonzo-hipster)* consigns a chef to the unhappy fate of simply running a really good restaurant. The bigger knock, however, is Trotter's failure to establish a beachhead in NYC, or to thrive in Vegas. Trotter's absence from Top Chef Masters goes unmentioned here, but seems of a piece with the larger concerns with what Trotter's done since opening the best restaurant in Chicago at the age of 27.
What strikes me about Kamp's piece is not any lack of sympathy on his part, but how much the yardsticks for cheffly success have changed. Not that long ago, holding down two Michelin stars in a relatively out of the way part of the dining world would have been something to celebrate. Indeed, a two-Michelin-star chef who screams at his cooks sounds like MFKF's bread and butter. Put Trotter's in France a generation ago, and it's a Thing. Evidently, Trotter's food is very good:
I'll take that over a wild-boar Sloppy Joe, thanks. In general, what Kamp describes -- a chef-proprietor with some love from Mr. Bib, who consistently cooks really good food and yells at his staff -- is what used to be the epitome of Chef. Now, lack of an outpost in Dubai, and failure to hobnob with Padma, put you in the also-ran category. Were I Trotter, I might be saying something to myself about how it's the pictures that got small. (Speaking of pictures, in the print ed of the Times, the big B&W pic seems to be laying it on a little thick, considering that it was taken in 1991, when color photography was widely available. Based on available images, the B&W seems like a reach.
*Achewood fans cannot read the words "gonzo" and "restaurant" in the same sentence without recalling the Sani-Taco story arc.
Sifton drops two stars on Red Rooster, Marcus Samuellson's new Harlem jawn. It's good timing, considering recent assertions that Sifton can be a Debbie Downer. It's a review that makes you want not only to eat at Red Rooster, stat, but also to wake up in the city that never sleeps, 20 lbs thinner, 20 years younger, and with an allover tingly Dinkinsy feeling. It all sounds good, esp the lox vs. gravlax, but it all sounds like a fantasy of what NYC could be. The Harlem venue overdetermines the musical choice, what with almost all jazz ever, or even Across 110th St. However, Sifton's review is all about heterogeneity, and he makes the soundtrack clear when he talks about liver pudding:
In this era of good feelings let us not reflect on how and why duck liver pudding with duck pastrami calls Hennessey and satin sheets to Sifton's mind, but rather welcome the guidance. Clearly, Sifton wants the Quiet Storm, but with a twist. There is a band from Brooklyn, (in this new era of peace and love, there are no borough beefs), spelled S-T-E-T that can take care of you:
Late to the party on this, but! Nice to see some love for Gabrielle "Prune" Hamilton's new jawn in last week's DI/DO,** esp after that twerp from the Atlantic dissed her. However, interesting that for character witnesses, they went with Suzanne Goin from Lucques in LA, and Barbara Lynch from the of the Barbara Lynch Gruppo in Boston. Glass half full Cod thinks it's nice to see DI/DO stretch out and abandon the notion that NY is the be all, end all of the food world, and get some quotations from the land of Big Ticket and the land of Kobe. Glass half empty Cod thinks maybe someone felt that since Gabrielle Hamilton has a vagina, it would be important to find other vagina-having chefs for soundbites, and VHCs are hard to find in NYC. It is Boeuf Gras today, but perhaps the NYC dining scene is still un petit peu de fete du saucisson? If so, could we possibly be looking at just another Guiteau Monday?
Anchower, Sifton Soundtrackswise, I know. A DM exchange with the man himself has egged the Cod back into his self-appointed, yet sadly neglected task of sharing appropriate music to listen to while you read Sifton's restaurant review. With Bar Basque, Sifton makes it easy on the Cod, if tough on himself. He drops an uno on Bar Basque. Bar Basque is a Chodorow jawn, and longtime Cod readers will remember that Chodorow is fucking crazy. Dude took out a full page ad in DI/DO to respond to Bruni's pan of his samurai steakhouse. Chodorow would seem to be for the restaurant critics what the student you enjoy hearing stories about, but hope you won't end up having to teach is for fessers. (Aside to grassoppers -- this never happens.)
Hard-body work associates? Anyway, no need for "dinkadiknkadinka club music," (does Sifton have a bootleg of the long-lost Paul Anka dubstep project?) The American Psycho nod makes the soundtrack automatic, thanks to this scene. (You can watch it here, if axmurdering yuppies are S for your W. Chodorow and Huey Lewis -- what could possibly go wrong: