Wednesday, November 18, 2015


I'm kind of proud of a metaphor I buried in my Chowhound posting about my recent Dallas/Austin trip, so I thought I'd float it as its own posting. Speaking of two high-end Austin restaurants:

Juniper and Laundrette: chi-chi scenes serving Purina Trust Fund Chow. Both very good at what they do, I hate to be a downer. But this sort of place always leaves me a bit cold. Does anyone ever, ever, EVER shut their eyes and pound the table with their fist over the deliciousness at such places? They're like comedy shows where you never actually laugh, but frequently nod sagely and pronounce, grim-faced, "Funny!".
Understand that I'm certainly not damning all high-end restaurants. Some things can't be done cheaply, and I enjoy that part of the spectrum when it's good. Rather, I'm describing the genre of intense, reverential, slightly arrogant "tasting menu"-ish small plate operations (Momofuku and Luksus come to mind in NYC), which in my experience elicit far more analysis than inspiration. And per Leff's Sixth Law , if you're analyzing what you're eating, that means you're not eating something truly great. The very greatest things make you lose your mind.

It's not a matter of "comfort food" preference; i.e. massaging one's brain with dully nostalgic primal taste cues. I'm not tossing aside your black miso foie gras so I can strap on a feedbag of pasty mashed potatoes. I'm talking about the other extreme; of elevation. Toss back a sip of 1959 Ch√Ęteau Margaux and just try to speak coherently about the experience in its immediate aftermath.

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