“100% price transparency, while great on restaurant websites, doesn’t necessarily make for more enjoyable meals. Eating out would be pretty miserable if the price of your hay-smoked squid steak were etched onto the reclaimed driftwood it was served on, if waiters gave lectures on Champagne markups while pouring $75 glasses of bubbly, and if iPads were affixed to each table displaying a course-by-course feed of how much we’ll owe American Express in 30 days.”
“A group of eight of us dined at Per Se a few years ago, and one couple, who are true oenophiles and collect great wines from around the world brought three bottles from their collection. They offered the sommelier some from each bottle, which he gladly enjoyed.. We then purchased a bottle of Per Se’s wine along with some cocktails before dinner. The couple bringing the wine live in Napa Valley and are regular customers at French Laundry, Keller’s other restaurant. Given those parameters, the couple politely asked if perhaps one of the corkage fees might be waived, but a flat “no” was given. So much for negotiating fees.”
“According to the Congressional Budget Office, nearly four million people would be removed from the food stamp program under the House bill. A Census Bureau report released on Tuesday found that the food stamp program had kept about four million people above the poverty level and had prevented millions more from sinking further into poverty.”
I’m in Napa Valley, California, at the Restaurant at Meadowood’s chef’s counter, which is a fancy way of saying I’m sitting in someone’s kitchen. There are outdoor seats, which overlook the croquet course. I opt for the indoor seats, because I rather watch chefs make food than rich guys hit croquet balls. Creedence Clearwater is playing on an iPod hooked up to Bose Speakers. “I ain’t no millionaire’s son,” John Fogerty croons. The cost of my meal is $500 before tax, wine, and booze. I’m tired. I’m hungry. I’m ready for a ton of caviar. And what I get is a ton of leaves, roots, and flowers. WTF.
A bunch of radishes appear in front of me. They look no different from the radishes I pass by and forget about at my local Key Foods. These radishes, however, are fermented in champagne yeast. I pop one in my mouth. Tastes like a radish. So what? Then something happens. The flavor goes on. And on. And on. Sort of the same way you can taste uni a few minutes after you eat it. I take a sip of Billecart vintage Champagne (gotta live, right?), and the flavor is doubled. I’m giddy now, in the same way I once got giddy about knocking back some Dom Ruinart with a whole lot of Israeli caviar at Le Bernardin.
And that was all before they gave me this kale crisp pictured here. Chef Christopher Kostow makes it by pureeing kale with tapioca, drying it and frying it. It wasn’t so much a regular kale chip as it was kale impersonating a pork rind. Yep, kale can do it all. Instead of dip, the kale rind comes with a few dots of chorizo-flavored kale puree. Meadowood isn’t the kind of place where you ask for a bowl of sour cream dip flavored with powdered French onion soup mix. How did it al taste? Like kale, times ten. So no, we’re not talking about “fig on a plate” vegetables here. We’re not talking crudites. We’re talking about manipulating vegetables from the point of growth, to the point of cooking, to the point of consumption. We’re talking about cooking good food, dammit. And that all costs good money.
“You could run 95% food costs it doesn’t mean you’re going to have a good meal…I think too many people associate high food costs with high quality experiences.”
“I am not aware of any evidence to support the theory that professional servers are a subclass of humanity who can only do a good job if “incentivized” by tips, like monkeys dancing for peanuts.”
“At least with priority boarding on airplanes everyone gets to China at the same time. Line cutting at amusement parks is like the rich guy bumping the poor guy off the flight to Beijing and shouting, “Wait for the next one!””