Rantfest 2007

Things in restaurant land are complicated right now and it's not just Christmas parties, New Years menus, and a looming January drop in business that has people talking.

With the dollar down and models demanding to be paid in Euros, where do our priorities lie as far as eating out is concerned? As the organic/local/sustainable argument rages on, and cooks continue to disappear, it would seem the TV ideal of being a chef is becoming more of a fantasy. What is it that diners want? Is it short ribs at Chow, meatloaf at Presidio Social Club, or the tasting menu at La Folie?

Now I know what you're thinking: Chow and PSC do not exist to serve the same purpose as a 4 star do. And I would agree--for most people dining at a 4 star is for a very special occasion. A steak frites is for satiety. So where is the line being blurred? For starters, if you're basing your dining destinations on the Bauer star system, you're in for some tough choices. Why go to Boulevard and pay $44 for your lamb when you could have a similar dish for a similar price in a "4 star" setting? And what makes for a 4 star setting? Are the dining rooms of Aqua, Jardiniere, Masa's, Redd, or Mina any less beautiful than the elite 6?

*A quick disclaimer: I do not to place too much importance on the reviews of Bauer--but if you're in the industry, and you work in the Bay Area, you know exactly what this mans words can do to your business. Never mind the yelpers. Love him or hate him, Bauer pretty much has this gig nailed down.

As more and more restaurants start to offer organic locally farmed produce and meats, costs are going to rise. Are those organic carrots really worth the same amount as the sand dabs you're selling as a special? Which leads me to my next point: At what point in the menu price inflation game does the diner just say "fuck it"? If the steak frites at Chow suddenly cost $30, then what? Do we need the escape of a special night out in this stress filled world? Or are we going to reach a point where we abandon the idea of treating ourselves to something as frivolous as an expensive (or even not so expensive) meal? (And just think: if I hadn't eaten at Coco500 at all last year, I would've had enough money for a trip to New York.)

Anyone that thinks getting into this industry is going to be their step into a Food Network dream life is going to be sorely disappointed.

OK, enough of that.


  • A movie stars kid is coming to work in my kitchen. This should be interesting.
  • Pot de Pho opened on Geary, where Spanish Fly used to be. It's one block from my front door. But is it bullshit to pay 10$ for a bowl of pho--even if the stock is made from kobe beef bones? Only the taste will tell, I guess. Either way, I imagine i'll see fewer roaches there than I do at Tu Lan.
  • Is Guitar Hero and Rock Band harder or easier for actual musicians?
  • Alien vs Predator 2. Who the fuck is going to go see this on Christmas Day?

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Unknown said...

Dude, AVP? I am so there on Christmas day!

so much cake so little time said...

in party insanity also...i know what you mean. ugh.

Julia said...

Just and interjection.......Guitar hero is way harder for actual guitarists. I tried it once, and my hand was instinctively going up the neck on the higher notes of the riffs. It wasn't pretty.

Just like to say again..... great blog. I can't stop reading it. I might reach the first post by the end of the night.