So much to wade through . . . let's clear the desk so we can get movin' on!
Over the last month or so many of you have posted about food and restaurant philosophy, and while I have weighed in on this issue before, I have been receiving dozens of emails asking for a restatement of my ideas on this matter, none of which are really original, just my take . . . I think there is a difference between a local joint (Quang Deli, Pineda, Whitey’s, etc.), a neighborhood restaurant (Pop!, for one), a fine dining tablecloth restaurant (LBV, let’s say), and a chef-driven, food-forward restaurant (like Alma or the nearly departed Auriga). They all have their place and their fans, they share customers, and they often have many similar traits. But in their heart they fall into two vastly different spheres. Joints and neighborhood restaurants are responsible to their customer in a way that fine dining and chef-driven eateries—generally concepts that offer ‘culinary art and education’—do not. Both are responsible for the customers’ happiness, but the joints and the ‘hoodies are not destination dining in the general sense, and therefore, from where I sit, are obligated to cater to their customers price threshold and regional tastes. If they don’t, they will close sooner rather than later. These types of restaurants grow where they are planted and flourish within that context. These restaurants are more about eating and less about dining. And the restaurants that offer dining experiences, art, and education have some of the same obligations, but to a smaller percentage of the dining public. Most of these eateries will, for the foreseeable future, be special-occasion and destination dining landmarks in our part of the world.
If you love food, you need to frequent all these types, some more than others as your lifestyle fits, but to ignore any one type completely is to miss the forest for the trees.