Eating From a Superb Never-Changing Menu or a Superb Constantly-Changing One: A Dilemma?
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When I tasted Daniel Rose’s creations of the day, none of which I’d ever had before (except for the cheese), I recalled an early experience I’d had in medical school. As many of you know, I have had, and still have, a first career—an active academic life.
As a fledging student among 120 Alpha monkeys, I was asked by a revered internist, who had a visible chronic crippling disease, if we had a terminal disease and could be taken care of by the world’s greatest physician who had no bedside manner or working with a wonderful, knowledgeable, caring, mature, sympathetic nurse, which would we choose. The unanimous answer was the top doc. He replied, “You have a lot to learn”.
I remembered that vote and response today. Why?
After more than 48 years of eating in Paris, my spouse, friends and I have stumbled over a lot of interesting, good and, indeed, great restaurants. Some meals were breathtaking (vide Giradet) and others to which we return today for something simply not possible elsewhere (e.g., the Tour d’Argent’s duck.)
Then we find places we love the first time, but after three visits in successive months over successive seasons, the menus’ (read carte’s) items haven’t budged an iota from when it opened: strawberries in winter, pumpkin in spring, scallops in summer, young baby spinach in the fall.
While I’m as corrupt as the next food buyer, when it comes to an impulse to eat an avocado, tomato or young rucola salad when I want it/them for supper, when a chef doesn’t change things with the season or have specials that reflect the market, not the cheapo Rungis items, my bunch moves on. Which is perhaps unfair, given the webspondance on where, year after year, one can find the best entrecôte, choucroute or foie gras.
Now, one can carry this to extremes, as I think the wonderful, hot, great originally-American but thoroughly-French chef Daniel Rose does at Spring. To invent a new set of menus every day, lunch and dinner, and not repeat things, at least to known customers, is crazy—not crazy in the psychiatric sense but the energetic one. Somehow the idea of awakening up at 2 or 3 in the morning, after finishing dinner service and completing cleaning at midnight or 1 AM, thinking what wonderful possibilities are just out there for tomorrow, is over the top.
Not that I object, except that like a heldentenor who starts stretching his voice at 21, chefs must get tired after a few decades of innovating (think Senderens who turned in his chips, or Loiseau, driven to change, or Aizpitarte, who has a culinary version of ADHD).
On the other hand, who am I to say “take it easy.” I’m not and neither is he, and we’ll see how long both of us last. (I’m not taking bets on that.) I don’t want Daniel Rose to burn out; I and his devoted customers want him to continue to thrive so we may continue to be dazzled by his inventiveness.
Changing/innovating all the time:
6, rue Bailleul in the 1st (Metro: Louvre-Rivoli)
Open for dinner Tuesday-Saturday, lunch Wednesday-Friday I think.
Lunches now 38 and 50, 6-course dinner menu 64 €, small plates in the Buvette at night about 6-7 €.
©by John Talbott 2011
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