Based on my work, hobbies, traveling style, writings and pictures, it's a simple jump to the conclusion that I love food. I am "into" restaurants and dining out; I enjoy crafting and trying new recipes; I watch food shows, travel to food destinations, and read every manner of cookbooks and cooking magazines. Farmers markets, taste testings, butter sculptures--it ALL fascinates me. And when you spend a big chunk of your life thinking about, discussing, creating and partaking of one central theme, you begin to delineate your preferences and style.
Dining out at restaurants is on my mind today. In the past five years, we have trended toward eating out more and more. Mostly because we are busy and have no time. Partly because I spend my days cooking for other families and want to relax when I'm off the clock. Also in part because I need to constantly try what's out there, looking for new ideas and trends in the marketplace. And maybe a bit of we have the freedom to--no children in the house to cater to, whose nutritional needs are not always met at a restaurant or whose pickiness is a challenge.
But honestly, I have contracted a case of "restaurant burn-out." Of late, I sit down at a favorite establishment and find that nothing really appeals to me on the menu. Why is that? Or we want to try some hot, new place that is getting rave reviews all over town so I check out the sample menu online and I think to myself "Nah." Because they're offering "Hay Smoked Oyster, Strawberry, Green Tomato-Peach Sphere" when I'm craving oysters on the half shell or "Stuffed Texas Quail, Rabbit-ramp Mousse, with Serrano Polenta Crouton and English Pea Puree" when all I desire is a piece of perfectly fried chicken and mashed potatoes.
This weekend I read an opinion article in the Wall Street Journal by Bee Wilson that mirrored some of my sentiments. She had the opportunity to dine at the #1 spot in the contest of the World's 50 Best Restaurant Awards. And her conclusion? The best thing she ate all night at Osteria Francescana were the simple breadsticks (grissini, in Italy) that were brought to every table. For decades, chefs have been trying to develop new techniques and fresh takes on ingredients to wow and woo their diners. Sometimes I want to be over-the-top impressed. But sometimes I just want to taste the best lasagna of my life.
As Wilson states so succinctly, Innovative food has it's place, but version 2.0 is seldom as satisfying as the original done right. So tell me: where have you been in Dallas lately (or anywhere for that matter!) that you loved how the restaurant made a classic or much-loved dish even better?