All tagged french


I first visited Manresa in Los Gatos, California, during the spring of 2006. I was immediately intrigued by chef David Kinch's cooking. This is a chef with a near perfect understanding of his restaurant's time and place, one who truly utilizes the local ingredients of the bay area; Manresa would not work if located elsewhere. Chef Kinch has a masterful understanding of when to enhance an ingredient's flavor through cooking, and when to step back and let nature speak for itself. I have since been back half a dozen times, each time a completely different menu and experience. Each meal has been progressively better. The ever evolving cuisine reveals a chef with tremendous versatility, precision, and passion. For these reasons, I believe Chef Kinch is currently the best chef in America.

Next: Paris 1906

My recent meal at Next, Chicago, was extraordinary. The concept of the restaurant changes every three months, opening with Paris, 1906, a meal based on Auguste Escoffier's legendary cookbook Le Guide Culinaire. All the dishes on the menu included the page number from Le Guide Culinaire from which the recipe came. Chef Achatz and Chef Beran's precision and attention to detail made this meal as focused and delicious as the cuisine of the great chefs of traditional modern French cuisine. After two meals at Alinea, one of my biggest complaints was the lack of progression and seemingly disconnected structure of the meal. Next's Paris 1906 menu, on the other hand, was extremely concise and structured, telling a story and sharing the experience of eating in the city of lights at the turn of the century.


Signature is the home of chef Olivier Rodriguez who formerly worked at the Tokyo location of Enoteca Pinchiorri. His menu read straightforward with two tasting menus and an à la carte section. The tasting menu seemed like a little much since my body still thought it was seven in the morning. So we ordered a few of dishes from the à la carte section and decided to split them. Well, maybe we ordered a lot of dishes. The exorbitant prices are justified (somewhat) by the exquisite view. We were lucky enough to have a window table, and maybe it was the jetlag but I felt like I was eating on the edge of a cliff. My eyes were in awe of the view: thousands of red lights flickering atop the Tokyo skyline.

L'Ambroisie Revisited

I wrote about L'Ambroisie a few years ago here. At that time I wasn't sure what to make of the restaurant. On the one hand, I experienced tremendous difficulty making a reservation. And when I actually showed up the night of my reservation: I was turned away. The staff didn't seem that friendly. On the other hand, once I actually experienced the cuisine, the black truffle feuillantine haunted me for years after. I've since lived in Paris for nearly three years. While the restaurant may have evolved a bit since my first meal three years ago, it was I who changed the most. My expectations of a Parisian restaurant are different now. In the US, a meal at a three star Michelin restaurant is often reserved for special occasions: birthdays, anniversaries, congratulatory dinners and the like. The restaurants cater to the food as much as they do to customer enjoyment: they make guests feel special. Things are different here. Aside from say Guy Savoy, the impromptu gifts and unexpected culinary surprises such as tours of the kitchen, chef handshakes, and take-home goodie bags are severely limited. Ego-stroking is almost non-existent. Here, the fine dining ecosystem is designed for regulars.