Say what you like, but The Dutch, where I expect to find myself tonight with the estimable Shoko, is a fascinating, revitalizing concept of a restaurant. Nothing frou-frou about it, no pyrotechnics, nothing molecular, no reinvention based on the chef’s whims, no effort to add to a classic or take anything away.
Folks: It is simply good food.
What a concept.
Raw shellfish. Good pot pies. Good fruit pies. Good products: Benton’s bacon, prime and aged beef, Copper River salmon. No burgers, no pandering, no trying to meet an imaginary customer’s expectations. It’s the kind of food I think that people are eating at the counter in Nighthawks, as depicted by Edward Hopper.
It’s food of a place in a country where people live near farms and eat as part of the day. Not food as the pivotal point of their lives, but as a character in a longer, bigger story.
That’s why this kind of cooking is so hard to do for chefs in turmoil who see food as a replacement for less substantive matters or who want to hear applause when they step on stage. It’s food that is part of a context and not the context.
This kind of food? It requires humility.