Putting down my copy of, “Bonjour Tristesse,” I bundled up and walked the 1K to Harvard Square to meet friends from out-of-town for drinks at Park. Lovely people, they were in a mild state of shock as they spoke with wonder about the “dumbing down” of Boston restaurants. Both people are in the restaurant industry with long histories and very impressive success, and they couldn’t fathom why the food here is so peculiar.
One theory that came up–along with students setting the agenda, the town’s most influential critic knowing next-to-nothing about food, inept servers who don’t know how to sell, and chefs who lack abilities to match their ambition, “to be the next Wylie Dufresne–was this simple fact: The chefs, in general, don’t want to pay more for the best ingredients, but think that cutting corners on ingredients won’t prevent them from having first-rate restaurants.
One friend noted that Boston, if it wanted, really could have a first-rate restaurant scene: Rents are on average 20% lower than NYC, the fish and shellfish coming in here are fresher at point of origin, people here have money to spend.
Instead, we see pizza, hot dogs and hamburgers, plates teeming with a hodgepodge of ingredients, faux French, and lots and lots of pork, skate, and branzino.
Bonjour Tristesse, indeed.