Frank Bruni of The New York Times covers the three day revival of Le Bec Fin and, as I read, I get goose bumps again because of what an exciting time it is for restaurants, chefs and diners. Now don’t get me wrong, I still recognize that a chef’s life is an extremely difficult, exhausting and sometimes thankless one. I also know that the economy for diners is still not fabulous so even a great restaurant struggles. On the other hand the culinary landscape of pop-up restaurants, future chefs finding funding, as David Levi did for his Vinland dream, with Kickstarter, Kitchensurfing connecting chefs and diners in the comfort of their own homes, and collaborations between chefs, farmers, schools, communities is full of activity and innovation.
So maybe we don’t pop over to a neighbour’s for a drink on the porch as often as our parents did. Sunday suppers seem to have slipped away except for the occasional special occasion, but virtual friends and de facto strangers are gathering around tables all dressed in white, in a local farmer’s field, or at some culinary Meetup in town.
The revival of Le Bec Fin, is a not only the opportunity to revisit an old favourite dining spot, but an opportunity to walk, or rather cook down memory lane, revisit an old childhood home, perhaps see if those gold standard dishes can be created once again. It’s like opening on old piano or violin piece and trying to play it again. A challenge for the chef and a cliffhanger for the diner. It is closing your eyes to the current culinary landscape and seeing what it looked and tasted like decades ago. I never had the opportunity to dine at Le Bec Fin. I wasn’t even born when it opened, but it made me think. If I could revisit a restaurant that is no longer, which one would I go to?
Boston’s restaurant scene has exploded since I first moved here. One of the top restaurants of the time, was Biba and I think if I could have one more dinner at Biba I would really enjoy that. It was just a block or two down from my very first job and it was where we went for a holiday dinner out for our tiny little non-profit staff of three. I remember that it was dark and cozy on a winter’s day with lots of plush velvet. The food was rich, layers of flavours that came together perfectly. It was always a meal to remember but that memory has long faded after having dined in so many wonderful newer restaurants and a few longstanding old ones.
I also really miss the restaurant just around the block from our first apartment in Cambridge. It wasn’t anything special, but it had a great bar and bartender and the food was really good. Frasiers could come back for a day or a year and I’d make a point of going there frequently.
What restaurant would you bring back?