Menus that Pay Homage
I would be the last person in the world to advocate longer menu descriptions. I’m tired of hearing about the type of soil my teenage microgreens grew in, and having every single ingredient in my lasagna identified. (Though, perversely, I love knowing the name of the guy who caught my fish, which they tell you at Mama’s Fish House in Maui: i.e., uku caught by Jerry Agnitsch bottom-fishing near Hana.) Besides the fishermen exception, the other new information I’ve been seeing, and liking, on menus are acknowledgements. Rather than just ripping off, say, Daniel Boulud’s foie gras-stuffed burger (no naming names), some well-mannered chefs are calling out the sources of their inspiration. At Restaurant Eugene in Atlanta, Linton Hopkins features an homage to the outstanding sheep ricotta gnudi at New York City's Spotted Pig. But the most conscientious chef might be Will Goldfarb at Manhattan’s Room4 Dessert. He's always recognizing somebody's influence on his menu, whether it’s the red dessert tasting that pays tribute to French superstar Pierre Gagnaire or a cheese plate whose kimchee garnish was inspired by Momofuku's David Chang. Or maybe it’s just smart business—in this time when restaurant critics are getting sued for allegedly misrepresenting food in their reviews, chefs know it’s probably just a matter of time before the copyright lawyers come after them.