I was anticipating the new culinary experience awaiting my friends and I as we approached the sign for “L’Restaurant Fancy.” We’d done our research online, learned about the chef and studied the menu (or at least I’d done these things and then dragged them along). Opening the door expecting to see a fine dining room, we found ourselves in an empty entryway facing an industrial looking elevator. A tall table with the restaurant’s menu sat to our right, next to a sign displaying the name of an entirely different restaurant and pointing toward a full-length red curtain, which was also to our right. Confusing? We thought so.
This was not the restaurant we were looking for, despite the fact that it was unquestionably easier to find. Maybe L’Restaurant Fancy was behind the curtain? No. That, of course, would be contrary to the sign. Certainly, if someone had wanted us to go up the elevator there would be some form of indication, like another sign or a hostess ushering us in the right direction. Clearly, we couldn’t figure it out on our own. We exited for a minute to verify that we’d entered below where L’Restaurant Francy sign shone elegantly from the side of the building. We had. Feeling bewildered and perhaps not destined to dine at this fine an establishment, we re-entered the abandoned hall to try again.
By process of elimination, the only way was up. So, up we went and found ourselves lifted into a swanky world of shiny glass tables and backlit wine displays. Filled with residual foolishness, we stepped off the elevator into L’Restaurant Fancy.
We opted for the lounge, rather than formal dining room. Mostly because all we’d just come for was dessert and cocktails, and also because after the elevator incident we didn’t consider ourselves altogether worthy. It was New Years, so I ordered a glass of champagne. The dessert of choice was Financier espresso curd, served with chestnut sorbet, pistachio “crunch,” and brown butter powder.
The flavors sounded promising and from what I’d read, I was excited for the creative and elegant presentation. Drinks arrived at the table and the champagne was delicious and immediately recognizable was champagne. (This may sound obvious, but after the following experience, I consider “recognizably,” a personal prerequisite for consumption).
The dessert presented to us resembled the landscape of an alien planet. Perhaps my plebian perspective conscribed my appreciation for this distorted dish, but not only did it look as inedible as packing peanuts, but I wanted both labels and directions. The espresso component of the dessert reminded me of a small, rectangular, but grey, pat of butter, which lurked below the financer that took the form of a spongy sea creature of the deep (or perhaps an organic loofa hanging in one’s shower).
Despite its extraterrestrial form, I think I’d rather have eaten Go-gurt. In fact, Go-gurt and this dessert have more in common than you might initially think. Both are equally unrecognizable as food, have mediocre flavor, and might bring impish joy to the imaginations of nine-year-old boys.) The only difference is that Go-gurt does cost not fifteen dollars per tube.
Overall, I enjoyed the adventure and novelty of our dessert at L’Restaurant Fancy, and would even go back to explore the remainder of its menu. The dessert’s unique appearance made it the center of attention, sparking gastronomic conversation and requiring us to eat mindfully, concentrating on flavors, smells and textures.
Still, at the end of the night, my sweet tooth was left unsatisfied. I craved a world of simplicity where food could be celebrated in its truest form and where the preparation of that food augments the succulence of its natural flavor. While science and molecular gastronomy challenge our minds and stimulate our imaginations, food nurtures our bodies and souls. What I ate at L’Restaurant Fancy was not food, but an enjoyable lab experiment and an innovative, new brand of entertainment.