Clive Thompson’s November article about the warming of New York seems more and more apropos — birds that should be in Miami are luxuriating in the park, and New York has just experienced its first snowless November and December since Rutherford B. Hayes was president. But like everything else, global climate change comes down to just one thing: How’s it going to affect our dinner? Specifically, what will become of the rich, heavy cold-weather dishes that are the boon of the bitter-cold winter months? We’ve taken a look at how three restaurants — Savoy, Brasserie LCB J.J. Rachou, and Ouest — are coping with the winter warmth. All quite differently, as it turns out.
• For a restaurant that’s supposedly so in touch with nature, Savoy’s pretty oblivious to the weather. We recently got an e-mail billing their new cassoulet as the perfect “respite from a winter chill.” Their bean stew, packed with duck confit, house-made sausage, pork belly, and braised lamb, is just one available iteration of the classic dish, as this short list shows. But eating it fireside seems a bit much when we’re coatless and shvitzing just getting from the cab to the door.
• Brasserie LCB, that bastion of the French old school, has a long history with cassoulet. But chef Jean-Jacques Rachou seems to have thrown up his hands: “Right now we sell much less [cassoulet] than we normally would. It’s too hot. We have cold soups on the menu, like vichyssoise and gazpacho. And we never saw so many cold lobster, cold salmon salads [sold].”
• Tom Valenti at Ouest, whose signature lamb shank would make Chris Tucker lethargic, seems to have stumbled upon a middle ground: “The lamb shank is bulletproof as far as weather goes. We try to take it off the menu in the dead of summer and are always met with stiff resistance. ” Which isn’t to say he won’t change with the times: “Maybe I should start serving it on cold baby greens though.”