Is it just us, or has the entire city turned aesthetically schizophrenic? How can the forces of anti–fine dining, led by David Chang, be at the forefront of gastronomy, while, uptown, restaurants like Eighty One, Dovetail, and South Gate are springing up like ramps, avatars of a genre supposedly half buried in the proverbial potter’s field? As Florence Fabricant writes in the Times today, haute Greenmarket hegemony continues to hold sway, and yet here come Benoit, Bar Boulud, and Bouley’s new French project resurrecting blanquette de veau and lobster thermidor. Is there some key to understanding the city’s culinary Zeitgeist right now? Or is this just a period of historic fecundity and instability, like the Roman empire after the death of Augustus? Either way, it adds up to a lot of very different, and very good, restaurants. Maybe New York will never have a single ruling spirit again, but rather a confederacy of aesthetics. If so, we could live with that. As long as lobster thermidor is in there somewhere.
Will Escoffier replace Alice Waters as the city’s Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images