If I had to choose two words to describe menus these days, I'd use these: "short" and "sweet." Not in terms of length, as anyone who's gone to Linger knows. (There are enough dishes on that menu to circumnavigate the globe.) No, I'm referring to "short" as it relates to appetizer and entree descriptions. I'll say more about this in my review of Tables this week, but for the moment, let me just emphasize that for the past few years, the trend has been to pare down, not pump up.
So I was interested to read last week about the experience that New York Times dining critic Pete Wells had at the famed Eleven Madison Park. See also: - Jason Sheehan: Tables does a magic trick. - Linger gives new life to a former mortuary space
That restaurant recently replaced its regular menu with a $195 prix fixe affair that takes upwards of four hours to enjoy (or survive, depending on how much you like the people you're with, what you think of the food, and how tight your pants are getting). To start the experience, diners are given a simple list of ingredients and are allowed to express strong preferences or dislikes. The chef takes it from there, and as the meal's surprises unfold, diners receive details on what they're eating via printed cards, in-depth narration from servers, and even a booklet of historical information to take home.
Given what we know of food trends -- they start on the coasts and work their way inland -- what do you think will happen? Will Eleven Madison Park's experiment find legs with which to cross the Hudson, Mississippi and South Platte rivers?
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Or is it -- like the nearly $200 price tag -- just too excessive to make it a mile high?