Tabloids use simpler language than broadsheets, because they aspire to appeal
to a broader audience. So why is it that when I run up against a completely
unknown word or expression, it always seems to be in the New York Post? Here’s
Braden Keil today, on a new high-end restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel:
The fare ranges from an $18 crusty veal pate with foie gras and Sicilian
pistachios appetizer, to a $70 seared tuna belly with crispy onion rings.
Other rib-sticking dishes will include a free range quail stuffed with foie
gras and a $48 lobster salad.
So much to say about this, but first, what does "rib-sticking" mean?
I IM’ed an editor friend of mine, who hazarded a guess that it means expensive,
as in a stick-up with a gun. But no other usages of the term seemed to fit with
that. Dictionaries and glossaries are ignorant of the term, but it mostly seems
to refer to simple and hearty food, not high-end gourmet cuisine, which would
mean that Keil was being ironic. And then I found this,
the closest thing to an outright definition: "rib-sticking is used for
all kinds of filling, rich foods". So now I don’t know if Keil was being
ironic or not, since the food described is certainly rich.
Next, what is a "crusty veal pate"? Again, my friend’s first guess
is that it was a misprint for "plate", but my first guess was that
the Post is bad at diacriticals and meant paté. But who’s ever heard
of a crusty paté? Not that such a thing is inconceivable, of course,
just that the dish seems a little on the improbable side.
In any case, I doubt I’ll be eating any of this stuff. Very expensive restaurants
are a turn-off for me these days: I’d much rather have my expectations exceeded
at a neighborhood place like Chubo
than have them so high to begin with, thanks to these kinds of prices, that
they can barely be met. I went to a freebie lunch at Per Se on Tuesday, and
of course since it was a corporate lunch and everybody had to be served at the
same time, the food was, I’m sure, not up to the kind of quality one would have
as a paying diner. But still. It all looked great, and the dessert
was delicious, but everything else was decidedly forgettable.
Maybe it’s just that I’m moving away from food and towards wine.
Wine needs food, of course, to make it really sing. But I’d rather crack open
a great bottle of wine at a good restaurant than find myself scouring the cheapest
end of the wine list at a high-end place. I had a wonderful meal at Veritas
last year, and I remember ordering the venison; it tasted like venison. What
I really remember is the wine, which was truly magnificent, some of the best
I’ve ever had. Now Veritas has, by all accounts, some of the best cooking in
New York. But a great wine puts any cuisine into a supporting role.
So my new search is for good restaurants which are either BYO
or which have reasonable corkage fees, in the $5 to $10 range. That has to be
the best way to eat well and cheaply in any city. I did it in Australia last
year, at a suburban restaurant in Sydney called Oscillate Wildly. Corkage was
just A$3 per person for unlimited bottles of wine, the food was a mere A$40
for three courses ($30 in real money), and we pushed the boat out on wine from
one of the eight million amazing wine merchants in the city. We ended up with
a bottle of Cyril Henschke
which turned the very good food into a remember-for-years meal.
Any suggestions on where to do the same kind of thing in New York?