I don’t understand the French critics; if an untrained Italian opens up yet another mediocre pizza joint, it’s automatically reviewed, if an American makes hamburgers and fries, it’s a big deal, worthy of a special section in Figaroscope, but God help it if someone from North America cooks “traditional French food.” They are written off either because of the critics’ latent Anti-Americanism or because it’s assumed that all North Americans can do are hamburgers and hot dogs, which is their stereotype of American cuisine. In their tiny world, Alice Waters, Tom Keller, Grant Aschatz and David Chiang don’t exist.
Let me substantiate this by some recent examples.
The story of Daniel Rose toiling up in the 9th for months without recognition (except from some fellow countrymen) only became known when Figaro revealed that Spring was hard to get into, much harder than Gagnaire/etc. He rarely gets invited to food demos and even had to pay his way one year to the Omnivore Food Festival. And last month the Michelin showed its prejudice by lauding Cobea, Lignac and Marx and leaving Rose (Disclosure*) by the side of the road once again.
Then Laura Adrian and Braden Perkins came to town and got no notice; OK, maybe the French critics consider non-restaurant kitchens to be non-reviewable, but they certainly fell all over themselves at Nomiya. Even when the Hidden Kitchen became impossible to book at, silence. When they opened a genuine restaurant, Gaudry called the food “gastrominiturization” and Rubin used words like “cuisine mignarde” that beats its wings without ever taking off. Alone, an American, Alexander Lobrano said it served “great food.”
Finally, while the American blogosphere has been abuzz since last fall when Catherine Reed opened her eponymous restaurant in the heart of the 7th, there has been dead silence from the French guys – who had plenty of time to review silly French places. This lack of information was so obvious that it caused one website loyalist to wonder if like the Wizard of Oz, it was real at all. Well, it is real and Catherine Reed, who hails from Quebec not Quiberon, was treated like everyone above.
It is also interesting that to my knowledge, only Lobrano has addressed the latent or perhaps overt Anti-Americanism that exists.
In any case, here are the coordinates of the latest victim of French culinary critics’ omerta:
Reed aka Catherine Reed
11 bis rue Amelie in the 7th, (Metro: Latour Maubourg)
Closed Sundays and Mondays
A la carte about 40-50E with liquids
*Disclosure; I consider myself an “early adopter” and friend of his, although he’s never comp’d me at his two restaurants with anything other than a second coffee.