I've always appreciated it when my food looks like food. Beautiful plating is one thing, but when you take it too far it ventures into precious territory.
I'm not fond of precious.
Yet, I couldn't deny swooning at Chelsea's Kat & Theo, tucking into a dish of Diver Scallop Crudo that looked like a fantastical glen, ready for a troop of elves and hobbits. Dessert was equally odd, but much less lush in imagery. With smashed tres leches cake, cracked meringue batons, brown butter, maple syrup, and a sprinkling of fennel pollen, it looked, well...
...not terribly pretty. The flavors though? Spot on.
Still, I can't help but wonder if there would have been more tables filled if the food looked like - let me say it again - food.
And, in case you're thinking this is a product of the wild and crazy New York restaurant scene, let me assure you that preciousness seems to extend beyond the five boroughs. A recent trip to D.C. had me dining at the new Chinese-Peruvian hot spot China Chilcano. South American variations on dim sum and fried rice were delicious and creatively presented, but dessert went more than a bit too far...
It was supposed to be a riff on the classic Peruvian sweet pudding Suspiro Limeño. Sadly, though, even if this modern riff had been tasty (which it wasn't), it's appearance was too off-putting to eat with gusto.
Word to the wise: Precious is a very hard thing to pull off. And, even when you do, I'm not sure it's worth the trouble.
One more time for the cheap seats: I like food that looks like food. 'Nuff said.