Maybe you had to live through the worst excesses of nouvelle cuisine to be wary of restaurant preciousness. Is it my imagination, but are we at the beginning of a trend again?
Just the fact that the amuse bouche is back in style suggests we are. ...
This could be a good thing or a bad thing. I don't mind looking at something and thinking, "Ooooh, isn't that cute!!!!" if it ends up tasting great.
It might be some elaborately artistic working of ingredients like the saffron and cardamom panna cotta with mascarpone, saffron tuile and mango coulis (pictured) at Bistro Blanc in Glenelg.
Or it might be an amusing concept like the grilled cheese soup with heirloom tomato on the side at the Blue Hill Tavern in Brewers Hill, a clever play on the classic tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich on the side.
Somewhere, however, I had an elegant dessert on a plate decorated with a few Cocoa Puffs. That's taking restaurant whimsy too far.
We never had our conversation about foam, but it falls into the restaurant preciousness category unless it's done very well, and maybe even then. Foam has to be so pretty you not only don't say "eww," you don't say to yourself, "This is really silly."
I love trompe l'oeil food, like a traditional buche de noel with meringue mushrooms. But you don't ever want to feel like your food has been overly handled.
Or maybe I'm just worrying too much, and restaurant whimsy isn't a trend that will spiral out of control, but simply a flash in the pan.
(Elizabeth Malby/Sun photographer)