|Photo by some OC Weekly intern or other|
|And let's not even get into meatloaf...|
Dear chefs who keep reinventing comfort food:
Twenty years ago, the idea that a restaurant would cook things you could make at home was novel; we were fresh out of the horror show known as nouvelle cuisine, where tiny bites of food were presented on table-sized white plates, and the other horror show known as fusion, where chefs suddenly discovered Asian flavors. "Comfort food" was a return to things Americans could pronounce, with the deft hand of a professional chef making up for Mom's kitchen shortcuts like bouillon cubes and saltine crackers. Lines were out the door at places like Kate Mantilini in Beverly Hills.
Flash forward to 2014, and now "updated comfort food", which is still all over fully half the menus in the country apparently means adding bacon and braised short ribs to everything. Braised short ribs used to be a meal all their own, and they overwhelm absolutely everything they touch. Bacon ends up everywhere, including on dessert and in places where it has no business. I kind of blame Animal, the meat-centric restaurant in Los Angeles, for this obsession with the enmeatening of restaurant food. Every chef in the country is copying their menu, except most of you can't cook like Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo can.
The rule for updating classic comfort foods ought to be simple: if you can't make an absolutely flawless version of the classic, don't claim to "update" it. An ounce of braised short ribs covers a myriad of you-can't-actually-cook sins.More »