The San Diego Union-Tribune has a restaurant reviewer, Michele Parente – hence, the title.
As for the prétentieux – pretentious – stay with me.
But first, let’s start with a very brief history of the hallowed Michelin restaurant rating system.
The Michelin rating system began in the Michelin Guide, which goes back more than a century. The French Michelin brothers, Ándre and Édouard, had started a tire company in 1889, and in 1900 they realized that that a ratings guide for hotels and restaurants would encourage the drivers to travel, wear out their tires, and buy more of them:
The guide cataloged hotels, restaurants, mechanics, and gasoline vendors throughout France, and the brothers began sending inspectors – anonymously – to various restaurants, who dined and then rated the establishments with a one-to-three-star system:
Michelin went international, and those stars became – and remain – highly coveted by chefs from across the globe. One star will pack a restaurant. Two stars – you’ll wait six months for a reservation. And three stars? The Restaurant Hall of Fame.
And while no chef as yet has committed murder for a star, I betting that’s been contemplated by many.
So in June, when Addison became the first – and only – restaurant San Diego county to earn a Michelin star, it was une grosse affaire (a big deal).
Big enough to prompt reviewer Michele to revisit and, I guess, re-review it.
Now, I like to eat, and I enjoy going out to eat, so it follows that I enjoy reading restaurant reviews.
If my mouth is watering by the end of the review – better yet, half-way through the review – that restaurant is in my future.
Addison is not.
Usually, after reading a restaurant review, my first step is to visit their website to check out the full menu.
But Addison’s website has nothing so bourgeoisie as a “Menu” link.
Instead, I had to click on Experience, which led me here:
Ethos? Grandeur? Are you beginning to see why I’m thinking pretentious?
Then I clicked on “contemporary haute cuisine” (“haute” being French for “high-class”), and here were my choices:
First: “Découverte”? What the hell is that?
Second: Choices? Two. I can taste five things for $165, or taste 10 things for $265.
Taste, which is the haute way of saying, “Each portion is the size of a quarter.”
Pretentious? I’m thinking so.
But I was already thinking that as I read Michele’s review. Here’s an excerpt:
“Whipped yogurt fouetté with green tea and yuzu granité, olive oil crème glacée with the fruits de la terre.”
Was my mouth watering?
But my brain was spinning, trying to figure out what the hell it was.
Pretentious is what it was.
“The smoked salmon rillettes pirouette.”
OK, I get “smoked salmon.” I checked the dictionary for “rillettes” and that’s something you can spread on toast (if toast is included in that $265). But “pirouette”? Isn’t that a ballet move?
So this is dancing salmon paste?
“The cheeky interlude of potato chips with onion dip.”
I’ve eaten plenty of potato chips and not once have I encountered a chip I’d consider “cheeky.”
“Warm amuse bouche gougère, with sea salt and sherry crémeux, is meant to be eaten in a single bite.”
Note to Michelle: Each thing on a plate is only a single bite.
That’s why they call it a tasting menu.
At $26.50 a bite, for 10 bites. If your dining companion orders the same, figure $530 plus tax ($40.07) and tip (15% is $79.50):
Michele said it’s a meal “you’ll likely remember the rest of your life.”
Yeah – because you’ll likely be paying for it the rest of your life.
According to Michele’s review, at Addison the waitperson will place the napkin on my lap with tweezers. Perhaps they think that will distract me from the cost-per-bite thing?
But the dress code did:
Oh, yeah. My look is always soignée. I’m known for my soignée-ness.
One last jab at Michele, and then I’m done.
Michele did allow how some might find the tweezers-napkin thing “a tad precious.”
“Precious” in this instance meaning “affectedly concerned with elegant or refined behavior, language, or manners.”
I’d describe the whole review – and the restaurant – as more than a “tad.” How about…
There’s an old joke about eating Chinese food and being hungry an hour later.
After having the Experience at Addison and their measly 10-bite dinner, you, too, will be hungry an hour later.
You’ll also be…