Food & Drink

Picholine

A Tasting Flight at the Bar at Picholine

It didn’t take long for Picholine, after it opened in October 1993, to acquire the reputation and aura of an institution. Its original decor included old master paintings and tapestries or reasonable facsimiles of them, chandeliers, and heavy moldings—which made it look as if it had been there forever. While this interior may have conjured up some idea of a Provençal estate, the region is now present primarily in the subtle color scheme of the fabric-covered walls, which recall the variegated tints of the picholine olive: purple, grey, boysenberry and so forth. Chef/proprietor Terrence Brennan had the rooms entirely redecorated in 2006, producing a quieter, simpler, darker interior, which also looks as if it had been there forever, but also looks thoroughly fresh and up-to-date.

Café des Artistes: a Piece of New York History

Café des Artistes, Dining Room, New York

So much has been said about the current craze for restaurant-going by people who are striving to understand it, either for enlightenment or profit, that it seems a truism to observe that a visit to a restaurant is a kind of travel, not entirely ersatz, but something between dreaming of Capri in an armchair and jumping on the train to Fire Island. The decorator has provided the sets, the chef a motive for going there, the staff a supporting cast; the diners at the table have their relationships, their hierarchy, and their desires, and, if the evening out is going to be any fun, they’re ready to play their roles. Dining out is also a self-generated theater, the ultimate interactive entertainment. It can be a journey in time, as well as a mildly-imagined land travel. Most people will go out for something old just as readily as something new, although the longevity of restaurants is tenuous enough these days to put that in question.

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