The Christiane Chronicles: A good meal is worth a wait

Plus: Why I’ll take a marvelous classic over a fussy novelty any day

Illustration by Zohar Lazar

Worth the Wait
While the warnings of “must be ordered an hour ahead” or “takes 45 minutes” on dishes like risotto or whole-roasted chicken may turn off many a diner, I adore that fine print. Because I agree with Dominique Ansel, the French pastry chef who invented the cronut and inspired all of New York City to stand in line. His motto: “Time is an ingredient.” His doughnut-croissant hybrid, which became so popular it spawned a black market, can take three days to create. That is perhaps an extreme case, but the time spent on a dish can make a difference in the way we experience it.

Take squid, for instance. It tastes very different if it’s cooked for a few seconds in bubbling oil or if it’s stewed into submission for a sauce. Chefs have finally figured out how to tenderize the muscular creature by using the slow and steady sous-vide technique.

Chefs brag about 24-hour broths, day-after soups, and à la minute desserts, acknowledging time as a crucial factor in their culinary codex. Let’s not be in such a hurry, and let them take the appropriate time to make each dish so we can enjoy it at its best.

Hash browns at Ticonderoga Club
Hash browns at Ticonderoga Club

Photograph by Caroline C. Kilgore

Customer first, please
I am not sure I like the new normal—chefs who work four days a week, pop-ups that pop up every other week, restaurants that don’t have a land line, menus with “elevated” takes on everyday food. All of this reinforces the notion that the hospitality industry is not attuned to our true needs and desires.

Here’s an example: When it moved from Sandy Springs to Emory Village a few months back, Double Zero—a reasonably ambitious Italian spot related to the Iberian Pig and Cooks & Soldiers—started offering small plates like pork belly corn dog with raspberry mostarda. Meanwhile, the new brunch at Ticonderoga Club in Krog Street Market served up giant platters of freshly made hash browns with American cheese, onions, and black pepper.

I’ll take a marvelous classic over a fussy novelty any day. Chefs who try to impress each other and don’t remember to put their customers’ wants first need to know: Our patience is running out.

Field notes

  • First you craved it, then you got tired of it. Take a break from ramen and discover udon, its fatter relative, which is served with fermented black bean sauce at Allen Suh’s new Wednesday pop-ups at the Sound Table on Edgewood Avenue.
  • Shaun Byun is now the executive chef at Richard Tang’s Char in Inman Quarter, a Korean barbecue restaurant where millennials satisfy their curiosity for such nontraditional snacks as spicy veal brains in a jar.
  • What tastes like an IPA but isn’t a beer? The Triple H cider infused with hops on tap at Urban Tree Cidery on the Westside.