Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Restaurant Review - Pitchfork: The Restaurant

Pitchfork: The Restaurant

[Pitchfork Media; 2009]
Rating: 6.3

Buy a meal from Insound

Download a menu from eMusic

Online music magazine publisher Pitchfork Media has branched out into the world of fine dining, opening Pitchfork: the Restaurant. Located in Boston, Pitchfork Media’s home city, the restaurant marks a departure for the company, who had previously branched out into television channels as well as concert and festival promotion. This is their first time doing anything not directly related to music.

It’s a risky move to be sure, and on first glance it’s a silly one. The gastro-hipster scene is filled with similar restaurants, from Fried Bear - the eatery seen as starting the movement – to the newly opened Shut Your Mouth and Eat Restaurant, which is, as everyone knows, the side project of Bruno Mincemeat. Next month the long-awaited electro-gastro café, [lightning bolt], will open, and many gastro-hipsters seem to be rallying against what they see as the selling out of their favourite culinary haunts. Now would not seem to be a good time to be opening a new eating place.

As expected, the restaurant wears its influences firmly on its sleeve, and yes, these influences aren’t surprising, much to its detriment. Take Pitchfork’s Chutney Sandwich, for example: the lettuce arrangement seems to have been taken wholesale from DeKlassay’s Tangerine Salad. And while the casual eater will marvel at Pitchfork’s Ham en Croute, seasoned scenesters will recognise elements of meals from little-known restaurants like Dipthong Tragedy, Exclamation Point! Misuse, and Café of Montreal.

But at the same time the chefs at Pitchfork know what they’re good at, and when they stick to this formula, they do it well. There’s the occasional foray into avant garde food, echoing the 60s food dub experiments of Colonel Insane’s Ohm Beat Restaurant, but this is thankfully brief. The ponderous, meandering Beetroot-infused Scallops is one such victim of the urge to think too much about a meal, and suffers accordingly.

A quick trawl through the dessert menu shows some definite gems. Blancmange is a wonderful example of good food done well, while Chocolate Sorbet echoes Dizzy Holness at his most fragile. Even Lemon Cheesecake holds a certain poignancy not seen since Gustark Malfinch opened his much-missed limited edition café in 2001.

But in a world of great eateries, the question remains: If Pitchfork: The Restaurant didn’t exist, would it be necessary to invent it? The answer, sadly, is no. Two years ago, this would have been a hugely successful hit restaurant, but blame the food criticism media for building the gastro-hipster scene up too much, because the genre is saturated. Not even an excellent cheesecake can save Pitchfork Media from this fact.


- Imaginary Reviewer, February 10, 2009


Red said...

I'll wait for the review of Stereogum: The Restaurant.

ÄsK AliCë said...

I love the term gastro-hipster and will now strive to inject it into all conversations revolving around food - of which there will be many

Anonymous said...

I don't know that "Chutney Sandwich"
necessarily took its lettuce arrangement WHOLESALE from DeKlassay, but I will admit the influence is unmistakable.

Splotchy said...

Gasto-hipsters? Gasto-poseurs is more like it. I was eating at Trouser Press when it was *COOL*

Amy Green. said...

u r funni. lol.

The Imaginary Reviewer said...

Red: You always were a different class of gastrosnob.

Alice: And if people give you a blank stare, just roll your eyes as if they just fell off a lorry.

Erin: Sure, there are elements of Lipstick/Glass/Residue's Pita Pocket lunch special and various lesser-known RetroShoegazeCuisine eateries, but I was pressed for space.

Splotchy: The Trouser Press? Pah! I've been friends with the staff at the Cockle Snaffer since before David Chiaroscuro became chef!

Amy: Ta muchly! Welcome!

BeckEye said...

I'm with Red. Stereogum's where it's at.

Westcoast Walker said...

I just think the whole gastro-hipster movement has been co-opted by the cool hunters on Madison Avenue. Gastro-minimalism is where it is at right now.

The "Bon Iver Salad" is a good example - a single piece of asparagus is placed on the table, one that was grown near a remote Wisconsin cabin - and nurtured by the home demo sounds of bitterness and isolation drifted through the window.

Those multi-ingredient salads are far too derivative, reflecting the overproduced post-punk revival albums of 2002.

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