Friday, May 25, 2007

A classic.

Boston-Charlie's Sandwich Shoppe

The short order cook is an art form. It is a cross between traffic cop and ballet dancer. A smooth working cook is a joy to watch. It leaves the wondering why they can’t work as well at home. Unfortunately these cook have been regulated to the back, toiling away behind the scenes. Normally, in a restaurant, one does not want to sit near the kitchen, this not the case at Charlie’s Sandwich Shoppe in Boston (429 Columbus Ave. 617.536.7669). Upon seeing the cook working the line behind the counter I grabbed a stool right in front of the action.

Walking in to Charlie’s one knows immediately that they have found them selves in a unique place. The tables are shared seating. The patrons are a mix of regulars and tourists. It is easy to tell the tourists they are the ones not talking. That soon changes and soon the tourists are talking (sports for the most part). But the first thing that hits the eye is the long counter that runs the length of the place. This brings me back to the cook. He is out there in the open all the cooking is done right behind the counter. Far from being stressed by the mounting orders the cook to talks easily with the regulars at the counter as he works the stove.

One of their signature dishes is turkey hash. It is rich and satisfying with a golden crust that one can’t help but luxuriate in. Two eggs come with it and these too are cooked perfectly; over easy sometimes are left little runny but not here. All this completed by a cook working so smoothly, and effortlessly, that you feel that your breakfast is almost an after thought.

Charlie’s has been around for years, since 1927 according to their sign out front. And they have been doing so well that, a few years ago, the place was awarded a James Beard award.

Personally I think we need more places like Charlie's.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Anne-Sophie Pic

Valence, France

She has been described as charming, soft-spoken petite and diminutive. While she is all of those things she is also on hell of a chef. Finally this year the good folks at Michelin long recognized this fact and awarded her a third star. As far as I’m concerned it was long over due. But never mind Anne-Sophie Pic has now joined the ranks of the world’s top chefs. An honor that her Father and Grandfather once held.

My time at La Maison Pic was nothing short of marvelous; a truly wonderful meal. It was one of those occasions where nothing seemed to be missing the service excellent: efficient and friendly. It walked the line between formal and friendly smoothly and evenly. The staff mad sure that you were there to enjoy the meal not be intimidated by it.

As for the food…no complaints. A wide sampling was enjoyed at the table and each dish somehow seemed better than the last. The beauty of her food was the simplicity. Pic does not go out of her way to complicate things. Her goal almost minimalist. With the general rule being no more than three ingredients per dish. Nor are things buried under heavy sauces. She does on occasion break her rules but the results speak for themselves.

When Pic's restaurant was, under the rule of her grand Father once considered to be one the top restaurants in France. After the passing of her Father it lost some of it’s luster. There is do doubt that under her reign La Maison Pic will once again be at the forefront for many years to come.