Went to Plum Sunday night. Asked to be seated at the counter, because I thought it would be fun to watch the food being prepared. I was not wrong about that, but I'm still not quite sure how to react.
We ordered two glasses of wine; two bowls of nettle and green garlic soup; spring carrots; grilled calamari with artichokes, fennel, and orange; a cheese plate; and cherry cheesecake in a jar.
The soup was magical and included small piece of potato that had somehow been infused with the flavor of smoky bacon. The carrots were delicious and the plate beautiful to look at. It included six tiny carrots, three spinach leaves, six or eight fava beans and two or three other elements for $12 (if I remember right). The calamari was smoky from the griddle and went beautifully with the other elements. The cheese plate with telaggio, goat cheese, and a sheep's milk cheese whose name I've forgotten was nice and the most generous portion of the evening. Deconstructed cherry cheesecake was divine.
But sitting there watching the chef and souschefs cook and assemble the little plates, each a work of art, left us--my wife in particular--wondering if it wasn't all a bit too precious. I mean watching people artfully smear lines of black sauce, daub little drops of green, and carefully apply touches or herbs with tweezers to create tiny sonatas of expensive food just felt decadent. We also watched the woman in front of us carefully peeling tiny cooked potatoes half the size of ping pong balls. I mean there's no question that a great deal of work goes into each plate, but my wife couldn't help but remember her college days when she fed herself and her boyfriend on $20 a month. The bill for our small meal, with 16 percent service charge, topped $125.