After a spate of high-profile restaurant openings in the past four years (kicking off with Masa and Per Se and ending with Buddakan and Del Posto), the New York food scene has definitely gotten a lot less, um, scene-y. New York Magazine food critic Adam Platt argues on Grub Street that the problem can be traced back to a few key shifts in the landscape, including rising rents and “the end of haute cuisine.” In his (the “Gobbler’s”) words,

The French model that produced the last generation of super-chefs is dead. ‘If you’re under the age of 35 and paying your own money,’ says a chef the Gobbler knows, ‘do you want to sit down at La Grenouille? I don’t think so.’

Pair those changing demographics with sky-high rents and tough liquor-licensing restrictions, and there will naturally be fewer great, artful chefs entering the mix—they’re all in Chicago, Platt says. Except the ones who are in Vegas, taking their talents where the money is.

But wait. Aren’t a lot of the big Vegas names (Colicchio, Boulud, Vongerichten) the same chefs who continue to contribute to NYC’s not-hotness, its saturation with “steak-and-potatoes” places? On the surface Platt’s arguments are all familiar, and yet the more I think about them the more confused I get. Which I suppose is why trying to label a given city’s food scene as hot or not is such a futile exercise.

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