As we rapidly destroy more and more species of plants and animals, here’s what fine dining might look like two generations from now:
** Le Grainery — Los Angeles, California
Chef Thomas T. Thomas lovingly experiments with the planet’s three remaining grains. From his achingly sparse soupe au blé to his delightfully unsauced three-grained pasta, Thomas’s menu will surprise and delight the most discriminating of palates. Be sure to leave room for a bowl of Le Grainery’s famous Cheerios dessert served with a milk-like liquid and garnished with fresh wheat germ.
*** L’idée de Boeuf — near Angers, France
Nestled in the once prosperous farming province of Anjou, L’idée de Boeuf whimsically plays with centuries-old concepts of beef appetizers and entrées. Starting with a faux beef bouillon, Chef Jean-François Demers takes the diner on a tour of what beef cuisine used to be. Appetizers include a sliced jellied concoction vaguely resembling what was once known as calves’ tongue. L’idée de Boeuf is justly famous for its roast tofunderloin made from choice grade A tofu molded into a tenderloin.
** Champignons Plus — San Francisco, California
Thanks to this century’s dramatic climatic changes, the one environmental certainty is perpetual damp rainy conditions in northern California. Although depressing for most residents, it spells nothing but great news for area fungiphiles. Chef Pierre Laflamme scours the damp neighboring countryside in search of all manner of rare mushroom. Sadly, the lack of eggs precludes his offering any type of mushroom omelet, which older gastronomes claim is a dish to die for. But the ever-persistent chef does manage to please with his delicious personal creations like shiitake soup, champignons sur l’air and steak aux poivre et champignons sans steak.
*** Au Pied de Clone — Las Vegas, Nevada
Leave it to Las Vegas to be home to the latest cutting-edge eatery. Chef Paul Excuse, in partnership with Dow Chemical and Genentech, has produced a cloned, simulated menu that some food critics say comes as close to 20th century haute cuisine as is possible in today’s almost animal-free world. Masters of culinary gene splicing, Excuse and his high-tech team are willing to try any food re-creation. Indulge yourself with faux porc tenderloin, faux medallions de boeuf and Chef Excuse’s signature dish — Phaux Pheasant® under glass.
* Fine Art Fusion Eatery – New York City
Given today’s limitations on food ingredients, it was only natural that someone would almost exclusively emphasize the visual delights of meal presentation. That someone is Chef Nicholas Marx, who has devoted his career to what he calls fine art fusion cooking. Starting with nothing more than a white vegetable paste and various food colorings, Marx and his team recreate great works of art in an edible form on a plate. The menu includes everything from Picasso’s “Guernica” to Michelangelo’s “Mona Lisa.” The restaurant requires 48 hours notice for any special orders of pre-Raphaelite or postmodern dishes.
** Descartes du Jour – Paris, France
Years ago, universities like Harvard offered courses in the physics of cooking. In a world without ingredients, however, Chef Louis de Seize has taken nouvelle cuisine to the next virtual level in what he calls the philosophy of cooking. At Descartes du Jour, diners are presented with historical menus from top 20th century restaurants and take turns describing in delicious detail each listed dish. For the truly adventurous, there is even a wide selection of ancient wine lists to review and describe. Diners may go home hungry but will take comfort in de Seize’s motto that eating is a descriptive journey, not a gustatory destination.