As I’m (still!) nursing this cold, I’ve been netflixing like no one’s business! Which gives me endless discussion possibilities! On yesterday’s episode of Chef’s Table (episode 5) we travelled to Australia. Sitting table side of Chef Ben Shewry at Attica. A seemingly small restaurant on a busy street in Melbourne. Chef Shewry is incorporating signature Australian ingredients to create masterpieces by the plateful. This restaurant from the street is nothing to look at. In fact if you were walking around Melbourne you would probably pass it without giving it two thoughts.
This reminds me of Rust Bistrobar that I posed about a couple of weeks ago and also N/Naka in LA. Outstanding restaurants, in low-key locations. Is this pivotal to restaurant success? To be a wolf in sheep’s clothing? Hide among the crowd and at the right moment strike? Now I know some people who would look at these restaurants and not even give it a second thought because of the location. Does the location even matter?
I have to admit that I have been one of those people who have gone to a new restaurant seen the location and automatically thought ‘oh God, what food is this going to be?’ Why? Is it fair to judge a book by its cover? I have gone to amazing establishments in places that would other wise be anonymous. Actually aren’t all restaurants unknown, until you know?
Lets take the incredible Buca specifically on King. First its a little hard to find, then you find it and walk inside. It seems like a normal place, until you walk down the stairs and are seated. The atmosphere is almost indescribable. The smell, the sounds, the cavern feel, the warmth and the energy. It surrounds you and engulf’s you like a fire. Sparking excitement you never knew you had, it’s all a small part until the food arrives. An experience like nothing you’ve encountered. Had I let some silly preconceived notion take over, I would never known this gem. Maybe that’s the way Chef Rob Gentile wanted it. A small Christmas present under the tree and when you unwrap it it’s a rare diamond. Pretty Genius.
Maybe that’s the way all restaurants should be. Non Flashy, not fussy, unannounced; so that the food is always the star of the show. Do you agree? Or are you of the rule that if it’s a 5 star restaurant then it should have a red carpet and all the glitz and glam to call you to them? Do you feel that the location; good or bad adds something to a restaurant? Would you go to a Michelin Starred restaurant if the location was on the dodgy side?
They always say location, location, location; but is that always the key?