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Truth be told, I was only there to impress the ladies. The "there" in question was the Pinot Brasserie in the Venetian Hotel. The ladies in question work for me, so impressing them is not easy, you might say that they see me in my intellectual underwear every day--and it's not a pretty sight. Anyway, we stroll to the Pinot Brasserie and for once I'm not excited at the prospect of eating an expensive meal that my partners are paying for.
Up until this fateful lunch, I considered Joachin Splichal and his restaurants to be wildly overrated. More to the point, I've eaten at Splichal's Pinot Hollywood, Patina, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Bistro, and at this Pinot whatever, and have always been underwhelmed. Heck, I've eaten at so may Pinot's that I was developing a case of pinot envy--but after dropping so much dinero for solid, if unspectacular food (in five Pinots), it was time to take the cure, one more ordinary bourgeois meal at haute cuisine prices and I would be rid of this over-hyped German-born French chef forever. But I resolved to keep an open mind especially after reading on the jacket cover of his book that food critics (except the one that counts. . . .uh, that would be ME) consider him one of the most imaginative chefs in the world.
So I decided to give this guy one more chance, and I'm glad I did, because our lunch was all that you could ask for from any chef; perfect sea bass, which highlighted the sweet richness of this fish, true prime aged rib eye, and a beef bourgognoune over spaitzle that was a classic homespun dish made sublime by superior cooks. So good was the meal (and two others I've had since) that I was ashamed of myself for thinking that Joachim and friends just couldn't cut the mustard.
If cliché-defying French food is what you're after, you will get one delicious lesson at the Pinot Brasserie.
This is John Curtas.