In my book, I’ve got an anecdote about the reaction people had when Chez Panisse started serving a Flavor King pluot as dessert on its prix fixe menu. It was listed as the “perfect piece of fruit” and it came in a simple, wooden bowl, absolutely unadorned.
The restaurant’s message was clear: nothing we could do to this fruit — turn it into ice cream, top it with streusel, garnish it with crème fraîche — would improve it. (After all, how could you improve on the perfect piece of fruit?)
Some people found this thought experiment to be the essence of what Chez Panisse was about. It wasn’t just about the food at Chez Panisse, it was the whole experience of eating and appreciating it, etc., etc. Other people found it the height of pomposity that Chez Panisse would charge for one piece of fruit twice the amount it would cost to buy a pound of the same fruit at a market down the street.
Turns out Chez Panisse is not the only place serving as-is fruit for dessert. Yesterday, I came across a very active thread on Chowhound about San Francisco’s Zuni Café serving one nectarine for $4.50 (and on a pretty ugly plate, at that). The responses (all 100+ of them) lean mostly towards the “height of pomposity” point of view, though there are a few Zuni/CP defenders in there.
What’s your take?
Correction: The original Chowhound poster said the fruit cost $8 but was mistaken. The nectarine cost $4.50.
(Copyrighted image courtesy of the California Tree Fruit Agreement)