Le Bernardin Review


Read again what I wrote. I said basically that there are OTHER traditions, such as kaiseki, which serve as the inspiration for some restaurants with 2 or 3*. That is to say, NOT ALL 2 or 3* restaurants are Keller “cover bands,” because they can very well be inspired by something OTHER THAN KELLER.

You’re misconstruing my statement.

To wit, I said I had around 7 courses at Saison last time. Not all canapés. I implied that saison was more directly comparable to a take on a kaiseki format than a Keller based menu.

Your analogy is misleading and not really applicable here. If there were such a restaurant and there were many copying that, sure, the contents of what’s being fed wouldn’t really be that material. The reason that they wouldn’t really matter that much is because the format would be so shocking and unique.

But we’re not dealing with everyone having the same format, namely the strapping and squirting. There is a difference between a meal consisting of 15-30 canapés and a meal consisting of 7 courses including barbecued items.

Differing format plus differing contents = not a “cover band”

And, as you admitted, sushi is different. It’s not uncommon for a sushi meal to involve around 15-30 servings - but those aren’t canapés, right?

What I’m saying is there are restaurants that are NOT presenting the same format as Keller, not a long an fussy procession of all canapés as you’d suggest, and not force feeding via strapping and squirting.

Let’s just say that what Keller’s restaurants share with virtually all 2&3* restaurants is that the meals they serve are fairly long. That doesn’t mean, though, that every 2&3* restaurant necessarily serves a tasting menu (even if such are favored by critics) or that every 2&3*’s meal consists of the same portion sized courses, or the same style of experience - which is to say, no, they’re not all “Keller cover bands.”

I doubt even Thomas Keller would conceive as all of the other 2 and 3* as “cover bands” of his restaurants. That is different than saying his success was influential to many.


I did not say that kaiseki influenced Keller or the other way around.

I said that kaiseki was a possible alternative influence on others, such that when some restaurants are inspired by kaiseki, it suggests that not all are Keller copies.

The bottom line is that “some” should be not conflated with “all” or “every.”


For the record, most tasting menus I’ve had range between 5 to 10 courses which includes TK’s TFL and typically finishes within 2.5 hours with each course served at a leisurely pace.

Also, I get that you don’t like Michelin or tasting menus which is fine but it’s quite a stretch to bad mouth and lump all restaurants that serve a tasting menu into the TK camp merely because they serve many courses when they could’ve been inspired by many things or people…El Bulli, Kaiseki, Chinese banquet…etc… In addition, these restaurants are merely the minority in the industry and trying doing something more unique while incorporating their own style within the context of a tasting menu. It’s nice to have some options no?


A balanced way of putting it.

Would you guys agree that Chef Keller deserves credit for wading into what was probably uncharted waters, especially in California? And his success has made others more comfortable entering the arena, be it tasting menus, kaiseki, canapés, etc.?


I believe TFL started with a mere 4 course meal.


Not a tasting menu?


A 4 course tasting menu :sunglasses:

I could be very wrong. Let me dig into that a little more.


I see. :grin: Don’t trouble yourself (unless you want). I have no dog in this fight. It was an interesting debate and that was what I gleaned from it.


It’s just several people having different viewpoints having a relatively healthy discussion. :wink:

Per SF Chronicles, “When the French Laundry opened in 1994, its menu cost $44 for four courses and $49 for five.”

Over the years, the number of courses varied and as of last year when I went to today, it’s a 9 course.


I’m glad you troubled yourself. That was good trivia.