For his own restaurant, David Kesler, the former executive chef of the Cellar, is most interested in decoupling the exorbitance from French cuisine. He prices most of his dishes in the $15 range. Take the French onion soup, which does at $4 what all French onion soups do: the crouton sinks and softens; the caramel-colored broth murmurs the sweetness of the melting onions; and the Gruyere spoons out in webs so stretchy people around you might think you’re eating noodles. He offers a decent and basic charcuterie plate for $9 that includes a rectangle of homemade pate and little toasts to spread it on. His $6 escargots—served simmering in a mini-Dutch oven—is presented as a stew in a style indicative of Provence, with garlic, tomato, mushrooms, parsley, white wine and a splash of crème fraiche. There’s no need for those metal shell-gripping contraptions or even a tiny fork. In fact, there’s no table setting. Silverware here is crammed in mason jars, napkins are paper, and when you order wine by the glass, they fill it to the brim.
A common theme we've noticed during interviews is how chef owners tend to worry. They worry about how slammed they'll be at dinner service, or conserving energy and resources so the bills aren't high.... More »
When the establishment you've worked at for so long changes their focus, do you stay? In David Kesler's case, the answer was clear. He took the opportunity to cultivate a CaliFrenchian space of his ow... More »
If you opened a French restaurant, you, too, would have the songs of Edith Piaf playing so that her rich-as-foie-gras voice could float through the air. You, too, would hang a poster of Toulouse-Lautrec's iconic portrait of Aristide Bruant, his... More »
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