Ask Mr. Gold 

Thursday, Mar 13 2003


My friends George and Em have some friends who went to Bastide. They tried to order the $60 dinner, and were told that only the $90 menu would give the full Bastide experience. So they agreed. Then truffles were brought to the table, and they were asked if they’d like some, and they said yes. Suddenly, they were having the $120 Bastide experience — but no one had warned them in advance. Based on that story, I decided to cancel my reservation. We went to Lucques and had a great meal. Do you think I’m a pussy?

—Felicity Aubain,

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In sheer aesthetic terms — which is to say Food as Art, as opposed to Food as Entertainment, or even Food as Authentic Representation of Culture — Bastide is one of the most exciting restaurants to open in Los Angeles since the 1980s. At the moment, the menu may be slightly overambitious, but Alain Giraud is an extremely accomplished technical chef, he is being given the resources to stretch out in ways that were scarcely imaginable when he was behind the stove at Lavande or even at Citrus, and his style — roughly, modern French cuisine informed by Provençal flavors and superb California produce — is already commanding and sure. (The texture of his rare scallops, for example, is almost pornographic.)

Ninety clams is a lot to pay for dinner, even for one that is bound to be pretty spectacular, even if a $30 truffle supplement strikes me as reasonable. Perhaps I’ve spent too much time eating in Manhattan over the last several years. But if you are going to be spending the long green anyway (and don’t get me wrong; I like Lucques), Bastide is exactly the kind of restaurant you should be encouraging.

It would never occur to me to phrase it this way, but as long as you’re asking: Yes. You are a pussy.

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