After visiting some of New York City's most acclaimed restaurants, British journalist Tanya Gold paints a bleak picture of this city's dining scene. In her lengthy essay for Harper's, Gold visits Per Se, Masa, Eleven Madison Park, and Brooklyn Fare, and torches them as she goes. Case in point:
[Per Se] is not a restaurant, although it looks like one. It may even think it is one. It is a cult. If the restaurant is a cult, what then is the diner? A goose in a dress of course, a hostage to be force-fed a nine-course tasting menu by Chef Keller and his acolytes. Here the chef is in control. The client, meanwhile, is a masochist waiting to be beaten with a breadstick, spoiled with minute and sumptuous portions that satisfy, and yet incite, one's greed. The restaurant seethes with psychological undercurrents and tiny pricks of warfare. It is not relaxing.
At Eleven Madison Park, Gold complains the food is "ragingly tasteless." She later adds:
It is not, to me, food, because it owes more to obsession than to love. It is not, psychologically, nourishing. It is weaponized food, food tortured and contorted beyond what is reasonable; food taken to its illogical conclusion; food not to feed yourself but to thwart other people.
Throughout the article, there are awkward references to George Orwell's Animal Farm and Freud and even a vomiting scene following her dinner at Per Se (which she admits could have been jet lag related). For those looking for an indictment of capitalism/fancy restaurants.... Head this way to read Gold's screed.