- Kennedy Aug 31, 2001 04:42 PM
We hear that Lockes (an all-time favorite of ours) is undergoing change (which we would discourage) - any updates?? Thanx!!
Rumors are flying, of course, but we have some VERY good information to the effect that a hidebound traditionalist is involved in the renovations. As a practical business matter, it appears that some "modern" items are to be included (the chef was once described as the "Susan Spicer of Boston" which is a good thing). Part of Locke's charm all these years has been teh odd amalgam of items on the menu: new England, German, French. Steak tartar or tripe followed by Indian Pudding! Where else? And who else would have the security to do it? Word is that many of teh great items will remain. Remember that Locke's menu has changed over the years---the great cream of tomato soup they had in 1970 vanished in 1977 or so---so it is not unheard of to revamp some. Even so, those of us who still put on a suit to dine out hope that Locke's will retain many of the museum pieces which, after all, are classics for a reason. The hell with cute food--as the late Ferdnand Point said, when asked the secret of good cooking at La Pyramide, "la beurre! la beurre! toujours la beurre! Heart-clogging amens .......
Thank you for sharing some information. Perhaps I am guilty of passing on rumors, with a letter to the globe that was actually published (some several weeks after submission) but it seems that at least some people agreed with my thoughts on the specialness of Locke-Ober's menu--even if it's been changed already, and even if I didn't articulate what is good about places like that as well as others could.
I wish I had been around for the cream of tomato soup. I had my first bowl of Vichyssoise last week at Le Veau d'Or in New York City and thought of what my generation has been missing out on. There was a 1968 Craig Claiborne guide to restaurants on the bar counter. At least there is still some appreciation for classic food.
Thanks for a great post.
I certainly hope that the "Men's Cafe" (we used to call it that) restroom will be preserved. After the original Takeover years ago, the door was padlocked and there was a sign proclaiming "Wine Cellar." This was, of course, fraud.
I well remember my first childish steps down that well----it was so precipitous as to induce dizziness. Many a Harvard student gained an understanding of mathemiatical "slopes" on that delightful descent.
When my father was infirm, I helped him down those steps and, laboriously, back up again. Once back in the cafe, he sat--as always--in pontifical augustity, revelling in every reflection of that most magical room. He adored it, and his son learned the lesson well.
When he was under the knife at Mass General Hospital, his wife (my mother) asked me to take her to lunch: the operation was to be lengthy. We went to Locke's. We were offered a table in the Men's Cafe'...... she would not take it. "It is not right nor proper" she said, and we sat upstairs for one of the few times in my life. "Chicho" was then the Maitre d"hotel (superannuated as he was) and he professed to admire my Mother's stance under trying conditions. He gave her a butter plate & it must still be about the house somewhere.
The key ingredient in magical restaurants is----time. Any cook worth his salt (I distinguish "cook" as superior to the modern hooey of "chef") knows that he cannot whip up an Ali Baba & 40 thieves miracle. Food is essential---people are essential--waiters who know what the hell they are doing are essential. Locke's has always (in my lifetime) had the perfect amalgam o these qualities. It IS eccentric--sure. It has been sure,.... certain......honest.
Modern critics are fond of discovering foods that, if they bothered to do any research, were commonplace 30 years ago. Locke's is "uninteresting" to these wizards--what is there to say (and to self-inflate the author) about A Classic? Locke's steak tartare (almost lost to PC egg hooey) and its Caesar salad (made properly without anchovy) although we love anchovies!)) are monuments to cooking in the Old Days.
Locke_Ober is a museum--to some. It is an antique of no relevance-to others.
Locke-Ober is a grand and glorious venue; its Old Friends may have depareted but there are New Friends who are willing to take up the cause. Long May Winter Place Wave!
With an sniffle and a tear in the eye---I end