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May 5, 2011 06:55 AM

A Razor, A Shiny Knife

I'm curious as to the reactions of NYC Chowhounders to this popup restaurant on the subway, reported in Dining In of the NY Times. They got a lot of negative flak for serving a gourmet meal on the L train. Do you agree? Is it an elitist stunt? Or an imaginative and creative creative venture? As people who enjoy fine dining, I was wondering about your take on it, bad taste or superior execution.

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  1. For me that lunch was an exercise in vanity and an indictment of the bread and circuses lifestyle of self-indulgent gourmands. I am in the same demographic as a lot of these hosts and I understand the desire to keep pushing the food envelope in exciting ways, but this wasn't a sharing of culinary brilliance. It was a vain game for people looking for cache. Yes it was technically challenging and yes the food and execution were brilliant, but a more reflective restauranteur might see the irony of hosting an exclusive event aboard public transportation, serving a hundred dollar meal while passing through neighborhoods filled with poor people pushed out and forgotten by his same patrons.

    I understand that the hosts attempted to minimize their intrusiveness, but there is no way that turning a train car on one of the busiest lines in the city was not going to inconvenience passengers. Hosting on a Sunday afternoon is just a half-assed attempt to excuse the fact that they were forcing the minimal number of passengers to stand by the doors, endure the press of the crowd and the smells of lunch all so a group of culinary inconsiderates could strut their edginess without respect for anyone around them. Common decency in a crowded city means having consideration for people's shared space even if that means confining your creative funtime to a space where mothers and their babies don't have to stand watching you eat foie gras: .

    10 Replies
    1. re: JungMann

      I can see your point but I don't believe the intention was to flaunt wealth and privilege. I think the supper club is a dining/theatrical group. While they were certainly showcasing their skills as chefs, I believe they were also trying to challenge themselves by matching their precision with the L train stops. It was a form of performance art. However, the result could be perceived as obnoxious, but unlike Banksy, they didn't destroy property (though perhaps riders were inconvenienced).

      1. re: nitehawks

        I don't think they intended to flaunt any privilege, but their unreflective self-regard does not excuse the fact that their performance is a slap in the face to fellow passengers and the communities through which they passed. Ultimately they come off as narcissistic: this public spectacle was a means for them to challenge themselves and show off their talents without concern for the people their performance would necessarily ensnare and inconvenience. I understand they were trying to have some fun, but they were ultimately inconsiderate in the service of their own pleasure.

        1. re: JungMann

          A slap in the face to the communities they pass? How so exactly? How did serving food in a train disrespect an entire community..

          How do you feel about a guy playing a sax on the subway platform?

          1. re: Daniel76

            There is a difference between a stationary musician and a group of culinary guerillas who take over a subway car to feed folks who paid $100 a head to travel through poor communities increasingly marginalized by gentrification while feasting on foie gras.

            1. re: JungMann

              firstly, the money was returned.. secondly, i don't know if you are the one that gets to determine the thoughts of an entire community.. Perhaps you were offended for them but, that is all we can say for certain..

      2. re: JungMann

        Agree with JungMann...self-indulgent, self-celebratory, and yes, an "act" but it sure wasn't Fluxus...

        1. re: JungMann

          Yeh, my wife had a homeless guy take a dump in the middle of the train on her way to work the other day.. How many times do you here some annoying guy preach about religion on the train, or a group of people with instruments or du wop groups come through... And what about those freaking annoying Flash Mobs.. It's all part of the circus that is new york.. New Yorkers are tough and I don't think anyone was too bent out of shape for having this happen on a train, especially on a sunday, and if they did, then well, they are just pissed off about things that go way beyond a train..

          Anyway, everyone is entitled to their opinion, I thought it was certainly gimmicky but, I applaud the gimmick.

          1. re: Daniel76

            I don't even like it when people eat chips on the train...

            1. re: Daniel76

              Sounds like you're arguing two wrongs make a right. RLY?

            2. re: JungMann

              "serving a hundred dollar meal while passing through neighborhoods filled with poor people pushed out"

              As opposed to every other pricey establishment in New York?

              It's not unique for residents to get priced out of the lounge, or restaurant located in their same building, or around the corner. As asinine as this stunt was, this strikes me as unfair criticism. Had they gone low brow and served pop tarts, and tater tots, it wouldn't have been that much less intrusive - half the crowd appeared to be holding cameras (isn't it illegal to film on subways post-9/11) and "documenting" the silly event.

            3. The original comment has been removed
              1. Unsanitary, and downright stupid.