Restaurants vs. Home Cooking
The Dinner Party Download is all about how to throw a successful dinner party. (Duh.) But what about the thriving restaurant scene? Should it really be ignored in favor of home cooking? Here’s where the guys land in the debate:
- Rico, pro-restaurants: The scene is finally coming into its own and is bigger than ever right now
- Brendan, pro-home cooking: People are over restaurants and want to be cooking at home more
Brendan: I feel, personally, we’re a post-restaurant culture right now. Especially in Brooklyn, it’s part of a larger conversation: the restaurants are no longer a grassroots, organic thing. It’s become more of a corporate environment because no one can afford to open in New York anymore. When people ask me what’s new and exciting in food in my neighborhood, I say nothing. There’s the Marlow & Sons, and the diner I like, and a couple other good places, but that’s about it.
Every city has a restaurant scene now, which is great. But it’s a more intimate act and it’s more exciting to be invited to someone’s home and share that space. Personally, I eat most of my food at home.
Rico: I think that point-of-view has a lot to do with New York. It’s expensive in New York. It’s like that in L.A., too, but L.A. also has a huge strip-mall culture: If you’re willing to drive, you’re able to get the best ethnic—whatever ethnicity—food you’ve ever had. And it’s in a tiny hole in the wall and they’re selling it for $5.
Brendan: In New York and as a whole, I think people have reached a higher foodie IQ, where they’re more confident in cooking. Even in a casual way, they’re willing to say, “Hey, I just bought a bunch of salmon. Come over and we’ll figure it out together.” That’s becoming more the thing to do than say, “Let’s go check out the new, hot restaurant.”
In a way, going to restaurants is not as social an act as it once was. We’re reaching a point where there are these huge investors for tiny places—taking their money from Wall Street and “investing in Main Street”—and it’s changing the culture. It’s like a band that looks like an indie-rock band, but isn’t really. I think that’s starting to happen more and more, making a shift toward the home kitchen and dinner party. It’s the one thing that can’t be faked.
Rico: I totally agree with you that that is happening, but I think societally people have less time. There’s a reason there’s such a proliferation of “how to do something in five minutes” trends. If you have a family or are living in a very expensive place, it’s different, for sure, but I know for a fact that people go out to restaurants more now than they ever have.
Another fascinating thing is how much people know about restaurants now. They’re well informed and excited to go out and try new things. Just because people might be “over” constantly talking or hearing about the restaurant scene, that doesn’t mean they’ll be going out less.