Last week, The New York Times Dining section had an interesting article on the venerable Philadelphia restaurant Le Bec-Fin and the retirement of its star chef Georges Perrier. For forty two years, Perrier, who some deem to be America's version of Paul Bocuse, has been responsible for making Le Bec-Fin one of this country's most esteemed restaurants. But what has not boded well for Le Bec-Fin nor Perrier is its formal, elegant atmosphere and its lauded menu of classic French cuisine. It seems that few people feel comfortable dining in a formal restaurant anymore, and that's truly a shame.
The article quotes a Philadelphia restaurant critic as saying that it's difficult to entice customers to dine in a restaurant that "looks like Louis XIV's boudoir." Dining room photos show a space that is exquisitely sumptuous, and who wouldn't want to get dressed up and dine in such a room, especially on special occasions? But the kicker, for me at least, was this statement that described the restaurant's stodgy ways: "Le Bec-Fin was still presenting butter under little silver domes." Well, what is wrong with that? I serve butter under a little silver dome at my dinner parties, and I don't consider that to be stuffy at all. It's an attractive and easy way to serve butter, and it obviously beats serving your "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" from its plastic tub.
Unfortunately, fine dining is becoming something of a relic, and no where is that more true than in Atlanta. While I may not have many formal restaurants to support in my area, I can do my part by continuing to serve my butter from its silver domed dish.
Image at top: My Ercuis silver butter dish at the ready in my kitchen cabinet.
Christofle silverplated butter dish, designed by Andree Putman, available at Michael C. Fina.
Canard butter dish from Lauret Studio
Hammered silver butter dish from Orfevra
Buis Butter Dish by Ercuis
Ceramic and pewter butter dish by Match, available through Michael C. Fina.