Ribelle, a restaurant that a famous food writer recently criticized, stating: "I left there feeling brow-beaten." He felt intimidated and bullied by the restaurant? GQ writer, Alan Richman, opposes what he labels as "egotarian cuisine," where chefs allegedly cook for their own desires rather than that of their customer. These chefs combine seemingly disparate ingredients, and Richman believes this leads to failure more often than not.
In his article, Richman bashed several restaurants, including Ribelle, a relatively new restaurant in Brookline owned by Chef Tim Maslow. He stated: "I ordered one dish after another, idiotically hoping the food would get better." Locally, Ribelle has garnered many raves and accolades for its cuisine. Boston Globe writer Devra First reviewed Ribelle, awarding it four stars, only the second restaurant she has awarded such a high rating. It was also selected as the Globe's Restaurant of the Year. When I spoke to a number of my food friends about the restaurant, I heard plenty of raves, and really no complaints.
Would I fall on Richman's side, or those locals who loved Ribelle? Would I feel intimidated by the restaurant? At the very least, I didn't expect to feel brow-beaten.
Adam Japko, we ordered the Pieno di Degustazione, a 9 course tasting menu priced at $89. I agree with Richman that some of the ingredient combinations on the menu seem unusual, that they are not the norm at many restaurants. However, where Richman uses this as a basis of his criticism, I see it more as an exercise of the chef's creativity and inventiveness. Just because a combination of ingredients hasn't been done before doesn't mean it doesn't work well together. The test of this creativity is always the taste, and I believe Chef Maslow has succeeded.
The pasta dishes, from the Mafalde to the Agnolotti del Plin also were excellent, and I would love to try their pasta tasting menu. Even the Salsify, Black Truffle, Onion, Fennel and Trout Roe (a more unique combination) was delicious.
To me, all of the dishes signified a chef that knew what he was doing, a creative soul who could bring great taste to life in unique new ways. Is the chef cooking in part to please himself? Sure, as I feel it is a personal challenge of the chef to blend such seemingly disparate ingredients into a delicious dish. However, the chef also knows that he must please his customers or his restaurant will fail. And in this case, the chef succeeds on both levels. Did I feel brow-beaten? Not in the least.
So who do you trust? A writer for a national magazine, or local food writers? Have you felt intimidated by Ribelle? Or are you one of the fans of this restaurant, someone who will return time and time again to sample its tasty cuisine?