Crush: A Moment of (Nearly) Perfect Quiet

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"Forget, for a moment, where you are sitting. Forget the room--the perfect white-on-white blankness of the canvas, accents of richly polished black wood, carefully arranged flowers and tables laid with clean, spartan cool. Forget the crowds that surround you, the money being brought to bear by top-of-the-hill swells in their fancy shoes and watches that cost more than your first car. Try to forget what dinner here, properly attended by drinks and a generous tip, is going to cost you.

Forget the menu. Forget the way that the menu you saw today is likely different, in subtle ways, than the menu you would've seen last weekend, and different, in significant ways, than what was being cooked last month. Forget the truffles. Forget the local this and heirloom that. Forget, if you can, the foie gras, sectioned off into its own little space on the board--two different preparations of the stuff, a torchon and a seared piece cut from a whole lobe, served with an almond financier, touched with huckleberry, both lavished with singular and individual attentions by cooks who understand the unique power and luxury of the swollen livers of ducks and geese.

Forget the awards that have, both lately and historically, been lavished on this kitchen. Forget the softly ringing phone at the host's stand by the door and the smooth progress of the service staff in their black house livery, cutting courses across the floor like quiet submarines that leave no wake.

Forget everything that came before this instant and everything that might come after and, for just a moment, sit and watch the kitchen. Listen--really listen.

Can you hear that?

Silence."

~From this week's review of Crush

I knew that Crush was going to be good before I ever set foot inside. I knew--or anyway, hoped--that it was going to be as good as I'd heard--good enough to warrant the recent James Beard award for chef Jason Wilson, to deserve the loving praise it has been given over the years. I felt fairly confident I was in for something special and (reasonably) unique.

What I didn't know was that I was hitting the house on what, for most restaurants, would be the worst possible night for a critic to be in attendance--the kind of thing that some chefs see in their nightmares, the culinary equivalent of that dream where you show up to school with no pants on.

What I didn't expect was everything that came next.

And tomorrow, you can read all about what might well have been Crush's worst night. And how the crew managed to turn it into a triumph for working cooks everywhere. We've got all that and more on tap for you when the paper hits the stands (and the internets) on Wednesday. So check it out, huh? I do so love it when everything goes wrong and still manages to turn out right.

 
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