The High Cost of Tasting Menus?

Even before the fine-dining restaurant Pineapple and Pearls (abbreviated P&P hereafter) opened in Spring 2016, several foodies had preemptively decried its then-price of $250. The comments section of numerous online articles became the bastion for their indignation and disgust. Adjectives such as “outrageous”, “ridiculous”, “pretentious”, and “out-of-touch” were just a few of the colorful (and printable!) pejoratives strewn among the discussion. How could any restaurant charge that much money, regardless of how great the food may be, some intoned? How dare Aaron Silverman, chef and owner of the local but nationally regarded Rose’s Luxury, have the temerity to ask such an astronomical price? For those comfortably accustomed to the fast-casual food culture prevalent in Washington, DC, P&P became the source of their ire. If they had been looking for a target to pillory, they found it in a restaurant that appeared excessively expensive, even by DC standards.

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A Lucid Dream Named Somni

When speaking to foodies knowledgeable about dining in Los Angeles, they are likely to point you toward the city’s tremendous offerings of ethnic cuisines. A quick Google search will validate their assured opinions. You have popular neighborhoods that begin with either “Thai”, “China”, or “Korea”, appended with the word “town” at the end. And you also have Little Armenia, Little Ethiopia, and Little Tokyo—each is a microcosm of their international counterpart. From north to south and east to west, some of the best taco trucks anywhere are scattered throughout the city, both famous establishments and hard-to-locate ones parked at obscure street corners. Ethnic foods certainly have a powerful foothold here as evidenced by its ubiquity and its seemingly 24/7 availability.

There is, however, another side to LA’s culinary scene: fine dining.

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The Rise of Omaha Fine Dining

As a serious foodie who resides in Omaha, NE—sympathetic friends might say I have been trapped here—I often travel to NYC, San Francisco, Chicago, and Washington, DC to dine. Compared to those four cities with their diverse abundance of ethnic and Michelin-rated fine dining, Omaha cannot compete foodwise. Sure, my current city has a few culinary gems: Block 16 for incomparably fantastic fried chicken (it’s fucking sublime, actually!); Blue & Fly for very respectable Sichuan cuisine; Via Farina for lovely wood-fired pizzas; El Basha for casual though delicious Middle Eastern fare; and Birrieria El Chalán for amazing tacos reminiscent of the famed street food in Mexico City. But proper tasting menus worthy of traveling foodies from out of state? Not a chance. However, that was before a friend told me about a pop-up named kanō (pronounced kay-no).

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Let Me Show You the Beauty of Vegetables

Before coming to Blue Hill at Stone Barns (hereafter BHSB), I had read an article by Eater’s previous Editor-in-Chief Bill Addison about his exhilarating experience at this restaurant. In his December 5, 2016 testimony, Bill had declared BHSB to be the best restaurant in America at that time.

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