Plum (SF) – Practice Dinner #1

In my last filed Ubuntu review (of an October meal), I mused what Jeremy Fox should cook – vegetables, I had said all along, particularly those dishes created from the Bras or Passard ethos. The creative restrictions at Ubuntu forced/allowed Fox to push the concept of a vegetable-focused menu to Michelin two- and three-star heights at times; and, arguably, placed him among the more important chefs in America.

Differentiation – a recent brilliant meal at L’Arpege (Paris) was only marred by the excessive, and unnecessary, proteins at the end. It reinforced my belief1 that a tasting menu of creatively-prepared vegetables could rise to the heights of the best meals.2 For six or seven courses, the vegetable-based menu fulfilled every desire for texture and flavor – a full dynamic range of both was on awesome display by Passard’s kitchen. Fox was one of the few pursuing this possibility, pushing the concept further than most, with his “seed to stalk” philosophy.

Plum will be the next, but not necessarily only, outlet for Fox’s vision. A garden is rumored to be in the works; and meat will be on the menu. This was a practice dinner, 4 courses for $45, presumably to begin testing concepts and sorting out production ideas – and this is not a real review. Lighting was surprisingly challenging – an SLR is in this blog’s immediate future – the kid gloves are coming off.

Many of my Ubuntu meals ran over 10 courses so it would be impossible to compare this dinner with the arcs of those five + hour meals. There were some familiar ingredients from the old days – chips and beets – and there was something new at the end – shellfish. Sketches and ideas. It will be interesting to see how meat finds its way into the menu – accent, counterpoint, or feature – and how he continues to explore techniques like ember cooking.

- chuck

1 – A belief largely influenced by Fox, David Kinch (Manresa), & Alain Passard (L’Arpege)

2 – Yes, right up there with my two favorite Tokyo sushi spots – Sawada and Sushiso Masa

  • john

    of all the food blogs that i read (which are many), and out of all of the restaurant review based blogs that feature pictures of the dishes, this blog consistently has some of the best photography around. so kudos for achieving that with something less than a professional camera. besides, dining is about eating, and not a photoshoot.

  • ctown

    I was there last night and really enjoyed the meal. Our only disappointment was, ironically, the dish with meat! Yes, it was a “test dinner” and we were guinea pigs, so no complaining! We will be there next week in full force! See you then!

  • Chris Rollings

    you seem to enjoy just favorable comments, don’t you chuck?
    i do not share the same raving opinion about jeremy. i dined at ubuntu when fox was working there and have always wondered how you could rave over such ordinary experience

  • chuckeats

    No idea what you’re trying to imply Chris – there are plenty of comments that disagree w/ me throughout the blog. Say what you mean?

    I will publish all comments that are respectful. If people feel like being disrespectful, they should go comment away on Eater, Chowhound, or any other site that invites argument for the sake of page-views.

    If you don’t like Ubuntu, what do you like?

  • Arthur

    Glad to see a report on one of these Plum dinners. I’ve wanted to go to one too, but the Mondays just haven’t worked out.

    I was pretty sad to hear that Fox has split from the Plum project. It’ll take some good reports for me to trek out across the Bay Bridge now…