The feel good of deviled eggs
As we are quickly approaching Thanksgiving, I was speaking with our marketing department about Thanksgiving menus at restaurants and how we are starting to see some old favorites from family dinners appear on restaurants’ regular menus.
From high end to more casual restaurants, the one item that keeps showing up is deviled eggs. I don’t ever remember seeing as many deviled eggs on menus as I have recently. Manhattan’s Blue Smoke is serving them; Dean Fearing’s restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton in Dallas is serving them truffled; and you can also find them at Tyler Florence’s new restaurant, Wayfare Tavern in San Francisco.
Has this recession driven us so far back into comfort food that we long for mom’s deviled eggs and apple pie? If that’s the case, is $3 an egg a value, a small extravagance or just a feel good? (An entire dozen costs you only $1.29 at Safeway, or $4.99 at the most for some farm fresh organic eggs.)
We see comfort food making its way on to many high end restaurant menus and even influencing the names of these establishments. The Blue Duck Tavern in Washington, D.C., sounds like it would be a very casual environment; in fact, it is an upscale restaurant with a down-home name, but a not-so-down-home menu.
Don’t get me wrong, they have taken baby steps. Meatballs and ‘Mac and Cheese’ appear on the menu, but the latter needs to lose the duck confit. Are the high-end luxury hotel restaurants such as the BLT Steak and Raya at the Ritz-Carltons of Westchester and Laguna Niguel finally realizing that precious menus are not as popular as plain old good food? Along with deviled eggs, meatloaf, liver and onions, and the like, I am seeing bone marrow creep onto menus too – namely at Minnetta Tavern in New York, and The Monterey in San Antonio.
What does this say about our eating habits? I think in part what is happening is that an educated dining out public has finally decided to support good legitimate food. You can call it local, even sustainable, when restaurants are displaying their suppliers on the menu and serving ‘real’ food, but the reality is people are voting with their dollars and by doing so, they are telling us to serve less ‘made up’ food and more ‘feel-good’ food. Pomp and circumstance are out; feel good is in.