Gail Simmons

Gail tries to answer the question, "So, who's fault was it?"

on Jan 16, 2013 Which brings us to the ladies….
Kristen’s idea was fine-dining, French food, with a twist. If you think about at the list of dishes (bouillabaisse, charcuterie, macaron),  all of them are classic of French haute cuisine. Kristen took each one and served it in a completely new way. For the most part, the concept was very successful: we understood what she was doing. The issues we had with Atelier Kwan (Atelier is the word for workshop by the way) were not in the concept, but in the details of execution.

So, the charcuterie: I think it was clear how good this dish was. Charcuterie is usually some sort of terrine, pate, forced meat, etc, served with bread, mustard, cornichons, and a compote. We know what rabbit charcuterie is usually like in 99% of French restaurants that we go to. Well, here it was as a soup, and this was the perfect example of her concept. Those flavors were all there. But it was in a completely alternate form. This was obviously a collaboration: it was Kristen’s idea, but Lizzie really owned it and executed a beautiful, creative and smart plate of food.

Next was the bouillabaisse. We had a number of issues with it. Bouillabaisse is a very traditional fish stew with saffron, a lobster base usually, or a seafood stock. It’s rich and very layered in flavor. You usually have a saffron rouille (mayonnaise) on a toast as an accompaniment. The idea that they were deconstructing it was certainly fine, but we were missing major components. If you’re going to give us bouillabaisse, not in a traditional broth form, than we still need to taste all of the components we expect it to have, like we did with the charcuterie. Remember that we had no idea what was going on in the back of the house, but regardless, we could tell that there was a gaping hole in the dish; not to mention that the seafood was not all cooked consistently. We saw that there was some kind of sauce, because there was literally a drop on some of these plates. But it was clear that there was no real balance of components in this dish. When you set us up to taste something so familiar, you limit your creative license in a way, because we have a very clear picture of what it’s supposed to be. Again, Kristen had a great idea, but it wasn’t executed properly so it didn’t follow through.