Wednesday, April 30, 2014

"When food porn meets ruin porn"

Posted By on Wed, Apr 30, 2014 at 3:02 PM

click image Goldfinch American's Facebook page, with photograph "fucking pigeons."
  • Goldfinch American's Facebook page, with photograph "fucking pigeons."


What if a New Orleans restaurateur opened an incredibly spendy pop-up restaurant in, say, the Lower Ninth Ward — and then boasted about the decrepitude of the neighborhood as a draw?

According to Drew Philp of the always-excellent Detroit Metro Timesthat's what's happening there: A restaurant called Goldfinch American is serving weekly $145 meals ($205 with cocktail pairings) to diners who sit on folding chairs in an apartment in southwest Detroit. Its website calls it "an experimental micro restaurant concept serving progressive modern american food — fine dining that celebrates the profane (profanity of language, food and ideas)."

The restaurant's website juxtaposes the evening's elegance ("eleven courses over four hours requires stamina and internal fortitude. it's very serious business") with arty black-and-white photos of a dirty child sitting in a laundromat cart, as well as a photo of street pigeons:

on the corner of clark and vernor, there's a city bus stop. it's an unattractive place to sit, stand or be. people sometimes eat as they wait for the bus. often food is abandoned as weary travelers hurriedly board the lumbering buses squealing to a stop by the bus shelter, sending fried chicken and fries flying into the sidewalk.

then the pigeons come... fucking pigeons. they are the boldest, maybe most beautiful breed of vermin. sauntering between the absent-minded legs, they peck persistently at some processed food morsel, leaving beautiful markings in the snow, impressions like cuneiform script.

what does this have to do with a restaurant? everything. a restaurant is a part of the neighborhood milieu; the pigeons dine on discarded pizza pieces, fight over pepperoni circles; cars drive by, scattering the congregating birds; folks take shelter at the bus stop, protecting themselves against blistering snow, and splattered slush from speeding cars. this is a where a restaurant lives.

All this, proprietor Tunde Wey tells Metro Times, is to inspire a "community conversation."

Triple-digit dinner tickets are more and more common in New Orleans. We've always had great meals in sketchy neighborhoods. And old-timers (and by old, I mean pre-2009) might remember the controversial dinner staged by Kirsha Kaechele in a severely damaged area of St. Roch in 2008; as Ariella Cohen of The Lens described it, "Movie star Uma Thurman and Nagin recovery czar Ed Blakely were among guests who ate raw oysters and organic pork loin on a hand-carved, candle-lit wooden table set out in the middle of an otherwise desolate street." Price tag: $250.

We have pigeons. We have dirty little kids and laundromat carts. And we certainly have more and more people who don't blink at dropping three figures on a meal. But could something like this fly in New Orleans?

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