Among the discussions in Richmond restaurant circles this year is whether reiterative behavior is a good or bad thing. Chefs grouse about who's copying whom, and whether it's flattery, a genuine food movement or a blatant rip-off. Did menus that seemed new last year launch a dozen derivations the next? Is it possible for a restaurant to stay perpetually ahead of the curve and also relevant and busy?
Diners are left to wonder whether anything is original while they watch trends pop and fizzle, lurching from offal to hominy to sun-chokes to bitters. "I'm over this Richmond thing of gastro, fusion, yadda yadda," one diner commented last week on StyleWeekly.com."Where is authentic in Richmond?" Others want the city's chefs to rival ambitious food provocateurs and offer each trendy option, ASAP.
It's a difficult truth that restaurant work can be brutal, making it all the more meaningful to achieve success night after night. Fortunately there are chefs and owners keeping the faith. And there's enough deliciousness coming out of Richmond to satisfy the jaded diner and the one who's always ready to enjoy. Everything new might seem old again, or is it the other way around? —Deveron Timberlake
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