What’s “American,” Anyway?
If you asked someone to name American foods, you would probably accept an answer like “hamburgers,” or “country fried steak.” You’d roll with “baked potatoes” and give a pass to “cauliflower mash.” If someone said “alligator,” you’d have to agree on geographical grounds, but the philosophical case is strong too. What’s more American than overcoming a mean-spirited, leathery predator for the sake of a tasty meal? (And before you ask, yes, alligator is delicious. Ikechi Ajoku from Brimstone Doral even ate the tongue once, and gives it his blessing.)
So many things seem to fall under the American umbrella that it gets hard to define what “American” food even means. The only trends in the list above are:
And that’s not helpful. As a group of American restaurants ourselves, we’re constantly learning about what people expect from their food. Everyone walks through our doors with a different expectation of what “American” means, but after years in the business, we’ve come to a conclusion. The quintessential American meal must have two features: it must be hearty, and it must say something boldly.
Look at our cilantro mashed potatoes. Rich and pilowy whipped spuds will leave anyone feeling satisfied, but it’s not enough to be “filling.” We add tons of cilantro and spices to the recipe to give it a clear and distinct flavor that keeps you coming back bite after bite. It’s the same with our Bourbon Street Pasta, where creamy sauce and pasta sets the stage for all the spicy, meaty, flavors layered on top.
The heartier the base, the more pronounced you can be with the flavors you put over it.
Other cuisines, like Indian and Chinese, blend foods together to create a single, powerful experience. Or else they take the Japanese route and separate flavors into hyper-distinct elements on the plate. But, to us, the American style of defining one flavor to support another, stronger set of flavors is the key to our menu. It’s what allows us to cook classics like the oscar-style steak, while pioneering new foods like our coconut lobster roll.
This freedom to experiment is what makes us proud to be an American restaurant. In the words of Anthony Orozco of Brimstone Doral, “there’s nothing so refreshing as new sights.” It rings true in every other moment of life. Why not the plate as well?