It can take a lifetime for an artist to forge a personal vernacular. Or if not a lifetime, then a bit longer than 10 weeks, for sure. At Benu ― subject of Jonathan Kauffman's review today ― French Laundry veteran Corey Lee isn't just reassembling the Keller recipe binder, he's attempting to solder together a delicate filigree of his own design, four-star dining with a foundation in California but that borrows from Korea, China, and Japan. While Kauffman finds ethereal beauty in many of Benu's dishes, Lee's cuisine isn't perfect yet. And in a place with Benu's ambitions ($300 tasting menus and a doorman in a suit you don't get at the Men's Wearhouse), perfection is bottom-line requisite. Extra credit: Read Kauffman's interview with Corey Lee, in which the chef talks about what Benu has in common with the French Laundry, and the visible ― and invisible ― things that make it a revolutionary departure.
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