Today, we heard that pioneering Tribeca restaurant Chanterelle had in fact closed for good. Why? I'm sure as Jeffrey Steingarten says, "From too much business, restaurants don't close." When Chanterelle first opened 30 years ago in its original Tribeca location, downtown New York City was not exactly the locus of a thriving restaurant scene. In fact, Chanterelle's Karen and David Waltuck were pioneers. Chanterelle was a contemporary pomp-free French restaurant with a talented self-taught American heading up the kitchen, located in an iffy neighborhood. Karen presided over the dining room with style and moxie and a quiet determination to please. More than anything else, the Waltucks represented a kind of creative downtown graciousness and elegance that is even now hard to find anywhere else.
It's funny. I asked all five serious eaters at world headquarters if they had ever eaten at Chanterelle, and not one of them answered in the affirmative. What that told me was that Chanterelle's moment had indeed passed—though 30 years is a pretty damn long moment.
I hope that the Waltucks will grace our presence in New York in the near future. The city's food scene needs people as smart and passionate and discerning about food (and life) as they are.
Related: The Chanterelle Cookbook