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Another sign of the times

Posted by Devra First  October 10, 2008 12:31 PM

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Aujourd'hui is introducing Sunday-night suppers, a three-course, family-style menu for $55 per person that starts this coming Sunday, Oct. 12. According to the press release, it will feature chef William Kovel's "Five-Diamond spin on all of your favorite comfort-driven dishes." A sample menu features the likes of lobster and local leek potpie; roasted, herb-crusted pork loin from Stillman's with mashed potatoes, roasted onions, and buttered green beans; and heirloom apple pie with cinnamon ice cream.

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Aujourd'hui: now value-conscious. (Globe Staff Photo/John Tlumacki)

It sounds good, and you'll still be able to order from the regular a la carte menu. But it illustrates a shift the dining scene is seeing in the current economy: restaurants turning away from high price points and toward affordability and comfort food. When Aujourd'hui, a bastion of luxury dining, skews that way, change is really in the air. (No, $55 per person is not economy dining in the larger world, but it's all relative.)

The turn toward affordable comfort food is good for diners in ways that are quite clear. It also means that restaurants are less willing to take risks, present something different, create something exciting.

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Aujourd'hui's hamachi ceviche with sassafras jelly and cucumber cream is not the kind of thing you'll find on the Sunday menu. (Globe Staff Photo/Dominic Chavez)

Comfort food is comforting, delicious and accessible, a balm for troubled times. It can also be boring. It lets us wallow. Perhaps what we really need is something else -- food that challenges us, wakes us up, food that is forward-looking. Both presidential candidates are spouting change, and voters seem eager for it. There must be room for it on restaurant plates as well.

If all of the restaurants in town start serving mac 'n' cheese and meat loaf, it may help our wallets, but in some ways we'll be poorer for it. A lower mean price point is a good thing. The food doesn't have to be average, too.

About Dishing

What's cooking in the world of food.

Contributors

Sheryl Julian, the Globe's Food Editor, writes regularly for the Food section.

Devra First is the Globe's food reporter and restaurant critic. Her reviews appear weekly in the Food section.

Ellen Bhang reviews Cheap Eats restaurants for the Globe and writes about wine.
 

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