Here’s what I had to say in the original letter:
Don’t be afraid of sauce: I don’t miss the days of sticky and overly salty reduction sauces with meat and wading pools of butter with fish. But I do long for dishes with a small pool of sauce bridging the flavors of protein and garnish — those bites of food that register on the palate as three-part harmony. These days I see many dishes that are damp and greasy with butter, but none have that one perfect spoonful of beurre blanc that clings to a perfectly warmed plate and resonates with the flavors of shallot and wine.
Here’s why I think Sublette exemplifies this quality:
In the 1980’s, the great French cookbook author and authority Madeleine Kamman used to run a kind of post-graduate training program for American chefs in the Napa Valley. Established chefs (including Scott Peacock) went to learn her rules for pairing food and wine. Among them: The sauce on a plate acts as a “bridge” that brings the food and wine together. Yet current culinary trends eschew sauces in favor of a simpler, “let the food speak for itself” perspective. That’s why Marc Sublette’s decidedly old school cooking at Viande Rouge, his new French steakhouse, comes as such a welcome surprise. Sublette proves himself a master of sauces with dishes such as a cannily updated duck à l’orange with a fresh orange salad and subtle, citrus-tinged duck jus or a Dover sole anointed with a bare drizzle of intense lemon-caper brown butter. The house steaks can be ordered naked or with one of the indulgent “chapeaux” that range from roasted shallot and bone marrow to cipollini with porcini mushrooms. Just think about the places these bridges can take you to on the smart, savvy wine list.