There were a few seats in Rose Island that was known among the regulars to be a good spot . Of course, the first was the seat by the sea . Being able to see the beach, the sand, and the people from the restaurant was fairly romantic to the customers .
The second was the table by the kitchen . The sound of pans and stoves hitting each other, the sound of knives cutting vegetables, and the sound of the fire almost sounded like a musical .
Lastly, the seats next to the fountain . Looking at the water, the statues, and the little trees made one feel like they were inside a forest in spring .
The table that the michelin inspectors were sitting on was neither of those things . They were smack in the middle of the hall, sitting at a table surrounded by marble walls . It wasn’t horrible, but compared to the other three… it was pretty clearly lacking . The young woman on the table complained to the old man next to her .
“Why couldn’t they get us better seats? What do you think, Paul?”
“Jaina . Please don’t start complaining already . The company tried hard enough to get us seats in the restaurant to begin with . ”
“I heard it was really hard for them to find people to come here . ”
“You can’t come for three years once you come here once, after all . ”
“I don’t get it . Going to restaurants is our job anyway . I don’t think I’d really care about restaurants if I went on a vacation . ”
“Normally, this is the case . But do you know what’s weird? Many inspectors go to restaurants anyway on their vacations . ”
“…I don’t understand . They already have jobs as inspectors . So why come here even on break?”
As Paul was about to respond, the waitress walked up to them . She was a blonde woman in a black suit, resembling a secretary of sorts .
“Welcome to Rose Island! My name’s Annie, and I’ll be serving your table today . Please call for me if you ever need anything . ”
Annie said as she laid the menu in front of them . As she started explaining the menu to the two of them, Paul noticed something strange on the menu .
“I can’t see Jo Reggiano . ”
“Ah, that’s not included in the standard course menu . You’ll have to order it separately . Would you like one?”
Paul nodded without hesitation .
“Yes please . It’s been on my bucket list for a while . ”
“Understood . As for drinks, we serve sparkling water or mineral water with lemon and lime . Which would you like?”
“I’ll take sparkling . ”
“Mineral water would be appreciated . ”
Right after Annie left, Jaina turned to speak to Paul .
“Wouldn’t it have been better not to order Jo Reggiano? It probably wouldn’t fit in the course menu . ”
“Probably not . But considering how I wouldn’t be able to visit for three years… I’d like to taste the original here . So that I’d be able to remember it . ”
“Do originals even matter? I mean, Minjoon’s revealed the recipe . I don’t think it really matters who makes the dish . ”
Paul could only bitterly smile as a response . Jaina was no romanticist . He responded with a calm voice .
“Do you know what chefs call our guide nowadays?”
“Toilet guide . The guide that gives them stars according to how beautiful their toilet is . ”
“…Damn it . Do they not even think about their food?”
“Who knows . But it makes sense that the chefs would be mad . After all, we can’t even explain to them the difference between three stars and two stars . ”
“I mean, it’s going to be subjective, no matter how you explain it . ”
“That’s the thing . It all depends on our subjective opinions, and yet we’re trying to rate something as if our opinions are absolute and objective… It’s understandable that they’re mad . ”
Paul muttered bitterly . Jaina stared at him for a second before saying something else .
“Are you talking about that event? What the chef did to himself after you took off a st…”
“Let’s stop there . I’d rather not talk about that . In any case, even toilets are an important aspect when giving stars out to a restaurant . Jo Reggiano is far bigger than just a toilet for this place . ”
“True . But speaking of… This place isn’t as fancy and beautiful as I thought it’d be . For this place to get three stars… It’s a bit confusing . The interior won’t even qualify it for one or two stars . ”
“You’ll know when you try the dishes . If it’s still like ten years ago, that is . ”
“Phew, I guess I can finally say I’ve been to Rose Island now . ”
Paul smiled . He could tell that this alone had been a sore spot to Jaina for some time . The Amuse-bouche arrive in front of them . Annie started explaining the dish to them with a smile .
“This is a tomato marinated in truffle oil in 9 hours, topped with basil and ricotta cheese that’s been wrapped in a sliced beet . It’s been topped with mojito jelly sauce . Please enjoy . ”
Paul looked at the dish with a bit of an amazed face . Jaina couldn’t understand him . What was so special about this? Just because it was from Rose Island?
In any case, it was now time to eat . Jaina picked up her spoon . She needed to cast away all of her other thoughts and take the food as it was .
Most people would say that the main dishes in a restaurant was the most important . Like steaks, for example . After all, not many people come to restaurants just for its appetizers .
But tasters most often looked at the appetizers first . Just as a prologue of a book was important for setting the mood of the whole story, appetizers did the same time .
Tongues become dull to flavor as a person eats . This means that the one dish a person could well and truly enjoy was the appetizer .
‘Is this… Difficult? Or easy?’
The flavor was simple . Just… tasty . The kind of flavor that’d make just about anyone go, ‘hey, this is pretty good’ . The type of flavor that tries to satisfy everyone .
But trying to classify this dish was difficult? Traditional? Sure, but what about the jelly? Molecular gastronomy? But it tasted so traditional! It was right in the middle of both worlds . If she couldn’t feel anything from the dish, she’d be a failure of a taster .
“How does it feel?” Paul asked .
“I don’t know . It’s hard . It’s modern yet traditional, fusion yet not fusion… All I can tell is that it’s just tasty . ”
“Good start . ”
The next dish was a shrimp ceviche . Red sauce was spattered next to the meat like a drawing, and the shrimp head decoration on top was even more beautiful . Annie explained that the sauce was made using red peppers and chicken stock .
“I’ve never seen a restaurant that cares so much about the look of its food… Especially in all of its dishes . ”
“That’s just what chef Rachel does with her food . It makes you forget about the building’s interior . ”
“Well, sure . But I still don’t understand . I mean sure, it’s worthy of three stars . But the best restaurant in America? Really?”
“You only had two dishes . You’ll see soon enough . ”
The next dish was quite surprising, however . Even Paul couldn’t help but make a shocked face . It was a single long dish decorated with a single red line, topped with four sandwich slices . That is, pieces of baguette decorated with cassoulet . It wasn’t something one would see in an average restaurant . Jaina looked at Annie with a face of disbelief .
“I… won’t eat this . A street food? In a fine dining restaurant? I didn’t come here to eat this . ”
This was the cassoulet sandwich that Minjoon had made . When Annie made a troubled face, Paul looked at her with an apologetic look .
“Apologies . She’s pretty strict despite being young . Could I get an explanation?”
“Of course . This is the cassoulet and baguette of different textures . We put the crust of the cassoulet inside the soft part of the baguette, and paired the stew section with the hard crust of the baguette . The texture and flavors are the main things you should pay attention to . ”
“Thank you . ”
Paul smiled as he put one of the sandwiches in his mouth . Jaina, after a moment of hesitation, did the same thing . Her lips froze over as her eyes widened in shock .
‘This is… cassoulet?’
She’d have spit it back out to make sure it was, had no one been watching . It was very different from the average cassoulet . It tasted like a pure concentration of flavor .
Perfection . It tasted like perfection . It wasn’t traditional, it wasn’t ‘fine dining’ . But it still destroyed Jaina’s tongue regardless .
When she looked over to Paul, she found that even he had a fairly confused expression . Jaina shook her head in shock .
“What… Is this? It’s traditional, but it isn’t . I don’t know what this is . What do I even call this?”
“I can only tell you one thing . ”
Paul smiled . Not to Jaina, but to the dish he just had .
“You’ll forget about reviewing in the end, and just end up enjoying your meal . ”