Bon Appétit

There’s a market for lengthy art films and documentaries.

When the director is the emeritus American documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman four hours is de rigueur.

Menu-Plasairs Les Troigros allows the viewer become a fly on the wall at a farm to table Michelin starred restaurant in France. This is a film for cineastes who like cilantro. Maybe the fly on the wall reference is cliché while also being a health code violation.

You can look up the establishment’s website and check out their menu. Cost for tasting menus run a little over 100-Euros per person, which matches upscale eateries in major cities

The owners run three restaurants, one of which the film focuses on, and the locations seem to be rural and accompanied by lodging and other luxury amenities. The restaurants are run by descendants of the people who founded the initial storefront in the 1930s. Ouches, Roanne, and Ingerande, France are the cities whence they operate.

The film proper never distinguishes about location or even the mechanics of the task at hand. If you’re looking for a primer on managing a successful restaurant  Menu-Plasairs Les Troigros does not spell things out. Wiseman seems to be on another wavelength concentrating on how food is prepared and presented. Wiseman isn’t concerned with the type of stoves and grills these restaurants use so much as the atmosphere that such dedication to craft implies.

In many ways Menu-Plasairs Les Troigros is like a reverse negative of another current art film The Taste of Things, a film that celebrates the art of cooking. Menu-Plasairs Les Troigros certainly appears on the top of the wave of current foodie films.

For instance there’s no breakdown on how the background action – chefs preparing food, executives having lengthy meetings, guests being offered a cheese tray – relates to the overall spine of Menu-Plasairs Les Troigros.

There’s over a dozen chefs or assistant cooks working for what appears to be a space that can easily fit, say, a couple hundred guests over the course of an evening. We never see dish washers; a few servers are given screen time. That’s an incredible number of cooks for the space. I’m sure reservations are suggested.

The property not only houses the restaurant but has fields of flowers they cultivate, and farmland where animals graze. Some of the cheese served is from these calm beasts. 

The menu includes calf brains as well as kidneys.

You won’t get bullet point recipe pointers but you might be inspired to mix passion fruit and sriracha sauce.

There’s a dish referred to as John Dory. At first I thought they were saying John Doe in French. The film is 95-percent in English subtitles after all. It seems that John Doe is a spiny fish known for its delicate tasting filet. 

Just another tasty meal offered at Menus-Plaisirs Les Troisgros. It’s a place where the wine glasses on the tables are exceptional in themselves.

The Troisgros family have the tools and they have the talent.

Plus, there’s “house microfiltered water.”

Personally I was sad to see this foodie doc end because I felt I was just getting started on the first shift at a typical work day. It’s a serious yet not surprisingly objective look at the fine art of dining.

For the record I prefer recent films by Wiseman like National Gallery and City Hall. Yet, Menu-Plasairs Les Troigros has a culinary appeal that cannot be denied.

Menu-Plasairs Les Troigros is currently unwinding at select theaters including in Houston at the Museum of Fine Arts on Saturday, December 23 (2 pm.) and Saturday, January 6 (2 pm.).

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