For some reason that I couldn't completely comprehend, whenever I would tell people that I was planning on having dinner at David Scrabin's restaurant, Combal.Zero, they would shudder and then say something like, "what are you going there for?" It was if I was telling them I was going to eat at a restaurant that violated some precept of fine dining. Then I realized that the severe reactions were coming from those who I often describe as "ingredientistas," whose ideas of good eats is stuck in a time warp that still revolves around culinary concepts like a chicken being ready to eat when the juices run clear after being poked with a fork. Not that there is anything wrong with a good roast chicken -- in fact I had a pretty damn good one at L'Ami Louis the night before having dinner at Combal.Zero. But the truth is, as much as I enjoy a good roast chicken, I can make one at home. But when it comes to inhaling your dinner through a gas mask, now that wasn't in my Tante Gussie's repetoire.
The truth is that after reading about Combal.Zero a number of years ago, I was a bit reluctant to visit the restaurant myself. Though I'm a fan of modern cuisine, one could argue Scrabin took the concept of moderne a bit too far. But then the pastry chef, Will Goldfarb, told me that he thought the restaurant was a contender for the best in the world. and that tipped it for me. And given that they serve dinner on Sunday evenings, a rarity for important restaurants that are located in large European cities, it allowed me to easily fill a slot on our February trip that typically ends up with us having dinner at the local pizza place.