Chefs: Hold the egg, please
Not that anyone’s counting, but we may be in our sixth or seventh year of the Egg on Everything fad in Los Angeles restaurants, and, unlike kale, bacon or hamachi crudo, it shows no signs of going away — not with the lines at Egg Slut approaching the length of a city block at the Grand Central Market on a Sunday morning. A well-poached egg, made ridiculously easy by even the most rudimentary immersion circulator, is by far the cheapest luxury a chef can bestow upon his or her customers. It is the ingredient that diner cooks and Michelin-starred chefs share. A yolk, pretty and bright, looks good on the plate.
So Egg Slut I actually understand. People like eggs, and it is an egg-themed restaurant. But there are fewer compelling reasons for what seem like superfluous eggs garnishing fried meats, grain bowls and composed salads; innocent plates of vegetables; anything in which the ingredients are chopped up and formed into a patty; chilled broths; or bowls of noodles inspired by cultures that traditionally do not include eggs in said noodles. (Ramen, which often includes a soft-boiled onsen egg, and the cold Korean noodle called naengmyon have grandfather-clause exemptions.)
Sauce gribiche , made with minced pickles and hard-boiled eggs, does not, in fact, go with everything. Deviled-egg sauce has no reason to exist. A properly made croque monsieur is nearly always better than its egg-bearing spouse, the croque madame. It should not be necessary to memorize the phrase “sin huevos” in a dozen languages. If you routinely plonk fried eggs on innocent cheeseburgers, you had better be Australian.
I understand that I can sometimes sound like a crank on the subject of Eggs on Everything — a crankiness that has been nurtured by nearly a decade of politely nudging the gooey, sulfurous alleged cholesterol bombs to one side. And I apologize. After one small-plates meal when 11 out of 12 of the dishes on the table were served under eggs, I asked the chef why.
“It’s ovaries throwing down,” she said. Understood! But at home, an egg is a meal. In a restaurant, an egg is often closer to a cheat, less a thing in itself than an analog to the gob of brown gravy disguising the flavor of a questionable steak or the random squirt of Sriracha in an otherwise bland salad dressing. It should be possible to eat a spear of asparagus without dislodging it from a butter-crumb-fried dungeon or to get at a composition of sea urchin and squid without carefully extracting it from a sarcophagus of 63-degree yolk.
The era of Egg on Everything is not all it’s been cracked up to be.