The modern restaurant condition: a dining room packed with faces lit by the blue-white glow of smartphone screens.
Dinner for two can become dinner for 2,000 if someone has enough Twitter followers. And now, if the meal happens to take place at Rivera, chef John Sedlar can be at the table too--via your phone.
Rivera recently added a dial-in audio tour of Sedlar's new menus, which tackle the cuisine of the Latin world on the whole. Functioning like a self-guided museum tour, the chef's voice talks you through dishes and explains their history, health tips--jamón ibérico is, oddly, good for the heart--and the link between his inspirations and the execution of dishes in the kitchen.
Key in the number 12 and you'll learn about not just flan de elote (pictured; $12), but the history of cultivated maize and how "the ancient Mayans actually believed that human beings first sprang forth from corncobs."
Even without the lecture, we can see that the dish is exceedingly light and delicate, its flavor the pure, bright sweetness of the freshest summer corn.
What is an enhancement for some will be a distraction for others, sure, but at least Sedlar is raising phone-based food discourse well above the typical "OMG! Corn flan @ Rivera so GOOOOD" text or Tweet.
Like the best art, the food stands out on the merits of its taste.
Rivera, 1050 S. Flower St. #102, Downtown; 213-749-1460 or riverarestaurant.com
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