Just after we went to press last week with a review of Thierry Burkle’s new Grill at Leon Springs, word came that his 23-year-old L’Etoile had abruptly closed shop. But if the news was a shock to us, for Burkle and partner Armand Obadia the end was forseen as early as last year. “We started to lose money, especially in summer with oil going as high as it did … I thought maybe, wait, I didn’t want to do it, but month after month … but you don’t want to share problems when people come to dine. 

“It’s been a fantastic time, but culinary-wise it’s difficult in this town,” he added, “and with French, there’s always a tendency to think it has to be expensive, out of reach … ” 

So Burkle will now focus his energies on the Grill; it’s not only “more American,” but it better represents the new “chemistry” of the city. “In more than 20 years, the `base` has tended to age … and the younger crowd doesn’t want to be around the old customers … I’m not getting any younger either,” he mused, “but food is still a passion, and now more than ever it takes a personal touch.”  

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