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The A La Carte Problem


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3 replies to this topic

#1 inventolux

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 09:08 AM

First I would like to say that you are a great reviewer and my wife is your biggest fan. So thank you for taking time to answer my pet peeve below.

I believe its a tragedy to see a restaurant get a bad review because the reviewer based the establishments abilities on one or three dishes. True, in a tasting menu format its not likely to enjoy every course, however the probability of one having a more pleasurable experince is much greater due to the fact that you are engaging in an entire production piece rather than leaving the show when its half over. We as gastronomers may never advance in many ways unless we are allowed more creative freedom. From the mom and pop operations to the post modern innovators I KNOW we are on the brink of a consumable discovery greater than any of us could have imagined.

Do you support this philosophy or am I just another ego driven cook looking to satisify my own PR hunger?

Please, be politically incorrect, its what keeps me going.
Future Food - our new television show airing 3/30 @ 9pm cst:
http://planetgreen.d...tv/future-food/

Hope you enjoy the show! Homaro Cantu
Chef/Owner of Moto Restaurant
www.motorestaurant.com

#2 Ruth Reichl

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 04:12 PM

First I would like to say that you are a great reviewer and my wife is your biggest fan. So thank you for taking time to answer my pet peeve below.

I believe its a tragedy to see a restaurant get a bad review because the reviewer based the establishments abilities on one or three dishes. True, in a tasting menu format its not likely to enjoy every course, however the probability of one having a more pleasurable experince is much greater due to the fact that you are engaging in an entire production piece rather than leaving the show when its half over. We as gastronomers may never advance in many ways unless we are allowed more creative freedom. From the mom and pop operations to the post modern innovators I KNOW we are on the brink of a consumable discovery greater than any of us could have imagined.

Do you support this philosophy or am I just another ego driven cook looking to satisify my own PR hunger?

Please, be politically incorrect, its what keeps me going.

View Post

Are you trying to say that you think every restaurant should offer prix fixe menus, and every consumer should be forced to order them? I'm not with you there. When I go out to eat, I'm not really going to satisfy the chef's creative urge, I'm going to satisfy my own appetite. Frankly, most of the time I don't care about your creative needs. That's not why I'm paying you.

That said, I am the sort of person who loves going to a restaurant and being able to say, "Just feed me. Bring me whatever you think is best." Most of the time I'm thrilled to ahve a tasting menu. But not always, and I don't want to be forced.

Also: What credible reviewer would base a review on one meal? No one I know.....
(Is this un PC enough for you?)

#3 inventolux

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Posted 01 December 2005 - 09:16 AM

So are you saying that as a reviewer on assignment, (in cognito) you would give the restaurant an opportunity to "Just feed me. Bring me whatever you think is best." And if so, on average, is the experience more or less desirable?

I dont think every restaurant should offer all tasting menus. This wouldnt work for fast paced lunch crowds and the world is too busy to spend 5 hours a day getting descriptions of food. But I would like to see more people at least asking the establishment to "Just feed me. Bring me whatever you think is best". It shows a bond of trust in the team and builds good relationships between the establishment and the diner.

I believe that Brillat Savrin and had it right when he invited guests over and just entertained him to the best of his ability. There was much more going on than just consumption. There was an idea of bringing someone over to experince not just his vision in gastronomy, but himself as a person. Im not saying that I should pull up a chair and have a glass of vino with your table, im just saying the divide between guest and establishment seems to be closing, and I feel we must close it more. Currently Chicago has more degustation menu only restaurants than any city in the world. Something is working, the guests are feeling more comfortable in letting us play music, rather than just changing the score.

True, those guests werent paying customers in Brillats day, and that hill may be too great to evercome. But its nice to feel like someone invitied you over for dinner.

And yes, your post was nicely un PC, and thats what keeps the communication lines open.

Edited by inventolux, 01 December 2005 - 09:18 AM.

Future Food - our new television show airing 3/30 @ 9pm cst:
http://planetgreen.d...tv/future-food/

Hope you enjoy the show! Homaro Cantu
Chef/Owner of Moto Restaurant
www.motorestaurant.com

#4 Ruth Reichl

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  • 69 posts

Posted 01 December 2005 - 12:34 PM

So are you saying that as a reviewer on assignment, (in cognito) you would give the restaurant an opportunity to "Just feed me. Bring me whatever you think is best." And if so, on average, is the experience more or less desirable?

I dont think every restaurant should offer all tasting menus. This wouldnt work for fast paced lunch crowds and the world is too busy to spend 5 hours a day getting descriptions of food. But I would like to see more people at least asking the establishment to "Just feed me. Bring me whatever you think is best". It shows a bond of trust in the team and builds good relationships between the establishment and the diner.

I believe that Brillat Savrin and had it right when he invited guests over and just entertained him to the best of his ability. There was much more going on than just consumption. There was an idea of bringing someone over to experince not just his vision in gastronomy, but himself as a person. Im not saying that I should pull up a chair and have a glass of vino with your table, im just saying the divide between guest and establishment seems to be closing, and I feel we must close it more. Currently Chicago has more degustation menu only restaurants than any city in the world. Something is working, the guests are feeling more comfortable in letting us play music, rather than just changing the score.

True, those guests werent paying customers in Brillats day, and that hill may be too great to evercome. But its nice to feel like someone invitied you over for dinner.

And yes, your post was nicely un PC, and thats what keeps the communication lines open.

View Post

No, I'm not saying that as a reviewer I'd say "Just feed me." As a reviewer you have an obligation to taste your way through the menu, and retaste again, so most of the time you don't have the luxury of eatin what you want to eat. What I'm saying is that, as a civilian, I consider it a great treat to just put myself in the chef's hands. After years of poring over menus, I love the laziness of trust.

But I want to make a different point: People don't go out to restaurants to feel that they've been invited out. They go to be in a restaurant, to feel as if they have no obligations, to be able to behave in ways they wouldn't if they were with friends. So while you (who I assume is a chef), may want to think of paying customers as guests, many of them would prefer to keep the transaction more distant.