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AMUSE DULL


I was disappointed to hear from someone lately who had been looking forward to a fine dining celebratory lunch for an anniversary at a starred restaurant abroad and all that was on offer was a tasting menu of numerous mini courses of tasting plates at an exorbitant price with an additional financial splash to have a glass of wine paired for each dish. This has to be the final straw in a culinary trend that is as far away from an eating out experience as you can get but costing three figures per person. Needless to say they went over the road to the competition and had a beautiful three course meal for half the price, time and hassle.

   At the very high end of the market there seems to be little regard anymore for simply having a few courses of food in a logical sequence from light to heavy dishes where there will be a sufficient variety of flavours and textures that will not bamboozle your palate or have your tummy perform somersaults afterwards especially when it’s just lunch never mind dinner. A  kitchen is perfectly able to show off its skill level by cooking three or four dishes without having to deliver a half circus act half science class of culinary acrobatics and magic tricks to have you whooping and gasping in wonder as you try to figure out what is edible in front you.


The tasting plate fashion came in around the same time as the molecular gastronomy style in the early noughties when chefs were doing deep dives into reinventing old dishes and devising brand new recipes of unusual combinations where it was deemed necessary to have two kitchens, one a laboratory kitchen for the research and development of new creations and the other for actually cooking for customers.


The advance of technology has allowed ingredients to be experimented with like never before in the history of cooking so of course the more adventurous and restless young chefs are going to run a riot with such new toys.

  It also means that the eating out activity is fast becoming an immersive experience where there will be other interactions with dishes like sound and memory. When headphones and visors are presented at the table then you are there for a show and not dinner. All of this extra cooking with sometimes over twenty courses and the relevant gadgetry adds to the cost of the meal. When there are as many chefs in the kitchen as customers in the dining room then you can also expect a very hefty bill. Some of these meals are costing €500.00 a head now before wine. I want my caviar from a fish not a mango and do not wish to have dessert floating above my head.


So for the future of high end dining there will be basically a choice of traditional/modern fare where you know you are going to be able to order an a la carte or a three course set menu and on the other option being a trip to a culinary Disneyland where the eating bit has been relegated as a side show for entertainment purposes.


I see a few international critics have finally turned on some of these more eccentric restaurants coming out exhausted after five hours of their gastronomic marathon and asking that hard question, well what the hell was that all about while still hungry. They certainly would not eat there at their own expense. Besides being an ego trip for the mad scientist chef and a playground for people with more money than sense to part with their bucks it certainly is not the place to go if you want to eat.

You get to taste in these places so the clue is in the name. After about five courses your taste buds are shot anyway, we are just not biologically programmed to be able to appreciate a hundred ingredients some of which have been so processed and removed from what they started out as that you may as well have actually gone and had some cheap fast food or a made to order snack from a street trader or food truck.

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