Dining out: Do or die?

Dining out: Do or die?

Have you ever sat in a restaurant, the scene set for an incredible meal? The lights are dimmed, but it’s not too dark, illuminating your date across the table as you sit comfortably in the lush chairs. Although there are people all around you, you merely hear soft murmurs as you look over the enticing menu. In the simple, but elegantly designed dinging room you drink the crisp wine your waitress has suggested and bite into warm bread as you excitedly wait for you meal to arrive.

And then the meal arrives. And the experience is for naughtt. The mushrooms are undercooked and poorly handled, rendering them a soggy mess a top what should have been your wonderful pasta. The gnocchi are gooey and flavorless, drenched in a one dimensional sauce of overpowering hickory flavoring. The wait for entrees is a hopeful one. Sipping wine and biting more warm bread, hopes rise that the food of the restaurant can catch up with feel of it. But the main courses arrives and hope is once again lost. Sauces comprised almost entirely of demi glace lace both plates. An over sized portion of rabbit draped in bacon looses all flavor but that of overly salted pork, served atop lumpy polenta. Venison, rare enough to be confused with seared tuna, is served with chestnuts so dry they take your breath away, all on a cold plate.

And the bite into sweets is little better. Chocolate ganache so thick and heavy it can hardly be cut with fork is served inside a chocolate shell that is for some reason crunchy, making it even more difficult to eat. As the last of the wine is finished and the bill is the paid, the glowing candle illuminates the beautiful interior of the restaurant, making earlier expectations once again clear and all at once very lost in the evening.

And thus the challenge of the restaurant industry. Creating a space that will entice your guests, one with comfort and elegance, and one that compliments your food. Training your wait staff to provide for your guests without being overbearing, designing a wine program to offer the best you can, and hiring the kind of people who will make the best restaurant possible. Creating a menu that will entice your customers,and marketing those customers. And then most importantly, executing that menu. Some restaurants have one or two of these elements down pact, some more than others, some none at all. Some have it all. As a diner, restaurants are for the hope of when the beauty of the place, the glow of the wine, and the excitement of the menu are all realized in that first bite. When the meat melts in your mouth, the flavors pop, the sauce excites, and you dream about the dish for days, weeks, and even years after. As a cook restaurants are the challenge to create dishes that give this experience. To make sure that every single thing under your watch is seasoned properly, cut properly, cooked properly, and plated properly so that the absolute meaning of what the chef wants to serve is given to the customer. Because if it’s not, if it is off, even by a minuscule hair, all the other elements don’t matter and the experience is forever ruined.


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