Fine Dining in Crisis: The Ulterior Epicure Codifies the Tasting Menu Formula
In his latest post, The Ulterior Epicure geniusly codifies the progression of tasting menus, course-by-course, at the different fine dining levels (basic, above-average, elite).
Breaking down the cliches even further — the "freakishly Asian with miso this or yuba that," black truffles, "Something White, Pureed and Topped with Caviar," table-side entertainment, or single-origin chocolates — the frustration and despair is palpable:
The tasting menu has become a predictable, formulaic story. It’s not just a matter of beginning, middle, and end any more. It’s become a comfort zone for fine diners and, I suspect, chefs... It’s almost gotten to the point where I could approach Parker Bros. about making a board game out this, or cash in at Bravo, suggesting they make a tasting menu game show: “Guess That Tasting Menu.”
Expectations of those who can actually afford such tasting menus must be met, and of course there's still room for novelty, creativity, and unpredictability. And while he "willingly and often surrenders" to the more standardized progression of dishes in tasting menus, after seeing how conventional it all is, you can't help but feel that fine dining is in somewhat of a rut.