Fine dining restaurants have existed for a long time, and they’ve managed to put off a lot of people for the longest time as well. After all, not everyone’s willing to dress up and sit through a 20-course dinner. Not everyone is willing to figure out the forks and knives, be at their best behavior, and pay for the luxurious ambiance and gourmet feast. But the white tablecloth is so back, and fine dining restaurants are here to stay.
This year, fine dining is making a big comeback, and people are starting to notice. It’s true that people have avoided ‘fine dining’ for a while, because they think that it’s too stuff and uppity up. But this doesn’t have to be the case.
When people eat at restaurants, they pay for the experience and ambiance. But central to the dining experience is the food itself. It’s all about the cuisine that you’re enjoying, and in fine dining restaurants you get the best of the best.
Think about it. People are willing to pay the little extra that fine dining restaurants require because this is where they get to eat gourmet fare prepared on the spot by world-class chefs.
In fact, chefs are a big reason why fine dining is making a comeback. These days, with social media, word-of-mouth, and all of these cooking shows, chefs really do get famous all over the world. So when they decide to open up their own restaurants, it’s bound to be famous as well.
Take New York for instance. Recently, Chef Claus Meyer’s Agern and Chef Daniel Rose’s Le Coucou have made waves in the Big City, bringing back the charm of old values and the explosion of gastronomic flavors. These are new, trendy, and have none of the uptight reputation that has been attached to fine dining restaurants over the years. Diners are definitely taking note.
Another example is French chef Garbiel Kreuther, who has brought the grandeur European fine dining to Manhattan’s Bryant Park. His background and upbringing allows him to bring something very new and different to the scene. Originally from Alsace, the French region that borders Germany and Switzerland, he has a lot of Alsatian flavors to bring to the menu, with wonderful wine pairings.
Gabriel Kreuther has become so famous and has had several accolades, such as being named as one of the “9 best new restaurants in the world” by Robb Report. But see, this isn’t just because they’ve made fine dining hip again. It’s because they really offer carefully selected and orchestrated food with flavors that people don’t get anywhere else.
When it comes to the presentation of the food, it is of course fabulous. This is after all what you’ll get when you go to a fine dining restaurant: food that’s plated in a way so mesmerizing, you don’t even want to touch it.
It doesn’t even have to be always new and innovative, so to speak. Take Midtown’s La Chine as an example. Chinese cuisine is something many of us are familiar with, but we also very rarely connect it to fine dining.
La Chine changes this and takes Chinese food (as we know it) to an entirely different level, gastronomically and in terms of price. No, this is not your usual Chinese takeout. Think wok-seared Colorado lamb loin with potatoes and shallots, but also with Xinjiang cumin. Think poached scallop salad with snow peas and black bean marinade, from Zhejiang. This is Chinese cuisine as it should be celebrated, and La Chine is doing a pretty good job of celebrating it.
Fine dining restaurants are not just about the food and the people preparing it for you. It’s also about the overall experience. Fine dining underscores that when you dine out, it should be an experience and an occasion.
Food is meant to be enjoyed, and every bite is meant to be treasured. What your surroundings look like as you’re eating will also affect this, and this is why fine dining restaurants always look – well, fine. When you walk into a fine dining restaurant, you just know you’re in for an amazing experience.
Take Ralph Lauren’s The Polo Bar, for instance. It’s casual and refined at the same time, and it’s where you’ll find the who’s who of New York City. It’s difficult to get a reservation especially during peak hours, but when you walk in the restaurant you’ll know why.
The restaurant’s interiors pay homage to the equestrian and sporting lifestyle that the Ralph Lauren brand has been known for all these years. From leather accents that remind you of a country club to polished wooden panels and luxurious interiors with a lot of equestrian art, being in the restaurant is in itself an experience.
Again, this is not the uppity up fine dining restaurant that people are used to, but this is an example of why the fine dining landscape is changing.
An Experience of a Liftime
Most of all, what fine dining restaurants offer is the overall experience that you get. When you’re in a fine dining restaurant, there’s something about the exclusivity of where you are and what you’re eating that just transports you to a whole different world.
For many fine dining restaurants, getting a reservation is a nightmare. You need to call days, weeks, months before to get a good seat at a good time, and this is part of why the experience is so precious and has to be cherished.
Some chefs also guarantee that what you experience when you finally get there is something you’re not going to forget anytime soon. Take Günter Seeger’s upscale restaurant that only seats 34 people. It only offers a $185 tasting menu that ranges from 8 to 10 courses. You pay for it in advance, and you don’t know exactly what you’re getting.
Günter Seeger himself will walk through the farmer’s markets every weekend and he will determine how he’s changing the menu for the week. As their website says, it’s not for you to book a normal dinner. You book an experience.