What comes to your mind when you hear ‘fine dining‘? Crisp white table clothes, well mannered waiters, expensive wines and tuxedos? Well it is just as the name suggests – finest in food, service and atmosphere. However, some of the restaurants don’t live up to the hype they bring and what they guarantee. That leaves us, the consumers, unsatisfied or puzzled as to what fine dining really is, and forget what it’s like to actually taste a truly scrumptious meal. I have yet to become a food critic but through my travels I realized I do criticize food and fine dining restaurants I go to. Here are some tips to enjoy the ultimate fine dining experience.
Fine Dining Tips
What is Fine Dining?
There are three main areas of focus – Menu, Service and Atmosphere.
Food & Beverage Menu
Many people choose fine dining restaurants for special occasions such as anniversaries. Therefore the quality and variety of food and beverage choices should not disappoint you. The menu does not need to be grand but what’s on the menu should be interesting and unique. Many fine dining restaurants offer menus that change on daily or weekly basis. This allows patrons to enjoy seasonal dishes when they’re at their peak of freshness.
Wine and liquor selections should also be on high end. If you are seeing Bud Light Beer, you are not having an exquisite drink. Drinks like cognacs, brandies and other after dinner drinks is what you should be expecting. Also, each wine list should compliment your menu or paired with individual dishes.
Customer service and satisfaction in fine dining restaurants is much more attentive than casual restaurants and bars. The service goes far beyond taking your order and delivering the food.
Fine dining restaurant services include:
- Escorting patrons to the table, holding the chair for ladies
- Escorting patrons to the restrooms
- Serving food directly on the plate at the table
- Crumbing the table in between courses
- Replacing linen napkins if a patron leaves the table
- Explaining menu items without notes
Fine dining used to be fancy French restaurants with fancy waiters in fancy areas of town with names like ‘Le Fancy’. Today, it includes variety of cuisines at any place and any type of setting. The atmosphere can either be traditional with rose centerpieces or hip and trendy with modern furnishings. Music plays a great role in creating the perfect atmosphere as well with anything from classical to jazz. To add to that, the lighting should be subtle, which leans more towards dim and romantic instead of spot lights over your head.
If you need to brush on your fine dining skills, take a quick peek at Top 10 Rules for Fine Dining.
How To Find The Best Fine Dining Restaurants?
Do Your Research
Look for unique restaurants by searching around, asking your family and friends. If you’re at a restaurant that is part of a chain, you will most likely find standard dishes, which may offer minimum quality and creativity.
Be wary when you hear of ‘delicious‘, ‘good‘ and ‘great‘ food because they tend to be truly good and delicious. However, they may not be your gourmet foods so if you’re looking for fine dining, good is useless.
Check out the ambiance of the place before you make a reservation. You can find restaurant reviews online, visit their website for pictures or ask your friends and family who may have been there. For a great experience, find a great environment.
Read Between Lines
Read between the lines when it comes to reviews. At times you will come across fake reviews or reviews of over emotional patrons. Look for what they don’t say. If there are 50 reviews about a great wine bar but none of them mention the quality of wines, you could probably skip it.
Recognition of the Restaurant
Look for places with five stars or members of certain prestige clubs like AAA or American Express.
Who’s The Chef?
Restaurants are as good as their chefs. Therefore look for restaurants of famous chefs.
To make the dining experience special and memorable, proper planning is very important. So make sure you take your time to research where you are going. Remember, it does pay off at the end when you make the reservation in months advance. Consider buying a gift to make your fine dining experience extra special.