It’s not often that I let loose with my opinion verbally. And when I do, it’s in a sudden unpredicted burst that leaves everyone looking at me like I’ve flipped my lid. I’ve found that I can express myself much better via the written word. This way you don’t have a crazy-eyed coffee-breathed harpy in your face. I think we can agree that we’re all winners in this scenario.
So! This is going to be a RANT post. Consider yourself warned. Furthermore, it’s a rant about mentality and expectations.
First, a braggy sort of quick photo-essay representing a smattering of our culinary experiences these past few years (each of which I’ll document with greater detail in future posts):
Amber, Hong Kong. (2 Michelin stars)
Alinea, Chicago. (3 Michelin stars)
Bo Innovation, Hong Kong. (3 Michelin stars)
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, London. (#5 in the World)
Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, London. (3 Michelin stars)
L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Paris. (2 Michelin stars)
Le Chateaubriand, Paris. (2 Michelin stars)
Mr. And Mrs. Bund, Shanghai. (#7 in Asia)
The Ledbury, London. (2 Michelin stars)
And of course Astrid y Gaston — the only restaurant I’ve written a blog about thus far. And, this isn’t an exhaustive list. There are more. More phenomenal restaurants, more Michelin-starred establishments at which I have dined… I’ll get into all that some other time.
But for now… my rant!
Not every restaurant is going to be a Michelin-star experience. Get over it! A while back, I was at a casual family-run restaurant with three lovely girlfriends for a nice cozy supper together. It was wintery and very cold, so not many people were out and about, and we were quite satisfied with our decision to stay close to home and not contend with icy, snow-covered highways. Not many other people were out. In fact there was only one other table that was occupied, and it was right next to ours. This was because we all wanted to be near the fire, because it was FREEZING — the good old fashioned Manitoba winter chill.
We initially were pleased to be together and were busy catching up and chatting amongst ourselves… but it wasn’t long before our table was plunged into a kind of silence borne of utter horror and disbelief.
Because a wealthy-looking group at our neighbouring table was severely berating our shared server. She had brought the dishes out in the wrong order. Something was a little cold. And now EVERYTHING was wrong. Yelling, yelling, yelling. Outrage. Must speak to the manager. There was even a little bit of, “I’ve dined at very fine restaurants and I KNOW that this should be done this way, NOT the way YOU’RE doing it. Unacceptable!”
By their attire and demeanor, I could tell that they were more than a tad wealthier than the rest of us. (When Andrew and I fine-dine or travel, it’s because we’ve saved up the money, not because we have a swimming pool full of gold or something — most of the time our meal costs significantly more than the dress I’m wearing.) I’m sure these folks were just doing what they needed to do to feel good about themselves… which apparently for them is striving to shame the servers at family-run dining establishments for not presenting everything with white-gloved precision. Some people feel good by volunteering, by exercising, by eating right. Others choose to feel good by screaming at innocents. Whatever floats your boat, I guess.
But here’s my ultimate rant-y point: just because you’ve dined at a top-rated restaurant at some point in your life, does NOT mean that now every restaurant you venture into must morph into a Michelin-starred establishment exclusively to accommodate you. It’s called PERSPECTIVE, people!
I think I’m totally qualified to jump in here and state that in spite of the fact that I’ve dined exceptionally well at various points these past few years, I’m still fully capable of enjoying a normal, middle-of-the-road meal at a small-town restaurant. Yes, mistakes can and will be made. But the point of dining isn’t always to have people fawn all over me and deliver truffled foie gras at every turn. Occasionally this does happen (shout-out to Horfrost in Portage la Prairie!) and I take great joy in being utterly surprised and delighted. But I don’t DEMAND that this happen everywhere I go. It doesn’t even occur to me to expect it.
Also, this would be impossible, seeing as I still also have the occasional cravings for a Filet o’ Fish at McDonald’s. McD’s ain’t gonna morph into a high-end dining experience just for me. Straight up, if I want a high-end dining experience, McDonald’s would be the wrong place to go. And if I were to venture into McD’s and freak out because I’m not receiving the same experience I was treated to at Amber, then I’m the idiot in that scenario.
You know what I do expect when I visit local restaurants? Atmosphere. Moderate decorum. Food that may or may not taste awesome, but certainly won’t make me sick, and might possibly blow me away (it has been known to happen). A good place to catch up with friends. And honestly, that’s precisely what I get, every time I go out here in my hometown… which I love dearly. (More on that in upcoming posts, too, btw.)
End rant by Erin. So, what’s your opinion?