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Sunday 23 June 2013

Have some chefs lost the plot?

It may be old-fashioned of me, but I yearn for the days of the three-course meal in restaurants. A small portion of something tasty; a main course of something I really like, followed by cheese or dessert. 

I prefer to make a choice of what I feel like eating at any given time from a small selection of dishes chosen by the kitchen - hopefully local and seasonal. So simple. So good. But increasingly hard to find. 

A growing number of chefs want to dictate what I should be eating. They insist on six or eight-course degustation menus featuring obscure ingredients they have foraged, our sourced from a grower who has the only 200 plants of a particular micro-herb in the state.

These chefs impose their personal tastes on diners - which is great when it works (as it has for us at Loam, in Victoria, and Hobart's Garagistes), far less so when it doesn't. Particularly as many of these menus are relatively expensive and no a la carte alternative is offered.

At a recent dinner we chose a six-course degustation menu that the chef would create using a list of 30 or so ingredients. We opted out of just two items on the list yet the first five dishes we were served were all vegetarian. If I want a vegetarian menu then I'll head to a vegetarian diner. But rarely do I want such an unbalanced selection of dishes.  

For me, a plate of under-seasoned heirloom carrots does not make a course, but a few delicious carrots can certainly enliven a dish. Herbs are great, too, but in the right place. 

Whatever happened to balance?

I was also recently invited to a dinner (again with a set menu) where the courses included a lamb neck dish, a beef check course and venison dish. OK. It's winter. We get it. Warming and hearty is the way to go. But three rich red meat dishes in a row? Not for me thanks. 

And don't even get me started on smears, soils and foams.   

So enough of no-choice degustation menus; enough, too, of "small plate" menus where you often pay a lot for a little - but that's an argument for another day. 

In the meantime, please bring back options!      

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for making this the most-read item on my blog. Your support is much appreciated.