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Given a choice between casual dine and fine dine, what would you choose? If you ask me, there are two ways to look at it. I’d choose casual dine for price and portions, while I’d go to a fine dine restaurant for the experience. Now, I know I’d probably pay three times more for the same dish at a fine dine restaurant for a tiny portion while compared to a casual dine with bigger portions. So what really is the logic behind choosing fine dine, and also their logic behind the small portions?
A few years ago I was talking to a friend who was a food lover, frustrated with a tiny dessert plate at a 5 star restaurant. Her words to me were, “I walked in hungry, paid a cartload of money, and ended up seeing a tiny plate of cheesecake which can’t even fill my baby’s tummy, leave alone mine!” At the time, I agreed that fine dining restaurants were ripping off customers in the name of brand, rating and elegance. Today, I’d have to revisit my perspective on the issue.
Ambiance, service and food are boxes that can be double ticked even at a good casual dine restaurant. However, the concept of fine dine is more than ticking those boxes. It is about experience. I have seen discussions on various forums and several articles on the same topic which try to explain the logic. Eventually, I found one that I completely agree with.
IT IS NOT ABOUT
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The cost of ingredients – Let’s face it, most restaurants get their ingredients from the same or similar vendors who again, source it from the same or similar places. Quality of ingredients used in a caviar or lobster dish remain the same whether you are dining at a high-end restaurant or at a mid-level less expensive restaurant. While the price of a few exotic dishes can be explained away with this reason, it is still an inadequate reason.
Creative plating – Most expensive restaurants put a lot of effort into plating creating dishes that look like artwork on a plate. It is visually stunning yes, and diners mesmerized for moments. The question remains whether a gorgeous tiny portion of pasta fairs better than a fairly appealing large portion. After all, the effort it takes to make the dish itself is the same.
Marketing strategy – There are many glaring differences between a high-end restaurant and most of them play around our perception between the two. A bistro at a 5 star can be just as good as a regular bistro in terms of decor, ambiance and service, and yet we would choose to believe that those tiny portions and high prices are fair. We explain it away to ourselves that all good things come in small packages and some people surmise that this is the reason behind the concept. Not true.
THEN WHAT IS THE REASON?
Like I said before, it is all about experience. It is a strategy to derive maximum pleasure from your tasting experience. They call it the Law of Diminishing Returns.In a tasting experience, the most compelling portion of a dish is in the first few bites. Think of it like a date. The first bite is a greeting, the second bite builds familiarity, the third and fourth bites are when you begin to derive pleasure out of the tasting, which it so happens is the maximum pleasure you will receive from the experience. Then the experience ends there to ensure you still preserve that memory and have maximum appreciation for what you got from it. If you did have more to eat, you would lose that excitement for wanting more and end up with a full tummy.
The idea is to keep the excitement for that experience alive, your taste buds satisfied yet craving for more, and your tummy fed (not stuffed).
Does it make more sense why men prefer to take you out to a fine dine restaurant for dinner? You wouldn’t really be in a mood for romance if your cravings are satisfied by food, would you? 😛
“Food over anything, anyday” – words of a true food lover