Sunday, November 11, 2007

A Word about Degustation Menus

More often than not I take degustation meals, or tasting meal, rather than ordering a la carte. The reason, which may be incorrect, is that I think it represents a selection of the best that the chef can create.
This generally means five to ten courses of an odd collection of crustaceans, other seafood, meat which may be venison, lamb, beef, rabbit or whatever, occasionally poultry, cheeses and desserts. Special requests re food to be avoided are usually catered for too.
It takes care of the decision making and one cannot complain that the food was not prepared as requested
It has the disadvantage that everyone at the table has to have the same menu. I think this is for the convenience of the kitchen and the desire that one guest should not be munching away at course after course while his/her partner sits without a dish of food before them. They stick to this policy regardless of the patrons desires for example with four people at a table they will not permit 2 to have a degustation menu and 2 choose a la carte. The suggestion that 2 might sit at an adjacent table has also met with a rebuff! The second disadvantage is that , because of the disparate dishes it is difficult to get the meal to 'hang together' in a pleasing way. There is a lack of structure to the meal. Each dish may be excellent but in most cases it is a hotch potch of bits and pieces
Other problems are that the serves may be of insufficient size to leave patrons satisfied and they are often an expensive option.
Despite all of this I like the variety.
The best that I have had were at
Vue de Monde
Stones at the Yarra valley
Very good
OK but disappointing
Jaques Reymond
The Court House

Since writing this I have had many more thoughts about these menus and am becoming somewhat disenchanted. On the down side dishes are too small to get a good taste of anything, They are mostly for one time or first time diners, so they are safe and well tested rather than adventurous, constant interuptions from waiters describing dishes interfere with conversation and the menus offering long lists of ingredients, often not obtainable by the average shopper, are a turn off!!
March 08

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