Is fine dining worth the cost?
- The aftermath of the French Revolution is credited with creating the concept of fine dining that is enjoyed today. Displaced chefs who had served the aristocracy opened restaurants to serve the public featuring gourmet food served on fine china and a prix-fixe menu. Before the Revolution, only 50 restaurants existed in Paris, and by 1814 a popular travel guide listed 3,000.
- Fine-dining etiquette expert Myka Meier says that some oft-broken rules at upscale restaurants include never saying ‘bon appetit’ before a meal, not clinking glassware together for a toast, and never lifting the menu off the table.
- The White Horse Tavern in Newport, RI, is considered “the oldest operating restaurant” in the US, having opened its doors to customers in 1673.
- The most expensive dessert in the world--costing $14,500--is The Fortress Stilt Fisherman Indulgence, served at The Fortress Resort and Spa in Sri Lanka. It features “Italian cassata flavored with Irish cream, and is served with a pomegranate and mango compote. The base is a champagne sabayon, adorned with an 80-carat aquamarine stone, placed beneath a handcrafted chocolate stilt fisherman.”
Fine dining is worth the cost because what you receive is not just a meal but an experience. Not every upscale restaurant is the same, but in an environment where food is the main focus, the attention to detail and thoughtfulness can truly set a dish apart from something you could make at home. Furthermore, chefs have experimented with flavors their entire careers, so you’re more likely to try something bold and unique that you wouldn’t have thought to try otherwise.
Apart from the food itself, one of the main benefits of fine dining is the chance to get away from having to do arduous meal prep yourself. You no longer have to undergo the labor of purchasing ingredients, cooking, and doing dishes. Further, meeting friends at an upscale restaurant allows one to forego anxiety-inducing hosting responsibilities, as--aside from delicious food--these venues offer a pleasant atmosphere with flowers, candlelight, and sometimes live music.
The reason fine dining is still an excellent option despite the cost is the same reason people pay to go to a movie theater instead of watching at home: the experience simply can’t be replicated. In some ways, exquisite food truly is a form of art. However, if it is viewed as mere fuel for the body, then the astronomical prices may seem outlandish, but the fact is fine dining is more than a means to quench hunger. Just as the visual experience of seeing a Van Gogh is delightful, so, too, is the sensual experience of a perfected meal, and this is why the price will always be worth it.
Fine dining is not worth the cost because the food is often unremarkable, the portions are too small, and, frequently, the cuisine itself is not what someone is really even paying for. Despite the inflated cost of fine dining, the taste of the food is often mediocre, even if it is beautifully plated or made from a unique recipe. And the portions are also so tiny that many diners may leave a meal feeling hungry. The primary justification for serving such small quantities is that sourcing the ingredients from various locations increases the kitchen's 'production cost.' However, any additional fees for food sourcing should reasonably be covered by the exorbitant prices on the menu to offer more generous portions that will actually satisfy customers.
Although the main focus of fine dining would presumably be the food itself and the opportunity to enjoy a good meal that one doesn't have to prepare at home, people instead end up paying outrageous prices for things unrelated to the food at all. High menu prices often take into account decorative art surrounding the plated food and an excessive number of staff who frequently make the dining experience intrusive and annoying instead of pleasant. Not to mention that the money one saves by more wisely choosing where to dine could also be used to enhance a meal or experience that would be guaranteed to be enjoyable. Ultimately, fine dining is not worth the cost because its exclusive and flashy presentation is more show than substance. It does not offer the quality and satisfaction that is promised for the price paid.