Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Fine Dining?

Forgive me for praying to the altars of practicalism, there are so many things I don't get here in Malaysia (boleh-land is so overused, enough already).

My gripe for today is the pretentiousness of restaurants and their patrons.

There's so many restaurants around branding themselves as fine dining, I somehow feel the title is diluted now. If you're expecting the kind of service par excellence, you'll be disappointed. If you are expecting food that will delight your senses, you'll be even more disappointed. The service is supposed to be quick, attentive, yet non-intrusive while the food is expected to look nice, taste good and just enough to sate your hunger but not filling you up. At least that what I learnt from hours of watching and reading about Gordon Ramsay, Ferran Adria, Alain Ducasse and Michel Roux.

I've tried several and they ultimately let me down on both counts. Try asking a recommendation from the waiter, they'll randomly point to something on the menu (which is probably printed as Chef's recommendation in the first place). See, if I wanted the Chef's recommendation, I wouldn't have asked you innit? And try asking them which main course would complement the aforementioned starter, and a sheepish smile would just be followed by another random finger pointing. I expect a reasoning why it's your recommendation, and I expect you to show me confidence even if you know shit about what you are saying. If I drink wine, I'm sure the waiter would mumble their way through the list too. Perhaps, you can recommend a nice cheese to go along with that '77 Cabernet? You wish.

And the food, it's a tragedy. It's a travesty! Now is it any wonder they restaurants are always dimly lighted (atmospheric my ass), if you can see clearly you'll be put off. The portions are always ridiculously small, definitely not adhering to the sating-not-filling thingy. Perhaps somewhere along the way, fine-dining was translated to the-smaller-the-better. The garnishing often looks out of place and redundant, the taste is usually bland with a sprinkle of boring on top.

The decor are always generic, with the same furniture, theme and look-feel as the next one. Given, some places actually does excel in the decor section, but give it a few months then other copycats will emerge. Ohh don't trust the pictures on their websites too, a good photographer can make any dumpster look that nice given the right angle and lighting.

The patrons are somewhat a sad sight too. The yuppies in their expensive shirts and the flavour-of-the-week in tow decked in a pretty dress and a million dollar smile to boot, it would be nice if it's not so generic yet again. Everyone would try hard to look as rich and snobbish as they can, swing that Birkin, smoke that Cuban if you can. In the dim, I mean atmospheric, lighting even SPGs can look pretty. Oh I forgot to mention the SPGs! They can be found by the bucketloads, hanging on to their mat salleh boyfriends as though he might vanish in thin air should she let go. Kutuk SPG kena bukak post lain lah I think, hehe.

Despite all this I do still go to these places once in a while, just to try something new and perhaps I might stumble on to a gem of a place that won't disappoint for once. I have some recommendations too if you're looking for a nice place, ask me personally and I shall share. Better still, share with me if you have a recommendation. Otherwise, I'd rather save the money and go to casual dining places like Italiannies in One Utama where the food is always good and the service never disappoints. Or better still head down to your nearest mamak, for fast service at relatively cheap prices (not so cheap now wor these mamak places, no wonder they're making so much money).

Hrmm, teringat ayam madu and telur ikan goreng Pelita...


NoktahHitam said...

Sambil bace2, aku nak je comment, pg Pelite makan ayam madu sudah. Tgk2 ko tules. Adeh..

Just noticed, kite deskmate, 10 years ago. Darn.. dah tue.

The Yoga Instructor said...

There was once, I brought my Supertall to a broadway musical at Panggung DBKL and since we both can't stand it, we walked out after 10 minutes! We tried! Tak boleh masuk otak!

All dressed up in long evening gown, big hairdo and polished shoes, we can't have dinner at our usual mamak so he took me to one of the fancy restaurants at Starhill.

We can't stop laughing when the bill came, as his plate alone cost close to RM300 for a tiny piece of fish and mine was RM90 plus for a vegetable nothing! Mind you they didn't state the price in the menu. Per 100gm or something lancau like that.

So yes,
that's fine dining at Fisherman's Cove for you.

RM500 dinner for two which can probably buy 100 dinners at Pelita!

Nevertheless it was a romantic dinner (most probably because we ate ever so slowly for the serving was too tiny!) and the experience is still, errrrr.. 'priceless'?

khaylis said...

sorry, but the food at italiannies is really tak sedap.

if you want good italian (at all price ranges), pizza uno, la risata, chef ken's cafe over in kepong and nero vivo are better bets.

Sue Anna Joe said...

Fine dining is overrated lah rasanya. Haha. Cheh, cakap macam selalu pergi. Takda pon.

Anyways, I'm here, cause according to my birthday list, it was your birthday yesterday.

Sooooo, happy birthdaaaaaaaaay!


Try the italian restaurant up the hill opposite somewhere opposite equitorial hotel, (if it is still there)...Happy belated b'day

The Angelic Sinner said...

be specific. tempat mana bg u bising sgt ni toek? :p

try Shook! if you wish to explode for its overpriced so-so food and discriminated treatment..begitulah perasaannya.

bila i malas nak pk, Izzi is the place to go. dap-dap :D

The Banker said...

nh: sbb deskmate la kot jd pk benda sama..pelita jom

ninie: yeah, ur being charged for the whole experience rather than just the food..but it still doesn't excuse the dismal food on offer though. somehow i find the cheaper the food is, the better tasting it is...

khaylis: i dunno, i really like italiannies. of course la risata (ampang) and pizza uno are better, mezza notte in heritage row isn't bad too.

anna: hey thanks :)

distant observer: will look it up when i find myself out of places to try. thanks for the wish too!

toek: banyak. there's a slew of them at starhill, places like chinoz and chakri palace in klcc are grossly overpriced for the fare they serve too. trust me, there's better places to dine if ur willing to sacrifice style for substance.

The Angelic Sinner said...

i've never been to chinoz or chakri in klcc my whole life sbb mmg mcm x best pun
(tQ for the info)

suggest me good seafood restaurants! do we have whale meat in any halal restaurant here?

theconsultant said...

Sorry but this is a pretty shallow gripe. It's all about relevance.

For one thing, you do not name any of the fine dining joints with shite food, SPGs with their Hermès and cigar-smoking Daddies that seriously let you down. Don't be coy(or wait to google it), it's all about two-way communicating in the big web 2.0 world.

Also, most fine dining locales in my opinion wouldn't have moronic waiters/maître d'. In my experience they are more often than not, trained to deal with a situation where the customer asks for a recommendation and the waiters would be fully trained to answer. Even Alexis, which is definitely not fine-dining, would have waiters who would recommend something, at the very least what is good or point to someone who is more in the know when you ask for your vino. The experience goes beyond stuffing your face.

Atmosphere, price and food-wise, it's all about difference in taste. I suppose one man's meat is another man's poison. The price of that small portion of whatever you ordered would have the cost of the atmospheric lighting, the maître d', the maître d's tux even. You know what you're getting into the minute you even consider eating in a fine dining establishment. In terms you'd be more familiar with, consider the caste system of Maybank's Premier Account & Joe Plumber's Retail Banking.

Lastly, if your benchmark for food and service is more aligned towards Italiannies, well I guess that explains a lot. Maybe skip La Gavroche and stick to C&R.

The Banker said...

em: whale meat? err, best ke?

theconsultant: hrm, lengthy and very defensive too. hits a nerve huh?

well, i've said what needs to be said sir/mem, if you feel it does not jive with your thoughts then too bad.

my experience with alexis wasn't quite rosy, and i've been more than once. perhaps we have different standards, i wouldn't know.

i know perfectly well i'm gonna be charged an arm and half a leg, hence me expecting prime services. just because it's atmospheric, doesn't mean the food have to suck. fine dining is not just about the peripherals, it's the food that actually matters. that's y it's called fine-dining. go to a lounge if u want the atmosphere but not the food.

lastly, the fact that i prefer better tasting lower-priced food over expensive, tasteless morsels explains what actually? remember, money doesn't buy taste. good luck spending your hard earned bucks wining and dining to make yourself look rich ;)

ohh, you're not an SPG r u? =P