What is Fine about ‘Fine Dining’?


What is Fine about ‘Fine Dining’?

When I think of fine dining I think of being all dressed up, eating on a table with fancy tablecloths, beautifully folded napkins, and a multitude of silverware on the table, a menu that is high quality and beautifully plated. In short a dinner that is minimum five courses, and takes about three hours to eat, and a bill that will extract a big chunk of my hard earned money! As apparent from the term ‘fine dining’ presents, patrons the finest in food, service and atmosphere.

 

Nevertheless to practically translate “Fine dining” in action in restaurants is one of those things that is often impossible to be objective specially in local context here in Pakistan. The Merriam-Webster online dictionary define “fine” to refer to “superior in kind, quality, and appearance; excellent; outstanding, very good to look at; showing special skill, detail, or intricacy, especially in artistic work; very subtle”. Practically speaking still the term ‘fine dining’, always leave me perplexed!!! Among the circle of food lovers there are often time this discussion about what is fine dining.. so well thought of discussing this million dollar question here.

 

My love for gastronomic adventures and finding stories for my food blog takes me to a range of eateries. I find myself engaged in interesting conversations with chefs, restaurateurs, or other food lovers like me on fine dining. The perception of fine dining varies from person to person, or the fine dining in a restaurant in Karachi may not be the same as in NYC or in Dubai. But what is common is that the patrons end up coughing up a big chunk of their money in pursuit of an experience called fine dining.

 

But do we always get what we pay for?

 

So, here goes a brief guide on ‘fine dining’ if you plan to spend for a special occasion or just to get that exclusive experience, watch out for:

 

Dress Code: Semi formal and formal dress code is followed, no slippers, denims, shorts, T shirts with slogans are allowed in the restaurant. The staffs are also well dressed and smart with exemplary manners and show high level of courtesy.

 

Atmosphere: One should feel pampered and enjoy their meal in unusually comfortable chairs and tastefully designed ambience. The pacing of the meal is leisurely but consistent. The only sounds should be forks and knives upon china, low conversation and un interrupting music.

 

Plating: Presentations is an important part of fine dining, combining food and art concept together. Small portions paid with extreme details. Along with plating extra ordinary clean and elegant flatware, hollowware and stemware is a must on the table.

 

Food: Excellent food with emphasis on visual presentation. Superior quality produce treated delicately with respect to create dishes that taste very subtle yet outstanding. The food preparation is by a chef who is qualified with years of industry experience, reputed to have special culinary skills.

 

Service: Is always beyond taking orders and serving the food. It is nothing less then top notch; faultless, precise and exquisite. At least one smartly dressed server dedicated to a table. They escort patrons to the table, holding the chair for women. They possess uncanny knowledge of the menu, ingredients, cooking methods and are willing to answer any all questions and ready to make recommendations. Clearing the table of crumbs in between courses, replacing linen napkins if a patron leaves the table, serving food directly on the plate at the table.

 

Restaurants need to be very careful labeling themselves as ‘fine dining’ in a fine dining there is no room for excuses!!! It is beyond a term, a complete experience and anything less is just expensive dining.



Farah Kamal

An education and development consultant with a masters degree from UBC-Canada and a Executive Program from Standford University-CA. She works ona range of projects connecting classrooms around the world using ICT and exchanges.


  • Adnan Wasim

    you want my comment? Ok, i will comment:-p. wonderful definition of fine dining. you know what, i always surprise who allowed you to write blogs when ever i get through your writings. you are a funny writer. this space deserves creative and intellectual writing. well, there could be no best waste of time to read your blogs.

  • Ahmar Qureshi

    I have worked in a Five Star hotel for about two and a half year, -And for certain Farah’s article took me back in time (those “Hotel Days” ah!) More cozy environment what is known as fine dining is indeed a dream of every person, but we being the Easterns tend to go for “Desi Food” Yum! With “No Rules” While watching Tandoori Roti is coming towards you with the Chicken Karahi along with some ramdomly chopped salad, and there you go wild when the waitor place a bottle of soda/carbonated drink or a large glass of Lassi! Both the meals have their own way of enjoying! :-) Thank You!

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for your comments Ahmar, unfortunately there are hoard of restaurants and eateries including so called five star ones that does not have anything desi that messes up. They have very European, Italian or American menu and call themselves fine dinning, but other then bill nothing matches the criteria.

  • http://twitter.com/talhamid talha bin hamid

    For me, fine dining in Karachi is almost always under open sky at evenings. The food should be FRESH, DELICIOUS, and the staff and management should be quick on the turnaround. A Menu is strictly optional. The tables should be placed with plenty of room to stretch for all occupants.

    Most restaurants considered ‘fine dining’ eateries in Karachi seem to revel in dark, claustrophobic settings, brash music, little room to walk, and irritating sense of patronization by the staff. No thanks.

    I have experienced fine dining on Burns Road, BBQ Tonite and Boat Basin. I’d rather be a peasant and enjoy the meal rather than the aristocrat and get lost in meaningless discussions on ambience and atmosphere.

  • M.S.Qureshi

    It was a visit to history in fine-dining. The small historic restaurant by the side of River Rhine about 50 kilometers from Frankfurt was managed by two octogenarian ladies and served only their handmade steaks prepared according to their family’s traditional recipes. The location and décor of the small restaurant was painstakingly kept in its 200 years old original state.

    About a decade back, I was on a business visit to Germany with a group and we were taken there for dinner. The place was booked well in advance and we were served with “numbered steaks” with a signed certificate for each guest, certifying that he enjoyed their number xyz-th Steak.
    We thoroughly enjoyed our dinner at that picturesque site along the bustling river. It was just a dream which is still alive in memory and I still keep and often display to my friends, the small numbered and dated certificate of having enjoyed the authentic dinner from the German history.

  • Truth

    # of restaurants are very few if you compare the # of people living in Pakistan. The ratio who can really afford to go to restaurant to support their ego or for ‘fine dining’ might be 2/100. 98% or 97% pray that they could get continued electricity so they could live, cook, sleep and earn for next day.

    • Anonymous

      i am one of those who pray that they could get continued electricity so….

  • Farooq M.Hashmi

    If you happen to come to Baltimore,dine in one of the five-star restaurants,especially in one of those situated near the Harbor place and you will come to know what ‘fine’ about ‘fine-dining’ is.Defining moment of “fine-dining” will come when you will pay the bill after you have treated your family and yourself with the “fine” dinner.Your wallet will be lightened of currency-bills to a considerable extent.Neat and clean cutlery,shining china-ware, glittering glass-ware,immaculate table-cloths,spotless crisp napkins,sizzling hors d’oeuvre followed by long-drawn-out meal courses and efficient stewardship,etc.are no boast of the five-star restaurants to qualify them to come square with the standards of serving “fine”dinner.Sophisticated ambiance,professional etiquette of the attendants,soft music and the personal trappings of the clients,etc.are the hallmarks of the “fine-dining” restaurants,and so are they of the standard restaurants.The only difference is that in a “fine-dining” restaurant you are flimflammed of a huge amount of money through serving you a dish(genreally,a stake) prepared by the renowned top chef of the respective five-star restaurant.The truth is that you cannot tell a stake prepared by the top chef of a “fine-dining” restaurant from the one prepared by a chef of an ordinary standard restaurant.Calling a spade a spade,”Fine-dining” is no more than a means of swindling the clients.

  • Anonymous

    Raj ji

    The good thing about a fine dining table is that agreement comes easy! Take for example NASAH Sb and Nasrullah Sb’s consensus on food and its availability to the masses….