Beware the main course dip

I’ve noticed during my time as an epicurean Owl that there are some problems that fairly consistently crop up even in fine dining restaurants. One of these is what I call the ‘main course dip’ – in other words, when you have a lovely starter (and maybe amuse bouche beforehand) and a killer dessert (and often enough, petits fours) but the main course is a disappointment. Some culprits include Gilbert ScottAlain Ducasse at the DorchesterSpring and Spago.

This isn’t that surprising when you consider that creating an innovative main course is probably a lot more difficult than creating an amazing starter or dessert. You have more standard ingredients to work with (normally meat or fish) and people expect this course to be more substantial so presenting tiny dots of taste and colour doesn’t always work. Also, in a way it’s better to have a main course dip than a lacklustre starter, which you remember as it’s the first thing you eat (sometimes), or a dessert, which you remember as it’s the last thing you eat (apart from wonderful petits fours). However, it’s still disappointing when the main course dip happens.

Another problem that happens ALL THE TIME is when waiting staff look after you really well for most of the meal, and then when it’s time to ask for the bill and/or to pay the bill once you have it they COMPLETELY ignore you to the point that you get bored of sitting there and so annoyed that you start to forget about the restaurant’s good points. This is much more common in normal restaurants but it happens in fine dining restaurants too and it should be avoided.

These are of course minor problems but they’re so avoidable that I often wish restaurants would notice them and take steps to avoid them.

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