When you splurge on a fancy meal at a high-end restaurant, chances are that it’s a special occasion. You’ll of course then want that meal to be memorable and go well beyond what you expect it to be. That’s fine dining. The staff will be knowledgeable and accommodate all your wishes. However, despite being well-trained to provide exceptional service to give you an unforgettable experience, they are not mind-readers. To help them make this the ultimate dining experience for you, you need to know what to say and do in order to get everything you want. Here are some helpful tips.
Consider the specialties or the tasting menu
Most fine dining restaurants offer specials that are created by the chef with specialty ingredients that aren’t always on the menu. These are great to try, but often the language can be wordy and a bit mystical. So ask your server questions about the dishes that intrigue you. If you find you’re having trouble making a decision, many fine dining establishments offer tasting, or degustation, menus. It’s a great way to get a taste of everything and feel more indulgent.
Choosing your wine
When dining in a high-end restaurant, most people will select a bottle of wine for the table. Because fine dining and wine tend to go hand-in-hand, it can be a daunting task to navigate a large wine list. One general rule of thumb is to check out where the wine comes from. For example, if you’re in a fine Italian restaurant and most of the wine selection hails from Italy, it’s probably best to choose an Italian wine. But if you’re still stumped, that’s ok. Most fine dining restaurants have a sommelier on hand who will be able to help you. However, knowing what to say here really helps. If you’re considering ordering the rack of lamb and your dining companion is ordering the filet mignon, let the sommelier know when you ask for recommendations. This will result in a better suggestion from the sommelier. Also, if you prefer white wines or sweeter reds, you should let the sommelier know your preferences. If price is an issue, you can discreetly point to a price that you’re comfortable with so the sommelier will recommend wines within your budget.
The wine service ritual is always charming in fine dining restaurants, but it serves a purpose beyond entertainment. It is done to determine if the wine is what they consider “corked” which means that it is no longer good thanks to mold growing in the cork. To be sure your wine is up to par, make sure to smell and taste it. If you detect a foul aroma, send the bottle back. If you feel unsure, you can ask the sommelier to confirm it.
Remember, this experience is a delightful gastronomic indulgence for most people. In restaurants like these, the entire staff is well aware of this fact and will do everything they can to please you. Letting them know how they can make your experience the best ever is what will help you to enjoy it all the more.