A recent story in The Wall Street Journal addressed in depth the popularity of tasting menus paired with wines.  The paper’s wine writers, Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher dined anonymously at four of New York’s top restaurants (Le Bernardin, Jean George, Per Se and Daniel) to report on tasting menus and their pairings with wine.  The results were startling.  Not only did the writers have day-0ld, sometimes uninspired and pre-chosen pairings, the cost was over the top at $280 for two at Le Bernardin (separate from the the $180 per person for the food tasting menu).  Per Se and Daniel came out the best of the bunch, for service, wines and food pairings. While San Diego isn’t quite as pricey, tasting menus can be found at some of our top restaurants.  How good are they?

What do you think about tasting menus?  Are they worth ordering or are they passé ?  Do you order the wines suggested or do you order by the glass or bottle?  Does the service feel rushed because you’re ordering a set menu? Well, Buzz would like to hear from you.  Let’s see how San Diego’s chefs and sommeliers show their stuff. 

3 thoughts on “When a Taste Isn’t

  1. Tasting menu’s are only as good as the person choosing the matches. Some can be as described, items the restaurant needs to move. Other tasting menu’s can actually be interesting and exciting. The key for me is that they are tastes and not full wines by the glass. This way if they do not work you can move on into something that does. Also the food portions need to be realitively simple so you can understand the flavor profile the match is trying to catch.

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  2. When Gavin Kaysen was still at El Bizcocho, my husband and I had the chef’s tasting menu w/wine there for our tenth wedding anniversary. It was the most expensive meal we’ve ever had, but we both felt it was well worth the experience. It was a complete performance, more than a meal — the setting, the service, the food (Kaysen was in the kitchen that night) and the care taken by the sommelier to introduce each pairing and “narrate” the meal. Plus we got to meet Kaysen at the end and he was quite charming to us. We’ve also had the tasting menu at George’s and also loved it. I think you must really choose carefully, but it can be worth it.

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  3. Generally I enjoy tasting menus provided that that restaurant does not skip on the food. If it is a true meal – YES – I would be happy to try the suggested wines too.

    Interestingly enough SeaWorld offers beer pairing advice. Sign up for their free hospitality bar the next time you are there. It is fun. They give you a lot of ideas for mixing more with beer than just pretezels and peanuts.

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