Gourmet vs. Food

The word “gourmet” is an interesting word. As a noun, it indicates “a connoisseur of food and drink”. As an adjective, preceding the word “meal” it would denote some kind of sumptuous delicacy. It is also a deceiving word. It is so much larger than the word “food”. Three letters larger in fact. So you would expect a gourmet meal to be much better than a meal.

However, this is not always the case.

– We interrupt this rant to bring you some important background information –

During the end of January and first few weeks of February, Toronto is abuzz with Winterlicious. A gastronomic celebration of cuisine all across the city. During this time, a lot of high-end restaurants have a prix fixe menu to allow mere mortals who don’t have a lot of cash to sample their food (this is not the only reason, but this is the reason that my wife and I go). It is excellent, as the average entrée cost at some of these places can be twice as much as the Winterlicious prix fixe menu price (usually including appetizer, main and dessert). The wine pairings are also well done. A couple can walk out of there spending a cool $100 or so for a decent meal and wine.

– We now return you to your regularly scheduled rant –

We went to a “high class” establishment on Saturday for dinner with some friends. Mrs. J made the reservation back in January, and it was going to be a nice night out. I suppose we should have been duly warned when she read a review stating that the portions were small at this place.

We arrived, checked the menu (usually they offer different choices for appetizers, mains and desserts), and ordered our meal.

I will briefly sum up my own experience by saying that the goat cheese tart was small but okay. The main course (duck) was succulent, but too small. The dessert (créme brulée) tasted like charcoal, and was about 2 tablespoons worth of dessert. Not exactly worth $30 in my opinion. It’s a good thing we ate before we went (just some appetizers, but they helped to fill the void).

I suppose it was disappointing because the place looked great. Sophisticated, even. And while the background noise was a bit loud (you can’t fault people for yapping at the top of their lungs. Oh wait, you can…), it was still comfortable.

The simple fact remains: It can be the coolest looking eating establishment in the world, but if the food tastes like excrement, then it is going to fail. Well it should, anyway. Lucky for them, not every critic cares for taste. Some critics are blown away by the presentation, rather than the taste. I, for one, would rather eat a simply designed cube of food that tastes good than have a meal that looks likes a portrait of the last supper but still tastes like doo doo.

A lot of these new places open up with the promise of a wonderful dining experience. When they get their positive reviews, the food quality goes down the toilet (or perhaps the food now comes from there).

This is, by no means, written to dissuade people from trying “nice places”. In fact, we have had great experiences with other restaurants. But keep in mind that there is a lot to be said about some of the less chic places, too.

Support your local hole-in-the-wall!

7 Responses

  1. Don’t be afraid to name name’s. Don’t go easy on those scrimping bastards.

  2. I don’t know why I put an apostophe there. Now the University of Windsor just called. They’re revoking my English degree.

  3. The Restaurant is called “Bloom”. It’s in Bloor West Village.

  4. Yikes! It’s the worst when fancy places charge so much for so little.

    Next time you can always go to Mandarin! 🙂

  5. Argh!
    I really don’t like the Mandarin at all.
    It’s the Costco of Chinese Cuisine.

  6. David McLean.
    You are correct that we are revoking your English degree. We will also be reposessing the large liver you borrowed. Perhaps we can regain some of the alcohol you stole from us.

    Good Day.
    U Windy

  7. Mandarin! Yikes!!! Jorge, you have good reason not to like Mandarin.

    Here’s a little published fact – and something the Mandarin restaurant chain doesn’t want you to remember; a couple of years ago a Mandarin restaurant in North York was closed down for months because the Dept of Health found an unwanted ingredient in their food. What ingredient, you ask? Semen. Yes, really.

    Since then, I’ve never gone to ANY Mandarin restaurant.

  8. […] Why am I writing this? One would think that my intentions are to make you think I am cooler than I actually am (which would be an outright lie. I could never make anyone believe that I am actually cooler). In reality, it’s just a reminder to share good experiences with those you care about. Valentine’s Day is great for this because restaurants go out of their way to make things more romantic, and they also step away from their standard fare. I like this. It’s like a one-day Winterlicious. […]

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