"How can I make the person eating this lose his goddamn mind?"
September 15, 2014 8:38 AM   Subscribe

"The server comes over to your table after you've finished your cheesecake, carrying a deck of cards. He or she asks you to cut it and pick any card. Each of the cards has a different chocolate flavor on it, such as lime or raspberry. The waiter then asks you to flip over your cheesecake plate – and there, right in front of you, is a chocolate that corresponds to your card.

They do this mind-blowing trick to every single customer who eats there." The 6 Most Pretentious Dishes Rich People Pay Money For from Cracked.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome (90 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
If I pay extra, can I get my food to go so I can avoid all human contact?
posted by Fizz at 8:47 AM on September 15, 2014 [10 favorites]


No gold-shaved ice cream? I am disappoint.
posted by clarknova at 8:53 AM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


Whatever, that chocolate trick is badass and I love it.
posted by Hermione Granger at 8:54 AM on September 15, 2014 [10 favorites]


Well, the balloon sounds like an ill-conceived thing, it's true - but isn't the problem with these things the way they represent inequality rather than the things themselves? They're all wonderfully silly, of course, but they also have this sort of 1960s techno-socialist-utopia feel to them, as if of course we're all going to get to the point where we "work" one hour a day, Iain Banksian AIs take care of all of our needs and we spend our time amusing ourselves in clever, fiddly ways just because we can.

If we lived in a socialist utopia, what would be wrong with getting a magic trick with your meal? It wouldn't suit me, but it would be wonderful for children.
posted by Frowner at 8:55 AM on September 15, 2014 [9 favorites]


I'm not going to hate on someone who has combined goofy magic tricks and chocolate.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 8:58 AM on September 15, 2014 [45 favorites]


Nightmare scenario: we wake up one day and every drive-through window in the world is staffed by David Blaine.

*shudders*
posted by Fizz at 8:58 AM on September 15, 2014 [10 favorites]


I prefer all my meals to be served in tasteless paste form, in strictest Puritanical silence.
posted by festivus at 8:59 AM on September 15, 2014 [43 favorites]


I've been there. The card trick is great.
posted by borges at 9:00 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


The Ring Cycle is horribly wasteful too. All the other operas manage with a single night. Why should Wagner get four?
posted by bonehead at 9:03 AM on September 15, 2014 [14 favorites]


The zen garden-cheese plate looks suspiciously like a neglected litter box.
posted by dr_dank at 9:05 AM on September 15, 2014 [8 favorites]


"Sounds of the Sea" sounds delicious and it reminds me that I still need to go to The Fat Duck. Idest and I have been to Eleven Madison Park three times and it was better on each subsequent visit. The last meal we had there was one of the best we've ever had. Idest just informed me that recent reviews suggest Humm is getting a bit gimmicky, which would be a pity, although I think the magic trick thing is kinda cute.

I used to be sneery about this sort of dining until I actually tried a few two-and-three-Michelin-starred places and, as the article has it, lost my goddamn mind. Yes, they're massively expensive; yes, they can seem pretentious at times, but at their best they're wildly experimental and creative with food, and they can give you sensations in the mouth and brain that are close to ecstasy. It's art.

We use the term "food drunk" to describe a particular feeling we have after going to the best of these places. It doesn't mean just being replete, or thinking a meal was unusually delicious. It means you actually feel physically intoxicated by the meal. It's a hell of a thing, and well worth the cash if you have it. It always amuses me when I get shit about my fondness for fine dining from people who think nothing of regularly spending a few hundred on dope or nose candy, or of shelling out similar amounts to go see a bunch of jocks playing with a ball.
posted by Decani at 9:08 AM on September 15, 2014 [35 favorites]


OK, some of those look appalling, but...I like the chocolate card trick.
posted by thomas j wise at 9:10 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


I was expecting, like, "A single lamb cutlet with a personalized, deprecatory epithet seared on each side, served slightly out of your reach on an otherwise bare white table."
posted by Wolfdog at 9:17 AM on September 15, 2014 [36 favorites]


Edible balloons are made from a viscous mix of green apples and sugar, which is carefully inflated into a balloon shape


Ha I am so ahead of the game I was eating this in the third grade when sour green apple Hubba Bubba was launched.
posted by chavenet at 9:18 AM on September 15, 2014 [13 favorites]


Basically these are fun as hell and perfect little mash-ups of food, science, art and entertainment and I want to try them all.
posted by weeyin at 9:21 AM on September 15, 2014 [4 favorites]


That balloon dessert looks like a "who can blow the biggest bubble" disaster in the making.
Will your server arrive with a pair of tiny golden scissors and cut it out of your hair when it collapses onto your coif?

Maybe it's not as sticky as it appears in the photos...
posted by Pudhoho at 9:22 AM on September 15, 2014


Reading the first article reminds me how alien this sort of thing is to me. It could just be my background, but I sometimes feel like I'm the only person who hates receiving service at a restaurant. I've been to a few restaurants where it felt like the waitstaff would probably run out to buy you a toupée if you needed one, and it doesn't make me feel welcomed - it makes me feel uncomfortable. When I go to a restaurant, I want to pay for food and a place to eat it with other people - the restaurant experience is, to me, necessarily about facilitating a) eating food and b) conversation with the people I came with.

My favorite place to take people who visit me isn't a highly-rated restaurant with waitstaff; it's a hole-in-the-wall Indian place that serves fantastic food and then leaves you alone, to the point of not even playing music overhead.

I know a lot of people go to these high-end restaurants for an experience, and that's fine - but it's not the sort of experience that resonates with me, personally.
posted by LSK at 9:23 AM on September 15, 2014 [19 favorites]


While I'm sure that because "I have to ask, therefore I can't afford it" -- I'm curious about how many $ this 4.5h Epicurean Extravaganza would set one back....

(Apologies if that's a derail)
posted by CrowGoat at 9:29 AM on September 15, 2014


i haven't seen this card trick in person, but if it's like related tricks i know, your card selection was essentially forced, and manipulated to appear random.

also, nitro-dragons!
posted by bruce at 9:31 AM on September 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


The kind of food that seems ridiculous or pretentious to me is, as alluded to by Clarknova, dishes that contain things like gold flakes. Food that is expensive for the sake of being expensive, or which is notable primarily for being the most expensive example of its category. None of the items in the article seemed that way to me.
posted by Nothing at 9:33 AM on September 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


Is this your dipping sauce?
posted by blue_beetle at 9:34 AM on September 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm curious about how many $ this 4.5h Epicurean Extravaganza would set one back....

Alinea (the one with the balloons) actually sells tickets, and they have some kind of sanctioned resale market. It's typically $200-300 per person if you buy from them; probably less or more if it's scalped. Basically the comparison to a major sporting event seems accurate; it's comparable to the cost of NFL tickets (probably less, once you factor in parking and the price of beer at a game). A middle class person can do this if they decide to and plan around it.
posted by vogon_poet at 9:37 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Gold flakes are great! They make your poop sparkle!


I make a macaroni and cheese with gruyère, asiago, and white truffle that I have occasionally (as a joke) sprinkled gold leaf over, but it is really hard to get food-quality gold leaf now.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:44 AM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm curious about how many $ this 4.5h Epicurean Extravaganza would set one back

A meal for two at EMP will apparently run you ~$950 all told (tasting menu, wine pairing, tax & tip).
posted by obfuscation at 9:45 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


We do meals like this once or twice a year. For a couple, a tasting menu + the wine pairing can run from $400 to over $1000 total depending. It's expensive sure, but we save to do it as a special thing.
posted by bonehead at 9:46 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Reading the first article reminds me how alien this sort of thing is to me. It could just be my background, but I sometimes feel like I'm the only person who hates receiving service at a restaurant.

*puts hand up* You're not alone. That's why I love buffet-style dining.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 9:46 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


An egg cream and a magic trick. Reminds me of Sunday's with my grandfather. He would take us for an egg cream and do those tricks where you pull a quarter out of an ear. He was so smooth at it that we went along with it well into our teens.
posted by 724A at 9:47 AM on September 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm kind of glad to see molecular gastronomy style food fading out of the foreground. It may have had some neat ideas, but 90% of it seemed to be powered by conspicuous consumption.
posted by Ferreous at 9:49 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


obfuscation: "A meal for two at EMP will apparently run you ~$950 all told (tasting menu, wine pairing, tax & tip)."

Seeing that cues the old man voice in my head saying "Jayzus Christ, I've bought running inspected cars for half that much."
posted by octothorpe at 9:51 AM on September 15, 2014 [7 favorites]


If I'm blowing $1000. I'd rather do a spur-of-the-moment international weekend getaway, but to each their own I guess.
posted by Dr Dracator at 9:53 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


As a culture, we've decided it's perfectly acceptable to spend hundreds of dollars to see a musician you admire play a concert, or to see an athlete you admire play a game. Why is it any stranger to pay the same amount of money so a chef you admire can prepare you a meal? At least with the latter, you get fed as part of the deal.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:54 AM on September 15, 2014 [29 favorites]


For comparison, Ring Cycle tickets do go for the same range of prices.
posted by bonehead at 9:57 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


The card trick reminded me that Penn & Teller had a very similar sounding all-purpose card force in their book How to Play With Your Food, which they showed you how to use for multiple food tricks, including how to get a pizza delivered with your mark's selected card drawn on it in toppings. Then I got to this part of the article:

Not even the chefs know the secrets of the card trick, which the servers learned from David Copperfield’s actual magic consultants.

So it's vaguely possible that P&T (who have designed tricks for Copperfield in the past) might be responsible for this one too.
posted by Strange Interlude at 9:59 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


The kind of food that seems ridiculous or pretentious to me is, as alluded to by Clarknova, dishes that contain things like gold flakes. Food that is expensive for the sake of being expensive, or which is notable primarily for being the most expensive example of its category. None of the items in the article seemed that way to me.

Thing is, gold leaf isn't actually expensive at all. It's real gold, but pounded so thin that it weighs next to nothing. To completely cover a plate with it might run you in the neighbourhood of a buck at the most, and that's if you're overpaying for your gold leaf. To sprinkle a few teeny bits here and there only bumps up the actual monetary value of the dish a few cents. But it seems way more expensive, because, hey, "You're so rich, you're eating gold!" It's nothing at all but an easy excuse to massively overcharge for an otherwise completely ordinary dish.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:01 AM on September 15, 2014 [5 favorites]


Well, the balloon sounds like an ill-conceived thing, it's true - but isn't the problem with these things the way they represent inequality rather than the things themselves?

Except, as other people have pointed out in this thread (and all the previous ones we've had on fancy-ass food), they don't actually represent inequality. Or at the very least the kind of inequality they represent is way way down on the scale. This isn't an experience just for the 1% or even the 10%; it's perfectly accessible to the middle class.

And I'm pretty sure that Grant Achatz knows exactly how ridiculous that balloon is. A few years ago some customer got all up in arms because one of the desserts at Alinea was bubblegum-flavored; the guy was fuming that it was "childish". Achatz's response was basically, "Yes, exactly. Now get over yourself."
posted by asterix at 10:01 AM on September 15, 2014 [5 favorites]


If I'm blowing $1000

That's the appetizer.
posted by phaedon at 10:04 AM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


(The thing is, as the middle class declines, being able to save up for a $500-$1000 "treat" twice a year becomes a rarer and rarer thing. Spur-of-the-moment international getaways? All that stuff? The only people I know who can really do that have two very solid incomes, relatively little education debt and maybe one child - I'm talking a household income north of $70,000 if no kid, north of $100,000 if kid. I'm not saying that people on this thread can't do it, or that you're some kind of one-percenter if you do - but I am saying that the kind of life where you can expect a couple of really fancy non-durable treats like that every year is on the decline, and to the kind of person whose household income is in the $45,000 range and they're trying to raise a child and have college debt (as is the situation of many people I know) you might as well talk about going to the moon as talk about taking a spur of the moment international trip or eating a $500 meal.)
posted by Frowner at 10:06 AM on September 15, 2014 [10 favorites]


"Imagine a dessert for two, Tahitian-vanilla-bean ice cream in a pool of cognac, drizzled in the world's most expensive chocolate, Amadei Porcelana, covered with shaved white, black, and clear truffles, and topped with edible 25-karat gold leaf." - Jack Donaghy on the "Lover's Delight" at Plunder.
posted by JauntyFedora at 10:07 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


If I'm blowing $1000. I'd rather do a spur-of-the-moment international weekend getaway, but to each their own I guess.

That's basically two international tickets somewhere reasonably close, but then what are you going to eat.
posted by empath at 10:07 AM on September 15, 2014


Molecular gastronomy is an umbrella term for various types of experimental cooking

Seriously, fuck people who experiment.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 10:11 AM on September 15, 2014 [5 favorites]


Painting, music and sculpture is similarly useless, but for some reason very few people complain when someone drops a a million dollars on a picasso.
posted by empath at 10:13 AM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


for some reason very few people complain when someone drops a a million dollars on a picasso.

A Koons, OTOH...
posted by asterix at 10:15 AM on September 15, 2014 [5 favorites]


actual magic consultants

I've been giggling helplessly at this for like 10 minutes
posted by poffin boffin at 10:19 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


it sounds like the greatest neville longbottom AU fic never written
posted by poffin boffin at 10:20 AM on September 15, 2014 [5 favorites]


for some reason very few people complain when someone drops a a million dollars on a picasso.

Yeah, but a Picasso is something permanent that you can enjoy for years, or your family can enjoy for generations. Also, it will probably increase in value over time so that the cost may be recouped in times of financial difficulty.

A $1000 meal is here and gone in a few hours, leaving nothing of value behind but the memory of enjoying it, and the fleeting status of having been able to afford it. And a lot of people, including me, feel it is possible to enjoy a meal just as much without paying that much. This leaves only the status, which is very fleeting, and requires others who also seek the same status (because otherwise they'd just think you wasted your money).
posted by pbrim at 10:23 AM on September 15, 2014


And a lot of people, including me, feel it is possible to enjoy a meal just as much without paying that much.

Of course it is. So?
posted by asterix at 10:27 AM on September 15, 2014 [8 favorites]


those card tricks are easy - it's a fake deck with 50% of cards having the same pattern on it, let's say raspberry. Those 50% of cards are slightly smaller than the other 50% so when you cut and shuffle, physics dictates that you'll always hit the raspberry, but when you fan out the cards, all the other flavors will show up. I've seen this trick 1M times and it's lame every time.

So my annoyance at cheap parlor tricks prior to my meal would trump any tastiness of the chocolate. What am I, six? Drop the card schtick and give my my chocolate.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:28 AM on September 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


pbrim: A $1000 meal is here and gone in a few hours, leaving nothing of value behind but the memory of enjoying it

Be patient, there's one more souvenir coming, but you may get strange looks if you keep it.
posted by dr_dank at 10:32 AM on September 15, 2014 [10 favorites]


This leaves only the status

I can't speak for other folks, but our reasons for eating at such places have nothing to do with status, and all to do with the sensual experience ("food drunk" describes it well) and, probably more important to my wife and I, sharing the event and strengthening our relationship.

Travel is equally ephemeral. We paid more than this, for example, to see the Grand Canyon, last winter.
posted by bonehead at 10:32 AM on September 15, 2014 [10 favorites]


i haven't seen this card trick in person, but if it's like related tricks i know, your card selection was essentially forced, and manipulated to appear random.

Well, yes, obviously, it's just a card trick. I would hope that someone who could recruit a dozen actual-to-god warlocks with legitimate mystical powers would find something better to do than hire them as servers and open a $500 a plate restaurant.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 10:38 AM on September 15, 2014 [37 favorites]


I currently live in a SINK household right now--which may change as I get my feet wet in the job market so we'll graduate to DINK--but I've been to two restaurants where the bill went well past $100 for two people and frankly, it was worth it. Both were experiences I had never had before and enjoyed greatly. Of course, they were spaced over the span of years because again, lovely posh dinners are not something I can afford regularly.

Yes, it is totally possible to have a cheap/moderately priced meal that doesn't have the bells and whistles the places listed. And yes, it too is also a great experience. Nothing wrong with having a really really expensive once-in-a-lifetime meal and a piece of pizza from a streetside parlor. One doesn't cancel out the other.
posted by Kitteh at 10:39 AM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


I make a macaroni and cheese with gruyère, asiago, and white truffle that I have occasionally (as a joke) sprinkled gold leaf over, but it is really hard to get food-quality gold leaf now.

Try Golda's Kitchen, up on Steeles. Can also order online.

A few years ago some customer got all up in arms because one of the desserts at Alinea was bubblegum-flavored; the guy was fuming that it was "childish". Achatz's response was basically, "Yes, exactly. Now get over yourself."

This is why I want to have his babies. And/or grovel at his feet, begging to be taught.

The balloon's already been dealt with. The Zen Garden looks absolutely beautiful, and given that it's Moto, probably tastes even better. The Octopop writeup is just full of bullshit; the sheen on the pop is actually from the gel, sous vide cooking cephalopods ensures melting tenderness, and every single person in the world who has ever eaten a McNugget or clone has eaten transglutaminase. In fact, transglutaminase is what holds your own muscles together. Anyone who's ever eaten octopus will recognize it as slices of octopus. Sound of the Sea has been recognized since its creation as a landmark dish in terms of fusing different sensory experiences together--all other arts are allowed, if not outright required, to contextualize works; why not food?

The card trick sounds charming as all hell. Most chefs who work in this genre like to make people laugh with delight. What's more delightful than a magic trick, with chocolate?

The nitro-dragon isn't just a neat sensation, it also serves as a palate cleanser. And FFS, I know it's Cracked, but do your research: elBulli isn't 'defunct,' it shut down as a restaurant to become a culinary research centre. Argh.

Might as well have concluded the listicle with "...and I bet those grapes were sour, too."

And a lot of people, including me, feel it is possible to enjoy a meal just as much without paying that much. This leaves only the status, which is very fleeting, and requires others who also seek the same status (because otherwise they'd just think you wasted your money).

It's not possible, unless you've made serious investments in time and equipment at home, to enjoy this kind of meal without spending that kind of money. Everything you've said applies to music concerts... yes, I can buy a CD and listen to, say, Gaga. Sure. It'll be fun. But I can't get the full sensory immersion of a concert without spending a lot of money on something ephemeral. Same goes for travel, or a major league sports game, or a movie, or any other artistic experience that relies on highly-trained, highly-dedicated people in order to craft it.

I know it sounds like I'm being bitchy, but I'm not. It's just kind of frustrating to see the exact same comments pop up every time food like this is discussed on MeFi. Yes, these meals are luxuries. Yes, they can be kind of weird. Yes, being able to have them is restricted to people with a lot of privilege. But so are a lot of other things, and the constant (it's different people every time, I'm not singling you out) drumbeat of "well you can eat for cheaper" is just "your favourite band sucks," but it gets a pass because it's food.

We all like ephemeral things. For me, and for many or even most people who seek them out or work in the field, it has nothing to do with status; it has to do with working within an art form. The only difference between music and this kind of food is that we require food to survive. That doesn't make it not art, that doesn't mean it's pretentious, and it doesn't mean that people who do like this sort of thing are only seeking status or conspicuous consumption any more than someone seeking out any other kind of pleasurable experience.

The comparison to travelling to the Grand Canyon is particularly apt. All you walk away with is memories, maybe photographs, of a beautiful moment. How is an eye-opening meal any different? (NB: an eye-opening meal can also be boiling lobster by the beach in seawater and making a complete mess with thirty pounds of butter. Spectacular meals come in all shapes and sizes, and some of those shapes are more out there or more expensive than others.)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:39 AM on September 15, 2014 [32 favorites]


A $1000 meal is here and gone in a few hours, leaving nothing of value behind but the memory of enjoying it,

The great meals I've had, I've been enjoying for years in my head. So its just like your Picasso example really. True, it doesn't appreciate in external value, but not everything has to be a financial investment, you know.

True, some people go to these places because of "status" - often the type of people who wouldn't really know good food if it didn't have a price tag.

But don't lump all of us in that category! Some of us know that, yes, good food is where you find it, from a taco stand in Mexico city to that little trattoria in Italy to that expensive restaurant in Paris.

So, I'm trying to understand your point, really.
posted by vacapinta at 10:39 AM on September 15, 2014 [10 favorites]


My wife and I went to a 3-Michelin-star restaurant in Paris on our 40th birthday trip there in 2003, and we dropped $1100 on dinner, mostly on wine. It was a traditional French restaurant, so no edible balloons or card tricks. Scoff as you like about the wisdom of paying so much money for dinner, but I consider it one of the (if not THE best) best evenings of my entire life. I may never have the opportunity to dine in a 3-star restaurant in Paris ever again, but at least I had that one.
posted by briank at 10:40 AM on September 15, 2014 [13 favorites]


My wife and I went to a 3-Michelin-star restaurant in Paris on our 40th birthday trip there in 2003, and we dropped $1100 on dinner, mostly on wine.

This does remind me of the one gripe I had with Alinea: the wine pairing was just not worth it. It doubled the cost of the meal and for the most part the wines were disappointing. (The best pairing wasn't even a wine, it was an aquavit with a fish roe/crême fraiche/dill course.)
posted by asterix at 10:49 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


If I am laying down 500+ on a meal I damn well better be able to try Pressed Duck
posted by Ferreous at 10:51 AM on September 15, 2014


So the last year of my life I've been dating this awesome girl. We go out for dinner a couple of times a week on average. We mostly eat at reasonably-priced places; pubs, hole-in-the-wall Asian places, pizza. Maybe our bill is $40 on average. You do the math, that's just under $4200 in dining out. And we've had a lot of nice evenings, although they're hard to pick out one from another.

For our birthdays, we go out to really nice restaurants; my birthday dinner cost us maybe $400, and was only that cheap because I don't drink so I didn't get the wine pairing. And I remember everything - what I wore, what she wore, the crunch of our feet in the snow on the way there, the warmth of the fireplace, the amazing nonalcoholic drinks they served me, the most carroty carrot and beefiest beef, the amazing chocolate dessert, the brilliant service, and so on and so on.

From one perspective, that $400 meal was a huge waste of money; instead, we could eat 10 meals that weren't that delicious, but were still pretty good. From another perspective, we spent $4000 on meals that I can't really remember in detail, and only 10% of that on one meal that is a lifetime memory. From that perspective, the mac and cheese in the pub is the real waste of money.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 10:53 AM on September 15, 2014 [38 favorites]


When you divorce the actual thing from the money/class stuff, it doesn't reflect very well on you to hate on it.

Like: are you going to say the same thing about conceptual art music that deconstructs pop forms into unrecognizable, weird, and delightful new products? Because I think that's awesome.

Are you going to hate on conceptual pop art that uses a new 3d printing technique to make something you've never seen or even thought of before? Seems great.

Oh, but it's expensive. So now I have to hate it. Well, go on hating the economy and business behind neat things I guess, but don't hate the neat things themselves.

Me, I plan to definitely eat at Noma at least once in my life (not molecular gastronomy, I know), and it will be an extremely memorable experience.
posted by naju at 10:53 AM on September 15, 2014 [6 favorites]


Me, I plan to definitely eat at Noma at least once in my life, and it will be an extremely memorable experience.

Hopefully for the right reasons...
posted by asterix at 10:57 AM on September 15, 2014


In this thread, I apparently discover that I am rich. How remarkably odd; I feel like someone should perhaps have notified me?
posted by aramaic at 10:59 AM on September 15, 2014


Hopefully for the right reasons...

If that scares people away, fine with me, easier to make reservations.
posted by naju at 11:01 AM on September 15, 2014


naju, my ex ate at noma in January. Said it was nice, but another restaurant (Kokkeriet) in Copenhagen was superior. Then again, he's more interested in mountains of oysters and caviar than (and who can blame him) more experimental stuff, so YMMV.

(I'd rather eat at noma because they're more creative, but still.)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:03 AM on September 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


In my mind the most pretentious dishes have less to do about cost. I'm thinking of the ones that claim to be "good" because of rarity of the animal or the cruelty inflicted upon it beforehand. Things like dishes made from endangered species or the ones where birds are first force fed and then slaughtered by drowning them in alcohol.
posted by Poldo at 11:04 AM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


The "somebody got sick here" trump card people is so ridiculous. I hear it when people talk about cruises, too. People get sick. From restaurants sometimes. It happens. People also get sick eating at home, going to work, walking around town, or doing just about anything.
posted by festivus at 11:05 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


The "somebody got sick here" trump card people is so ridiculous.

FWIW, I was totally joking. No way in hell I'd let that story stop me from eating there.
posted by asterix at 11:09 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Ah, fair enough. I have a few friends that use it as a legitimate argument.
posted by festivus at 11:10 AM on September 15, 2014


Travel is equally ephemeral.

Yeah, travel is a better example. I spent a few grand going to hang out in Ibiza with a friend who had a gig at Space and brought nothing home but a hangover and have 0 regrets.
posted by empath at 11:13 AM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


"The pleasure of the table belongs to all ages, to all conditions, to all countries, and to all areas; it mingles with all other pleasures, and remains at last to console us for their departure."
--Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

"Is this your card?"
--GOB
posted by valkane at 11:30 AM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


those card tricks are easy - it's a fake deck with 50% of cards having the same pattern on it, let's say raspberry. Those 50% of cards are slightly smaller than the other 50% so when you cut and shuffle, physics dictates that you'll always hit the raspberry, but when you fan out the cards, all the other flavors will show up. I've seen this trick 1M times and it's lame every time.

No no no, the deck of cards is legit, the trick is there's 52 different chocolates hidden in the diner's immediate vicinity.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 11:31 AM on September 15, 2014 [9 favorites]


Not even the chefs know the secrets of the card trick, which the servers learned from David Copperfield’s actual magic consultants.

So it's vaguely possible that P&T (who have designed tricks for Copperfield in the past) might be responsible for this one too.
P+T have contempt towards card forcing: they force the three of clubs every damned time to remind you of this. What they do with the three of clubs from there is the important point.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 11:31 AM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


The EMP trick is certainly a force, but there are at least four different options as we all got a different card and a different chocolate. It wasn't the chopped cards all match trick. I read the article as a shopping list -- I'm only missing the one in Dubai. Of the others, everyone is wrong to pick on the balloon, which was actually fun. My wife had never done the helium breath thing, so having a table full of us doing it after many wines was quite entertaining. The one that I thought wasn't nearly as good as it sounds is the Fat Duck iPod thing. The dish was alright, especially the "sand" but the sound of waves crashing was very quickly annoying and we reverted to actually talking to one another quite quickly.
posted by Lame_username at 11:51 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


One of the guys at the Menchie's I take the kids to sometimes will, if it's slow, come up and do unrequested card tricks at you. It's not a 100% pleasant experience. I would rather just sit and eat my soft-serve in peace.

I have a great fear of audience participation and having a waiter do a card trick involving my cake comes to close to that. Just let me eat. My. Cake.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:07 PM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


Things like dishes made from endangered species or the ones where birds are first force fed and then slaughtered by drowning them in alcohol.


Both those things are ortolan.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:12 PM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


P+T have contempt towards card forcing: they force the three of clubs every damned time to remind you of this. What they do with the three of clubs from there is the important point.

I think there's a difference between having contempt for a mechanical technique like a card force, and simply recognizing it as a vehicle for a creative presentation. Do P&T also have contempt for sleight-of-hand, boxes with false bottoms, or trap doors?

However the chocolate card trick is done, I guarantee you that the actual technique comes well behind the presentation.
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:21 PM on September 15, 2014


The quote, "Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time," whoever you attribute it to, is appropriate here if you replace time with money (which are so often intertwined anyways).
posted by mingo_clambake at 1:15 PM on September 15, 2014 [4 favorites]


In my mind the most pretentious dishes have less to do about cost. I'm thinking of the ones that claim to be "good" because of rarity of the animal or the cruelty inflicted upon it beforehand. Things like dishes made from endangered species or the ones where birds are first force fed and then slaughtered by drowning them in alcohol.

Yeah, I've been to Fangshan a couple of times and gotten the low end menus... decent food though a bit overpriced. The high end menus (with costs higher than Alinea pp) seemed like it was just "exotic" items purely for the sake of being exotic. No thanks.
posted by kmz at 1:17 PM on September 15, 2014


This is an honest question, kmz: how do you tell if something is exotic for the sake of being exotic, versus something that tastes good but is rare?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:23 PM on September 15, 2014


Meanwhile, Patrick Bateman was there in the late 80s.
posted by chavenet at 2:26 PM on September 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


This is an honest question, kmz: how do you tell if something is exotic for the sake of being exotic, versus something that tastes good but is rare?

Double-blind taste tests.
posted by Pyry at 4:56 PM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Things like dishes made from endangered species or the ones where birds are first force fed and then slaughtered by drowning them in alcohol.

Both those things are ortolan.


It's kind of the go-to dish for extreme cuisine:
"Food with illegal ingredients."
- Ortolan.
"Parts of animals nobody usually eats."
- Ortolan.
"Food you can only eat while wearing a special hat."
- Ortolan. Ortolan. The answer is always ortolan.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:57 PM on September 15, 2014 [17 favorites]


I ate at EMP a month and a half ago (My mother told me that she wanted to go to a 3 star michelin restaurant for her 70s birthday. I obliged.) They no longer do (or at least were not doing so in the beginning of August) the chocolate card trick, which makes me sad. Not that the meal wasn't incredible, didn't take over three hours and didn't leave us wondering how you could become that full on small plates.
posted by Hactar at 5:41 PM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's usually related to the number of small plates.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 8:05 PM on September 15, 2014


Took a trip once with foodies, and ate a lot of stuff like lobster consomme and apple marshmallows, things that looked like other things and things with textures foreign to their natures. It was expensive and pretentious and the menus had prices that always dropped the "cents," i.e. seviche of bay scallop with blood orange infused with essence of lark's tongue, 34.5.

After three days of this a cheap diner cheeseburger tasted glorious. Glorious.
posted by kinnakeet at 4:08 AM on September 16, 2014


I just don't get the sneering derision that always crops up in threads about haute cuisine. I honestly think it's just one more facet of the fucked-up relationship with food that our society has, this bizarre need to judge other people based on what they eat, and assign a quantifiable moral value to what people put in their goddamned mouths.

If someone wants to pay a couple hundred dollars for a meal, if someone wants to eat at a place that does crazy, not-mainstream food and that has the temerity to price their offerings with or without the cents, who the hell cares? If that's not your thing, that's totally fine! If it is your thing, that's totally fine as well. Finding your bliss in an $8 cheeseburger doesn't make you any more or less virtuous than a person who drops $500 for a meal.

Eat the food you like. Don't be a jerk about people who eat things that you don't like or don't understand. It's not complicated.
posted by shiu mai baby at 6:10 AM on September 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


I just don't get the sneering derision that always crops up in threads about haute cuisine.

THIS. So much this.

And FYI kinnakeet, lobster consomme is about as classically French as you can get.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:17 AM on September 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


If someone wants to pay a couple hundred dollars for a meal, if someone wants to eat at a place that does crazy, not-mainstream food and that has the temerity to price their offerings with or without the cents, who the hell cares?

Uh, the many people you could have fed instead of your extravagantly selfish self, for a start.

*wheels out guillotine*
posted by Sys Rq at 7:51 AM on September 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Uh, the many people you could have fed instead of your extravagantly selfish self, for a start.

*wheels out guillotine*


Most of the cost of a meal like that goes to paying the middle-class salaries of well-paid food service employees compared to the illegal immigrants working at fast-food joints for below minimum wage.
posted by empath at 7:55 AM on September 16, 2014


Most of the cost of a meal like that goes to paying the middle-class salaries of well-paid food service employees compared to the illegal immigrants working at fast-food joints for below minimum wage.

Cite, please.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:06 AM on September 16, 2014


Usually in restaurants, food and labour total about 60% of costs, with labour taking an ever-increasing piece of that pie. Overhead eats up most of the rest.

You usually want to keep food cost at 25-30%, labour is usually 30-40%. Kitchen staff at high-high end get paid relatively well for the industry, because it's so technically demanding and the last thing you want is employee churn.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:19 AM on September 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Food you can only eat while wearing a special hat."

See also: like 75% of the seder plate at least
posted by poffin boffin at 8:38 AM on September 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


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