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Restaurant disconnect

As you probably know if you've been reading my posts here for very long at all, I have a food hobby. An occasionally rather high-end food hobby. I would rather spend quite a bit of money on a truly amazing meal than, proportionately, quite a few other things.

This sometimes leads to a disconnect between who I am and who high-end restaurants expect me to be, as one of their customers. I had two reminders of this in the last week.

Yesterday, I received an email from a high-end London restaurant, advertising its new "affordable art" project. Now I know a certain, modest amount of the buying of artwork, having grown up the daughter of a printmaker and museum curator. And nothing in that experience would lead me to believe that "affordable art" prices should begin well into the four-figures in pounds. They're not targeting me.

Last week, in Geneva where everything is expensive anyways, we went to a one-star Michelin restaurant in one of the city's many five-star hotels. The waiter, settling us in, asked if we were staying in the hotel. I said we were staying nearby. "Ah, perhaps in the Four Seasons then? That's a very short walk." No, a little further away than that.

Then, having established that he expected us to have been staying in one of the five-star hotels, he asked us where we were staying. And was discombobulated into conversationlessness when I answered with our highly-rated and much-less-pricy three-star hotel.* He might well never have heard of it. In retrospect, it was, frankly, somewhat rude, and not at all what he clearly intended as a comfortable welcome.

So - dear high-end restaurants: some of us really do come for the food and a pleasant meal out. It's not necessarily indicative of our lifestyle more generally. I know I am allowed to eat your food and enjoy my evening at your venue if possible, but it's a kindness if you too make me feel I belong there, having that meal.

* Hotel Kipling. Good ratio of price to value, if on the edge of an occasionally problematic neighborhood, conveniently close to the train station. Most of the more affordable Geneva hotels are located around there. Not only would I happily stay there again, I already have.

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Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
beeswing
Jan. 19th, 2012 01:36 pm (UTC)
Yes, I notice the disconnect too but always really rather enjoy it for some unknown reason!

What is your current favourite high-end restaurant in the UK, out of interest? I'm trying to decide where to try next...
owlfish
Jan. 20th, 2012 09:58 pm (UTC)
I don't really enjoy being told - in effect - that I don't belong! I would like the pretense of greater inclusiveness at very least.

I think I'd still vote for L'Enclume, in Cartmel in the Lake District as my favorite. Innovative, thoughtful, vegetablely-interesting.
morganlf
Jan. 19th, 2012 04:29 pm (UTC)
This has happened to us as well. I am always shocked at how much off-hand comments can tell one about what people really think!
sollersuk
Jan. 19th, 2012 09:44 pm (UTC)
The initial question is OK (as in, will you be paying now or does it get added to your bill?) From then on, totally unacceptable; asking for a reply like "None of your business!"
owlfish
Jan. 20th, 2012 09:59 pm (UTC)
It's an okay question to ask in that context at the end of a meal, but not at the beginning!
austengirl
Jan. 20th, 2012 06:07 pm (UTC)
It does occasionally amaze me that a high level of service at that type of establishment does not automatically extend to all customers.

I should have mentioned this when I saw you, when you're able to make the trip to the northwest again and have the time/money, it is absolutely worth visiting Fraiche, which is the only Michelin-starred restaurant in Merseyside (it's in a village adjacent to Birkenhead and relatively easy to get to from Liverpool). Both the food and the service were outstanding; the only drawback is that you need to book three months in advance (at minimum) because there are only six tables.
owlfish
Jan. 20th, 2012 09:59 pm (UTC)
Ooh, thank you for the recommendation! I am more than happy to plan that far ahead for a good meal.
marzapane
Jan. 23rd, 2012 03:58 pm (UTC)
Ugh, how pretentious. Next time, ask the waiter if he lives in one of those multimillion euro villas on the lake, and if he says no, look condescendingly shocked.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )