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Can You Describe What It Is Like To Dine In A Fine Dining Restaurant?

flagold

Registered User
Abbeville, Alabama
Yes! Had supper at Mignon’s (the hoity-toity restaurant of the Palace Casino, Biloxi (best fine dining on the Gulf coast they say) last Friday so the experience is fresh in my mind.


We went in, guests of a friend that had over 2000 comps he said (must be quite a dreadful disease) - sat down to a fine spread of very fancy plates. The assistant waiter asked me if I wanted to see the wine list and I pointed to our host and said “ask him, he’s the wino.” He didn’t want to see it either (on the wagon I suppose or couldn't have it because of the comps), so we were asked if we wanted a bread loaf. “Yes” was the reply from our host. Did we want “regular” butter - and our host, a regular, nodded the affirmative and the assistant waiter disappeared to get it.


The waiter was there almost the instant the assistant left with menus and asked what we’d like to drink - we all had tea except my wife, a non-ice water drinker from way back. Our host had a question: how much was the crab leg dinner as it was market price? $100 for the crab alone was the reply - and our host (a former 74' commercial shrimp boat captain) whispered to me he could get that stuff for $8 bucks a pound and even at Quality or DesPorte’s seafood markets it would be relatively cheap. So I thought he’ll probably not go that route.


The assistant waiter brought the bread - glad our host was a regular because they had apparently dropped the fancy butter in one of the plant pots as it had bits of pecans and other stuff all over it and didn’t look very appetizing to me - but the regular butter looked and tasted good. The bread was very good. Very good indeed. Very very good.


The waiter came back with our drinks and asked if we were ready to order and I had a question about the flounder dish. We used to catch these a lot and I had been wanting some fried flounder for a long time but at such establishments it is usually baked with all kind of sea vermin and breading stuffed in it - so I asked him if I could get the flounder fried with the “stuff” on the side. He said that’s the way it came anyway, but I would probably want them to fry it harder than it came in (those last two words were very important I found later). I told him since he was a obviously a fellow Flounder Society Member to have it cooked the way he described. Valhalla! I was finally going to get a good fried flounder from a reputable establishment!


We waited and conversed and then a very strange thing happened: they began taking those expensive plates up. RIGHT IN FRONT OF US! I guarded mine until they said they’d bring one back but with food on it. I asked them if they washed these: no reply. So I assume the last people that were there had them too and I hoped they didn't have the comps.


The two waiters together came back with the food. Our host had ordered a double appetizer of sautéed shrimp and a side dish of crab soup (about $40 worth), my wife got a 14 oz NY strip that was about the size of the palm of my hand, and I got the fried flounder of my dreams (except it was a little on the smallish side) with the “stuff” in a bowl on the side.


We all started eating.


The flounder looked good, but man 0 man was it tough. I had to resort to blade on the thing. I didn’t embarrass my host by resorting to pocket knife but I will admit the thought crossed my mind. The very best thing about it was “the stuff” in the bowl. That turned out to be jumbo lump crab meat, sautéed shrimp, artichoke hearts, and crab claw meat in a lobster bisque type sauce. That - was very good. I concentrated on that.


Our host finished his meal quite fast (a handful of shrimp) and we tried to keep up too which wasn’t hard since the steak had shrunk from 14 oz., and not much of the flounder could be salvaged. But the plates were nice looking and expensive looking and the silverware was heavy.


Looking back, I remembered what our waiter had said about the flounder fillets - and I believe that was indeed a warning I didn’t pick up on when he said: “than it came in” . . .


Those fillets (2 small) were identical come to think of it. Like factory identical. Think Gorton’s down a the Walmart identical. If you still don’t get it - it’s OK because I do - and I got it.


So yes - I’ve been “high class” and had the soup bib stuffed in my shirt like one of the swells and the whole bit now. Done it and checked it off the list!


Did I mention the bread? It was very very very good!!!!

Happy Eating! Matt Mattson
 
Mr. Mattson;

Thank you for sharing your experience as it validates my long held practice of not frequenting establishments like that. Fancy is fine for those who like it, but I want dinner. Glad you got by Okay anyway.
 
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My dad said he never understood why you'd spend that much money on something that was just going to turn into a pile of crap.
 
Every time I go to order a specialty burger (with bacon jam) at some fancy (and not so fancy) eatery, I think back to a 5 Guys little cheeseburger ordered "all the way"... not being able to top that, I then consider the fish...
 
Best fish and chips ever served to me was in the dive bar we had to put quarter stacks under the table legs to make it steady enough that the plates would not oscillate from side to side like we were running in the trough. Never sure if the floor or my boots had more mud on it, (I was making topsoil so had a nice cake of black from head to toe), but the food was good.

First question to ask in the face establishment: what kind of salmon. If they can not answer that correctly, (Alaska Sockeye, King or Silver/Coho), then I look to the cow!
 
so what was the total bill?

Good question - the meal was comped so I don't know the total but:

2 ways to look at it: probably not bad at all from a cash standpoint for someone who likes that kind of atmosphere since none of us ordered crab, lobster or market priced food ($100 and everything is an uncharge over that). The waiter told our host how much crab that was and it was ounces not pounds so that left me out for that price.

Other way: incredibly expensive if all we got was bread sticks as the meal was paid for with casino comps - if you have $2000 in comps that equals a lot of money lost in the casino. They don't give comps out because you're winning - they give those comp "rewards" to keep you in the casino spending and he's clocking in at 2000 a month.
 
I think one of the best meals I had was in Bethel. This was in the early 80’s. I was flying as a copilot on a Twin Otter with Tom Lehe at Ryan Air. He recommended some video arcade on the river for lunch. We walk in, the menu is on the wall handwritten with lots of misspelling. Like stake for steak. We order at the window. Being a little dubious I just order a deluxe Cheeseburger and fries. Tom orders the “stake”. We go sit down. There’s some dude puking between the pinball machines. I am slightly aghast. Tom looks over at me and says deadpan with a smile, “I only come here for the atmosphere.” It was a damn good Cheeseburger and Tom’s “stake” with all the trimmings looked really good!
 
The food costs are usually incidental to the cost of the service. You are paying way more for the "atmosphere", fine China and white tablecloths not to mention the head waiter, assistant waiter, wine concierge, host/hostess, chef, sous chef, prep chefs etc....
You can eat better and cheaper at home. Want to be pampered? Hire a personal chef for an evening.
 
Last year wife and I did a walking adventure in southwest Portugal with another couple. At the end we flew to Bilbao to try a couple of Michelin star restaurants, including Azurmendi, a spot that maintains three stars. The location was amazing, service impeccable, and the food was beyond imagination. Twenty-ish courses of carefully orchestrated 1 or 2 bite offerings, all literally art in both presentation and taste. The bill for four was 1400 euro. No regrets. The next day we tried a one star place that was more laid back and also amazing. Northern Spain is paradise for a foodie.
 
Darrell Starr that use to be around this website alot talked about a place down by the twin cities on lake minnetonka called Lord Fletchers, so one of the very few weekends that i left the ranch, i found that hole in the wall, to eat and mainly to watch all the boats from real, real old to brand new, little to huge, that come and go there. food and service was awesome, and watching the 4-5 valet people that work there that specifically work with the boats so no incidences was a bonus. you sit about 50 feet from the docks. good meal and fun to watch.
 
Fine dining in eastern Montana. The loud snoring of someone sleeping it off adds to the experience. 8)

6feda06f4fe33b92777622f1.jpg
 
Flagold said:

What are comps? I can't look it up, Google doesn't work any more.

Complementary. But not really. There's a long explanation here: https://www.gamblingsites.org/blog/how-comps-work-in-gambling/

But the short explanation is this: "free" stuff (booze, food, a room) to keep you in the casino gambling and losing money. You have been identified mathematically as a target. Should be a warning but many think getting comps is some kind of status thing.

Celebrities and the like can get comps because they bring people to the casino - there are also shills that get comps for being in the casino nightly and bring others (that's the idea of a gambling shill).
 
Fine dining in eastern Montana. The loud snoring of someone sleeping it off adds to the experience. 8)

6feda06f4fe33b92777622f1.jpg

I’d say that ole boy was such a good patron that he was “comped” someone’s dumpster recliner. I bet that chair smells like a combination of smoke, diesel and wet dog. My style.
 
The food costs are usually incidental to the cost of the service. You are paying way more for the "atmosphere", fine China and white tablecloths not to mention the head waiter, assistant waiter, wine concierge, host/hostess, chef, sous chef, prep chefs etc....
You can eat better and cheaper at home. Want to be pampered? Hire a personal chef for an evening.

Somehow I skipped over your reply - but yours is as close to the mark as it gets. It is the act that is being paid for, and they do this very well, giving the feeling that you are truly special to be allowed in this special dining place. It's certainly not the food. Superior food can be found in many diners across the land - but not the act. My wife Connie ran a couple chicken joints in NY and a diner in Texas - so I'm a pretty happy man come eating time.

I'll tell you another superior act I saw: "fine" jewelry sales. Connie and I occasionally make jewelry - I cut (facet) and she mounts the stones:

Crystal 4.jpgGem3.jpeg

You get the idea - anyway - we booked a high end jewelry show to show our wares and the main vendor was Montserati or something similar and European sounding with satin covered tables and glass encased jewelry throughout. Time for the show, two distinguished looking men came out in suits - slicked back hair - golden jewelry, watches & what looked like elephant-hide boots. Women flocked to that table, and within earshot of them I watched as they carefully got bracelets, necklaces and rings out as carefully as if handling a jar of nitro-glycerin and would put it on the woman with an "Oh madame! You look amazing with this piece . . ." They had so many lines it would make a carnival barker blush. And did they ever sell the stuff. $18,000 buck pieces walked out like nothing more than candy bars. At the end of the show the suits walked out, a big box truck backed up, and the crew came in and grabbed that stuff out of the cases, literally threw it in boxes and then on the truck with no more care than if it were dead chickens. Fine Jewelry indeed.

Lesson learned - the act - is everything.
 

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