Hey New Yorkers! It is steamy hot in NYC BUT it is restaurant week! So how about a cocktail and a 3 course dinner for $40 in a properly cooled off and fancy restaurant?
I must admit being a big fan of restaurant week and try to go at least to 3 different restaurants during the 2 weeks it lasts, regardless of the season. But comes the question: what to eat?
There are places where the choice is obvious - but in some other places where everything looks so nice, I have trouble making up my mind. So what to choose?
When this happens, I often ask the waiter or waitress what is their recommendation or, to be more precise what they recommend between two dishes I like on paper. It is a bit risky indeed when I consider that I have no idea whether this person has similar tastes to mine (or not), and let's be honest: it is a hit or miss. So I started thinking of what would be the best question to ask the waiter or waitress to figure out whether our tastes buds are somewhat 'compatible'.
Taking an example: I went last night to a nice French restaurant in Soho. I started off with a chilled cucumber soup with smoked salmon that was delightful - but then followed the waiter's advice for both main and dessert - and this time it was sadly a miss. The main I had was a crispy skate with lentils: beautifully executed and flavorful but too sweet for my taste - as I tend not to like sweet and savory mixes (valid in cocktails, food, you name it). The alternative I had in mind was a tomatoes risotto that looked exquisite when it arrived on the table next to us and Murphy's law striking once more: the same table was a party of two: the risotto lady finished her dish in no time - while the skate lady left half of the fish in her plate (the point I am making is that I was not the only one having made the wrong decision ;)
Same idea with the dessert: I had the chocolate bonbon ice cream while it was too chocolaty for me (or was it too much sweetness after the crispy skate and I should have skipped the dessert all together?)
So what should have I asked this waiter to simply figure he had tastes too different from mine?
Would there be one question that could define tastes overall that I could safely ask someone and be able to make a judgement call on their recommendations?
The question to ask that immediately comes to my mind is "chocolate or vanilla ice cream?". For some reasons, these are the two most 'opposite' tastes that come to mind and for which I feel very strongly about. I am a 'vanilla' type of gal while the waiter was surely a 'chocolate' guy. Also most likely sweet and savory lover than not - which can explain the fact last night's experience was mildly pleasant while I can clearly recognize it had nothing to do with the chef's menu and the staff's culinary skills (both excellent).
If anyone knows of any studies made around the topic of taste for this very first-world-country problem, please, hit me up as I would like to know more about it: culturally, socially or family defined? Gender-related? As on the latter, my husband and I have very similar tastes on a lot of things (particularly on sweets) and both being Europeans, we simply do not understand the concept of PB&J (there is actually no peanut butter at home). In the meantime, he is Nordic and his idea of a childhood snack involves pickles and herrings while me being French, it inevitably leans towards chocolate croissants.