Updated: Dec 18, 2019
With foodie culture becoming mainstream, shows like Chef’s Table getting top ratings, and the hashtags #foodie and #foodporn utilized to tag pictures of incredible meals, the fine dining industry landscape is quickly changing. Gone are the days of white tablecloths as the main indicator of a fine dining establishment.
Fine dining now has many more diverse expressions in cities and suburban areas all around the world. So, how do you know if a restaurant is offering fine dining or if it’s merely charging higher prices for their not-so-fancy fare?
Here are a few distinctive qualities that set fine dining restaurants apart from other establishments.
It should go without saying that if you are going to a fine dining restaurant, the food should be better than what you’d find from a Sysco delivery truck. The produce should be fresh and preferably in season, bought from nearby farmers or markets by the chef or sous-chef.
While each dish may not appeal to every guest’s taste buds, the ingredients should always be top-notch, and the courses should be a divergence from the everyday homemade fare.
In addition to quality food, guests can expect to find high-end wine and cocktail offerings (both classic and signature) on the menu. A sommelier may even stop by the table to recommend a food and wine pairing! Whether you decide on a glass of wine, a bottle, or a new cocktail, the staff will be well-versed in all of the restaurant’s drink offerings to make sure you find something you will enjoy.
When you walk in the door to a nicer restaurant, you may be greeted at the door by a smiling face, a warm, respectful greeting, and a hand to take your coat if you’re wearing one. Ladies may even have their seat pulled out from the table by a member of the restaurant’s staff!
Servers working in a fine dining restaurant need to be aware of far more than soda refills and sides of ranch. They are required to be highly attentive yet blend into the surrounding environment so as to not detract from the guests’ experience as a whole. Servers act as food and beverage experts, hospitality professionals, and are able to make personal connections with the dining guests without stealing the show.
It’s All in the Details
Since your bill is going to be significantly higher at a fine dining restaurant than it would be at a diner or burger joint, you should expect an interesting and sensory-stimulating experience that you wouldn’t get elsewhere. From the decor to the menu, the details should complement one another to create a unique ambiance and a rich backdrop for your evening.
Reservations May Be Required
If you want to visit a fine dining establishment, prepare to plan ahead so that you can reserve a table. Many times, the dining rooms are smaller, and due to the handcrafted nature of each course, kitchens cannot handle an unlimited number of orders at one time. Some restaurants may take reservations by table, some may schedule “seatings” at certain times of the evening, and other fine dining restaurants may not take reservations at all, leading patrons to stand and wait outside in hopes of scoring a table.
Dress Code Matters
While you can walk into many restaurants in whatever clothes you’re wearing, fine dining restaurants are often the exception to that rule. Some restaurants won’t even let you in the door if you don’t meet their dress code standards! You’ll also notice that the servers and other staff are very professionally dressed without standing out too much as to distract from the ambiance.
Tend to Trend
When you dine at a fine dining restaurant, you will likely find yourself on the cutting edge of foodie culture trends. Whether it’s a unique spin on avocado toast or a distinct blend of herbal bitters used in a signature cocktail, you’re likely to encounter a familiar favorite or a trend-to-be during your dining experience.
Unlike casual restaurants, some fine dining restaurants offer what’s called a “prix fixe” menu which includes multiple courses already selected by the chefs for guests to enjoy. With this kind of menu, only minor substitutions for serious dietary restrictions can be made.
Other establishments offer a limited amount of options for appetizers, entrees, sides, and desserts that guests can choose from for a more personal and customized experience. Either way, chefs choose the menu items very carefully and often the dishes change for different
seasons of the year.
CityGate Grille: A Fine Dining Restaurant in Naperville
Here at CityGate Grille, we provide a wonderful fine dining experience for each of our guests. While we are known for our steaks, we have other incredible entree options that will make your mouth water and your senses rejoice! Reserve a table today to enjoy quality food, carefully selected drinks, and a relaxing atmosphere all while being served by our top-notch staff.