6/21/2012 03:57:00 PM

Debates: Should the Entire Table Have to Order the Tasting Menu?

Many restaurants these days are offering both a tasting menu as well as à la carte options, giving diners more choices when it comes to how they order their meal. But one of the most frequent caveats of ordering tasting menus is that the entire table has to do it. Is this tasting menu tyranny? Watch two Zagat editors fight out the finer points of both arguments in the dialogue below. And let us know where you stand on this topic in the comments.

James: Major pet peeve: I was at a restaurant where they had a tasting menu option and one person wanted to do it, so they made the whole table do it. I was with my friend, and I would have ordered a few extra courses, but they were like "no - tasting menu or nothing."

Kelly: I think that's pretty standard though for tasting menus, it has to do with the pacing in the kitchen and how items are fired. It's a differing order/fire process for à la carte ordering.

James: Yeah, but if one person wants to do it and one doesn't, I'm sure the person not doing the menu would be understanding if things came out as they were ready. I was also at a restaurant the other day where it was late into service, and we wanted to split the tasting menu - we were told no because we were both not doing it. And then we ended up spending less than we would have if we got the menu and split it.

Kelly: Eh, diners are less understanding than you might think. Also part of the tasting menu experience for many fancier places is the simultaneous presentation of each course to every diner. So there's a showy element you have to consider.

James: Yeah, but restaurants should cater to customers wishes if they are like: "I don't want the show, I just want the tasting menu."

Kelly: I mean a tasting menu is just one of those things you have to commit to as a group because it is a group experience, I understand that. Usually I'm able to come to a consensus with my dining companions to go one way or the other, maybe you just need some different friends? :)

James: My point is that it shouldn't be - if one person at the table wants it, and another doesn't - it should be perfectly fine (except at fine-dining places that are tasting menu-only) No - not new friends. The tasting menu tyranny must end!

Kelly: Eh, get over it.

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