Be remarkable!

Here’s my food-related quotation of the day, taken from the excellent book Purple Cow by Seth Godin:

“Compromise is about sanding down the rough edges to gain buy-in from other constituencies.  Vanilla is a compromise ice cream flavor, while habanero pecan is not.  While there may be just a few people who are unwilling to eat vanilla ice cream, there are legions of people who are allergic to nuts, sensitive to spicy food, or just plain uninterested in eating a challenging scoop of ice cream.  The safe compromise choice for a kid’s birthday party is the vanilla.  But vanilla is boring…[the more interesting choice are] products that annoy, offend, don’t appeal, are too expensive, too cheap, too heavy, too complicated, too simple — too something. (Of course, they’re too too for some people, but just perfect for others.)”

If you’ve managed to keep up with my admittedly boring rants and raves recently, you’ll know that I’m a big proponent of what Seth Godin calls “being remarkable”, especially when it comes to food.  Of course there will always be a time and a place for your standard steakhouse, your run-of-the-mill seafood place, and your fallback grocer.  But are you going to tell your friends about them?  Are you going to rave about their unique decors, their fantastical foams, or their unbelievable fonts on the menus?  Probably not.  And I’m certainly not going to write about them.

Dining out should be a pleasurable experience, one that you remember.  How many meals do you remember?  And I mean truly, viscerally, and sensorally remember?  Not many, I’m sure.  Here are just a few of the remarkable things I remember from meals since past (and tell people about):

  • At Le Cirque in Las Vegas, the interior of the restaurant was marvelously decorated like a luxurious circus tent, with bright colors, stripes, and patterns everywhere.

  • At Pegu Club in New York, when a friend ordered a martini, 2/3 of it was served in a standard martini glass, and the remaining 1/3 was presented in a mini-carafe, ensconced in its own mini-ice bucket

  • At Chateau Cordeillan Bages in Bordeaux, I was presented with 6 different types of bread, 4 types of butter, and 3 types of salt

  • At In ‘n Out in California, the menu consists of only three items: burgers, fries, and shakes

I could go on, but probably not much further.  I sincerely hope restauranteurs realize that we all want to be captivated by our dining experience.  No, not all the time, but definitely not none of the time.  I want to see more ice cream with cayenne pepper and avocado in it, I want to inhale and taste flavored gas, and I want to see food in a rainbow of colors.  I want to be wowed.  I want my meal to be remarkable.

Please leave a comment if you’ve experienced a memorable and truly extraodinary food or restaurant experience.  I’d love to hear it and, even better, love to experience it!

Mark posted this on July 15, 2008 and is filed under Musings.

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