One of my favourite aspects of trying out a restaurant’s degustation is the social experience that comes with the evening. By my reckoning, if you’re trying out a multi-course tasting menu, you’re usually eating and drinking with your friends for about four or five hours. Over the course of that time, everyone is going through a world class culinary journey and is getting pretty progressively more tipsy on the matching wines which is a great conversational lubricant.
Of course, the conversation will often revolve around your opinion of a particular dish thats been served or the quality of the wine that goes with it but as the night wears on, you’re just as likely to talk about life experiences, politics, jokes, current events, past culinary experiences and every other topic under the sun. There’s probably no better way to get to know someone than during a degustation because you’re sharing a night out with people who are in their happy place. Good food makes for great moods which makes for memorable conversation.
I also take great pleasure in sharing the experience with someone who’s having their first degustation. In the group of five that attended Gordon Ramsay’s Maze, we had two newbies in Tim and Jade. I’ve only known Tim for a short time through my work and that weekend was the first time I met Jade. There’s always a slight moment of anxiety at the start of the evening because you’re never quite sure how people are going to respond. Would they be picky with the food? Would they be put off by the unusual and esoteric dishes?
Happily, Tim and Jade absolutely clicked with the concept of degustations straight away. By the end of the first course, they were both remarking on the meal’s presentation, its tastes and how the wine complimented the meal. Seeing them enjoy their degustation made my own night even better.
So here it is. The Maze seven course tasting menu.