What Makes Three-Hour Tasting Menus Worth Your Time?

If you don't have the patience for a degustation menu, then you probably haven't gone to the right restaurant.
IMAGE le-bernardin.com/ NICOLE LIMOS

Sampling the best of a restaurant’s menu might seem a like a dream initially, but seasoned gourmands are dismissing the tasting menu as one not worth their time. “I just cannot spare the time,” “I simply do not have the attention span for it,” or “I don’t need to know the exact diet my meal lived on before making it to my plate” are some of the list of reasons why the tasting menu is not as popular as it should be. It usually requires three hours of dining to complete the degustation. 

Recently, chefs and lifestyle journalists have been making a stand for the tasting menu and according to Esquire’s Jeff Gordinier, it simply boils down to where you’re having it. He argues that some chefs have a greater understanding of this concept. They know how the diner’s mind works and from there they craft a dining experience that's more than memorable.

A few clever restaurants have incorporated sensory experiences beyond that of taste so diners don't topple over their seats in boredom. This is usually where aesthetics and gimmicks come into play. Some restaurants feature gardens, while others use bonfires. Apart from that, the greatest degustations are in the hands of the chef who keeps each course and its explanation dynamic. Adding to the experience is a good wait staff who serve the multiple courses effectively. A perfect tasting menu should hold back on the gluttony, thoughtfully accounting for the diner not feeling too heavy after the meal. And sometimes, a personal appearance and conversation with a renowned chef after the meal is an experience in itself. 


For a degustation that will keep you on your feet, here are some of the best tasting menus around the world:

Le Bernardin
New York
$220 per person (P11,157) - $360 (P18,257) with wine pairing

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Acclaimed chef Sean Brock of McCrady’s names this New York-based French restaurant one of the “big four” when it comes to tasting menus in the Big Apple; the other three were Per Se, Daniel, and Jean-Georges. The honor is to be expected from a restaurant that was once named one of New York’s best. The eight-course tasting menu showcases the techniques chef and co-owner Eric Ripert can do with the finest of seafood and a slab of Japanese Wagyu.

Bo Innovation
Hong Kong
HKD2,500 per person (P16,241)

Both of Bo Innovation’s premium tasting menus—called Blue and Red—feature its Child’s Play course, an innovative variation of some of Hong Kong’s most renowned dishes, and the Dimsum X-treme, which incorporates caviar into smoked quail eggs.

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Restaurant Sant Pau
186 per person (P10,870)

Science geeks will get a kick out of the solar system-inspired petits four, where diners have to navigate their way from the sun to Neptune by consuming nine of the different pastry creations.

Le Comptoir
Los Angeles
$89 per person (P4,513), $46 additional for wine pairing (P2,333)

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To avoid that bloated, overwhelming feeling after taking part in the multi-course format, chef Gary Menes carefully crafted this all-organic vegetable-inspired menu sourced from seasonal ingredients from the restaurant's own urban garden in Long Beach.

DKK895 per person (P7,035)

This top restaurant in Copenhagen boats of a concept called responsible cooking, which springs from chef and owner Matthew Orlando’s obsession with avoiding waste. But apart from the revolutionary tasting menu of ever-changing meals depending on availability, diners may roam the garden that stretches out into a waterway or at night, admire the bonfire in the burning pit outside.


Osteria Francescana
Modena, Italy
€220 - €250 per person (P12,857 – P14,610)

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Named one of the best restaurants in the world at one point, Francescana has you choose between a nine- and 12-course tasting menu. Massimo Bottura combines traditional Italian flavors with the scientific innovations he and his team of sous chefs discover in their contemporary kitchen.

h/t: Esquire

*$1 = P50.72
€1 = P58.44
HKD1 = P6.50
DKK1 = P7.86

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