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Share tasting menu?

Is it appropriate to share a tasting menu between two people?
I will be going to spago for the 10 course tasting menu, but my wife doesn't want that much food?

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        1. No. Don't try to do this.

          1. Please don't do this.

            The thing is, by definition a tasting menu is generally for the whole table and thus already "shared" amongst all the patrons.

            Asking to share a tasting menu would be the equivalent of buying one drink with free refills and "sharing" it with the entire table.

            1 Reply
            1. re: ipsedixit

              well no it's not the same, as you don't get "refills" on a tasting menu.

              But still, no, it is not acceptable to share a tasting menu.

            2. I agree with the no's. The thing with a tasting menu is that each course really is just a taste and it's over a long period of time, so it isn't that much food.

              1. Tasting menus are never that much food, usually only a bite of each item if it's 10 courses. Definitely not so much food to justify sharing.

                1 Reply
                1. re: hsk

                  Depends wildly on the restaurant. I've had six-course tastings that left me as full as if I'd just left a pizza buffet, and one ten-courser that sent me to a can of cashews when I got home. Spago's I have no idea about.

                  1. let jfood play devil's advocate...why not?

                    If he and mrs jfood go to a resataurant that has a 10-course event why can't they get 2 forks and share each of the dishes. Not asking for the kitchen to split the dish but just share as in a piece of chocolate cake for dessert.

                    What is this an iconic experience versus just 10 different courses to share in a similar manner to sharing an entree.

                    thoughts?

                    and please no "cheap" or just order 2 tasting menu comments. the former is not part of this question (and not helpful) and the latter is too obvious an answer. Jfood is looking for some thoughful, not snarky comments. TIA

                    31 Replies
                    1. re: jfood

                      I think that's a perfectly good question. However, I'd say the answer is that you're paying for the experience as much as the food in a tasting menu. It's almost akin to saying, "My wife and I are both very thin and can fit in a single airline seat. We'll take one ticket."

                      The pricing strategy at a full-service restaurant takes into account how many times the table can be turned, as well as how many seats there are to serve. If the place didn't get its minimum per seat per hour, it would close. Sharing the tasting menu -- which is always a long meal service -- would throw the ratio out of whack to the negative.

                      1. re: dmd_kc

                        I want to challenge this line of thought, because it comes up frequently - that it's not all right to share, etc. because the restaurant needs to "sell" every seat. What if one is eating alone? Then the restaurant is not "selling" the seat across the table from you. Should they not seat you if you're dining alone? Obviously, the answer is no. So I don't think that argument is particularly valid, although many folks propound it.

                        Now, having said that, I would answer "no" to the OP as well. To jfood's query, it just feels wrong. Why? It's like obscenity - I can't define it but I know it when I see it. I wouldn't do it. And honestly, I've never walked away from a tasting menu meal feeling like I was overly full, and I'm a pretty light eater. Most (though not all) courses are about three bites, so the OP might feel somewhat cheated if he doesn't get to eat it all. So why is it all right to share dessert? I guess in this instance it's more about social convention than anything else.

                        1. re: lisavf

                          "Should they not seat you if you're dining alone?"

                          Somewhere a nefarious restaurant owner is rubbing his hands together and laughing evilly, while he schemes about taking a page out of the "cruise lines" playbook and charging single diners a hefty "singles premium" for taking up a table and only ordering one meal... ;-D>

                          1. re: Servorg

                            I was at Spago for dinner recently and the table next to me had a single diner who ordered the tasting menu. She took her time, enjoying the food and her book, and appeared to receive excellent service. So Spago certainly harbors no ill will toward a 1 tasting-menu table. That said, something still seems wrong about sharing. In addition, some of the items on the tasting menu are quite small and would be difficult to share anyway (e.g., caviar cone).

                            1. re: Nicole

                              1. How often do you walk in to do a 10-course dinner? My guess is not that often. So you reserve a table for, say, 2. Some restaurants may even want to know ahead of time whether you'll be doing TM or not. So the restaurants know how many people will be seated and prep food accordingly. Of course there's always the aspect of someone in the party can't make it. Well, if it's a party of 2, you probably won't go alone. Good restaurant etiquette tells us that you probably should call up the restaurant asap so that they can release your table to someone else. If it's a party of 3 or more and 1 can't make it... well I guess it doesn't hurt as much then. I'm sure that they have a scale that they follow too - percentage of people not showing up, percentage of people ordering TM, fish, meat, vegetarian, so on and so forth. If this scale changes, like if sharing of a TM becomes widely acceptable, then restaurants will have to make changes (charge more or less bites) or risk closure. I've seen, and I'm sure many of you have also seen, that restaurants have made changes to the menu since the recession.

                              2. Is there a way to share elegantly? Two people digging into the same plate? What about soupy stuff? Do you ask for a fresh plate for each course - extra tips for the server?

                              3. It's a different serving style all together. Some restaurants serve family style. Tapas and Chinese dim sum, small plates, you order a whole bunch and share with people. Items on a tasting menu are created with no sharing in mind.

                          2. re: lisavf

                            Restaurants keep the two-top for one into account. But a place that has a tasting menu figures that number into its formula.

                            My basic point remains: The tasting menu is akin to an admittance fee. Sharing it isn't done, unless you want your nice place to go out of business.

                            People, quit trying to nickel-and-dime spendy places. If you want great, high-quality foods prepared well, you have to pay for it. Deal with that reality. If you want a lot of cheap crap, Cheesecake Factory will be happy to give you a pager that lights up when your table is ready, and you can order some of their garbage from a boil-a-bag.

                            1. re: dmd_kc

                              You're ranting against a straw man here. The OP's question clearly states that the reason they might want to share is quantity, not price - which I can very much identify with, my wife and I both being on the small side with limited capacity.

                              Personally, my main objection to sharing a tasting menu is that that type of a menu, especially at a high-end venue, places a heavy emphasis on small portions (often barely more than single-bite-sized) and artful presentation, making sharing both logistically impractical and aesthetically disruptive.

                        2. re: jfood

                          A reasonable question, but I still think it's wrong. A tasting menu, done right, is a hell of a lot of work for the kitchen, and I feel that they should get the full price intended.

                          1. re: jfood

                            My question is this:

                            If you're okay sharing the tasting menu would you also be okay with the restaurant (as many do) charging a fee for sharing?

                            1. re: jfood

                              Ok, let me buzz another hornet's nest ...

                              Do you tip based on a single diner's tasting menu price, or the price for two diners?

                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                jfood tips on the actual bill received (other than comps, etc). He adjusts the percentage based on the service and would give a higher percentage in the scenario described above, but nowhere close to 2x the price of the tasting menu.

                              2. re: jfood

                                Thank you for this, jfood, I'm quite curious as well why this is such a taboo.

                                Additionally, I'd like to know at what point it becomes "wrong"? When a couple is sharing the entire tasting menu? What if I get an entree and my SO gets the tasting menu, but doesn't care for one of the courses and passes it to me? Is that wrong as well? What if he doesn't care for 4 of the courses?

                                I understand the cost issue, but agree with lisavf, a solo diner would not be turned away and it's not as though a solo diner would be forced to sit with another solo diner to fill the 2-top like a single riders line at an amusement park... At least I don't think restaurants are doing that yet. Two diners sharing would likely at least have 2 (or more beverages), so the restaurant is still likely making more money than a solo diner with a single beverage.

                                I find the issue interesting and hope to hear more thoughts on the matter.

                                1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                  Usually, if not always, the tasting menu is for the entire table ... so your example of one person getting an entree and the other person getting the tasting menu is a nonstarter.

                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    I recognize that is usually the case, but I have been at some restaurants which allowed a single patron to get the tasting menu while another diner ordered from the menu.

                                    1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                      Really? I'd be curious as to where?

                                      This comes up sometimes and it'd be nice to know of options where only part of the party orders the tasting menu.

                                      By the way, just to be clear, I'm talking about tasting menus and not prix fixe menu options.

                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                        It would seem to me that it is a can of worms to offer the tasting member to just a subset of the party. 'cause then the original poster could order the TM, his wife could order a salad. or an appetizer And then they just share. And as all of us seem to understand at some gut level, that is perhaps hard to articulate, this just doesn't seem right. I've never seen a case where the TM is for anything other than the whole table.

                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                          Yes, tasting menu. I know I've seen it, because I know I've experienced it! I recall two occasions where the SO got a tasting menu and I declined because I wanted something specific. I'm sorry that I don't recall where exactly. Like I said, I do know that's rare.

                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                            i had the tasting menu at AUgust in NOLA while the rest the table ordered ala carte. i know i've done the same in NYC more than once, but ill be damned if i can recall where

                                        2. re: ipsedixit

                                          there are many that have table-only TMs but some do allow for both (very tough scheduling). But if a 2-top orders 1 TM then then whole table is orderingthe TM.

                                          1. re: jfood

                                            I had dinner at L'Atelier Joel Rubochon in Vegas a few years ago(prob spelled wrong) at a table for 7 or 8 where I was the only one who ordered a tasting menu. No problem for them.

                                      2. re: jfood

                                        I'd say that in addition to the resto wanting to charge for two tasting menus, the real issues for me would be logistics. The places were I've had tasting menus are fancier places, where one doesn't really "swap plates" or reach across the table to try a bite of someone else's food (or at least tries to do so as politely as possible). The plates are served with exactly the right amount of food for one person, and are artfully displayed. Sharing such a plate would mean that the second diner wouldn't have the same experience as the first (whether because of mixing sauces, or there isn't enough there or just asthetically it's not the same experience). It's sort of the same reason why some places don't do take out - they can't control the quality of the food or presentation once it leaves the establishment and they don't want to go down that road. (imagine sharing a fried egg...who gets to break the yolk???)

                                        To me, it's like a nice chocolate truffle. Can you share one? Sure, bite it in half, cut it in half, etc. Is it the same experience as having your own chocolate truffle? No. A tasting menu is the resto and chef's chance to shine and the diner pays a lot to experience it at the top of its game...makes sense to me that they wouldn't want to compromise the experience by allowing sharing.

                                        Plus, you've got the timing issue. Should they serve the next course when the previous course is passed from diner 1 to diner 2? OR when diner 2 is done? Or when diner 2 is done will it be passed back to diner 1 to finish the sauce? AND at nice restaurants they don't usually like to serve one diner a course while another diner is not served anything...so what to do? Split the tasting menu into two plates? With the portion size of a 10 course tasting menu that's a bit ridiculous and you might as well order two tasting menus...

                                        Anyway, my two cents..

                                        1. re: akq

                                          the only part of your post i have a problem with is up top -

                                          i see no problem w/swapping plates, or reaching across tables in any restaurant, no matter how "fancy" a place is. In fact the better the food the more likely i would want to share

                                          1. re: thew

                                            I had the same reaction...my husband and I always taste each other's food and sometimes swap plates in "fancy" restaurants, and I don't see any problem with that. Fine dining is first and foremost about enjoying the food!

                                            1. re: thew

                                              In restaurants, if we want to share, we discreetly pass our fork to the person who puts together a bite and passes it back. I think it's distracting to have plates passed all over the place.

                                              1. re: chowser

                                                "I think it's distracting to have plates passed all over the place."

                                                Boy, isn't that the truth. I was so startled once by someone passing a plate to their dining companion that I dropped a whole handful of peas! ;-D>

                                                  1. re: thew

                                                    Yeah, I don't know--it's just what I was taught as good manners. Probably to the same people who would be distracted if I used my sleeves instead of my napkin to wipe my mouth. If I were dining with Servorg and jfood, I'd be tempted to do it just to see peas and soda flying. ;-)

                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                      servorg, jfood and thew at a TM event. there would be more than peas and soda flying. :-))

                                                1. re: thew

                                                  Did you miss my parenthetical? "where one doesn't really "swap plates" or reach across the table to try a bite of someone else's food (or at least tries to do so as politely as possible)" - I think more traditional or formal persons might simply say it is *not done* in such a place, but for me, it is done, just trying to be as polite and inconspicuous about it as possible...

                                                  Plus, I was (inartfully) attempting to distinguish between a place where the kitchen would usually split the food for you onto two pretty plates (higher end) as opposed to a more casual place where they might just bring you an extra plate or place the food in the middle and have two diners eat off the same plate.

                                            2. As mentioned above...no.

                                                1. I've never had a problem with a restaurant not wanting to serve me the tasting menu when I'm traveling alone.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: sophie fox

                                                    I don't think that's at all the question. As someone else said, "it just seems wrong" for two people to share a tasting menu, while there's nothing wrong at all with a single person having one (sitting at a two person table).

                                                    1. re: DGresh

                                                      Acually, it was part of the discussion above:
                                                      "I want to challenge this line of thought, because it comes up frequently - that it's not all right to share, etc. because the restaurant needs to "sell" every seat. What if one is eating alone? Then the restaurant is not "selling" the seat across the table from you. Should they not seat you if you're dining alone? Obviously, the answer is no. So I don't think that argument is particularly valid, although many folks propound it."

                                                    1. Call the restaurant and ask. KISS

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                        So, OP, have you called Spago and asked? Please share their "rules" if/when you do.

                                                      2. I echo the response of one of the other posters...call ahead and ask. While I think it is odd to only order one TM to share where the other person orders nothing, I have dined on several occasions where my dining companion ordered a tasting menu and I ordered a few courses for myself. Sometimes restaurants have TM with different courses; On one occasion, I recall ordering a 5 course TM and my husband ordered a 7 or 8 course TM...the restaurant figured out when things came out and it worked out really well. I also see nothing wrong with sharing bites.

                                                        1. I've never been anywhere offering a tasting menu that doesnt require it to be served to the whole table,

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Harters

                                                            My wife and I just had the 6 course tasting menu at La Pergola in Rome and very surprisingly were told that as long as we had 6 courses, we did not have the same ones. To clarify, there was also a 9 course tasting menu, but for the 6 course we each could choose any six from among the 9. So yes, we both had the tasting menu, but they were really two different menus. Go figure.