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What is YOUR meaning of fine dining?

I'm pretty crazy about top-notch food and fine dining restaurants. As a researcher in the food service industry, I've focused my research on this field. So far, I got some quite varied and sometimes contrary views on what fine dining means to the individual, ranging from "expensive and overpriced", through "stiff ambience" to "two-hour vacation from a busy day". Obviously, this is a quite controversial issue for some.

So I thought it might be pretty interesting to see what a bunch of foodies has to say to this topic. What is your personal meaning of fine dining? And what do you personally associate with it?

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  1. Fine dining is something that I can only afford once in a while and that I want to "dress up" for the occasions.

    Expensive and over-priced are two different things. something expensive is not necessarily over-priced and something cheap can be over-priced.

    Ambiance: if you do not feel welcome in a restaurant (stiff ambiance, posh-ish staff, ...) then it's NOT fine dining.

      1. re: beevod

        LOL... that is what my grandpa says makes a restaurant great!

      2. For myself, it means dressing up, a warm and inviting environment (something with a great view also is a plus - ocean, city lights, etc.), linen on the table, DH across the table, candle light, fantastic food that I would not necessarily make at home, not having to worry about time and a fantastic wait staff. It also is usually expensive, but not "over priced" - as Max said - "expensive is not necessarily over-priced and something cheap can be over-priced."

        1 Reply
        1. When the waitress doesn't begin the service by introducing herself, that's a good sign.

          1. If you come back from the ladies room & your napkin is folded, you're in a fine dining restaurant. Unless it's a paper napkin. Then I'm not sure.

            7 Replies
            1. re: small h

              If it's a paper napkin than it should be folded into a crane.

              1. re: bookhound

                Where do you stand on aluminum foil swans for leftovers? Back in the day, THAT was the mark of a quality establishment.

                1. re: small h

                  Puleeze, anyone can make a tin foil swan,

                  1. re: bookhound

                    HEY! Don't wreck it! I freakin' love those things.

                    1. re: bookhound

                      Well, sure, but I can also fold a napkin and make a salad. Doesn't mean I don't appreciate that someone else does those things for me when I'm out & about.

                      1. re: small h

                        I was being facetious or at least trying. Honestly I've never even seen the foil swan except on an episode of Seinfeld. The joke about asking for a doggy bag on a date was pretty funny.

                        1. re: bookhound

                          I know you were kidding. I've seen plenty of foil swans. I accidentally left one in the limo on the night of my junior prom, which tells you exactly where I stand re dates & doggy bags - pro!