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Expectations

What would you think if you went to a nice restaurant and ordered Eggs Benadict, and were served this:

http://tinyurl.com/28uetg2

I don't want to make any possibly prejudicial remarks up front, but I am curious about the ties between our expectations and surprise. What would yours be?

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  1. Extreme disappointment...small portion and no delicous, runny egg (as far as I can see)..

    I could probably live without the hollandaise but without a crisp, hot muffin, an oozy egg, and some salty Canadian bacon, it's not EB.

    I kinda like molecular but it should be clear from the menu.

    1 Reply
    1. re: toomuchfat

      I agree, it should be clear from the menu. I don't mind molecular but it isn't my top choice usually.

    2. Depends upon the circumstances.

      If I was expecting a regular version I would be disappointed. I love EB, and it is hard to satisfy that particular craving with anything else.

      If I was dining at a place where I was aware of the style, then I would be ready to enjoy their riff on an old standard. This type of dining is fun and often delicious, but it is not a style I want to experience daily.

      Sort of like film - some days you are in a mood for something very arty and cerebral, other days you really just want to see an old fav for the umpteenth time.

      1. If I were at Denny's I would fall of my chair, but if I were at WD-50 I wouldn't even wink. It's all about context.

        Now, if you put American cheese in my eggs benny without writing it on the menu...

        1 Reply
        1. re: SnackHappy

          If this is the kind of surprise one might get at WD-50 and similar slick places, maybe the safe thing to do is eat before you go.

        2. I hope that didn't cost more than 30 cents

          1 Reply
          1. re: ChrisOC

            At WD-50? I'm sure it was considerabley more.

          2. When I want EB, I want the real deal: English muffin, Canadian Bacon/ham, poached egg and Hollandaise sauce. Sprig of parsley and orange twist optional. I'd be sadly disappointed to be served this. But then I wouldn't be inclined to order it at a restaurant that specializes in deconstruction and molecular gastronomy... :-)

            1. I usually know something about a restaurant before I eat there. So I would not be surprised, just as I would not be surprised to find no actual pearls in a dished named "oysters and pearls." Gotta say I'm a little surprised that people who read Chowhound are still surprised that molecular gastronomy exists, though.

              13 Replies
              1. re: small h

                They're not surprised. They just enjoy taking the piss out of it.

                1. re: SnackHappy

                  I know. I find anti-elitism about as charming as elitism, which is to say not very. You don't like it, don't eat it, but don't mock it either.

                  1. re: small h

                    " I find anti-elitism about as charming as elitism, which is to say not very. "

                    That should replace at least a part of the sadly lacking "manifesto."

                  2. re: small h

                    I'm not sure how you conclude that we don't know that MG exists.

                    Caroline described the place as a "nice" restaurant. There are quite a few restaurants that do a hybrid menu consisting of a few MG dishes and mostly conventional stuff (e.g. Cafe Atlantico).

                    In my experience, if it's a MG'ed version of a dish, they'll put the name of the dish that was riffed in quotation marks ("Eggs Benedict"). She wrote Eggs Benedict from a "nice" restaurant so I think a reasonable person would have expected a resonable facsimilie of the classic.

                    1. re: toomuchfat

                      But it's clear from the link that this nice restaurant is WD-50, whose chef\owner is the poster boy for Molecular Gastronomy. At a Dufresne restaurant, this is exactly what I would expect to see when ordering eggs benedict. (And, I suppose, it's exactly why I would not eat at WD-50).

                      1. re: gaffk

                        I've wasted a lot of time in pissing matches here so I will make one last statement and move on.

                        Caroline described a nice restaurant and Eggs Benedict. I clicked on a link that showed a deconstructed MG course. I suppose I could have noticed that the link was from WD-50 but I didn't.

                        In the context of nice restaurant and no quotes around the EB, I said I would have been dissapointed. Anyone who knows WD-50 would not have been surprised with that in the least. However, given how Caroline constructed the original post, I don't think that those of us who said we would have been surprised were "wrong."

                        Maybe Caroline will say why she constructed the question the way she did. She is a sophisticated CH contributor...I'm sure she would know what WD-50 is so she probably had a reason for this.

                        Then there's the possiblity she had a brain fart...we all do from time to time.

                        1. re: toomuchfat

                          It's clear that the OP either doesn't understand WD-50, or perhaps simply wants to start some sort of conversation (I wouldn't call it a "discussion" because there's really nothing to discuss based on how she framed her post).

                          1. re: tommy

                            Strange the things some people find "clear." I think I have a pretty good grasp of molecular gastronomy, but I suppose I could be fooling myself. '-)

                          2. re: toomuchfat

                            I tried to word my post in the least prejudicial way I could, but that's not an easy thing to do. I used tiny url to make it a tad more difficult for people to recognize right off that WD-50 is the restaurant. There is some molecular gastronomy that I like. I'm currently still in the "cerebral stage" of trying to figure out how to make a credible Bearnaise sauce by using MG methodology in p[lace of all that butter, but I ain't there yet! There are some things that I personally find very exciting visually, but others that I find disconcerting. I found the eggs Benedict disconcerting and was curious if I'm the only one... A year or so ago I saw photographs of an MG dessert that looked for all the world like a big red shiny balloon sitting on a dessert plate. Can't remember where I saw it though or I'd be mail ordering the goodies to duplicate that!

                            1. re: Caroline1

                              but the fact that it is wd-50 completely shapes the expectations that you title the thread. hiding that fact is indeed disingenuous.

                              i happen to love wd-50 and their whimsical takes on food classics. it's one of the reasons i go. if i went to wd-50 and was served an everyday plate of benedict that i can get at any diner, i would be disappointed.

                              so given the place, that plate exactly meets my expectations. and i'm sure it was delicious too.

                              1. re: Caroline1

                                I understand not wanting to bias people, but if the question becomes whether the MG tasting-sized portion of "eggs benedict" is an acceptable substitute for a meal-sized portion of traditional eggs benedict when the later is what a patron had in mind, the answer is a pretty simple and uninteresting 'no.'

                                Much in the same way that a motorcycle is not an acceptable substitute for a u-haul moving truck. They're two different things and the context in which you order them matters too much to be left out of the question.

                                It would be a bit more interesting if the portion size were similar. But even then, I don't think you can get away with serving deconstructed dishes unless the diner knows that deconstruction is at least an option.

                          3. re: toomuchfat

                            <I'm not sure how you conclude that we don't know that MG exists.>

                            You're right, that wasn't really my conclusion, and I should have phrased it differently. Here goes:

                            Gotta say I'm a little surprised that people who read Chowhound would dine at a restaurant specializing in molecular gastronomy and be surprised to find their meal employed molecular gastronomy.

                            Better? And here's what would surprise me: ordering Eggs Benedict and being served Eggs Florentine. That would be really weird.

                        2. If all the other plates I could see (while being seated as well as while seated) looked like this, then no. I always check out the other tables.

                          If all other plates looked more like 'normal' meals, then, I would ask to see the menu and figure out how I found that bizarre subsection for ordering.

                          1. If you've decided to eat at WD-50 you should have the appropriate expectations. It's not a diner.

                            1. Knowing that the dish came from WD-50, that interpretation would not be a surprise, nor a disappointment (unless it lacked flavor).

                              How is this any different than going to an Asian vegetarian restaurant, ordering Beef with Broccoli, and receiving a dish containing gluten-based mock beef instead of cow-based beef ?

                              1. I'd say "I'm so sorry, I ordered eggs benedict." I see no identifiable meat, no holindaise, and no way to combine the ingredients that are there into the combination that so many people crave. If i wanted an egg, an english muffin, and a slice of canadian bacon, that's what I would order. The other items on this link don't claim to be something they aren't. This does.

                                It's not that I don't enjoy molecular gastronomy, but if you are going to do it, don't pretend it's something it isn't. If this were even called 'deconstructed benedict', I'd have some room to be forgiving.

                                9 Replies
                                1. re: KaimukiMan

                                  Exactly how I feel, KM. And for the record, I didn't stop to look at where that particular version was being offered; just reacted to what I was told it was and totally didn't see on the plate.

                                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                                    You'd honestly tell the server at WD-50 "I'm so sorry, I ordered eggs benedict."

                                    I'd like to record that exchange for youtube. It would be enormous.

                                    1. re: tommy

                                      Yes. Sometimes it can be a great pleasure to be a philistine. And living out here in the boondocs, I have never heard of WD-50. And no, i wont make inane comments about spray lube. But why would a creative chef (and whoever created that was talented) want to call it eggs benedict? None of the other food on the link was named with something it wasn't. And I don't see how something that doesn't have the basic components of a dish be called that. It would be like putting steamed rice, an esoteric tomato condiment, and a cube of steak tartar on a plate and calling it spaghetti. It might be eye catching, it might taste wonderful, but it isn't spaghetti.

                                      1. re: KaimukiMan

                                        The basic components are there. Read the description in this article. It might not be your idea of eggs benny, but it's not too far off from the original.

                                        http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/05/din...

                                        1. re: KaimukiMan

                                          "None of the other food on the link was named with something it wasn't. "

                                          Really? The scrambled egg ravioli certainly doesn't strike me as being a ravioli.

                                          I'm amazed that people question the motives of people who they don't know and have never heard of.

                                          1. re: KaimukiMan

                                            you are SO wrong. for example the bagel in his sunday breakfast homage is not a bagel, it is ice cream that tastes exactly like a bagel. brilliant and hysterical

                                            here's how it is done:
                                            http://newyork.metromix.com/restauran...

                                            1. re: thew

                                              oh yah. that everything bagel was outstanding (if minuscule) - bagel ice cream, cream cheese disk, tiny onion ring, and freeze-dried salmon.

                                        2. re: KaimukiMan

                                          "It's not that I don't enjoy molecular gastronomy, but if you are going to do it, don't pretend it's something it isn't. If this were even called 'deconstructed benedict', I'd have some room to be forgiving."
                                          ___

                                          Going to an MG restaurant with that attitude is like sitting down at a game of Monopoly and then becoming outraged that the money isn't valid US currency. If you're not willing to suspend disbelief and play along, MG is not for you.

                                          MG takes license with culinary traditions because that's THE WHOLE DANG POINT OF IT.

                                          On the other hand, if you got that version of eggs benedict at a random diner, I'd understand being miffed.

                                          1. re: cowboyardee

                                            Forgive me for repeating whats already been stated, but this is my take: if I order eggs benedict at a diner and get this, I'm going to be pissed. If I order "eggs benedict" at WD-50 and get diner eggs benedict, I'm going to be pissed. Corollary obviously also holds- happy to have diner EB at a diner, happy with this at WD-50.

                                            It's totally about context- which, btw, I found to be completely lacking from the OP- in one setting it's appropriate, and the other it's not. And I think a component of this is the size- at a diner I'm likely just getting EB, so I except a reasonable portion, at WD-50 I presume this is part of a larger tasting menu so the small size is appropriate and even necessary.

                                          1. If I ordered Eggs Benedict at WD-50 and got a standard order of it, I'd be pretty disappointed.

                                            4 Replies
                                              1. re: LeoLioness

                                                I would be equally disappointed if I needed 37 orders of it to satisfy an ordinary hunger.

                                                1. re: Veggo

                                                  Everyone I know who goes to WD-50 and Moto other restaurants of the MG ilk always walks out hungry. I'm surprised they stay in business.

                                                  1. re: Veggo

                                                    Is that an entree-sized portion, though? Or part of a larger meal?

                                                2. incidentally, that course was my man's fave at wd-50. i didn't like it very much, thought the foie gras with passion fruit was much more exciting.

                                                  i had the same worry some people expressed: that we wouldn't feel satiated. well, after 9 courses of those portions, you are full. trust me.

                                                  1. Would I be surprised when the dish was presented? Absolutely. Would I be disappointed? It would depend on how it tasted and the textures.

                                                    And that statement relates to absolutely every dish at a GM restaurant.

                                                    The pictures show a bunch of different styles of GM and I think that the EB is really on the cutting edge versus the photos further in the deck.

                                                    If this were the only course i would be very disappointed, if this were a course in a tasting delight, it looks like it would be a nice one to try.

                                                    1. Thank you all for your answers. The thing that struck me about the WD-5- Eggs Benadict was that there was NOTHING about it that remotely brought Eggs Benedict to mind. Runny yolk, Bearnaise sauce, a touch of ham and a chewy English muffin are all critical components in my idea of EB. I was struck by not being able to find anything on the plate that brought any of those associations to mind.

                                                      I'm not against decontruction, though it's not my favorite thing to be served. BUT! Sometimes it can be fun. A cube of grilled eggplant, a flavorful piece of meat in any form, a smear of bechamel across the plate and a few generous dots of tomato garlic sauce artfully placed and I can go along with that being a deconstructed moussaka. Which is not to say I wouldn't prefer the real thing, but it can be fun on occasion. The ONLY thing I could find on the WD-50 eggs Benadict plate even remotely evocative of the original was the small yolk colored cylinder, but that took some thought to come up with.

                                                      So I was curious what others thought. My goal in how I worded things was to try to be as non-prejudicial as possible so your responses weren't influenced by my wording. I thank you all for the feedback!

                                                      9 Replies
                                                      1. re: Caroline1

                                                        You base all of this on a picture, having never actually eaten it?

                                                        1. re: tommy

                                                          Sight is an important aspect to eating as well as taste and smell. I agree with C1 that if this was a "name that dish" on a multiple choice question, I would be very hard pressed to choose EB. In fact looking at the photo I am hard pressed to name the ingredients from the photo.

                                                          So on the photo, I would give this a C for a grade and cannot grade the other two senses. But others I trust have chimed in to describe the taste as wonderful, so I am jealous that I have missed this restaurant so far.

                                                          1. re: jfood

                                                            What I found interesting is on the menu on the website, http://www.wd-50.com/menu.php most (actually, I think, all) of the other dishes list the main components, but the EB is just listed as Eggs Benedict. Looking at the dishes that do have pictures and list the components, I can mostly figure out which ingredient is which. But on the EB, thinking about what is in a traditional EB, I can't really make that same identification.

                                                            Can someone who has had it help out?

                                                            1. re: Sooeygun

                                                              S

                                                              More fun if those of us who have never tried it go first.

                                                              Here's my guesses:

                                                              1 - fried laces - fried thinly sliced bread for the crispy texture of the english muffin
                                                              2 - cylinders - my guess is the egg component which would also give a nice smooth texture
                                                              3 - cubes - i struggled with this one but came up with a canadian bacon mousse with the hollandaise incorporated with the outside also adding a tad of crunchy
                                                              4 - the nike-swoosh - my guess is an egg yolk based sauce. it looks greenish and depending on the lineage of the eggs this may be the answer

                                                              Thats my guess

                                                              1. re: Sooeygun

                                                                Actually, Snackhappy posted the answer yesterday when he (or she?) posted this link to the NYT:
                                                                http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/05/din...

                                                                It will explain the construction of the dish

                                                                1. re: gaffk

                                                                  so much for my guesses and having any inside information. :-((

                                                                  thanks G

                                                                  1. re: jfood

                                                                    Sorry to ruin the fun :( But you were ridiculously close going by just the picture alone.

                                                                    1. re: gaffk

                                                                      nah, not to worry. i am doing a burger search in the area and went to aplace expecting nothing and it hit the ball out of the park. doesn't get better thanthat.

                                                                      btw - it looked like a burger as well, halloween was sunday.

                                                          2. re: Caroline1

                                                            Would you really want a full plate of eggs benedict for your dinner appetizer? or a course in a tasting menu? Note that WD50 only serves dinner and this is the context where this particular dish exists. If you still believe you NEED to have eggs benedict your way, then you've probably walked into the wrong restaurant.

                                                          3. While it is a beautiful (and most likely delicious) construct, I'm fairly certain I would be feeling surprised myself. But then I suppose if I was somewhere that specialised in molecular gastronomy I would be disinclined to order eggs benedict; I personally enjoy some dishes for their simple comfort, and EB is one of those.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: TheHuntress

                                                              So you'd actually not order that dish because of the name.

                                                              1. re: tommy

                                                                I know I probably wouldn't order it. Because I would know it wasn't going to be anything like the EB I know and love. Like Huntress, EB is a simple comfort food for me. With so many other interesting things on the menu, I would avoid this one.