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Pacing of Tasting Dinners

nickls Nov 3, 2010 02:13 PM

I have not done a lot of long tasting menus, but I am currently planning to have one at Craigie on Main for a special occasion and it got me thinking about how the courses are paced.

The last tasting dinner I had was at EVOO (listed as seven courses) and we actually had to leave before all the courses were delivered because my DC didn't realize just how long it was going to take. They seemed to be averaging 30-40 minutes between courses. It seemed really slow.

I think for me the time at the restaurant table is akin to watching a movie: around 3 hours is pretty much the max, and it better be epic if it's over 2.5. So it was looking like the EVOO tasting meal was going to take over 3 hours and I know someone who went to Alinea in Chicago and said it just went on for hours.

Does anyone have any experience with the pacing of the Craigie tasting menus, or other places around town?

EVOO Restaurant
350 Third Street, Cambridge, MA 02143

Craigie on Main
853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

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  1. Pia RE: nickls Nov 3, 2010 02:29 PM

    This was several years ago, back when Craigie wasn't on Main. But the tasting dinner I had went at a much brisker pace than your EVOO meal. After we finished each course, I think it was maybe 5-10 minutes or so until the next course. I think it took about 2-2.5 hours. It was a while ago and things may be different at the new location, but just one data point.

    EVOO Restaurant
    350 Third Street, Cambridge, MA 02143

    1 Reply
    1. re: Pia
      cambridgedoctpr RE: Pia Nov 3, 2010 04:22 PM

      i did the 6 course whim in 2 hours last week at Craigie on Main. And that pace seemed a bit slow to about right for me. i checked my cell phone when leaving.

      Craigie on Main
      853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

    2. barleywino RE: nickls Nov 4, 2010 05:12 AM

      Clio is about 15 minutes between courses (shorter initially, but longer towards the end/ dessert courses). Journeyman was about 20 minutes between courses. Troquet is less than 15 minutes iirc. Some places will attempt to accomodate you if you tell them you have a time limitation, especially if you can tell them ahead of time (when you reserve.)

      1. t
        toomuchfat RE: nickls Nov 4, 2010 05:14 AM

        Naturally, it depends on the number of courses (30+ at minibar).

        I don't think any tasting menu should take longer than 2 1/2 hours and most should be accomplished in 2.

        I'm a fast eater though...I don't like lukewarm food unless it is supposed to be served that way.

        1. s
          samsoon RE: nickls Nov 4, 2010 12:42 PM

          I have done a few tasting menus - Clio, Troquet, Oya, Oishii, L'Espalier to name a few. It varied from 2.5 to 3.5 hours depending on the restaurant and the number of courses. Our most recent one was at L'Espalier for a 13 course with wine pairing, and that took about 3 hours and we loved the pacing - not so long between courses that we felt neglected or bored and just enough to get ready for the next course (and it also took longer toward the end which we also appreciated).

          Btw,on a separate note, it is our anniversary tradition to go back to L'Espalier and sit at the same table each year, and we were really impressed by the food this year as well as their attentiveness to notice that it was our anniversary based on our last year's reservation and to print out our anniversary menu with wine pairing at the end of the meal.

          774 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199

          140 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116

          1. lipoff RE: nickls Nov 5, 2010 01:07 AM

            I have never found pacing during tasting menus to be a problem, except for once at Momofuku Ko (in New York) for lunch, when we felt quite rushed. I try not to schedule anything following a tasting menu because I think rushing ruins the mood a bit, but from time to time I've had to. If you have a time constraint, just mention it to the server ("we need to be out the door by 9 PM") and they will make sure it happens.

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