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TWEEZERS, The Downfall Starts There

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l eat about 200-250 meals a year at restaurants, lunches and dinners and finally realized what makes a meal successful for me or not. What l have realized has been difficult to put into words successfully for me up to now. l enjoy a plate of non fussy food. Portions need not be enormous but should be a portion not a middling pile of umpteen ingredients surrounding one 'perfect' shrimp or other main item.
l came to the conclusion if the kitchen uses tweezers more than a teeny bit l am most likely not going to be happy.
In this respect l differ from many, many critics and many, many consumers but it is my money and thus my choice how l choose to eat.
l simply do not want a 10 course meal of little bits assembled by tweezers that guarantee me the food will be presented beautifully, but be one or two bites thus even good, not enough to really be a course rather than a larger amuse and primarily never be hot enough.
They screw over that duck breast, cut and precisely positioned, so there is no way it can be served at peak temperature.
Eat as you will, but please keep this stuff far from me.

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  1. Serve me frou frou and we're thru thru................

    I don't want my meal overhandled and looking like a food stylist had arranged it for a photo shoot.

    1. I am in total agreement with this.

      1. As Julia Child once said, "This has been touched too much. It doesn't look 'foody' to me."

        1. I generally agree with you but we had an amazing meal at Tickets Bar in Barcelona about a year ago that would be the exception to my rule :) But I wouldn't want that more than a few times in my life probably.

          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/878068

          4 Replies
          1. re: c oliver

            l have been blessed to have been at El Bulli three times, mostly before he became super famous, and while the meals were food theater rather than real food, what was served was excellent and yes molecular but not really screwed with. Had a teaspoon full of tomato water on the second visit that haunts me everytime l see a tomato.

            1. re: Delucacheesemonger

              Perhaps they set a standard that few others can come close to. They served the ubiquitous pan con tomate and even it was something above and beyond. I do have to admit that we rarely eat at high end places so I'm surely not as discriminating as you :)

            2. re: c oliver

              My response was going to be almost word for word what you said @c oliver! I left my love of fussy food back in the early 2000s and I am glad I did. BUT... we did eat at Tickets this past October while in Spain and it was amazing! I think the reason I enjoyed it so much was because A) It is basically a tapas bar so the dishes are supposed to be small to begin with and B) the atmosphere is so casual and the service so friendly that I did not think of the food as being fussy at all. We had 16 courses!!!

              These days for the most part though, give me a good solid portion (but not a huge portion) of recognizable, fresh and well-prepared food, in a nice environment with good customer service, and I am happy.

              1. re: ttoommyy

                And I agree with you on all counts. I don't know that I've ever had another meal that was more fun :)

            3. The correct terminology is "Precious Portions," prepared by restaurants and chefs with an inflated sense of importance.

              1. I'm not fond of the food being piled up on top of each other. No towers, please. The sides can snuggle up to the main protein, sauce everything up and I'm happy with that.

                2 Replies
                1. re: breadchick

                  Is there a lot of "stacked" food about these days? I was kinda hoping we'd seen the last of that.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    I thought that aesthetic gastronomy died in 1990. It was fun for a few years but it should be left to fine dining pastry chefs.

                2. You and C1 should go out together.

                  1. I won't go anywhere near that kind of place.

                    1. There's a place in my eating for the multi-course tasting menu with its almost inherent tweezer work. A couple of times a year, I'm happy to go to one of the places that do it really well - places like L'Enclume in north west England, or In de Wulf in Belgium.
                      Both knocking out, interesting, seasonal food that you're just not going to experience elsewhere.
                      But, for the most part, I'm with the OP - just let me pick three "proper" courses from your menu. By all means, please throw in some canapes, an amuse bouche and a pre-dessert.

                      1. I am pretty much in agreement with you, but the other more experimental/molecular/ultramodern/a bit "too precious" food is another experience entirely. I love a nice steak, chop or roast with mashed potatoes, gravy and great simple vegetables and/or a salad...but that's not to say that a meal at the French Laundry, Alinea, or the now-departed El Bulli would not be fun. Certainly for someone who eats out a lot (as you obviously do), I'd agree that I'd want "real food" 99% of the time and "tweezer food" only on the rare special occasion when I want to have fun and experiment with something truly new and inventive.

                        1. I am in the somewhat opposite camp to you. Being on a tight budget but loving food, when I go out I want it as complex and frou frou as you can make it! Give me your foams, your soils, your shards, your curds - the more complicated, the better. Naturally, it has to taste good too.
                          Now that I only eat out a handful of times a year, I want food that I can't make at home. I want dishes that take a team of chefs to prepare, that require ingredients and kitchenware that are awesome in their ridiculousness. I want dishes that completely spoil me.
                          Simple and tasty I can do myself or go to my parents' place.

                          14 Replies
                          1. re: Billy33

                            That really is a good point. And I hardly ever will order anything that I can cook competently.

                            1. re: c oliver

                              Agree...or anything which I might be able to cook competently, but which is too much work to do so.

                            2. re: Billy33

                              Being on a tight budget, how can you afford the higher prices for that type of cuisine? I 'd be surprised if you weren't still hungry when you left.

                              1. re: mucho gordo

                                "Now that I only eat out a handful of times a year (...)".

                                There's your answer.

                                1. re: linguafood

                                  ...........and you're not hungry when you leave the restaurant??

                                  1. re: mucho gordo

                                    Nope - certainly not after 9+ courses.

                                    1. re: linguafood

                                      Agreed. And I make the distinction between being satisfied and stuffed. I really like walking out of a restaurant feeling completely comfortable from not over eating. And there's also the "emotional" satisfaction of having small amounts of perfect food. And I'm sure OP makes the same distinction with non-tweezer places also.

                                      1. re: linguafood

                                        My longest meal this year was 23 courses.

                                        €115, excluding drinks but including tax (if there was any) and service. Michelin 1* In de Wulf, in Dranouter, Belgium. Worth every single cent even if not every dish worked for me.

                                        1. re: Harters

                                          I can't do those meals anymore. I think it's mostly psychological, but I fill up quickly given the relatively slower pace (as opposed to my home-cooked meals that we usually wolf down like we haven't been fed in weeks :-D), and the knowledge of umpteen more dishes to come.

                                          Shame, but also saves a boatload of cash.

                                          1. re: linguafood

                                            I cannot eat a lot any more either. The 16 courses of tapas at Tickets I mentioned up above was quite out of the ordinary for us. In fact, my husband and I share courses now. And to think, when we first were together 19 years ago, we were both able to handle three courses plus dessert each! Not anymore, though. And I like it that way!

                                            1. re: ttoommyy

                                              We had 12 (just counted!) and were perfectly happy. That kind of food - minus the tweezers :) - actually appeals to us. We got to taste LOTS of different WONDERFUL things.

                                              1. re: ttoommyy

                                                Yah, we generally split a few apps, have a main & no dessert. Or we'll share a dessert. It's plenty of food.

                                    2. re: mucho gordo

                                      I save up or I go out when I've had a bit of a windfall. I rarely spend my money on eating out at mundane places for 'routine' meals e.g. when I'm tempted to buy a mince and cheese pie from the bakery for lunch I tell myself that I could use that money towards going out and then I happily eat my lunch I brought from home.
                                      I also have an Entertainment Book which gives amazing discounts. The Grabone website also has some great degustation deals come up for some excellent restaurants here in New Zealand.
                                      I'm not a big spender on very much except for food - my haircut costs me $28 every 4 weeks (I'm a female and I still think that $28 is a lot of money for haircut! I used to pay $15 for the longest time!) I'm a veterinary nurse so I don't have to spend money on office clothes and shoes, petrol doesn't cost me too much as I live close to my work. I don't have cable TV, I use my local public library religiously and I don't subscribe to any magazines. I have no debts whatsoever. I am on a tight budget but I'm not on the breadline.
                                      Please note that when I say I love complex and frou frou food when I'm dining out, these don't necessarily mean teeny tiny portions. One of my other requirements when I eat out is that I don't come away hungry! Also, I don't only eat out at expensive restaurants, but I do prefer places that offer dishes that are too complex to make at home. One of my favourite places has a range of chaat (Indian savoury snacks). It's really well priced but I couldn't make them at home due to the huge range of ingredients.The chaat are delicious, you could call it 'simple' because it's street food, but the assembly, flavour and ingredients are by no means 'simple' to me.

                                    3. re: Billy33

                                      My dining-out funds are limited too but I when I eat out, I find myself leaning towards simple and tasty foods of other cultures that I don't know how to, or rarely do, make.

                                      Different strokes...!

                                    4. What if they used really BIG tweezers?

                                      (Or what some people might call small tongs.)

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                        Like this?

                                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/hellokit...

                                        1. re: c oliver

                                          Like this.

                                           
                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                            LOL!!!! NO... NOT like that :)

                                          2. re: c oliver

                                            Your tweezers are standard plating tweezers and of what l speak

                                            1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                              I thought I had a picture but didn't. Tickets actually had those as utensils for some dishes. For diners, not just for plating.