Is gourmet the food or the setting?

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If you recall last Fall we had guests who stayed here who wrote a review about another B&B stay prior to here who commented on the fancy silver and crystal did not make up for the lack in the food. I think it may have been a situation where they were already peeved off and so every little thing thereafter was not sufficient.

What is your take? Does a fancy setting make the meal nicer? 

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Madeleine's picture
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Here's something about what we add to the meal making it 'better'...

Improving your condiments

It takes a bold and confident cook to serve a naked hot dog. No roll, no kraut, no mustard.

And a movie shown on a bare wall in an empty room is never going to be received as well as one seen in a crowded theater.

It might be bold to put your work into the world unadorned, but it's probably ineffective.

We know that a placebo works better if it's handed to you by a doctor in a lab coat, and that the little show the sommelier puts on improves the taste of wine.

The packaging, the service, the environment, the hours, the interactions, the way it feels to tell our friends--these are all the free prize.

This bonus, the extra free prize that doesn't seem to be the point of the item itself, is often more important than the thing you think you actually make. The single most effective way to improve your impact is to do a better job of providing it.

Sure, a better hot dog is always appreciated. But when you want to increase user satisfaction, don't forget to offer better mustard.

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 This thread is actually about B&B breakfasts, and place settings, lack of "great food" etc, not restaurants and outside the inn providers, just wanted to clarify as the tangent runs wild...

gillumhouse's picture
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It is in the perception and experience level of the guest re gourmet.

A cousin's kid who had never experienced anything other than McD thought Ch i-c hi's was a "nice" restaurant. Same goes for breakfast - if a bowl of whea ties is the norm.......

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Gourmet can come in a pic-nic basket. Been there, done that. ps this can be severed in room. All meals here are" room service" style.

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Ice
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I ani't fancy and I don''t want to be!  But we do offer the best!!!  Don't have to be fancy smancy!     Alot of people have commented about all the details around this place.  And yes I did it all!!!!  

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Went to Google -

Definition: Gourmet refers to:

  1. Someone who is a connoiseur of good food and drink.
  2. Gourmet food is of the highest quality and flavor, prepared well and presented in an artful manner.
  3. A gourmet restaurant is one considered to serve the highest quality food.

So it's all about the food, baby!   

 

Silverspoon's picture
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Gourmet is the food, although usually gourmet food is served in an up-scale, refined setting so I often link them in my mind. To me gourmet means, fresh food, individually prepared for each guest to order, sometimes, but not always, using unusual combinations and presented in a visually interesting manner. Usually the word gourmet implies that the meal will be consumed in the restuarant, in a leisurely, relaxed, refined setting because usually, gourmet also means $$$$ and who wants to pay that kind of money to eat in their car?    But as Maddie so aptly points out, there are places that specialize in one type of food and carry it to the gourmet level in a setting that is not usually associated with the word "gourmet".  

 

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Madeleine's picture
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I know our guest cohort is a mix of those who would eat a gourmet breakfast and those who would ask if I could scramble up some eggs if I put a 'gourmet' breakfast in front of them.

We have guests who RAVE about this one place they stayed yonks ago. The innkeeper was a 'home ec' teacher and she served only 'gourmet' food. And no guest ever got the same meal twice. Ever. (OK I have too many repeats to try to work out a menu like that!)

They like our food but I doubt they rave about it to other innkeepers, over and over again. <sigh>

We're working on perfecting a 'diner' style menu here. Gourmet, to me, means lots of odd ingredients and all kinds of sauces.

Breakfast Diva's picture
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I'm amazed how often I hear our guests call our breakfast 'gourmet'. It's not gourmet, it's just good home cooking like most b&bs. I think serving it on the fine china and beautiful cutlery takes it to the next level.

Hey, I'll take the compliment anyway! It's funny though, because any time I do try to do a 'gourmet' type breakfast, I get more food coming back into the kitchen. I learned years ago, just stick with the good home cookin' for our location.

Kay Nein's picture
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Breakfast Diva wrote:

 

It's funny though, because any time I do try to do a 'gourmet' type breakfast, I get more food coming back into the kitchen. I learned years ago, just stick with the good home cookin' for our location.

I agree!  I'm so worried about putting some ingredients in things even though I know it would be delicious, because I'd rather not have someone send their plate back full of food.  Simple & yummy done well is our motto for sure!

gillumhouse's picture
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Gourmet is the food, elegant is the setting.

My food is not gourmet but the unexpected setting enhances what I serve (in my mind anyway). I do not think they expect charges and knife rests in West Virginia.

Madeleine's picture
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Conversely...a really nice setting can make a great meal better. It can make a good meal seem better. But it can't do a thing for lousy food or bad presentation or bad staff.

Madeleine's picture
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It's the expectation that's the issue. I say this because people will stand for 2 hours in the rain to get a lobster roll that they have to eat in their car. And they go back year after year. BUT, they have been warned...there are lines, it's outside, it's worth waiting for.

Standing on a shorter line, eating sooner, having an awning or overhang or umbrella tables does not seem to help the place across the street from the 'famous' one.

So, if the expectation is that the food is going to be wonderful, and it isn't, the 'ambience' isn't going to make up for it. If the food is great but the place is a dive, people will go back and tell everyone, 'Yeah, it's a dive, but the food is great!' (I do this all the time...'Ignore the exterior, the interior and everything else. The food is great and the people are very nice.' ) I would never say, 'It's a gorgeous restaurant, but the food is meh, you should go there anyway just to see it.'

'It's really pretty, but the food is blah,' does not get repeat biz.

I think the word 'gourmet' applies to food rather than the setting.

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Madeleine wrote:

It's the expectation that's the issue. I say this because people will stand for 2 hours in the rain to get a lobster roll that they have to eat in their car. And they go back year after year. BUT, they have been warned...there are lines, it's outside, it's worth waiting for.

Standing on a shorter line, eating sooner, having an awning or overhang or umbrella tables does not seem to help the place across the street from the 'famous' one.

So, if the expectation is that the food is going to be wonderful, and it isn't, the 'ambience' isn't going to make up for it. If the food is great but the place is a dive, people will go back and tell everyone, 'Yeah, it's a dive, but the food is great!' (I do this all the time...'Ignore the exterior, the interior and everything else. The food is great and the people are very nice.' ) I would never say, 'It's a gorgeous restaurant, but the food is meh, you should go there anyway just to see it.'

'It's really pretty, but the food is blah,' does not get repeat biz.

I think the word 'gourmet' applies to food rather than the setting.

We are facing this issue at the moment.  We have a so-so Vineyard Winery that features a "gourmet" menu (their word not mine) that is overpriced and not that good.  We have been sending guests there for a nicer dining experience because our selection of quality restaurants in our town is ZERO.   We've now been getting comments about the lousy service and ridiculous prices from our guests and are torn about what to do.  If they would get their act together,  it would be perfect.  Frankly,  I'm starting to get embarrassed to send people there.  

We have an Applebees and a pretty good Mexican Restaurant, but everything else in town that's good is only open for lunch.  Dinner choices are fast food and restaurants that would make Gordon Ramsey squemish.   We do have a couple of "Country Cooking" places that are about 30 minutes from here, but there are no good seafood or steak restaurants to be found within 50 miles.

Madeleine's picture
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That's a tough one. In a case where I cannot, in all good conscience, send a guest to a restaurant I have a list laid out by proximity. Then I leave it up to the guest how far they want to walk/ride to get somewhere.

If you know them and you think they'd care, give them a call and say you've noticed that more of your guests are saying things aren't what they used to be. Maybe they'll try to improve, maybe not. I know a couple of the owners around town here and some would be upset to hear things were not as they should be and would do something about it. Others don't care because there are so many tourists shoring them up.

Kay Nein's picture
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Madeleine wrote:

 Others don't care because there are so many tourists shoring them up.

I think that's the problem here.  Like, Texan, there are not alot of restaurants here.  They're all overpriced, overhyped and serve lousy food or it's always hit-or-miss.  I've noticed that they get so much business from the tourists who are only here for a few days anyways, that they can continue to be lousy (even with bad online reviews) and still keep their doors open.  They look pretty and have a fancy menu, the place is full, they must be good... nope, not here!  

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05/22/2008

 If you are getting that bad of reviews from guests, have you thought about contacting the restaurant and sharing that with them. We know all of our restaurant owners and managers here and believe me..our innkeepers are NOT afraid to report to them all the problems. Sometimes it helps and other times it doesn't Sad

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catlady wrote:

 If you are getting that bad of reviews from guests, have you thought about contacting the restaurant and sharing that with them. We know all of our restaurant owners and managers here and believe me..our innkeepers are NOT afraid to report to them all the problems. Sometimes it helps and other times it doesn't Sad

Did such with a tour company here, it did not go well.  The complaints were not about the tour itself but about the treatment at the ticket area... officially the area where the owners run along with a couple others, so it was about THEM and their attitudes.  We tried to be very casual about it and pretending we had no clue who it was but of course they knew and gave the same cocky attitude to us.

Let's just say that since then we have chosen another tour company that is equally as good.  We will still send guests to this one but it is our 2nd choice.  This company HAS noticed the large drop of business from us, and we are receiving calls to check up on us as well as business FROM them now.  Maybe it finally got through, lately no guests have returned with neg. comments only raves about the tour.  

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