Thursday, 17 January 2013

'What Came First, the Chicken or the Egg?'

hen I go for a meal, I go for two main reasons: the food, and the experience. And when I say experience I mean principally the ambience of the restaurant and the light-hearted chat with my dining companions. What I do not go for is the way that the food is presented on my plate. Obviously, nobody wants to be served a plate of food that looks just like a lump of recently-massacred flesh (unless they are an absolute carnivore), but I would not be willing to sacrifice the taste of my food for the way it looks. That’s like spraying yourself with deodorant when you are covered in mud. I mean, where’s the logic in that? We eat food for two very simple reasons. These are 1.) To abate hunger pangs and survive. And 2.) We enjoy the taste. What I’m getting at here is that we have taste buds for a reason, and although it is fair to say that a decent looking plate of food can stimulate our taste buds and make the eating experience more enjoyable, it is quite unnecessary for a plate of food to be presented to us as an art form, particularly when that art is about to be destroyed by our knives and forks, and especially if it means that the pleasures of taste and hunger satisfaction are compromised.

So if, like me, you eat for normal reasons, then I would advise you not to go to Quique DaCosta. There are many restaurants that take trouble to make their food visually attractive, but they don’t claim to elevate it into an art form. In spite of, and perhaps because of, this lack of pretension you are more likely to walk out with your hunger abated, and your taste buds completely satisfied. Unlike at Quique DaCosta, where, after having eaten half-a-dozen or so courses, and possibly driving your bank manager berserk, you feel slightly as if your reason for going out has not been justified, and you continue to have the monotonous taste in your mouth that many of Quique’s ‘magnificent’ dishes sport (which by the way, I can only describe as the overly-rich and sweet concoction of caramelised chemicals - a sickly taste experience which seems to pervade even the savoury dishes).
As I mentioned above, an issue with Quique’s restaurant, in Denia, Spain, is that every dish has the same taste-bud-molesting flavour that me and my mother find nauseating, and whether it is a chemical the cook uses in order to make the dishes look as they do, or whether it is purposefully added (which I highly doubt, as it tastes worse than a luke-warm KFC Bargain Bucket), it greatly puts me off the restaurant for the sole reason that it ruins the dishes.
So when we walked out of the restaurant, after my father appeared to have spent both mine and my brother’s trust funds to take us there, I found myself thinking “Now... Where is the nearest McDonald’s?” During the meal I even found it necessary to ask the waiter for some bread. This is because, although we were having a nine course meal, I was hungry. I was HUNGRY! Halfway through a nine course meal, my stomach was complaining! Surely that says something.
Okay so I admit that the dishes can be awe inspiring – to look at. And I admit that occasionally the dishes taste good, but believe me that is not enough to justify the exorbitant prices. My father calls me a brute for not appreciating the “art that has been prepared for us with skilful hands.” If I really must judge the food as art, I would prefer to do so while munching on a plate of spaghetti for a tenner across the road. That’s good financial advice – who cares about Michelin stars?
To top it all off the ambience of the place is nothing to get excited about. The tables are made of Formica and the air-conditioning is overly fierce.  It's rather like sitting in the waiting room of a clinic.
The waiters are pleasant but spend far too much time explaining the meaning behind every dish and how it is constructed. This means that the whole dining experience drags on interminably. By the time we were presented with Quique's signature dish ‘What came first, the chicken or the egg?’  I was rapidly losing interest in all this hype. "I don't care. Get me a pizza!" I wanted to reply. So, sorry Quique, I admire your skill, but try and be a bit less pretentious. Ohh, and maybe try to make some real food.

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