A Fine Dining Conundrum

5 min readNov 21, 2022

In which we ponder how to review an “interesting” restaurant experience.

Knife and fork lying on an empty plate with an unhappy face drawn on it
Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

I’d like to tell you the story of a fine dining experience, and my uncertainty regarding an appropriate review.

And yes. It’s a problem of privilege for sure.

And no, this is not a restaurant review. Yet.

We had a plan for dinner for six, on a busy Saturday night, in a major city that boasts several restaurants with Michelin stars. This is definitely a foodie town, a place where you can find your favorite ethnic or culinary style or comfort specialty without too much difficulty.

After we found several preferred options were fully booked for that evening, we settled on a new-ish venue walking distance from home. We made an early (6:30 pm) reservation two weeks in advance.

Nobody had been to the restaurant before, but the few online reviews raved about the food, and the website said we’d chosen an “elegant casual dining restaurant with keen attention to detail, warm hospitality, and the goal of creating happy memories for our guests”.

Well. Here’s what happened.

Time check: 6:25 pm.

The restaurant door opened onto a long, steep stairwell. At the top, an abandoned reception sat at one end of a dark hallway. There was a bell on the desk.

We rang the bell, but no one came.

As we were deciding on our next move, a breathless young woman dashed up the stairs behind us.

“Welcome!” she announced with a big warm smile. Without taking off her winter coat, she ushered us around the corner, through the empty bar and into the restaurant.

There was a table waiting for us, and across the room a party of ten was settling into their meal. One other large table completed the setup.

A big room, with just three tables, and a lot of empty space. Hmmm.

We reviewed the menu and it looked really promising. The young lady reappeared, this time with a note pad and an offer to take our drink orders. We selected off the menu, a combination of wine and beer, along with some appetizers.




Recreational writer, collector of antique corkscrews, urban gardener and retired management consultant to social profit organizations. Proudly Canadian.