Sunday, January 10, 2010

It may be art, but is it food...

In the days when I used to run advertising agencies in the UK and Australia I used to take in design students to give them practical work experience.

They were usually in their first year in art college so they had no practical experience, they were learning the basics and were starting to explore their creativity.

Although what they designed was often pretty it was inevitably completely unworkable and unrealistic with no relevance in the real world.

I was reminded of it the other evening when we made one of our rare trips to a hotel restaurant, the Hunter Room Grill at Westin Mina Seyahi.

It's been a while, a couple of years in fact, since I posted about pretentious food but I couldn't go past this example.

Mrs Seabee ordered what was described on the menu as braised Short Rib with puree sweet potato, mushrooms and onions.

Those first year art college students came to mind because this is what arrived:

This isn't from a first year student but from what must be a qualified and highly paid chef in a five star hotel. Which charged Dh158 for the dish, served on a strange slab of cold china.

The quality of the food wasn't the problem, that was fine. Excellent, well-cooked meat and fresh vegetables. But who came up with that presentation, and why?

Another reminder that we're right not to encourage such nonsense by visiting hotel restaurants very often came a few evenings earlier.

Nowhere near the same pretentious presentation but another example of a menu misnomer.

At Pachanga at Hilton Jumeirah Beach Mrs Seabee (she always orders the wrong thing) ordered Paella, a dish she really enjoys.

As you probably know, paella is a dish which has all its ingredients cooked together in one pot at the same time.

Here's what arrived:

A strangly moulded circular pile of rice with peas artfully arranged on top. Pieces of separately cooked seafood were carefully arranged on top of that stack and other seafood items were dotted around the strange piece of china it was served on.

Again, top quality ingredients, well cooked. But paella it ain't. It's seafood served with rice and peas.


Marg said...

Unfortunately "deconstructed" meals are all the rage now. Sometimes it can be very interesting and look fantastic visually, as well as taste great, other times, .........well, I think your photo of the paella says it all.

Anonymous said...

My question is same " But who came up with that presentation, and why? "

Keefieboy said...

The first one looks like an unappetising mess.

The second one, well ¡Joder, no es la paella!

nzm said...

ooh - Keefie said a swear word! :.)

Come to Madrid, Seabee and we'll all meet you for a paella potluck at Keefie's!

Anonymous said...

Oh my Goodness,are you guys kidding or what? That's dog food!

Anonymous said...

So are you going to comment on what passes for justice in that wonderful place or are you too scared to?

My favourite part is that the guy who took the video tape and released it got 5 years but the poor old Sheikh Issa was affected by medicine (identity of which of course was not disclosed).

Such a modern, well governed society.

Seabee said...

Anon@6.00, your comment is both off-subject and stupidly inaccurate. I won't delete it though, I'll leave it to remind us of the childish minds, the immaturity and the inability to check facts of so many users of the internet.

'Scared' to post about the torture video?

The verdict is in this morning's news and I plan to post about it during the day. You can also click on my 'laws' label and read earlier posts on the subject.

NZM before I accept your kind invitation to eat at Keefie's, have you sampled his cooking...?

Grumpy Goat said...

Did the Dh158 include a service charge?

Seabee said...

Mr Goat, the receipt doesn't show a service charge (although as a tourist restaurant they could legally charge one) but it does say "All prices are inclusive of the 10% Municipality Fees'

By the way, my steak was Dh227 which is a bit steep to say the least. That's for a piece of steak. Nothing else. A few chips are US$10 and a small serve of mixed vegetables also US$10.

The two main courses, two glasses of house red, one bottle of mineral water = US$150.

nur said...

paella's normally a favourite of mine but that one looked so untantalising...looked like someone had puked in a can, later opened and microwaved it, and served with a few fresh bits on the side

opinionated alchemist said...

I think it looks interesting... not really on par of culinary masterminds - though why the rage, if everything [especially the taste] was alright?

And where are you going, if not into hotels? Only home cooking [don't get me wrong - I love homecooking] permantly might be boring.
And other places? What and where?

I am working in the hospitality sector, and know about both - raising prices of quality products as well as complaints of guests about the too high prices.
Sometimes you just have to ask yourself, what you are looking for; the restaurant you were is one of the new designed-through spots in Dubai. I'd say, such a restaurant would charge much more, if it would be in Europe...

Seabee said...

OA, no rage, I was simply commenting on the ridiculous, pretentious presentation.

You're in the hospitality business, and even if you were simply someone who eats out, so you should know that it's the whole experience which adds up to satisfaction or otherwise. The quality of the ingredients, the standard of cooking, the mix of tastes and textures, the presentation, the service, the restaurant design & atmosphere, the ambience...

"And where are you going, if not into hotels?...And other places? What and where?" Surely you're aware that Dubai has hundreds of restaurants which are not part of hotels.

On the price, the fact that similar restaurants in some other countries may charge more is irrelevant, as is the fact that it would be cheaper in yet other countries. The prices relate to here in Dubai.