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Beyond the White Tablecloth: Inside the Bold Future of Fine Dining

We thought you’d enjoy thus article about how today’s interpretation of fine dining has less to do with linens, cheese carts, and hushed voices, and more to do with creativity and impeccable service.

On paper, Oriole reads more like an old-school rave than a Michelin-starred restaurant. It’s located in a former warehouse with a nondescript front door. A freight elevator leads you to the dining room. Those lucky enough to score a reservation may find punk rock, ska, or Ethiopian jazz playing in the background.

Oriole is a highly skilled, highly personal, experience-forward creation devoid of many of the rigid hallmarks that once defined a strict category.

Chefs and restaurateurs are interpreting and reinterpreting the notion of fine dining, which seems to have less to do with linens, cheese carts, and hushed voices and more to do with impeccable service and food presented against a host of backgrounds.

There’s a cool movement now where people are taking classic simplicity, classic recipes, and traditional service but doing it in a more approachable and relaxed environment.

Fine dining does doesn’t have to be formal, as long as you have a culinary talent, space between the tables, and excellent service. Informal can be formal dining now.

The term fine dining is becoming outdated. Instead, we will start seeing the term refined dining or even hospitality-driven dining used when talking about that tier of restaurants.

The shift toward the less formal in places like Oriole and the like seems to reflect a shift in customer attitudes. Many chefs view it as giving customers what they want.

The millennial generation has rejected the idea of getting dressed up to go out to eat, so it’s a much more casual generation.

At Ardent, all the meat used in the kitchen comes from Justin Carlisle’s parents’ farm, the same one where he grew up and has been in his family since the 1930s.

Carlisle’s mother crafted all the napkins and aprons and even crocheted shawls for the space that are draped over the wooden chairs for customers who might feel a chill during the night.

Chefs are inviting guests to experience flavor palates that may be personal to them, a continuing change on the parameters defining the fine-dining category.

As Americans travel more and as the internet opens the world for us, chefs are using different ingredients. Different people and different cultures are influencing the American cuisines.

In Chicago in general there are not a lot of fine–dining Korean restaurants, or fine–dining Japanese restaurants, but all of the sudden these places are opening. They are on a level that Oriole is operating or maybe even a step up. The diners have embraced other restaurants, and that has inspired other people.

2018 FSR Magazine.

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