This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.
This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.
Is Fine Dining Ready For Its Big Comeback?
There are some restaurants that stand the test of time, and are successful because they refuse to glom on to the latest trend.
Piero Selvaggio's 40-year-old Valentino in Santa Monica is one of those establishments. Regardless of the recent trend we've seen in the past 5 years -- where white tablecloths and formal service have been stripped away for a more casual, approachable experience -- Selvaggio and his team have remained steadfast with their dedication to the ritual of fine dining.
And the LA Times, along with their former restaurant critic Ruth Reichl, think that that sort of fine dining is about to make a comeback. Reichl believes that the younger generation will soon crave these sorts of high-end experiences.
Says Reichl to the Times:
"They're spending a whole lot of money on dining out now, and they know and care a lot about food. They're going to start wanting that other piece of the restaurant experience, which is the thrill of grand dining, the privilege of being taken care of. I predict you're going to start seeing … within five years, the comeback of the formal dining experience."
Of course, all of that pomp and circumstance comes with a price tag. The plates at Valentino are around $30-$40 each, and that doesn't even factor in wine. That's not to say that young diners won't fork over the dough; they are willing to spend $160 for a tasting menu crafted by a 14-year-old rock star chef.
But those experiences just seem more fun, and a bit less restrained. The Times piece sites many Yelp reviews that felt intimidated by the serious service at the restaurant. Instead of viewing the servers as attentive, they saw them as snooty and condescending.
Perhaps as Gen Y grows older, they'll begin to recognize these career service people as professionals, and maybe even want to go somewhere where they can actually hear each other speak. Only time will tell.