Has Restaurant Dining Jumped the Shark?

Hungry. Photo: Hermanusbackpackers/Flickr

That’s the conclusion Frank Bruni has drawn after a particularly dreadful meal at Romera. “It’s the craziest example I’ve encountered of the way our culture’s food madness tips into food psychosis,” the former Times restaurant critic writes in his column today. People go to restaurants and snap photos of their food, chefs are on basically every channel on TV, restaurant menus lay out diatribes for their steaks, “[a]nd with Romera,” Bruni writes, “we may have finally hit bottom.” So, the question is, have we really? From our perspective, it actually seems like a particularly un-fussy time as far as food is concerned, given the proliferation of pasta restaurants, burger joints, and superlative pizza places. One gimmicky restaurant aside, it seems like chefs are catering more to diners than they are to their egos. Look, for example, at the Dutch, which is packed night after night, and specializes in dishes like fried chicken and ribs. Besides, isn’t Bruni the same critic who once gave Masa — a restaurant that demands customers focus on chefs and ingredient pedigree — four stars? (He is.) So, is this really the time that restaurant dining has gone overboard, or has Bruni just hit some sort of dining saturation point? [NYT]