While we are happy to introduce this new cuisine to our loved ones, we are always afraid of seeing this little “something” happening that will not go well and that will bring a little frustration.
When the restaurant is not suitable for everyone
In vegan restaurants, our “omni/carnivorous” friends will likely look at dishes made of tofu, seitan and other weird ingredients in the wrong way. They will often try to compare what is not comparable and we will find ourselves struggling to explain the why and the how.
In traditional cuisine restaurants that offer vegan options, it mostly depends on the location. Some restaurant chains already have vegetarian offers and there is something for everyone. But these are often fast food places where some people still miss the classic meat and fish dishes.
Upscale restaurants, on the other hand, can offer tailor-made vegan dishes on demand. But here we are faced with a lack of information on the available offer since the vegan options often remain hidden. The budget will also have to be considered since we are not in the same price range. And then, knowing that you will pay a lot without knowing in advance what you are going to eat is a risky bet that can make vegans run away.
When a restaurant pleases some, it doesn’t please others. Compromises have to be made and just thinking about it sometimes makes some people want to give up.
When dishes lack completeness
You have to see it to believe it. If the dish is not pleasing to the eye, the experience is already a bit ruined.
The presentation of VG dishes is no easy task and requires a certain amount of construction work, at the risk of ending up with a confusing presentation, a heap of ingredients or a combination of flavours without any sense of direction.
Then comes the taste. As soon as you take your first bite, you look at your table companion, waiting for his or her judgment. A frown, a thoughtful look, a prolonged silence… Doubt sets in, thoughts stir, and it is a this point that the discussion can begin.
For some, it will be too spicy or not spicy enough, too dry or not sweet enough. For others, it will be the frustration of having only a fruit salad for dessert when others have the chocolate mousse.
We expect a culinary experience to be complete, from starter to dessert. But some details can leave us with a bitter taste. At our table, we should therefore think about inviting curiosity, open-mindedness, humour and willingness to try something else, to facilitate the experience.
When the staff don’t put their heart into it
The quality of service clearly differs from place to place. Vegan restaurants, often run by self-educated people in their prime, do not (yet) offer high-end service. This is not necessarily their intention and that’s fine. But in this case, when some details are missing, a more qualitative service could make the difference.
As for traditional restaurateurs who cook plant-based, they too make their own mistakes. They sometimes have more resources, but that does not mean that the experience will be successful. Just like the room staff who are often poorly trained in this particular kitchen. They respond awkwardly to customer questions and sometimes don’t even know what to answer.
In plant-based catering, room service is all the more essential as it enables customers to be accompanied to this new style of cuisine.
When the customer is demanding
Today’s customer wants to eat what they want, without compromise. They want everything at the same time. It’s normal, they pay for it. But they must also be patient and tolerant, to encourage the professionals of this new gastronomy while it is in its infancy.
In any case, the ideal solution does not exist, at least not yet, and not in France.
The restaurant that appeals to everyone, in terms of diversity of menus, coherence of values, elegance of place, well-trained staff,… is a place that has yet to be created… or not. In fact, should it ever exist?
At the rate at which plant-based cuisine is evolving, perhaps a new type of restaurant will appear, the colour of which is not yet known. Maybe then it will only take one detail to make all the difference and change our outlook.
Until then, whether you are a client or a restaurant owner, let’s keep a watchful eye on the details that are really important and that allow us to progress together and concretely in the right direction.
Translated by Malvika Kathpal