For anyone associated with the hospitality industry, it’s almost impossible to ignore the unsavoury news of some of the most iconic restaurants serving up their last dishes and closing their doors. There is a clear a change in the fine dining scene in Australia.
Melbourne high-end restaurant Moon Under Water, Sydney based Rockpool, Marque, Sepia, Movida, L’Etoile Restaurant, a list that is unfortunately longer than a degustation menu. Why is that so many fine-dining restaurants are hanging their hats and packing up their silverware?
Fine dining’s identity crisis highlights a significant change in our attitude towards food both at a micro and macro level.
Shifts in preference’s towards a culture that’s driven by innovation yet offers a casual, fun and flexible dining setting is slowly evolving with the same focus on quality. Diners are now spoilt for choice; more cuisines, more restaurants and more flexibility to satisfy cravings at any hour of the day or night and at any budget. This means they aren’t necessarily looking for stiff linen tablecloths and five types of cutlery, instead they want to be in control, be served fantastic produce, beautifully cooked dishes and excellent informal style of customer service.
Setting new food trends and providing a platform for food enthusiasts to share their passion for forage, Social Media is quickly assuming the role of a powerful influencer for diners. We are always looking for something new to excite and stimulate the senses and social media platforms do just that!
In some respects, a shift towards more casual attire and dressing has trickled down to our tastebuds too. Rise of ‘active lifestyle (and active wear), casual Fridays, and the slow decline of formal three piece suit, have all been noteworthy contributors towards our more relaxed and casual attitude.
Whilst there will always be a market for high end, luxurious and creative dining, the direction the food industry is taking is changing with the rise of street food, upmarket fast food and quality casual restaurants. Dining out is now becoming a part of the entertainment for diners as opposed to the main purpose of going out. Our multi-screen, multi-tasking short attention spans and busier lifestyles past the usual 9 to 5 means more and more diners are eating out more frequently however the average dollar value spent has declined. We all want to stretch the weekly budget over as many nights as possible rather than splurge at fancy restaurants with prescriptive type of fine dining and all the bells and whistles!
At the other end of the spectrum, rise of TV cooking shows such as MKR and MasterChef, have done an excellent PR job for the culinary industry and aspiring young chefs who are now keen to venture out solo and create new and affordable things with cheaper ingredients to add to your meal, that flair of excitement and fun! There is now a greater focus on share plates and Tapas and coming together to eat as opposed to individual portions.
Just as waves of changing trends in fashion, music and pop culture, Fine dining is experiencing an evolution as part of the entire culinary industry that’s diversifying into territories previously unknown.