Tasting Menu

A tasting menu is a special form of dining where the chef presents you with several courses, usually in smaller portions, to allow you to taste the most interesting aspects of their culinary art. A tasting menu usually consists of 5 – 10 courses. It may include several appetizers, main courses, and desserts.

One of the main courses from the tasting menu at the Michelin-starred restaurant Condividere ⭐ in Turin, Italy.
One of the main courses from the tasting menu at the Michelin-starred restaurant Condividere ⭐ in Turin, Italy.

Tasting Menu and Course Selection

Some restaurants offer a tasting menu with a choice. For example, there is a choice of three appetizers, meat, meatless, and fish main courses, and three desserts. I prefer this variant because it gives me some control over what I taste and I can choose according to my taste. On the other hand, I also like blind tasting menus, where I am happy to be fully surprised by the chef’s creativity.

Blind Tasting Menu

A blind tasting menu is a special type of tasting menu where you don’t know in advance what you will be eating. The menu is compiled by the chef on the day of the visit, often based on unusual ingredients that are available and from which exceptional specialties can be prepared. The composition of the courses is presented only when served at the table. In some forms of blind tasting menus, you don’t even know what you are eating at all. Blind tasting menus are always clearly labeled.

Fortunately, I don’t suffer from any food allergies and eat practically everything. That’s why I love blind tasting menus. I like to be surprised. If you have a food allergy or dietary restriction, a blind tasting menu is not for you.

Greetings from the kitchen before starting the tasting menu at the Michelin-starred restaurant Dimora Ulmo in Matera, Italy. This menu was blind, the selection of dishes was up to the chef.
Greetings from the kitchen before starting the tasting menu at the Michelin-starred restaurant Dimora Ulmo in Matera, Italy. This menu was blind, the selection of dishes was up to the chef.

Tasting Menu and Wine Pairing

Many restaurants offer wine pairing with their tasting menu, where the sommelier selects a suitable wine for each course. I am a big fan of wine pairing because a well-chosen wine can significantly enhance the flavors of a dish. Some restaurants also offer non-alcoholic pairing.

Tasting Menu Applies to the Whole Table

Practically all restaurants require that all guests at the table order the same tasting menu. The reason is so that the kitchen can work efficiently and so that all guests can share the same experience.

Tasting Menu and Michelin Restaurants

Many Michelin restaurants only offer tasting menus in the evening hours. A tasting menu in a Michelin restaurant is always an unforgettable experience. The quality of the ingredients, the presentation of the dishes, and the overall atmosphere are at the highest level.

Dessert from the tasting menu at the Michelin-starred restaurant Vitantonio Lombardo ⭐ in Matera, Italy. The most interesting combination of taste, sound, and touch I have ever experienced in a restaurant.
Dessert from the tasting menu at the Michelin-starred restaurant Vitantonio Lombardo ⭐ in Matera, Italy. The most interesting combination of taste, sound, and touch I have ever experienced in a restaurant.

Tasting Menu: Questions and Answers

  • What is a tasting menu? A tasting menu is a special selection of several courses that the chef prepares to present his culinary skills and offer guests a great gastronomic experience.
  • How many courses does a tasting menu usually include? A tasting menu usually consists of 5 to 10 courses, but there may be more or less depending on the restaurant and the chef.
  • How much does a tasting menu cost? The price of a tasting menu varies depending on the restaurant, the number of courses, and the ingredients used. It usually ranges from 40 Eur per person, while in restaurants with one Michelin star the price usually starts at 100 Eur per person. Drinks are not included.
  • Is it possible to choose individual courses within the tasting menu? Usually not, the tasting menu is pre-composed by the chef and all guests receive the same courses.
  • Are drinks included in the price of the tasting menu? It depends on the restaurant, but in the vast majority of cases, drinks are not included in the price. Many restaurants offer wine pairing with the tasting menu for an additional fee.
  • How long does a tasting menu last? A tasting menu usually takes 2 to 4 hours, depending on the number of courses and the pace of service.
  • Is it necessary to book a tasting menu in advance? Yes, in most restaurants it is necessary to book a tasting menu several days to weeks in advance. Some popular restaurants are fully booked even weeks ahead.
  • Are the portions in a tasting menu smaller than regular portions? Yes, the portions in a tasting menu are usually smaller than regular portions because it consists of multiple courses and the goal is to taste different flavors.
  • Is it appropriate to have a tasting menu for lunch or dinner? A tasting menu is usually served for dinner because it takes longer and is considered a special occasion. However, some restaurants also offer a shortened tasting menu for lunch.
  • Is it possible to order additional food during the tasting menu? No, a tasting menu is a comprehensive experience and it is not customary to order additional food.
  • Is it possible to take unfinished food from the tasting menu home? In most cases no, the tasting menu is intended for consumption in the restaurant and taking food home in this case is very unusual.
  • What is the dress code for a tasting menu? It depends on the restaurant, some require formal attire, others are more informal. It is advisable to inquire in advance about the dress code of the particular restaurant.
  • Is it common to combine a tasting menu with wine pairing? Yes, many restaurants offer wine pairing with the tasting menu, where a suitable glass of wine is selected for each course to complement and highlight the taste of the food.
  • Are desserts included in the tasting menu? Yes, a tasting menu usually includes one or more desserts as a sweet finale.
  • What is the difference between a tasting menu and a regular menu? A tasting menu is a special selection of several courses that are carefully composed by the chef to create a unique gastronomic experience. A regular menu offers individual courses that guests choose separately.
  • Is it appropriate to tip after a tasting menu? Yes, if you were satisfied with the food and service, it is appropriate to give a tip in the amount of 7-10% of the total amount or to round up the amount appropriately.
  • Is a tasting menu suitable for children? A tasting menu is usually intended for adults because it contains many courses and lasts several hours. It is usually not suitable for children.