How did restaurants change over time? We compare the old with the new.

It's ok to have fun in restaurants again. The service is casual, the surroundings industrial yet cosy, the barrier to entry is as low as the prices and the menu has been greatly simplified. This is not how it used to be though. 

Then: strict etiquette 

Time seems to have stopped in the high-class restaurants, situated in the hottest spots in town. All the guests are dressed to a tee in formal wear and sweating bullets under the waiter’s scrutiny. There are rules to be followed, etiquette to be observed, that or you are not welcome. At the end, a bill arrives, only affordable by a lucky few, and it is expected that the host will foot it. The restaurant’s goal is to attain as many Michelin stars as it can because this will lead to a new influx of customers.

Now: food and feeling

Guests are dressed casually in jeans, and if they feel like going outside for a quick cigarette, then that is their right. Reservations (either by phone or online) are no longer strictly necessary, more and more guests arrive spontaneously. Having a cocktail at the bar while you wait for a table to open up has almost become part of the experience. You won’t have to re-mortgage your house to pay for your meal, and sharing the bill is an accepted practice. Food and feeling are the focal points. The young chefs have realised that money and Michelin stars aren’t everything, and that you can actually have fun cooking. They have freed themselves from the Michelin’s yoke and are going their own way.

Want to read more about the haute cuisine versus modern gastronomy?