Restaurant tasting menus offer small portions of several dishes as a single meal. The French name for a tasting menu is menu dégustation. Some restaurants and chefs specialize in tasting menus, while in other cases, it is a special or a menu option. Tasting menus may be offered to provide a sample of a type of cuisine, or house specialties, or to take advantage of fresh seasonal ingredients.
Beginning in the 1990s, tasting menus evolved into elaborate showcases highlighting the culinary artistry of the chef. The trend traces back to the mid-1990s and two highly lauded restaurants, Chef Ferran Adrià's El Bulli in Spain, and Chef Thomas Keller's French Laundry, north of San Francisco in the US, that offered tasting menus of 40 courses or more. Tasting menus have since become increasingly popular, to the point where, in 2013,New York Times food critic Pete Wells noted, "Across the country, expensive tasting-menu-only restaurants are spreading like an epidemic."
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- Wells, Pete (9 Oct 2012). "Nibbled to Death". New York Times. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
- Thorn, Bret (January 19, 2010). "A taste of luxury for diners on a budget". Nation's Restaurant News. Retrieved 23 December 2013.
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