After a recent trip to Napa during which we tried some phenomenal wines I have been more determined than usual to enhance my food with well chosen, interesting pairings. I had been considering a visit to Le Bernadin (have never been but have heard great things) to do the tasting menu + pairings. The following article in the WSJ gave me pause though . . .
We often do tasting menus and go with the sommelier's wine pairings rather then ordering bottles because we like variety and the opportunity to try something that is off the beaten path or that we wouldn't have thought to order on our own. Plus, the sommelier is in the unique position of having tasted 1) the dishes and 2) most of if not the entire wine selection. I agree with these reviewers however, that the tasting + pairings concept has been a bit overplayed and banalized of late. The last few times we've done this we have run into similar disappointments, from uninspired choices, cheap bottles (under $10 on a wine flight that cost $125 per head), flat bubbly, late pours, light pours, lack of sommelier attention, uninformed staff doing the pouring (in answer to the question, "what are we drinking?" one server simply put the bottle on the table and walked away) , and the worst - the conveyer belt style service where the kitchen simply sends out dishes on a fixed schedule without regard for whether you are finished with your previous plate, wine, etc.
Is the tasting / pairings construct still alive and well in this city? I would be very interested to hear any recommendations and horror stories as well.