Why is Bruschetta so important to a diners experience?
A friend of mine and I go to restaurants in Sydney quite often. The choice for where to go is always a pressure decision. We both appreciate good food and with us being professionals from both sides of the restaurant (him a maitre dei and myself a chef) the pressure on the restaurant to succeed (in our opinion) is at a high level to begin with.
There are literally thousands of restaurants in Sydney and the Central coast, but with each price point a different set of standards apply. You can’t expect silver service and linen napkins from a $20 a plate establishment, but likewise when you pay $60-80 a plate the expectations are there.
The start of every meal for us is always the same. Ask the waiter about specials to see what level of chef creativity is on offer, enquire about the house cocktail (and usually order 1 each).
Then its all about the bruschetta. A lot can be shown about an establishment in one simple dish.
If bruschetta is not on the menu then something as equally simple like a TAPA plate or MEZZE or DIP plate.
But when the bruschetta come out……. .the judging begins.
1.What is the presentation? Plates/cutlery and waiters delivery method…..all cruitial.
2.Are the Tomatoes fresh and prepared with care not to bruise the flesh.
3.Are the tomato macedoine (cut) an even size (are they de-seeded = extra points).
4.Is the bread made in house or by an artisan…..is it bought by the bundle?
Then what else is there?
5. Is the onion purple or white?
6.Is the Garlic roasted and then sliced or is it from a bucket or not even there at all?
7.Is the basil sliced in a perfect chiffonade or roughly broken and bruised? Is it a tub of pesto?
8.The most important thing of all……the oil.
Some chefs are extremely tight but vegetable oil is no substitute for a true virgin……..olive oil that is.
9.If balsamic isn’t a glaze, what is it? Has it soaked the tomato too long and started to cook it? Has the bread gone soggy……nobody wants to eat soggy bread. Is there enough to give you a zing but not overpower the taste of everything else.
10.Is there a garnish….. for me if there is a boccocini or goats cheese then you win….but I love cheese and will forgive a lot if it’s there. is the basil flower or chiffonade leaf on top.. classy addittion.
I may be offended sometime and leave with my friend in tow before you get a chance to offer me an entree…..but bad bruschetta is often a sign of incompetence, laziness or pure carelessness.
Stay vigilant and if it comes out and none of these beautiful techniques are followed – walk away.
Eat bruschetta until you find the winner…….by then you will be plastered on house cocktails and ready for dessert.
🙂 Chief Pot Washer