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Fine Dining Spots Relaxe Just A Bit

Fine Dining Spots Relaxe Just A Bit

Jolene Ketzenberger | The Indianapolis Star

For Central Indiana’s top chefs, fine dining is no longer about white tablecloths and coats and ties.

Good food is still a must, but it’s gaining an artisan flair. And just as important, chefs are emphasizing fun and comfort.

Whether it’s the craft pizza at the soon-to-open Pizzology, the wine list at The Glass Chimney or the mood music at FARMbloomington, chefs are redefining the fine-dining experience. And in doing so, they are reaching out to a broader customer base – a bit younger, a lot less formal but with high culinary expectations.

The nationwide trend is driven in part by the economy but also because attitudes have changed, not only among diners but also among younger chefs, who place more emphasis on the food and less on what might be perceived as “stuffy” accoutrements.

“I think the food is just as, or even more so, fancy and artistic as it used to be. Dining rooms are even more elegant and beautiful,” said Scott Wise, owner of Scotty’s Brewhouse. “But we, as people, don’t want to be constrained or told we have to dress in a certain way to enjoy these meals.”

These days, diners would be hard-pressed to find a local restaurant that requires men to wear a coat and tie. High-end hotel restaurants such as The Capital Grille, at The Conrad Indianapolis, and the Eagle’s Nest atop the Hyatt Regency Indianapolis call for business casual attire.

Even The Glass Chimney, the fine-dining restaurant in Carmel established by Chanteclair alumnus Dieter Puska more than 30 years ago, is adjusting to the changing times and relaxing its dress code.

“People are more casual,” said Elizabeth Yinger, manager of The Glass Chimney, which Puska sold when he retired last year. “We’re asking for business casual instead of coat and tie.”

The goal, she said, is to reach out to younger diners, those in their 30s and 40s, who may not be in the habit of dressing up for dinner.

“We definitely see an age difference,” said Yinger, who has been with the restaurant for 25 years. “Forty-something and up, gentlemen do wear jackets, and we’ll see women in cocktail dresses or a beautiful, elegant pantsuit.”

Some of those diners take offense when other customers arrive wearing jeans, and Yinger said she tries to seat such patrons well apart from one another.