Reflections on ultra-fine dining experiences
Ultra-fine dining is a growing phenomenon. But how do people evaluate and remember these experiences? This chapter considers 352 online reviews of upscale dining experiences at Michelin three-star restaurants to investigate assessments of these lUxury purchases. The reviews are primarily positive and focused on the aesthetics of the food, followed by service quality. Two evaluative frames emerge from the analysis. A hedonic frame that relates to the experience as special or a "splurge" frequently accompanied a positive review. Within this frame, sub-themes of holistic synergy and dream analogies were evident. The second theme is a more rational "value" perspective, more frequently related to negative reviews. Within this frame, a sub-theme referring to prior experience seemed to impact evaluations. With the value frame, whether the restaurant meets expectations provides the most important criterion for interpreting the experience, a finding consistent with service quality literature that demonstrates people often interpret experiences relative to their expectations. Finally, despite extensive service quality studies, these results suggest that the aesthetic and hedonic aspects of food are more important than service quality in an ultra-fine dining context.
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