bjorn koch fine dining header

I’ve written a lot on this site about upscale dining and culture to the point that it almost seems as though I’ve covered just about everything. From the dos and don’ts of fine dining to the recipes you can make at home, has played home to many a fine dining blog post.

Many times on this site I’ve detailed the intricacies of fine dining. Diving into the topic allows for exploration on a micro scale, looking at where to eat, what to eat and what to do in different countries. But still is missing something–something on the macro level.

What is it, exactly, that makes a fine dining experience a fine dining experience? What makes upscale upscale? Is it just the price? Is it the atmosphere? The service? The variety (or lack of) food?

In essence, a little of everything goes into this, so here’s a bit about each.


What’s the first thing you’ll undoubtedly notice when you set foot in any restaurant? Think about your senses: there’s the smell of the food, the sounds that are swirling around you and the appearance of the restaurant.

These are the factors that make up the overall atmosphere of an upscale dining experience. The patrons will more than likely be dressed nicely and be speaking in relatively hushed tones–fine dining restaurants are not places for the loud, raucous conversations you’d have in a TGI Friday’s or something of the sort. It’s difficult to put into words, but the overall demeanor of the restaurant staff, your fellow diners and their actions help to create an upscale atmosphere.

The Price

The eye popping prices of most upscale dining entrees are what many people first consider when they’re thinking about giving fine dining a shot. And while huge prices for entrees are expected at most establishments, it’s important to note that the price is a reflection of everything else on this list: the service provided, the atmosphere, the food and the upscale dining experience as a whole. Charging $45 for a burrito at the food truck outside of your office wouldn’t turn it into an upscale restaurant.

The Service

Most restaurants make it clear that your waiter or waitress is there to serve you. They’ll introduce themselves by name, pop in every 20-25 minutes to ensure you’re enjoying the meal and let you know that they’re there for refills of your Pepsi.

At an upscale restaurant, the servers do their best to remain unnoticed. They swap out your silverware or refill your glasses of wine without you even noticing. Providing everything you need to ensure that you’re fully serviced while remaining in the background is one of the most alluring aspects to fine dining.

The Food

Finally. This is the bullet point you’ve undoubtedly been waiting for. When you’re eating out, you’re probably not doing it for the atmosphere, the service or the prices. Those are additions; pieces of the puzzle that make up the fine dining experience. But the overall picture–the reason you’re dining out in the first place is for the food. And upscale restaurants know how to deliver if you’re hungry.

Upscale dining food separates itself in both selection and quality. The foods featured on the menu are often locally sourced and unique offerings that aren’t found elsewhere. They’re chef specialities and dishes that are original, often changing and most importantly, delicious.