“Modern European cuisine” is a description that restaurants have taken to using when basically they just want to serve whatever they want. It joins “gastropub” on my list of the restaurant industry’s “imaginative” ways of talking utter nonsense.
A conversation with a former restaurateur on Saturday evening reminded me of the pointlessness of this particular phrase when he told me that a long established Italian restaurant in Chelsea had decided to ditch their traditional, yet popular, menu in favour of a “modern European” offering. Basically, this has meant that customers arriving expecting a bowl of spaghetti all'aglio, olio e peperoncino are now confronted instead with burgers, fat chips and turkey. Frankly, this change seems illogical in the extreme and I can’t imagine it will have impressed many of their customers.
One definition suggests the concept is “really more about themes and associations than with hard and fast rules.” Another adds: “Modern European cuisine allows restaurants to vary their menu as they see fit.” In fact, therefore, it really should just be defined as: “Anything goes.”
If you run a restaurant and can’t work out what you want to cook, why bother at all?