Are Restaurants Taking It Too Far?

In today's "Word of Mouth" blog from The Guardian, Tony Naylor takes a look at how restaurants are searching for more and more adventurous ways to present the modern dining experience, and the inherent risks they take in doing so. To wit: chef Ben Spalding serves a "chicken on a brick" dish whose components are presented on a caramel-coated brick. Once guests started licking the brick out of curiosity, Spalding decided to have waitstaff actually encourage diners to engage in the activity.

Matthew Lightner left Portland, Ore., for New York City to open Atera last March, whose menu includes a dessert made to look like a river stone covered in moss, sitting on dirt. Upon digging in, diners are surprised to find Meyer lemon and wild ginger sorbet hidden inside a crackle-thin crust of brown butter cookie dough. The green moss effect comes from shaved frozen parsley meringue and the "dirt" is a pile of wheatberry crumbs.

Most challenging of all may be a course from Heston Blumenthal's The Fat Duck. Called "Sound of the Sea," the dish requires diners to put on iPod headphones to listen to waves crashing as they eat. Have you ever been befuddled by a dish at a restaurant? Let us know in the comments.