This review first appeared in the Sunday Star-Times, 25th August 2013
The style and tone of Tasting Menu embodies the fusion cuisine at the centre of its story. After 15 celebrated years, a restaurant in the south of Spain is closing its ovens for good. The owners assemble a special group for this last supper, comprising the original owner’s widow, an enigmatically grumpy Englishman, and some Japanese investors who are vying to take over the restaurant.
Perhaps the most interesting of the several subplots involves Rachel and Marc, an estranged couple who made the booking a year ago before they split up. Vowing to take the reservation regardless, they meet and initially play the very real and not-so-merry dance of awkward reconnaissance.
There is probably enough Masterchef action interspersed between the relationship scenes to satisfy people, although at times the swirling camerawork makes it hard for you to actually see the food being prepared. Ultimately, however, things go a bit more Agatha Christie than Heston Blumenthal, as identities are exposed and then, bizarrely, a completely underwritten subplot forces the group to band together. Mixing famous faces (Stephen Rea, Fionnula Flanagan) with Spanish and Japanese filmstars, the dialogue happily flits between English, Spanish and Japanese, yet the story’s mixed tone leaves you with the aftertaste of a frustrating fondue.