Before you read this, take a look at the photo of the dining room at Quince. If you see it as I do, it is elegant, formal, "perfect"...and boring. Or at least, nothing exciting.
That's also a perfect description of the meal.
Quince is a 3-Michelin star, hyper-seasonal restaurant. With few exceptions, I can't fault the food. It was top quality, beautiful and well-made. The staff made no mistakes (except for an awkward beginning). But the entire experience was flat. Uninspired. It lacked character or teeth. It was perfection for perfection's sake, but yearning for soul.
There were a few standouts. And I must confess that in writing this review a few days later, some of the bites did come back to me as truly delicious. The clam broth was stellar, and the granita was top-notch. Their caviar presentation was special. But there wasn't a thing I would urge you to come try. There won't be a dish I remember.
The staff fit the bill. Helpful, friendly, formal. But soulless. I almost wanted to say something outlandish ("THIS DISH WAS AWFUL!!!") just to see if I could break them out of always saying the "right" thing. I'm sure if I had, they would have remained in character and responded: "Very good, sir..."
This is the type of restaurant Michelin loves. Finessed, high-brow, refined. But I wish there was more gut. More heart and more soul. I don't see a need to return.