A dinner at Alinea or Arzak is less of a meal and more of a holistic sensory experience. Meals often run four hours with courses numbering in the dozens. One dish at Alinea (aptly called Lamb 86) has 86! different components to act as pairings with the main piece of lamb. The dish assembly requires multiple sous chefs simultaneously plating one bite side dishes with surgical tweezers. All this sounds impressive (and it is) but what remains most important is that these restaurants are still striving to please paying customers (and they do pay, a meal at Alinea costs upwards of $200) with a delicious meal.
And the customers come and come and come. Despite the high price, the customers and accolades continue to roll in for Grant Achatz and his molecular gastronomy kin. Molecular gastronomy is the ultimate participatory science, with customers giving feedback on complex chemical reactions that turn into their dinner. In the end it is the customers judging whether to keep the liquid nitrogen flowing, not other scientists.