Do you save your menus?
My girlfriend and I have gotten into a new habit- when we eat out someplace and have a truly fantastic meal we ask for a copy of the menu, have it signed by the chef, sous, pastry, and sometimes depending on the place the sommolier or bartender. We then get the really nice ones framed. Does anyone else do this? (by the way, this is our form of art for the new place)
Right now here's what we've got going on the walls:
Moto (20 course menu with pairings)
WD-50 (tasting menu with pairings)
Restaurant Eve (tasting room menu)
Eleven Madison Park (tasting menu with pairings)
in college i was up to 70+ menus. most were chains, but it was what i decorated my room with. friends started doing the 'five-finger-discount' for me on their vacations (i never asked), and my classmates also in our hospitality program working in restaurants would swipe me some just so i could display their menu. it was crazy, but it was me. we now have a memory board of our favorite business cards, and we'll request clean copies of menus at special places.
French Laundry - got to keep the clothespin
Tru - menus were already personalized with our name
Club 33 - napkins from the WC
At Cyrus in Healdsburg, no need to ask. At the end of the 7 course tasting menu, they presented us with a copy of the night's meal, including wines and amuse-bouches, etc. And the coolest part was they had personalized it at the top, very slick, because they asked if anything special brought us to Cyrus that night, we mentioned the birthday, and THREE hours later after one of the truly great meals of our lives, we were given a menu with the Words "Tim Jones Birthday Celebration Meal, Jan, 21 2007" printed at the top. Custom-made fun!
We save them for reference, either for restaurants we've enjoyed or for ones we've looked in on but haven't yet patronized. It's not really a hobby for us - EATING is - and we also collect so many other things that a menu collection would require a whole 'nother house! We do make a point, though, of looking to see if there's a paper takeout version of the menu when we find a restaurant we like, and keep a file of them to go through when we're thinking of where to eat.
YES! Not always menus though:
Daniel - a postcard
21 Club - the back of the menu which had a cool pic of a model airplane w/ "21" on the wing
Vong - the menu, signed
Babbo - the pasta tasting menu
Nobu - chopsticks in their paper wrapper
Charlie Trotter - the menu, signed
Le Bernardin - collage of menu cover photo of the ocean w/ raw portion of menu, signed
Balthazar - two postcards
I've run out of room in the kitchen, however, and my husband has forbidden menus to encroach upon the rest of the house. Also, the hobby was becoming expensive. My framer is a bit of a foodie, and she puts SO much thought and creativity into the framing, I can barely afford it. I had to refuse her masterwork on the Babbo piece, the suede matting and art deco frame was going to cost multiples of what the meal did !
The way we've solved the framing cost issue is that I am also a photography collector, exclusively black and white, and thus i use the same matting and frame for every piece regardless of color- it just makes everything look uniform. it's a 1.25" black frame with a snow white matte.