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Best places to watch your food being cooked?

gemster Aug 29, 2007 09:44 PM

I'm always fascinated with being able to peer into kitchens and watch my food being prepared.

I've been to Chez Maman and Canteen, both which let you sit on bar stools overlooking an open kitchen.

I've also heard of Quince's chef's table, where the table is actually in the middle of the kitchen.

Where are other places you can have this kind of insight/experience?

  1. sfeater Sep 10, 2007 11:19 AM

    For a casual option I really like Pizzeria Delfina. The kitchen is really friendly even though they are working at a quick pace. Always been happy to answer my questions.

    1. Robert Lauriston Sep 10, 2007 10:33 AM

      My favorite is the bar upstairs at Oliveto, right in front of the wood oven.

      1. a
        ANOLDSALT Sep 10, 2007 09:27 AM

        Well, over here in NC there are the usual chains. Not sure if they exist on the left coast or not - Carraba's Italian for example. But that's not why I am in here at the moment - Gordon, been back to Brookline recently? Any trips back east? Give me a jingle on the back channel, it's too long since we caught up ...

        - Mark

        1. k
          katya Sep 7, 2007 04:50 PM

          Not fine dining but Homemade Cafe in Berkeley.

          1. wliu Sep 3, 2007 01:30 AM

            Mooses over at North Beach has a small are where you can watch.

            1652 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA 94133

            1. m
              misterchinn Sep 3, 2007 12:14 AM

              Ate at the Chef's table at One Market. LOTS of fun! There were 5 of us. Table is in the kitchen. They do sampler menu, so you get to try 4-5 dishes in tasting portions, each chef comes over and explains how the dish is prepared. You also get to help cook one dish, my mom got to toss a few mussels, it was a blast. Food was excellent, but the experince was priceless.


              1 Reply
              1. re: misterchinn
                boomer13 Sep 10, 2007 09:49 AM

                At One Market you can also, without a reservation you can always eat at the Chef's counter near the open kitchen. There are 6 seats there. There is a Chocolate menu featured in September for all you chocoholics out there.

              2. otis Aug 31, 2007 01:22 PM

                Nopa, if you can get one of the half-dozen counter stools that look into the kitchen vs. into the bar. This restaurant has an amazing choreography of wood grilling, flame grilling, sauteing, plate prep all happing within a few feet of each other right before your eyes.

                1. Chuckles the Clone Aug 31, 2007 12:17 AM

                  At Tu Lan you can sit at the counter and you're pretty much in the kitchen. Or
                  even better if you sit in the tiny room upstairs it can be just you and grandpa
                  prepping 200lbs of chicken on the table next to you.

                  1. n
                    NoeMan Aug 30, 2007 01:05 PM

                    Tennesse Grill on Taraval.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: NoeMan
                      Melanie Wong Aug 30, 2007 01:09 PM

                      Could you please say more about Tennessee Grill? The owner of Burmese & American Larkin Express deli owns the place and I know little about it.

                      1. re: Melanie Wong
                        ML8000 Aug 30, 2007 01:54 PM

                        I just wrote a review: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/436687

                        I believe it use to be owned by Chormoros, and of course someone from Tennessee way back when.

                        1. re: ML8000
                          NoeMan Aug 30, 2007 02:07 PM

                          Great review.

                          1. re: ML8000
                            Melanie Wong Aug 30, 2007 05:55 PM

                            Thanks a bunch for posting (and adding that link). I bust out laughing to see it within minutes of my wondering about it.

                            Tennessee Grill
                            1128 Taraval St, San Francisco, CA 94116

                          2. re: Melanie Wong
                            NoeMan Aug 30, 2007 02:06 PM

                            It's a classic short-order-cook, greasy spoon (in a good way), breakfast place for me. I love watching how these guys keep track of everything, joke around with each other, the waitresses and counter customers and yet never burn the eggs or break them after throwing them in the air to flip them over. They always seem to have everything timed perfectly.

                            The only other thing I have there is a patty melt which is the ultimate hangover cure for me.

                            The place is aging and I like it that way, but many might cringe at the conditions. The cooktops have no knobs. All the surfaces are well seasoned with years of grease, etc., etc.

                            1. re: NoeMan
                              Melanie Wong Aug 30, 2007 05:56 PM

                              Short ordering cooking seems to be a dying art. Glad it's still alive here.

                              1. re: Melanie Wong
                                FireEscape Sep 3, 2007 12:17 PM

                                I think a short order cook could be the ultimate 'foodie' (even though most would cringe at the connection to this overused/overblown term).

                        2. AntarcticWidow Aug 30, 2007 12:03 PM

                          Out the Back Door in the SF Westfield Mall. They have a huge window where you can watch the kitchen "wokking" it up.

                          1. sgwood415 Aug 30, 2007 11:41 AM

                            Rose Pistola has a counter where you can watch the cooks. I think that place has improved some so it's worth a shot.

                            Rose Pistola
                            532 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94133-2802

                            1. nicedragonboy Aug 30, 2007 10:55 AM

                              Alexander's Steakhouse down in Cupertino has a dining table right in the open kitchen and several private rooms that have views of the cooking area. They also give tours occassionally if you ask, and sometimes even when you don't.

                              1. s
                                Sam B Aug 30, 2007 10:14 AM

                                The bar at A16 is great for food watching. Found myself timing the pizza guy - 3 minutes start to finish!

                                I have eaten at the Chef's table at Quince. The cooking takes place in another kitchen, so what you see is mostly desserts and salads being plated. Great dinner anyway.

                                1. g
                                  gordon wing Aug 30, 2007 08:22 AM

                                  Dottie's True Blue Cafe counter seating gives you a great view of the show - the cook/chef is very good at multi tasking.

                                  1. Steve Green Aug 30, 2007 07:33 AM

                                    The counter at Brandy Ho's is great for this--especially the left side, where you can see the finished dishes before they are taken to the tables.

                                    1. Paul H Aug 30, 2007 06:24 AM

                                      The two best examples of this are at opposite ends of the spectrum: both Boulevard and Original Joe's have counters facing an open kitchen. Both are so close it's almost impossible not to have a conversation with the cooks.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Paul H
                                        Concetta Aug 30, 2007 10:09 AM

                                        Second the Boulevard comments - one of my favorite places to watch the chefs and food in action.

                                      2. w
                                        whiner Aug 30, 2007 04:55 AM

                                        Depending upon where you are sitting, A16 is an option.

                                        1. Carrie 218 Aug 29, 2007 11:47 PM

                                          Korean BBQ, but you are cooking it yourself.

                                          If you get a table near the kitchen, you can see them cook at Myth.

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