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Chef's Table - What is it like?

t
tryanything Jun 4, 2009 05:52 AM

My vision of this would have me sitting inside the kitchen, watching the activity and trying anything the chef suggests. I think it would be a ball. Is this close to reality and if you have tried it, where would you suggest as a good place to experience this?

  1. Snoop37 Jun 4, 2009 06:12 AM

    its funny that this new thread just came up. I just had dinner last night at Ten Tables in JP and my DC and I came right at 5:30 and were allowed to choose any of the tables set for two. We opted for the Chef's table.... it was more like the Chef's Bar since we were seated in two high chairs facing the kitchen with our backs to the dining room. Since Ten Tables is such a tiny place, the chef's were pretty close to us and it was interesting to watch them prepare all the food. They spoke to my friend and I every so often, but it was a full house so they had to focus on the food. Overall, I feel like sitting at the Chef's Table is fun to do at least once, but I rather be in the dining room. I feel like me and my friend's conversation really dropped off because we were watching the chefs cook while eating and I hadn't really seen her in a few weeks and wanted to catch up.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Snoop37
      Suze123 Jun 4, 2009 08:32 AM

      I've never done it, but I have always wondered if conversation was perhaps stymied by the fact that the kitchen staff can hear you (and of course that depends on how noisy a kitchen you're in).

      1. re: Suze123
        hotoynoodle Jun 4, 2009 08:40 AM

        actually, it really stymies conversation in the kitchen. no f-bomb dropping when guests can hear you! lol.

        1. re: hotoynoodle
          StriperGuy Jun 4, 2009 08:56 AM

          The whole thing is a tad too Disney for me.

          1. re: hotoynoodle
            gansu girl Jun 5, 2009 11:30 AM

            As an avid f-bomb-dropper, I'd be disappointed if there were no profanity!

            Seriously - the setup of the table and how close you are depends on the venue - we were thinking of trying to get a table for a larger party, but they don't really exist . . . some places are more bar-ish, but one, at the Mandarin Oriental I think, is separated from the kitchen by glass and has an actual table - but to me, that's really "Disney," as SG says.

            1. re: gansu girl
              StriperGuy Jun 5, 2009 12:35 PM

              I don't mind an open kitchen, Craigie, though pushing it is not bad. But the actual Chef table, in, or nearly in the kitchen is just a bit much.

              This is just my preference, but they are not performing (nor do I enjoy dinner theater). I would not want to do my job with total strangers in my face. I feel it also does not give the kitchen the freedom to be themselves.

        2. re: Snoop37
          fmcoxe6188 Jun 5, 2009 11:42 AM

          I had a similar experience in Nantucket- it was their "bar seating" but it looked over their two man kitchen. Incredibly fun- I agree though-I couldnt hold down any real conversation.

          1. re: fmcoxe6188
            barleywino Jun 5, 2009 01:14 PM

            some places with an open kitchen will, if you're sitting right there and they're not slammed, make you free amuses which they don't serve normally. this place I used to frequent in Seattle even had a habit of making free (often experimental) drinks for those sitting at the bar/open kitchen counter. I once brought in some belle de brillet (pear cognac) which was not locally available at the time and the chef whipped up a foie gras w/ belle de brillet reduction dish on the spot for me. another place in Seattle used to give me free fried smelts, geoduck tostadas, gumbo, or whatever else they had in house that day, whenever i sat at the counter facing the kitchen. the rare chance to get such unsolicited personal attention (and interact with the chefs) is what makes it worthwhile imo

        3. p
          Parsnipity Jun 4, 2009 10:07 AM

          I really liked sitting at the Chef's Bar at Craigie on Main (not sure what it's actually called, but as the Snoop37 describes at Ten Tables, it's a long bar with four high chairs facing into the kitchen). I agree that you should go with someone you get to talk with all the time, since watching the kitchen becomes such an event as to eclipse conversation. At Craigie, it's not a true chef's table in that you can order the chef's tasting menu or anything off the regular menu- there is no constraint. The chef came over once to check in on us and did give us an extra amuse, and I think an extra pre-dessert taste, but was not obtrusive or Disney-like at all.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Parsnipity
            LindaWhit Jun 5, 2009 01:25 PM

            La Campania in Waltham has a 4-top that is in the dining room (or the corner of one of the rooms) that placed up against a large (sliding) window that looks into the kitchen. The window set-up is ideal; keeps the heat int he kitchen but allowed us to watch what they were doing, and also allowed for a normal conversation amongst those at the table. We also got a special amuse (IIRC, we each got a fabulous tempura-battered large shrimp with a dipping sauce). They also have a mostly open kitchen that looks into the bar dining area as well, so the language, I'm sure, is always tempered by that fact.

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