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Jun 9, 2010 11:13 AM

OK to ask for a restricted tasting menu?

I am a big fan of chef creativity, never had a tasting menu at a restaurant but would like to try. However, I do keep somewhat Kosher -- I'll eat in places without a kosher kitchen, but won't eat any unkosher animals (e.g. no pork, shellfish, or rabbit). In say an 8-course tasting menu, at least one or two of these courses is bound to have something I can't eat. Is it OK (I assume I'd have to call ahead) to ask for a tasting menu excluding the above ingredients? Or would most chefs refuse to do a custom tasting menu like that?

At my favorite sushi place (Kaito in San Diego), I generally get an omakase with no shellfish, but I feel that is not being as restrictive and they are known for being responsive to customer requests.

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  1. I don't think most chefs would honor such a request. In some restaurants (Babbo for example), the tasting menu requires the participation of the entire table. I am guessing because it would be too labor intensive to do otherwise. Therefore, I would guess that they would not be accommodating based on dietary restrictions.

    1. My only suggestion is to call ahead of time to see if they can accommodate you. Don't hold your breath, but be prepared to be delighted on the phone if they can.

      1. Should be absolutely fine with most places - but mention it at the time you make a reservation.

        There's a couple of things we don't eat and have never had a problem with changes being made to the menu.

        That said, one of my favourite places offers a "surprise" tasting menu and clearly states that no adaptations will be made. I've never had a problem and, only once, there's a been a single dish that my partner couldnt eat (no big deal when 13 courses are being offered).