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Are there dishes that are "restaurant menu immune"?

What I mean is, are there dishes that would never appear on a restaurant menu?

Things made and served exclusively at home?

Only thing that really comes to mind is something like tuna casserole (although I'm sure someone will come up with a menu featuring tuna casserole).

That said, are there such dishes? If so, what do you think they would be?

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  1. I would imagine that most of the casserole oeuvre would be menu immune (excepting the lasagna family), as most people would not see that as haute enough for the chef. My feeling is that few things are going to be home-only these days, as chefs constantly try to redefine the restaurant experience.

    1. This is interesting, ipse. I'm running through the list of things I have or generally cook at home and, no, I don't think they're "restaurant menu immune." Probably because alot of places have gone the homey route which I think is great. 'Course it's made some of those items,i.e., lamb shanks, really expensive in the market since they've become trendy. I'm sure they're must be a seared ahi tuna over handmade noodles with mushrooms and a creamy cheesy sauce.

      1 Reply
      1. re: c oliver

        I think I might have to make that and see if my tuna snob son (only raw or seared) would eat it. Then of course I would have to keep it to myself that it was tuna casserole as he would never eat it again. Man those teen year are tough when you still think you know it all ;->

      2. Currently looking to my left at the Chow headline 'How to Cook a Squirrel'. I can't see that taking off in a widespread fashion.

        3 Replies
        1. re: onceadaylily

          Don't be so sure about the squirrel dish ...


          Money quote from the article:

          "Squirrel meat was once a common feature of the British diet and in recent years has returned, being sold by speciality game dealers and restaurants and endorsed by celebrity chefs, who have cooked up recipes for squirrel ragout and squirrel offal skewers."

          1. re: ipsedixit

            The family cookbook that my Alabama grandmother and grandfather typed up for me years ago includes a recipe for Brunswick stew made with squirrel. She never made it that way, but she says her mother did.

            I have never cared for Brunswick stew, so I'm pretty sure adding a squirrel or two would do nothing to affect it either way.

          2. re: onceadaylily

            Widespread, probably not.

            But there was a roadkill restaurant in Kentucky, I think it was, that was doing quite well awhile back.

          3. 15-20 years ago, people in much of the country would have laughed at you if you suggested that macaroni and cheese would become an acceptable restaurant dish. So I wouldn't call the casseroles entirely off the restaurant table based on the unlikely success of the restaurant M&C.

            1. I could swear I've seen "personal casseroles" on some menus, especially in homey, diner-type places. And then there's mac & cheese and lasagna, which can be a casserole and be easily made in individual casserole dishes/servings.

              1. i only imagine silly things like Monster Toast or Egg Sailboats might not make it to menu...

                i'd love to open a restaurant called STRATA. then serve like 5-10 strata and/or casseroles every day that rotate or just work off what ingredients are fresh. along with a cup of soup.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Emme

                  a good strada of sausage cheese...etc. is always welcome on my plate!!!!

                2. At one point in my life I might have said yes . . .

                  But that was before I saw Twinkies on the desert menu at a restaurant.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ZenSojourner

                    A friend of mine had a pizzeria that sold battered deep fried Twinkies and it was so popular he got interviewed on the morning news. I never tried them, but many people told me they were the best dessert they ever had. He also had deep fried Snickers and Milky Ways.

                  2. What kind of a restaurant do you mean? My Mom owned a diner for 20 years and mac & cheese, tuna noodle cassarole, lasagne and other cassaroles were standard lunch specials that sold well. They stood right alongside other diner staples like meatloaf, hot turkey sandwich and liver and onions (which we all hated but still sold pretty well).

                    1. I don't recall ever seeing a souffle on a resto menu. There are also countless Italian dishes that, for some reason, never seem to make the cut.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Perilagu Khan

                        I've seen souffle on many menus. Always one of those order ahead things. What kind of Italian dishes haven't you found. When I go to SF and NYC that's one of the things I love -thebreadth of Italian food.

                        1. re: Perilagu Khan

                          Back in the late 60s and early 70s there was a chain of mall restaurants called La Crepe or La Creperie (mym memory is unclear) here in southern New England (and maybe elsewhere) that featured many souffles on the menu. Problem was you could never order and receive it in time to consume if you only had an hour lunch/dinner break.

                          1. re: bagelman01

                            A French restaurant I like (Passione in Montclair, NJ) asks for 20 minutes lead time for their classic - and very good - chocolate souffle. If you know you're going to want it, it can certainly be done even within a one-hour timebox.

                          2. re: Perilagu Khan

                            Kahn. aren't you a Texan? You need to make it to Rise #1 in Dallas. All souffles all the time.

                          3. Tuna Glunk? That's my DH's family's name for the recipe. Tuna, celery, onion, elbow macaroni, mayo and spices, served cold. My family made the same thing, but sometimes added apple or grapes.

                            1. After seeing Diners, Drive ins and Dives, I wouldn't bet that there is anything that would not be on a restaurant menu anywhere.

                              1. Beanie-Weenies? At least by that name. I realize it's basically a low-end cassoulet.

                                On second thought, nah, I can actually see it: Side of 1947 vintage Pearl Harbor Spam, rare, with shirred dove egg accompanied by beenie-weenie of sopressata, cannellini and heirloom tomato.

                                1 Reply
                                1. I doubt it… remember when it was all the rage to have s’mores on a dessert menu?

                                  Stephen Starr’s Jones in Philadelphia is another example with it’s Brady Bunch Living room atmosphere and menu items include meatloaf, glazed carrots, chicken pot pie and Dunan Hines Chocolate cake with a glass of milk

                                  There’s been restaurants which feature PB&J sandwiches, cereal and milk… you name it.

                                  Just because something is a casserole, doesn’t make it un-restaurant-worthy.

                                  1. The only thing I can think of is English Muffin Pizzas. There are always a few restaurants that recognize the popularity of home cooking and nostalgic comfort food.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Christnp

                                      RE: English Muffin Pizzas.

                                      The Marshall Stack in NYC has them. It's called their "afterschool special".

                                    2. I have yet to see green bean casserole on a restaurant menu.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: phofiend

                                        Now you have

                                        look under Wednesday

                                        And you can even get it in New York as part of dinner....

                                      2. I feel like you never see turkey on the menu of a fine dining restaurant - would you agree? Of course, you can find turkey sandwiches by the gazillion at lunch places - but I don't think I've ever seen turkey for dinner...

                                        13 Replies
                                        1. re: aching

                                          Hmm, dunno about that.

                                          There are lots of restaurants serve opened face turkey sandwiches with gravy etc. for dinner. And there are restaurants that offer turkey dinners year round, esp. delis etc. (e.g. Brent's Deli in Los Angeles). Turkey meatloaf and chili is also a common dinner item. Now whether any of those restaurants are "fine dining" ... that's open to debate I suppose.

                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                            Oh yes, I meant restaurants like Hatfield's, Providence, Patina, Melisse, Josie, Lucques, etc., etc. There's Jidori chicken all over the place, but never turkey!

                                            1. re: aching

                                              Maybe not on the coasts, but in middle America, turkey tends to turn up on fine dining menus seasonally. People get a taste for it in the fall, apparently, and start asking for the full turkey dinner--mashed potatoes, gravy, vegetable, stuffing.

                                              1. re: amyzan

                                                Interesting! I've never seen it, but clearly it exists.

                                                1. re: aching

                                                  Well, if seasonal counts, then turkey is on fine dining restaurants all the time during Thanksgiving and the Christmas holiday when restaurants have their special holiday menus.

                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                    Well, hell, I went looking for a restaurant menu with turkey on it already, just to prove my point. I can't find one! So, I may be eating my shoe on this one, at least for now. But, I could swear I've seen turkey on menus at places charging upwards of $20 a plate, which is always a bit funny to me, considering the bird isn't a heritage breed or anything else of interest or "value." Not for the holidays, either, I mean. Maybe I'm just getting old and have a quirky memory....sigh.

                                                    1. re: amyzan

                                                      hi, Did my post about Stephen Starr's restaurant Jones in Philadelphia?

                                                        1. re: DarkRose

                                                          I'm thinking I should've gone downthread now. Yep, Willie Bird's is the restaurant I was referring to. Apologize for redundancy.

                                                  2. re: amyzan

                                                    amyzan, there's a restaurant in my hometown (which is definitely not Middle America) dedicated only to that fine poultry. And of course, the best-seller is a "Thanksgiving-style Turkey Dinner." My only problem is, they serve the cranberry sauce in one of those doofy, ridiculous-sized paper "cuplets", and I learned early on to ask for about six of them.

                                              2. re: aching

                                                Back to Jones in Philadelphia
                                                straight from their menu
                                                THANKSGIVING DINNER roast turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy

                                                1. re: aching

                                                  I know of two restaurants and one take out place within a mile of where I live that a "thanksgiving" dinner is a staple on their menu. One place had a thanksgiving hero with fresh turkey, gravy, stuffing and cranberries....it was heaven.

                                                  1. re: aching

                                                    Here in New England, many old time Yankee restaurants/inns have roast tom turkey on the dinner menu. It's not just a thanksgiving thing. My objection is restaurants that list tirkey dinners, but just roast deli breasts. I want a selection carved off the frame, part dark, part white.
                                                    and...turkey pot pie on the lunceon menu.

                                                  2. Given that there is a cereal "restaurant" and peanut butter sandwich eatery, I think everything is fair game for restaurants. I've seen tuna casserole on diner menus.

                                                    1. Anything with "Surprise" in the name.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. Oh, I've seen lots of tuna casseroles on restaurant menus.

                                                        5 Replies
                                                        1. re: tatamagouche

                                                          OK, initially I was thinking, "There's *nothing* that some chef somewhere won't find a way to jazz up and trick out." And as I've said I've seen fancified tuna casseroles plenty.

                                                          But it occurs to me I've *never* seen like a Jello salad with marshmallows or mandarin orange segments or what have you in a high-end restaurant. At cafeterias yes; coffee Jello in New England, yes, but that's a tradition. But never a fancy contemporary rendition.

                                                          Bet *someone* has though.

                                                          1. re: tatamagouche

                                                            I had the proverbial '70s Jell-O salad at a steakhouse (forget the name) in Tampa. It didn't even incorporate fresh fruit, only canned, but for some reason I found it rather refreshing after all that rich and savory beef. Go figure.

                                                            1. re: tatamagouche

                                                              I have!! At Alinea I had both a red pepper gel and Guiness-poached short ribs under Guinness gel. Amazing.
                                                              Not sure if that's the type of thing you mean - but I have also been served a rose-and-champagne gel with fresh peaches, which may be a little closer to what you had in mind.
                                                              And then, there's always ouefs en gelee. An old classic.

                                                              1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                Neiman Marcus' Mandarin Orange Souffle (with chicken salad) at their Mariposa restaurants, one of my favorites. They can call it whatever they want, but it's jello with mandarin orange segments.

                                                            2. I have never seen very basic afterschool snack food on menus. Things like:
                                                              ants on a log (celery, peanut butter and raisins)
                                                              string cheese
                                                              apples and peanut butter

                                                              I don't know if these would count as "dishes" per se, but they're all I could think of.

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                                                they're on the menu at the PB and J shop IN NYC... name eludes me at the moment...

                                                                1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                                                  You gotta see this version of ants on a log...so clever...the blog is by a cook from Moto in Chicago

                                                                  1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                                                    Check out the ants on a log with foie gras.....
                                                                    They also serve popcorn balls!!!!

                                                                  2. Pretty hysterical. I read only the first sentence of your post and the one thing that came to mind was Tuna Noodle Casserole too. I've never seen it on a resto menu, but wouldn't count it out. I know I'd give it a try but it's probably one of those things that's best the way you had it as a kid.

                                                                    1. I've never seen any restaurant even try to reproduce my carne asada/chipotle chow mein dish. Other than that, I don't think any dish is "restaurant menu immune." It'll take just one famous chef who misses a dish his/her mom made. The chef will cook and embellish it, and it'll become a fad.

                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                      1. re: raytamsgv


                                                                        Don't be so sure about that carne asada/chipotle chow mein combo -- at least not the principle behind it, see here http://chinobandido.com/index.html (which is actually one of my favorite joints in Phoenix)

                                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                            We have chow mein burritos in Toronto too, chino locos or something... Now I'm wondering if they knew about the Arizona place?

                                                                        1. I'm guessing you will never see the traditional east coast Canadian - fish head stew on a restaurant menu. Outside of newfie restaurants you probably won't see Cod Cheeks or Cod Tongues either. Very common items in Eastern Canada/Newfoundland.

                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                          1. re: nsstampqueen

                                                                            You can actually find fish head dishes in a number of Chinese restaurants in the LA area. They're Chinese-style, of course.

                                                                            1. re: nsstampqueen

                                                                              fish heads, fish heads, roly-poly fish heads. fish heads fish heads, eat em up yum.
                                                                              I've had fish head stew, and it was good stuff. Only mine wasn't Chinese. I had it in Louisiana, and it was done Creole style, and served with rice flavored with bayleaves.

                                                                              1. re: nsstampqueen

                                                                                Fish head soup is not hard to find in Manhattan's Chinatown. I'm very fond of it.

                                                                              2. Three recipes from my Toisanese mother that I make often but haven’t seen in Chinese restaurants - steamed ground pork with water chestnuts and salted duck eggs, steamed pork belly or pork butt with shrimp paste and steamed pork ribs with fuyu paste.

                                                                                  1. re: toomuchfat

                                                                                    I believe Yakitori Totto in Manhattan serves chicken sashimi.

                                                                                    1. re: small h

                                                                                      This is the deal of the Century!!! a family owned commercial landing house (fish come in from the commercial long liners), and of course they sell whole fish for about a third of the price a retail fishmonger sells filets of same species. BUT that is not the DEAL.......Whole Grouper heads ONE DOLLAR EACH!!!!! just the "Grouper throats" alone off a 15lb fish is worth the price and not to forget the cheeks, all off fresh fish processed the same day. it is in Cortez Florida.

                                                                                      1. re: ospreycove

                                                                                        Um, you lost me, there. Maybe this is about my fish head comment, upthread?

                                                                                        1. re: small h

                                                                                          small h...... No, just reporting the news that a little known wholesale fish house in the Village of Cortez, has excellent, fresh, meaty DEALS on Grouper Heads. I buy them when I make fishhead stew or a wonderful pasta di Mare, nothing is better!!!

                                                                                          1. re: ospreycove

                                                                                            "fish heads, fish heads, yummy yummy fish heads,
                                                                                            fish heads, fish heads, eat-um-up, YUM"

                                                                                            Sorry. Sometimes I just can't help myself . . .

                                                                                            1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                                              Thanks, ZS. I had JUST gotten rid of the earworm.

                                                                                            2. re: ospreycove

                                                                                              Well, then, stew away. I've never had grouper head, but I've liked all the other grouper parts that have wound up on my plate.

                                                                                              1. re: small h

                                                                                                The main "Meaty' part of A grouper head is locally called a Grouper Throat, right or anatomically wrong, it contains 4 chunks of pure filet that fall away from the large chicken wing like bones, Has anyone seen the" Mrs. Pauls Crispy Fish Sticks"For Zenny.....lol

                                                                                                1. re: ospreycove

                                                                                                  NOOOOOO! What did I ever do to you that you would wish Mrs. Pauls on me?

                                                                                                  *whimpers in the corner


                                                                                                  *NO OFFENSE to lovers of Mrs. Pauls!

                                                                                                  1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                                                    Zenn......Next will be the curse of the Banquet, brand, Pot Pies!!!!!!!!

                                                                                                    1. re: ospreycove

                                                                                                      I am whiimperer and cowering in the corner behind this thread....
                                                                                                      Zennie, things will only get better.

                                                                                                      1. re: ospreycove

                                                                                                        What a horrible curse to lay on someone, especially this close to Halloween!

                                                                                                        *peers through the curtains watching for Banquet Pot Pies disguised as mummies

                                                                                      2. Are there dishes that would never appear on a restaurant menu?

                                                                                        Are we talking about American restaurants; because if we are, I'd venture to say that any dish with horse or dog meat in it would probably never make the cut...

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: deet13

                                                                                          "any dish with horse or dog meat in it would probably never make the cut..."

                                                                                          Double entendre? LOL!

                                                                                          I read somewhere a few years back that some place had actually outlawed dog meat. Some place here in the states I mean. I wouldn't dream of eating Fido - but really, legislating that? I think horsemeat for human consumption is illegal in some places here in the states too.

                                                                                          Some people make pets of pigs, goats, even cows on occasion. Targeting canines for legal exclusion from the human diet just didn't sit right with me, especially since it seemed motivated at least in part to target a few specific ethnic groups.

                                                                                          I wouldn't do it, and the thought of it does make me kind of queasy. But I really don't think we should be passing laws based on what makes some of us queasy. I don't know how else to put it. Never in a million years would I voluntarily eat dog meat (or horse meat) but making it illegal for other people to do so really bothers me just as much.

                                                                                        2. Well, not that I would serve this at home, but "pigs in a blanket". Is it strictly a low rent passed hors d'oeuvres at this point?

                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: sbp

                                                                                            That's funny, I've actually been to an upscale gourmet eatery which served pigs in a blanket...

                                                                                            1. re: deet13

                                                                                              Retro. Retro Hors d' oeuvres!!!!! Include the Swedish Meat Balls, and don't forget the Rumaki......................