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Chefs choice

Just Plain Craig Mar 27, 2011 11:15 AM

Months ago I was watching a show in PBS that I can't remember the name of, but the host went into the restaurant and told the waiter he would let the chef decide on his meal. I'm wondering has anyone ever done this, make the meal chefs choice?

  1. Quine Apr 4, 2011 07:37 PM

    Yes and so enjoyed the best seared boat scallops EVER!

    1. huiray Apr 4, 2011 07:32 PM

      Of course.

      Omakase and tasting menus, by definition, as others have pointed out. Ditto the scenario at Chinese restaurants that others mention.

      Also places where the chef chooses what he wants to cook that day and sets out a menu for the day, of say 4 courses, take it or leave it. If you go, you and everyone else sit down and eat those 4 courses put in front of you that night.

      1. limster Apr 4, 2011 03:34 PM

        Excluding explicit options such as Japanese places where true omakase is an option or tasting menus, I often do this in places where I trust the kitchen's judgement. Sometimes I'll add specifications such as the number of courses, or budget, or to have them cook around a bottle of wine. It can be rewarding as one might get a dish that's off the menu, or better tuned to the wine one is drinking. I remember getting an off-menu lamb that was made to match a bottle of Cote Rotie, a classical pairing. As the various posts above indicate, it's not limited to specific cuisines or types of places, so long as the chef is competent.

        1. TheHuntress Apr 1, 2011 02:09 AM

          A chef friend of ours has recently opened his own restaurant and every time we go in there he tells us what we are going to be eating. He knows our tastes and has never failed.

          1. Rich102 Apr 1, 2011 12:56 AM

            Years ago, I used to have lunch at a Chinese place pretty often. It was small, with the husband the chef and the wife waiting tables. Fairly often, I think usually when they weren't too busy, she'd ask me, "Chicken, beef, pork, or shrimp?" I'd name a protein and she'd go off to the kitchen to put in the order and get my soup. Then later I'd get a plate of something, usually not on the menu, and often the sort of thing they'd cook at home. It was always fun to see what they would come up with, and I was never disappointed.

            1. j
              Janet from Richmond Mar 28, 2011 06:42 AM

              I have done it several times and always with great success.

              1. MGZ Mar 28, 2011 06:41 AM

                Yes. A few times and I have never been disappointed. One particularly memorable dinner wound up be fourteen courses. Other times, I've simply had the chef "choose" my entree.

                1. Seeker19104 Mar 27, 2011 02:43 PM

                  Enjoyed a meal with nine other Philadelphia 'hounds at Han Dynasty this winter. We put ourselves in the chef's hands and had a feast of varied Chinese Szechuan dishes that just kept coming. We even asked for some repeats, like the Dan Dan noodles. The bill before tax and tip was just $150.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Seeker19104
                    gaffk Mar 27, 2011 04:41 PM

                    Yes, I think a group of Philly Hounds did this at Blackfish as well--after reading what they were served, I was very sorry I hadn't signed up. In that case, though, they gave the restaurant advance notice.

                  2. h
                    Harters Mar 27, 2011 02:38 PM

                    I've done this at a number of places - it's called "ordering the tasting menu"

                    1. w
                      wattacetti Mar 27, 2011 02:27 PM

                      Works best at Japanese restaurants, with Tojo's in Vancouver being a particularly good example.

                      It doesn't necessarily work out though - I know the chef at a local place and once asked him to just make me whatever he felt like off his regular menu. He was so flustered by the request that my meal was not only late (close to an hour behind everyone else's), it was rather "off" because of his panic.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: wattacetti
                        SeaHorse Apr 4, 2011 09:06 AM

                        we have now decided that a "failure" like yours is a good thing. if you never fail, you aren't pushing the envelope far enough and will never hit that homerun.

                      2. mamachef Mar 27, 2011 11:58 AM

                        Yes. Everytime I go for sushi and tell the chef "Omakase", that is exactly what I'm doing. I've also asked the server to ask the chef to create a menu of his choice. And they worked out well.

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