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Mar 30, 2011 08:37 AM

How do you get a "chef's choice" meal?

I've been reading a lot of Anthony Bourdain lately and he always seems to be able to order weird items or things that the chef "really wants to cook", or simply tells the waiter to just bring whatever is good. I know he's a famous chef/author and I also know that there are often cameras running, but is it possible for a normal person to basically put away the menu and say, "bring me whatever is fresh and good"?

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  1. It is perfectly acceptable. Just ask.

    1. A call in advance is preferable so they know and can prepare for this request, but a lot of times even last minute requests are honored (Thank you Ardeo + Bardeo).

      I know some places are more open to that sort of thing than others places I think or know would be accommodating to this are:
      Ardeo + Bardeo
      Masa 14
      New Heights
      Liberty Tavern
      Galileo III

      The more chef driven a restaurant is the better in this regard, and I imagine the more the main chef relies on sous chef for instance a celebrity chef restaurant the less likely they are to deviate.

      Other places that I have a hunch about that would do this and would be worth a call are Corduroy, Proof and CityZen. I am sure there are others.

      PS7 Restaurant
      777 I Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001

      CityZen Restaurant
      1330 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20024

      New Heights Restaurant
      2317 Calvert St. NW, Washington, DC 20008

      The Liberty Tavern
      3195 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22201

      Masa 14
      1825 14th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20009

      1. I order off menu.

        This is certainly common in Asian places where there are specials on the wall written in another language or even a separate 'secret' menu that is not in English.

        Add to that a certain custom for consultation. It seems to me very common for Chinese patrons in a Chinese restaurant to consult with the server. For example, a simple green vegetable sauteed in garlic is only sometimes on the menu, but it is always available. Whatever is fresh.

        I think it's great if you can avoid treating waitstaff like intelligent vacuum cleaners. In some places they don't care, but you might be surprised what insights a little conversation can get you.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Steve

          Call in advance and ask you may get lucky.

          Restaurant law - when another chef visits other well known restaurants they are treated to what ever the chef decides to make most times free of charge

          Bartenders do the samething

        2. Thanks for the info folks!

          I'm taking my wife out tonight to Bibiana for her birthday and was hoping to do something a little different. I just talked to them and they said they can whip up a tasting menu of as many courses as I'd like! Too easy

          Thanks again for the suggestion.

          1100 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20005

          2 Replies
          1. re: Bart Hound

            Awesome! Let us know the details and how the experience went - I'd like to do something similar there.

            1. re: Raids

              The dinner couldn't have gone better. Everything about the night except the weather was beyond perfect.

              I'll do a full review under a separate heading, but if you go to Bibiana, ask for Francesco, the sommelier, and he'll set you up. He was the guy I talked to on the phone and he was responsible for our entire evening. And like I said, it couldn't have gone better. It a very special and different dining experience.

              My only complaint is I'm not going there tonight!

              1100 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20005

          2. Just wanted to note, I did the same thing last night at Ardeo+Bardeo, Dave Presley the general manager set it all up. I have a full review on I will post on Chow here somewhere. But suffice it to say we had a really fun time and ate very well. If I ate like that every night gluttony would be a deadly sin.