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Would you ever ask for a doggie bag at Alinea? Saison? Per Se? French Laundry?

This post about doggie bags, http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/862522 , got me thinking.

Putting aside for a moment whether any of those restaurants (or restaurants of that ilk) would even offer a take-out-leftover service, would you ever ask for a "doggie bag" at the French Laundry? Alinea?

Maybe that 24 course tasting menu at Rogue was one course too many?

Or how about taking home that second piece of toro from Urasawa?

Would the thought ever cross your mind to ask for a doggie bag?

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  1. My request to doggie bag has nothing to do with the location and everything to do with my meal.
    Toro? No. No cooler in my car. The last few fries on a seafood platter? No. Scallop foam? No.
    But half of a sirloin from a fine steakhouse? Yes.

    1 Reply
    1. re: pinehurst

      Oh dear why no room for the scallop foam?

    2. When I've eaten at places like that, there's been nothing on my plate to doggie bag. They're not serving huge portions that over flow your plate. If anything, I'm left feeling like how much I would have liked one more bite of the dish. Then its on to the next course. Never leave feeling hungry, but there are never leftovers.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Bkeats

        I believe that Keller has been quoted as wanting to leave his dinners wishing for one more
        bite. I've eaten at both of his restaurants mentioned and feel exactly like Bkeats about
        the portions etc.

        1. re: Bkeats

          Same here. Never had a problem since there was never leftovers.

        2. Once it's on my plate,and I pay for it, it's mine. If I want to take it home, I will. If they give me a stink eye for that, then I would assume, they maintained ownership. And they assume the cost.

          1. In that league one should not have to ask. The MD should discreetly inquire whether the extra portion should be couriered to the penthouse, boat, or the airplane.

            4 Replies
                1. re: Veggo

                  veggo, your perspective is always priceless!

                  1. No.

                    While I have not dined at two, I did not, at the other two.


                      1. I swear I remember reading a blog post in which someone ate at Per Se and took the macarons they couldn't eat home, and Per Se seemed totally fine with it.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: lamb_da_calculus

                          <and Per Se seemed totally fine with it>

                          Of course they appear to be totally fine with it...
                          Not long ago I witnessed a family with a newborn and a toddler eating in a very prolific, high end restaurant. The newborn cried throughout the entire meal and the toddler stood on the chair and screamed. They asked for a doggie bag at the end of the meal and the waitstaff appeared okay with the whole show.
                          No waitstaff is going to make a big production of anything, including doggie bags.
                          I would never do it.

                          1. re: lamb_da_calculus

                            I believe Per Se gives customers some dessert (cookies or some such) that they may take home. Leaving Per Se with food is not uncommon.

                            I guess the motivation to not ask for a doggie bag stems from being concerned with what other people think. That's no way to go through life.

                            1. re: tommy

                              It's such a nice touch. For Mothers Day weekend, the restaurant 2941 gave us a loaf of quick bread, for Mother's day breakfast the next day. They also offered to wrap up extra donut holes (which were also nice unexpected amuse) because I couldn't stop raving about them. This was years ago and I don't think the restaurant is the same caliber as it was.

                          2. At FL and many haute-cuisine restaurants, I usually always ask to take home the mignardise as I'm way too full at that point to appreciate them.

                            My last few times at FL, I have been so enamored with the Coffee & Doughnuts that I've asked if there were any extra doughnuts to take home and have always been rewarded...

                            12 Replies
                            1. re: CarrieWas218

                              Our waiter at FL was a guy I knew from La Jolla that used to wait on us at Top of the Cove..
                              After our fab 12 course meal, he loaded up a doggie bag with dougnuts and zipped them up with the FL laundry pins..
                              So, yes, I did get a doggie bag but I didn't ask.

                              We travel with our beloved Pom a lot of the time and if my husband is having meat, a little piece is going to our pup..he loves good food...veggies too!

                              1. re: Beach Chick

                                I was amazed and horrified when I discovered that the lamb chops I didn't eat at my aunt & uncle's country club (uncle Walt and his two brothers and their father were all on the board there at one time or another) were not mine to eat the next day, they were in fact for the dog. It was truly a doggie bag. Fortunately, Shep was a really great dog or i'd have really been mad. Besides, uncle Walt paid for it.

                                1. re: EWSflash

                                  Good ol' boy Shep...got your lamb chops..hee hee

                                  1. re: EWSflash

                                    My leftovers are often eaten by my dogs. They also appreciate good food.

                                    1. re: foiegras

                                      It wouldn't have been so bad if I hadn' tbeen so anticipating the leftovers for breakfast. My dogs rarely get leftover human food, it's not that good for them, except when it's steak or lamb chops, in that case I just declare it mine.

                                      1. re: EWSflash

                                        Yes, there is nothing like having food you were anticipating eaten out from under you. I had put mini Haagen Daz bars in the freezer at work, and went to get one for emergency medicinal purposes ... as I recall there was one left, but others had helped themselves to the majority and I was outraged!

                                        Don't want to co-opt the thread to go over the well-tread ground regarding whether or not real food is good for dogs. Obviously fat scraps can land them in the emergency room, and no onions, chocolate, or grapes. I'm talking about normal leftovers with real nutritional value.

                                    1. re: treb

                                      I'm sure if you ask, they will make you anything you want...

                                      1. re: CarrieWas218

                                        Anything? How about something with fried dough?

                                        1. re: Tripeler

                                          The last time I was at French Laundry, the Coffee & Doughnuts was not on the planned menu but, asking early in the meal, they were able to come up with them for me!!!!


                                    2. re: CarrieWas218

                                      Wow. There's always a first, I suppose.

                                    3. If you ask for a doggie bag it tells the staff that you aren't really enjoying yourself and you will get a very different (still amazing) experience than the people who give themselves over entirely to the whims of the kitchen. At the best restaurants you are frequently given a couple of mignardises/petit fours to take home (at Per Se it was in a cool little cloth bag).

                                      I have never seen a person leaving one of the top restaurants in the world with a doggie bag. I can't imagine most of them have any sort of container in the first place other than for the snacks at the end. It doesn't really work in a tasting menu/omakase kind of place.

                                      14 Replies
                                      1. re: rupreckt

                                        I have never seen a person leaving one of the top restaurants in the world with a doggie bag. I can't imagine most of them have any sort of container in the first place other than for the snacks at the end. It doesn't really work in a tasting menu/omakase kind of place.

                                        Well, apparently CarrieWas218's experience at French Laundry pretty much kaiboshes that notion.

                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                          I think mignardises are different. After a meal like that they know you are full, so it is not so much the sweets you couldn't eat but a gift and a reminder for the next day, a way to carry the experience over. I've heard of high-end restaurants sending out a gift of breakfast pastries, so that visiting diners staying hotels would have an extension of their evening. I'm sure I have received extra sweets to go after more than one high-end meal.

                                          1. re: babette feasts

                                            I've had larger cuts of protein saved and brought home as well...

                                            1. re: babette feasts

                                              I love the jar of house made granola that Eleven Madison Park gives you at the end of dinner. Perfect for breakfast the next day.

                                              1. re: babette feasts

                                                Picasso in LV sent us home with a gift of a pretty box of pastries for later. They were excellent.

                                            2. re: rupreckt

                                              Hmm wonder if a high profile person has ever left one of these top restaurants with a doggie bag? Would that make it socially acceptable? What would Martha Stewart say on this one?

                                              1. re: Ruthie789

                                                I am quite certain that Martha would agree with me that one should have the cojones to ask for what one really wants.

                                                1. re: foiegras

                                                  If you don't have one, she would lend you one, on a bed of Boston lettuce with...

                                                  1. re: Veggo

                                                    You're reminding me of the Is Martha Stewart Living? parody, with its menu for a bris ;)

                                                    She should definitely do a segment on preparing Rocky Mountain oysters, preferably outside at a ranch when they're in season.

                                                2. re: Ruthie789

                                                  What on earth does Martha Stewart have to do with this? She's not an expert on etiquette, is she? I could be wrong, but I really don't know why she's famous now that I think about it.

                                                  1. re: tommy

                                                    She had a show on National TV mostly about food and hospitality and she had as invites many famous chefs and as well she did a feature on restaurants around New York. I was inferring that we need an intervention on this topic, and someone sensible like Martha, the doyone of hospitality might have some insight. I was also being a little sarcastic.

                                                3. re: rupreckt

                                                  It would take a very close-minded individual to assume that someone isn't really enjoying themselves simply because they can't finish all of the food. Nonsense.

                                                4. Not exactly related, but as part of the whole meal, some restaurants do send customers off with a little take away gift at the end of a meal.

                                                  1. No because the food that they serve are generally not amenable to carrying out. Most of these items generally tend to be tweezer food. And while those types of high end restaurants probably get all sorts of requests, I don't want to be THAT table.

                                                    Have no issues asking for food to go in other type of restaurants (in the US -- Europe is a different story), including high end ones. But I am pretty strategic about what I ask to have wrapped up -- don't know anybody who uses the term doggy bag unless they're actually going to give it to the dog. I'll finish the dishes that won't travel as well and then have the more sturdy plates to go.

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: Miss Needle

                                                      I've been to both Per Se and the French Laundry, and I don't know that everything I was served would qualify as "tweezer food." I don't think your generalization holds. If you don't want 3 slices of incredible steak, then give it to me and I'll be more than happy to put it to use the next day at home.

                                                      1. re: tommy

                                                        If you want my three slices of incredible steak, you'll have to look for it in the sewer. These types of meals are special occasion stuff and I don't have these often. So I will eat everything that is offered, even if I'm really full. Bread is probably the only thing that I don't finish. It's probably not the wisest thing to do but I hate to have good food go to waste. And I want to enjoy the meal as it was meant to be enjoyed. A lot of these types of food do not taste good heated up the next day.

                                                        1. re: Miss Needle

                                                          "A lot of these types of food do not taste good heated up the next day."

                                                          Not sure this is germane.

                                                          I suspect we're talking about the foods that *would* taste good the next day. The question isn't "will food from these restaurants taste good the next day," but rather "Would you ever ask for a doggie bag [at these restaurants]?"

                                                          1. re: tommy

                                                            I will not ask for a doggie bag because there will be nothing to bag. If I'm spending this type of money on a meal, I want to make sure I enjoy the food in its prime. Let's take the three slices of beef from French Laundry as an example -- I find it perfectly cooked when they serve it to me. I prefer to eat that beef hot than at room temperature or cold. If I reheat those three slices, they will be overdone for my taste. And I like eating the slices of beef served with the accompaniments they provide in those proportions. Taking it home would most likely mean that the proportion of accompaniments will be altered.

                                                    2. Absolutely I would.

                                                      Obviously high-end places typically serve only what's appropriate to eat, but a high-end steak place or other American type restaurant usually serves too much and everyone leaves with leftovers.

                                                      1. I enjoy good meals; however, I am trying to lose some weight so I eat only about half of my portion. Also, I believe it is wrong to waste food, especially meats or fish. I am not embarrassed to ask for the left-overs to be wrapped. We, Americans, waste too much as it is.

                                                        7 Replies
                                                        1. re: Vidute

                                                          I agree, and I feel this way more than ever since I've been cooking for my dogs, which means that virtually nothing goes to waste at my house. I will now admit to what I didn't mention before, which is that if I'm eating at someone else's house & I know them well, I will make a (literal) doggy bag of scraps at the end of the meal rather than watch them put perfectly good food down the disposal ;)

                                                          1. re: Vidute

                                                            I can appreciate you trying to lose weight, but the restaurants that ipsedixit listed are those that serve 10+ courses that are generally very small in size. Of course all of those tiny courses add up to a lot of food as I've left pretty full. Alinea is actually over 20 courses, with a bunch of them being edible for only a few seconds. Many of the courses are just one bite. Here's uhockey's blog of Alinea.


                                                            Would you really eat just half of each course? How would that work logistically getting all of the courses wrapped up? After each course would you ask the waiter to wrap it up so he can bring you a new one? Would you walk out with 24 take-out containers? Or would you eat about half of the courses in full and ask them to wrap up the remainder? I'm really curious.

                                                            1. re: Miss Needle

                                                              I have eaten at restaurants with tasting menus. I just select which courses I will eat ahead of time. I then keep a plate on which I place the courses that I will be taking home. I then request a container for the food I'm taking home. I've found that the chefs are happy that I am taking the food home, rather than leaving it on my plate for them to throw out.

                                                              Miss Needle, eating out for me is not just about the food (I know, it's shocking to state this on a food-oriented website.); it is also about the company, the atmosphere, a night out of the ordinary, a fun evening. So, if I am unable to consume quantity of food served at one seating, should I not go and, thereby, be deprived of my friends' company and a fine meal?

                                                              1. re: Vidute

                                                                Thank you so much for explaining your strategy. That makes a lot more sense than eating half of each course. I commend your discipline. And I TOTALLY AGREE with you eating out is more than the food.

                                                                It was really a serious question and I'm dismayed that some posters here want to look for things that aren't there.

                                                            2. re: Vidute

                                                              <We, Americans, waste too much as it is.>

                                                              We, Americans, eat too much food as it is. The portions are out of control, big. There's nothing wrong with leaving the uneaten food on the plate, getting up from the table and leaving.

                                                              1. re: latindancer

                                                                Yes, but this thread is about taking that left over uneaten food home instead of having it thrown out.

                                                                1. re: latindancer

                                                                  IMO there is something wrong with that--the food will be wasted. As others have pointed out, that's particularly unacceptable when an animal gave its life to feed us.

                                                              2. I had the thrilling pleasure of being treated to lunch at Taillevent in Paris by my husband for our anniversary this past April. Just seeing the photos of the taupe banquettes on the website gives me shivers all over again! I'm a farm girl from WI with the inherent appetite, but I do get full during tastings with multiple courses and what I think are generous servings, especially of proteins - the beautiful fish, duck, beef, etc.

                                                                So when the stunning cheese course came, alas, I wasn't up to it. We've been fortunate to also enjoy Per Se and Alinea, and I always **want** to ask to take what I can't eat with me, but I don't have the guts (be damned, Midwestern meekness).

                                                                This time, I just couldn't let those gorgeous cheese go; I speak zero French except for important phrases, but I ventured, "Je suis désolé, est-il possible ..." and lo and behold, the staff nearly grinned (in a French sort of way) and delivered the complete cheese course back to me in a gold-foil lined, Taillevent box (so apparently even Taillevent is prepared for occasional "to-go" requests).

                                                                My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed the cheeses later on a nighttime cruise of the Seine, with the shiny Taillevent box and a baguette propped on our laps, a bottle of red wine steadied between our feet, plastic cups in hand. In fact, the cheese had only improved in both stink and texture from a few hours at room temperature.

                                                                So yes, Virginia, it is possible - and I think is all about letting the pleasure you took in the food show (and knowing judiciously which courses to take away - the carrot-mint froth amuse, not so much.)


                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: Monkusarelius

                                                                  That is what I define as fine service.

                                                                  1. I wonder if anyone has called them up for take out. "I'd like the 24 course tasting menu to go..."

                                                                    1. Yes, absolutely I would. Unless I had something like leftover ice-cream.

                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                          1. re: tommy

                                                                            Actually, crème anglaise, but that's splitting hairs.

                                                                      1. If I had leftover food, not only would I would ask to bag it but I'd take a photo too and post it up.