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Kitchen Tour offers?

Was at a restaraunt last night with a client and received a very nice offer for a kitchen tour, thought it was a pleasant surprise but ended up relaizing that it was a really effective way for them to get us to get off our butts and leave the table so they could turn it.

By the time we left the kitchen there was allready another group at our table - menus and drinks in hand

Is that the primary reason for kitchen tour offers?

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  1. I doubt it. I've had kitchen tours at Eleven Madison Park during my meal which has the opposite effect: I end up staying longer at my table. I've had kitchen tours at the end of my meals at Per Se (most recently last week at lunch), but since it was 4:00, Per Se was not trying to turn the table since their earliest dinner reservation would be 5:30. I think it's very nice when a restaurant offers a kitchen tour, and wouldn't think that there is any evil intent behind it.

    1 Reply
    1. You might find this interesting, from the New Yorker piece on EMP.

      Title: Check, Please
      Author(s): John Colapinto
      Source: The New Yorker. 88.27 (Sept. 10, 2012): p58.

      The kitchen tour and lounge visit, deployed late in the meal, also solved a problem that bedevils every restaurateur: how to get people up from the table so that the next customers can be seated, a feat known as "the turn." Fast-food places, which must turn every few minutes, use bright primary colors and loud, fast music to encourage people to eat faster. In fine dining, the turn is enacted differently, but it's no less important. For Eleven Madison Park, which now reduced its seats to eighty-eight, an extra half-turn--forty-four seatings--would bring in thousands of dollars more each night. Daniel, a three-Michelin-star restaurant on the Upper East Side run by Daniel Boulud, monitors patrons with discreet cameras in the dining room. Before a fork is lowered after a course, cooks watching from the kitchen can insure that the next dish is ready, shaving vital minutes off the meal.

      Humm and Guidara rejected the idea of using cameras; it would be too difficult in their cavernous dining room. The kitchen tour and lounge visit was their solution.

      2 Replies
      1. re: kathryn

        I read that piece when it was first out and was actually a bit surprised they would be so up front about it. If it wasn't coming from them I would have questioned the reliability of the information because I have always been reseated after our kitchen tours.

        1. re: kathryn

          Showing you the door
          by ways of the kitchen almost makes you forget you're being rushed out.

        2. I've had a "come and meet the chef" (Michelin 2*) tour midway through a meal (between main course and dessert). Might have just been our lucky day as I didnt see anyone else get invites.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Harters

            I also had an invitation to meet the Chef at Guy Savoy in Las Vegas before dessert. Nice touch. The restaurant was 2/3 empty so it definitely wasn't a ploy to turn my table.

          2. I think the question is -- were you and your client just sitting there talking after your meal was finished? If so, then I can see why they offered you a tour. They needed the table for other guests. It was a polite way of getting you up.

            1 Reply
            1. re: boogiebaby

              "Could we offer you a tour of our parking lot, and our cab stand, where you can get a taxi back to your hotel?"



            2. Yes we had finished a 3 hour 12 course tasting menu and had coffees and had paid the 4 four digit bill - so we may have needed the prod - it worked great and that is why I posted the thread - it was much better than someone coming over and asking every few minutes if we wanted something else or blantantly saying people were waiting for the table

              - two of our group ended up continuing drinking at the bar after the "tour" was complete

              1 Reply
              1. re: carlylecat

                I always think they should show up with wheelchairs after one of those meals. Who wants to move?

                Only time I've ever gotten a kitchen tour was at MIchelin starred restaurant when my brother, in the wine business, gave his card to the maitre de.

              2. Last month I was reading the 'Health Inspection Reports' article in The New Haven (CT) Independent.

                Seems a local eatery failed inspection because it allowed patron in the kitchen. According to the article which quoted one of the New Haven inspectors, the CT Health code doesn't allow patrons or non-employees in the kitchen. In fact delivery people are supposed to hand over deliveries at the kitchen door. A far cry from when delivery people would wheel produce right into the walk in, etc.

                1 Reply
                1. re: bagelman01

                  My first and last kitchen tour was in Darien, CT.
                  Long story short, I took a tumble on the kitchen's greasy floors.
                  The leather soles I was wearing offered me little protection against the old greasy quarry tiles that awaited me inside. Thankfully I was able to get myself up and leave unharmed.

                2. The only kitchen tour I was ever offered was at Escoffier on the CIA campus a few years back. To this day, I don't know why we were selected--I hadn't seen any other tables taken back that evening plus it was a weekday evening in September, so the dining room wasn't full.

                  1. If it's a ploy, and it's at a place where I'd really like to see the kitchen...... I couldn't give a whatever about the reason. Pretty ingenious thinking if you ask me.

                    My wife and I had finished our nearly four hour French Laundry experience and were staring into the kitchen through the outdoor garden windows when a staff member came out and asked us if we'd like to come in. ARE YOU KIDDING? Pretty classy thing to do IMHO.

                    1. We are often invited to "tour the kitchen," but the result has never been, as you describe. Not saying that it never happens, but I have never seen such.

                      Last year, we dined at Gordon Ramsay's Petrus, and at the Chef's Table in the kitchen. It was great. We were just back, but upstairs. Between our mains and our cheese-course, we were invited to tour the kitchen. As we were just down there, we graciously declined. The couple at the table to my left, were then invited, and accepted. Their table was untouched, until they returned, and then their next course (whatever it was) was delivered.

                      We are often invited to do kitchen, or wine cellar tours, and I have never encountered what you describe - our table is always, just as we left it, though maybe a finished plate has been removed.

                      Sorry about your experience.


                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                        Thanks Bill - but I am really not complaining - nor do I feel put off - it was just a "aha" moment when I came back out to the dining room and saw our table was no longer ours!

                        1. re: carlylecat

                          I have just not observed that, but may well have missed other diners' trips to the kitchen.

                          The Petrus situation was just one, where we declined (having just dined in the kitchen, at the Chef's Table), and the diners to my left, were offered the tour. Their table was retained, for them to return to.

                          Other restaurants might well have different policies. I just do not know what the various policies might be?


                      2. The few times I've been invited back to the kitchen, it's because I showed great enthusiasm for the restaurant. I've only had it happen to me before the check drops, and when it's fairly slow, usually close to the end of the shift. Let me tell you, the dedicated pastry room at Bouchon is about the most divine thing I've ever smelled. I may have gained a pound just breathing that buttery air.

                        Offering a kitchen tour during a busy period to get you off the table is a clever ruse. Considering they already had drinks in hand, it sounds like they were running behind on the reservation sheet. I hope the manager did the tour, because about the last thing i'd want to do as a waiter in the middle of the dinner rush is take a few minutes to show now-former campers around the kitchen. I still think the old "May I treat you to coffee or after-dinner drinks in the lounge?" is a better choice.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                          "Considering they already had drinks in hand." ?????

                          I've read all three posts by the OP and can't find anything like that. They had paid the bill, had finished their coffee and were, unless I missed something, just sitting at the table when the kitchen tour offer came. What the OP said was that 2 members of the party stayed after the tour and had drinks at the bar.

                          I still think this is a simple and rather nice way to clear the table, if in fact that's what was being done.

                          1. re: Midlife

                            I should have been more clear. The people with drinks in hand are the ones who got the table that Carlylecat had recently vacated for the kitchen tour. As Carlylecat said: "By the time we left the kitchen there was allready another group at our table - menus and drinks in hand"

                            1. re: Midlife

                              Depending on the night, "clearing a table," can be a good thing for a restaurant - if handled properly.

                              We have been asked if we would consider retiring to the bar for our Port - nice. We have also been told, when a new £400 bottle of wine had just arrived, and two diners were still finishing their desserts, that we had to vacate the table, with no offers made, because the restaurant was busy - not so nice, when the bill was over £3000 for the 5 of us.