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If you were trying to impress, what would your dinner party menu look like?

I've been asked to come up with (and potentially execute) a dinner party menu for a friend of mine who is hosting three other couples for dinner (a total of 10 for dinner). One of the couples is well-travelled and has a penchant for food and wine. Money isn't an issue for them and they have dined at just about every global and local bucket list place you can possibly think of. They are also very gracious and would appreciate anything served. That said - I would love to knock their socks off (if it was even possible!).

I'm running blind, as I don't know their food preferences (and I've inquired and no one seemed to know), and there are no food restrictions/allergies.

I realize that 'to impress' is subjective, but if you were trying to put together a menu to impress, what would your dinner menu look like? Any and all recipes and tips are appreciated.

Also - I know the rule of thumb is to do what you already do well - but for whatever reason, this menu has me scattered in every direction! TIA!

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  1. foie gras, duck, aged prime beef, oysters, uni,
    let me get a taste before you serve.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Monica

      We must be sisters from another Mother! Lol!

    2. How about sweetbreads? I made this recipe from Saveur and adored it.

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/921865

      1. While you're preparing the other dishes that may be more time consuming, here's a rich and easy Potato-and-Blue-Cheese-Gratin that practically fixes itself.

        http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

        It took mine closer to an hour to soften the potatoes nicely, but it's a delicious - and impressive dish.

        2 Replies
        1. re: kitchengardengal

          A good potato gratin/scalloped potatoes/ pommes dauphinois is always a crowd pleaser.
          The good thing is that the work is done up front and it just takes care of itself in the oven.

          1. re: monavano

            Very true about it being a crowd pleaser! And, I love that the work is done ahead of time.

        2. Well, this was a very interesting exercise in fantasy. While I've been to a few cities in Western Europe, I am by no means a world traveler. Also, I have never been to a Michelin-starred restaurant, don't do molecular gastronomy and have never eaten a sous vide preparation. So I'm probably more easy to impress than others here.

          That said, I really did enjoy thinking through this menu; what I'm looking at is a strong emphasis on seasonality. Only the desserts are actual recipes seen online; the others are just sketches.

          Summer corn chowder made with corn stock and garnished with crème fraîche, corn kenels, red bell pepper.

          Salad of mixed soft tender lettuces with fresh peaches and Vidalia onion, peach vinaigrette.

          Rack of lamb with fingerling potatoes.

          One of these two desserts: Lemon Custard, Blueberry & Shortbread Verrines, or Blueberry Cassis Fool.

          1. Here’s the menu I prepared for my parents’ 50th anniversary:

            Scrambled eggs in the shell topped with caviar
            Lobster in pastry pockets
            Basil sorbet
            Saddle of lamb
            Fresh peas in potato string baskets
            Cheese course
            Croquembouche

            This was quite a few years ago. Looking at it now, I’d lighten it up considerably. But maybe there's something there to use as inspiration?