Trend Alert: Chef’s Counters With Special Menus Are the Next Big Thing

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Chiarello likes to make people feel special.
Chiarello likes to make people feel special. Photo: Courtesy of Bottega

Today on Between Meals Michael Bauer points to the growing number of chef’s table and chef’s counter options available to diners who want to feel extra-special and leave the meal to the chef’s whim, all while they watch. “Now open kitchens aren’t enough,” Bauer writes, “we want to be as close to the action as possible.” Chefs like James Syhabout at Commis and Michael Chiarello at Bottega are pimping special daily menus available only at a counter or specific place in their restaurant, adding an air of exclusivity but also getting to experiment themselves and veer off the à la carte menu on a small scale.

Traci des Jardins plans to do the same thing with a small counter at her new Tahoe restaurant Manzanita, as soon as the restaurant gets its footing.

In a tiny space like Commis, an extra menu each night feels pretty ambitious, given that the kitchen will still be preparing the three-course fixed price menu for the rest of the diners in the restaurant while also having to do several more courses and different dishes for six counter patrons. But in this economy, maybe this is just the gimmick to pull in adventurous eaters (and douchebags alike) who want a unique experience and don’t mind paying extra for it.

Step Up to the Table and Let the Chef Cook [Between Meals]

Trend Alert: Chef’s Counters With Special Menus Are the Next Big Thing