Eating out tonight?
Before you go, read this. It will make your meal — in fact, your whole night — better. Plenty of surveys ask diners what they think of the restaurants they go to, but here at Rachael Ray Every Day, we decided to do something a little different. We teamed up with the James Beard Foundation to find out what restaurant folks think of their customers. We sent questionnaires to 100 chefs, restaurant owners, managers and other restaurant-industry insiders to find out what you can do to have the best experience possible every time you dine out. Find out what they had to say, and read the whole story in our September 2016 issue, on newsstands now.
Illustration by Jordan Awan
97% are totally fine with menu substitutions. Very accommodating! But then we got down to exactly which substitutions. As the requests became more complex, the number who agreed they were acceptable understandably dwindled.*
Sauce on the side… 86%
An ingredient omitted… 62%
A side dish swapped… 57%
Cooked with no oil or butter… 52%
Made gluten-free… 38%
Made vegan… 35%
“If someone wants the steak well done and without butter, why wouldn’t I do it?” says Andrew Hunter, chef at The Bay House in Naples, FL. “The problem is only when people redesign a dish completely and turn it into something it’s not meant to be.”
*In some cases, percentages add up to more than 100 because respondents could give multiple answers.
77% say you should
eat at the bar
If you can’t get a table at the hot new restaurant, the best tactic, said respondents, is to scrap the idea of atable Read more
Matzo balls, the Passover staple made from ground, unleavened bread, are getting ever cheffier spins. Try to catch one near you!
At Philadelphia’s Sbraga, chef Kevin Sbraga fries his matzo balls, then adds house-made sauerkraut, Russian dressing and pickled apple.
We’ve already told you how much we love mash-ups. Whether it’s two Italian classics crammed into one (hello chicken parm pizza!) or a French onion soup-Chinese dumpling hybrid, the delicious end results are greater than the sum of their parts. Such is the charm of the ramen burger. When you cross the all-American sandwich with the ultimate Japanese comfort food, everybody wins.
We LOVE Italian food. We love gooey mozzarella cheese, vibrant, fresh marinara sauce and don’t even get us started on the homemade pasta. But two of our favorite dishes have merged together as one at Quality Italian in New York City. We shared the recipe for Chicken Parm Pizzas in our September issue, and now is the time to put it to the test. Does our recipe compare to the original?
I paid a visit to Quality Italian with high expectations and an empty stomach. The restaurant is famous for its namesake Chicken Parmigiana for two, but the appetizers, pastas, meat dishes and drinks are just as high of quality. The funny thing about the chicken parmigiana is that, although you’re charged “for two” at $29 per person, the dish could really feed between 4 and 6, depending on your hunger level and other orders. Luckily, I had three hungry guests to keep me company and help me conquer this behemoth pizza hybrid.
Halfway into my first slice, I took a moment to gather my thoughts. I had sampled our Chicken Parm Pizzas straight from the test kitchen a few months ago, but enjoying it in a dimly lit restaurant at a table felt a little different. Like our version, theirs is extremely juicy (thanks to the mix of white and dark ground meat) and flavorful (due to the addition of Italian seasoning) on the inside and crispy on the outside. Covered in a sweet tomato sauce and overrunning with melted cheese, there’s really nothing that isn’t perfect about this dish. I will say, though, our recipe calls for panko breadcrumbs along with Italian breadcrumbs, which leads to a crispier crust that still feels lighter than air. Quality Italian serves theirs with a simple arugula salad accompanied by a chile-spiked honey, which I took the liberty of dipping my chicken into (no judgment, you have to try it).
My advice to you: Go home and make this recipe immediately. It’s the perfect dish for a chilly fall evening accompanied by a good beer and good friends. They’ll be so impressed and definitely full to the brim. And whatever you do, just make sure to enjoy your high “Quality” meal.
Looking to dine out, but can’t decide on a craving? Everyone’s been there. Luckily, we’ve got you covered. In our September issue, we tackle some of the hottest “mash-up” dishes to sweep New York City (complete with recipes so you can D-I-Y at home!). For those outside the Big Apple, fret not: these hybrid creations are popping up all across the country. Here are just a few of the dishes that prove definitively that, when it comes to food, we really can have it all.
Photo courtesy of Food Spotting
Take your pooch out on the town! Kelly E. Carter, author of National Geographic’s new The Dog Lover’s Guide to Travel, has sniffed out America’s pup-friendliest eateries (and watering holes). Bone appetit!
Whatcha craving, Fido? Check out these top-notch spots!
While you enjoy, say, duck confit at Bistro 17 in Hilton Head, SC, your furry friend can order off his own menu (chicken with rice, anyone?). Even better: Half the proceeds from each $6 doggy dish go to an animal rescue organization. (bistro17hhi.com)
Pups can toast to having their own dog run at all four outposts at the Lucky Labrador Brewing Company in Portland, OR. Perhaps to make canines feel extra welcome, the beers range from Dog Day IPA to The Mutt, even if the place is BYOT (treat). (luckylab.com)
You and your pooch can get a little sweet fix at Carmel Bakery in Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA. Try the famed buttery Scottish shortbread–and a pink or blue dog bone with the words, “Good Girl” or “Good Boy” drizzled in white icing. (chefpepe.com)
Ice Cream Parlor
Beyond serving tasty dairy treats and burgers for humans, many New York City Shake Shack branches have a “Woof” menu. The drool-worthy, frosty Pooch-ini pairs dog biscuits with vanilla custard and peanut butter sauce. (shakeshack.com)
By Sarah Zorn
The 2014 FIFA World Cup begins this Thursday in Brazil—but restaurants around the US are getting in on the competition too! Whether you’re a diehard soccer fan or just excited for some delicious international grub, check out our picks for the best spots to dine and watch the action:
No World Cup celebration is complete without a little flavor from the host nation, so this year get ready to party like a Brazilian. At Botequim’s World Cup Pop-Up in New York City, executive chef and Brazilian native Marco A. Moreira will be honoring his home country with delicious cuisine like suckling pig a pururuca and grilled sausage and onions. The pop-up will be full of South American culture, from freshly made caipirinhas (the national cocktail of Brazil) to samba dancing to Brazilian music videos.
132 Fourth Avenue, New York, NY 10003
Photo courtesy of Botequim
World Cup Beer Garden
If you’re mostly in it for the food, head to the pop-up World Cup Beer Garden in Portland. Local food carts like Fried Egg I’m in Love will be lined up to treat hungry game-watchers to dishes like the Egg Zeppelin (an egg, sausage, cheddar and aioli sandwich), and cocktail specialists Merit Badge will be serving a special “Roma Paloma” cocktail featuring Pelinkovac, a Croatian liqueur. There will also be plenty of coffee and beer to keep the party going. And of course, all 64 games will be screened so you can watch while you snack.
625 NW 21st Avenue, Portland, OR 97209
Photo courtesy of Fried Egg I’m in Love
The Chop Shop
The Windy City’s home soccer team, the Chicago Fire, will join in on the fun by hosting viewing parties at 1st Ward, the Chop Shop‘s event space. The games will be shown on a huge 30-foot projection screen so everyone will have an enviable view of the action, plus Chicago Fire players may drop in to party with the crowd. Be sure to pick up one (or two!) of The Chop Shop’s special Chicago Fire sausages: In addition to being tasty, all proceeds from their sales will go to benefit the team’s foundation, which aims to enhance the lives of disadvantaged youth in Chicago.
2033 W. North Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647
Photo courtesy of The Chop Shop
SoMa StrEat Food Park
If you’re looking for more international cuisine, check out the SoMa StrEat Food Park in San Francisco for one delicious viewing party! There will be food trucks galore, plus global food and drink specials to match the teams at each game. Try El Porteno’s Argentinian empanadas when Argentina hits the field, and don’t forget to stop by the bar for some bottomless sangria. But there’s no need to miss out on the action while you nosh: There will also be 12 huge TV’s so partygoers can catch every second of the games.
428 11th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103
Photo courtesy of SoMa StrEat Food Park
Meat Market Miami Beach
Stuff yourself with as many global flavors as you can handle at Meat Market Miami Beach‘s game center. They’re offering an international happy hour menu at the bar throughout the competition, so you can sample wine, beer, cocktails and food from all 32 nations competing in the World Cup. Best of all, there will be $30 caipirinha pitchers in honor of the host country!
915 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, FL 33139
Photo courtesy of Lyall Aston
It’s become as much a part of your restaurant routine as choosing tap or bottled: the ceremonial Instagramming of your meal. But faster than you can heart your friends’ food shots, restaurants—citing disruptiveness, among other things—are saying, “Drop the phone and step away from the table!” Still, even as some chefs are imposing photo bans, plenty of others are encouraging foodstagramming. Hear two New York chefs argue it out below.
Alex Stupak, chef at Empellón, says go for it:
- Immediate publicity is a boon to our business. As chefs, we now have the power to transmit ideas without needing to wait for traditional media. I can create a new dish that night and have guests transmit the idea to thousands of their Instagram followers.
- Essentially, the customer is always right. You can certainly ask people to stop doing what they want to do, but I think that letting them have their fun is more hospitable.
- These days if it’s not on Instagram, it’s almost as if it never happened. By communicating with these images, you can share your experience with friends, whether they’re with you at the table or far away.
Luke Venner, executive chef at BLT Fish, says it’s a no-go:
- These shots aren’t true representations of the dish. As a chef, you want to be able to dictate how the food looks when it’s photographed. Similar to when a celebrity is captured leaving the gym by the paparazzi, a dish isn’t going to look its best when it’s shot in a dim corner of the room with an iPhone.
- It’s disruptive. I completely understand that guests want to document a memorable dining experience, but the flash is distracting to other patrons.
- Sometimes you just need to live in the moment. Taste your food (while it’s still hot!) and take everything in. Forget the cameras. Be there and enjoy your experience with your friends.
Where do you stand? Tell us below in the comments!
Written by David Farley; Photography by Sam Kaplan
When it comes to dining out, we’re always looking for the latest trends, hottest menu items and all-around best restaurants to try. And no one knows the restaurant industry like OpenTable. They’re the world’s leading provider for online restaurant reservations and service reservations for more than 15,000 restaurants across the United States–which leaves them with top notch insight from diners nationwide.
After more than 5 million OpenTable-verified reviews this year, the site has released its list of the top 100 restaurants fit for foodies, restaurants putting “the wow factor in everything they serve,” according to Caroline Potter, OpenTable Chief Dining Officer. Among the states, California tops the list with 20 honorees, followed by Pennsylvania with 10 winners and Illinois with nine. But don’t think the typical food-centric states take up all the spots: you can expect to see venues in Delaware, Virginia, Missouri, Minnesota, and more, too!
Steak and Eggs — Feast, New York City
We got a chance to hear from Caroline Potter, as she explains what makes this list so special, timely and all-around delicious:
“Restaurants that are ‘fit for foodies’ are those that are actively elevating their craft every day. The folks in these kitchens are part mad genius, part explorer, putting out the dishes that turn heads and make us turn on our camera phones before diving in,” she explains.
Shaved Carrot & Radish Salad, Asparagus, Artisan Greens and Champagne Vinaigrette — Boca, Cincinnati, Ohio
The most popular type of cuisine that restaurants on the list are serving is American, “which is a good indication that local, seasonal sourcing has become de rigueur at many fine-dining establishments.” And although only two vegetarian-only restaurants made it onto the list, many establishments have moved vegetables “from the side of the plate to the center” (things we like to hear!). Caroline also explains how the timing of list is particularly relevant, “as we’re really at the absolute peak of the harvest season… [when] diners are still enjoying the last heirloom tomatoes and sweet corn and are also starting to see delicious autumn ingredients.”
Carnaroli Risotto with Carrots, Pea Vine, Parmesan and Truffle Oil — Tilth, Seattle
With everything from standard cuisines like French, Italian and Small Plates, to more novel culinary concepts such as Californian and Gastro Pub, there’s sure to be a restaurant to please the inner foodie in all of us. You can view the entire list of honorees here.