A Chatelaine reader recently wrote in asking how to make sure you’re ordering the best dishes a restaurant has to offer. Good question!
As luck would have it, I was recently in Manhattan having dinner with Alan Richman, America’s foremost food critic (he also happens to be a pal of mine).
We met for dinner at a hidden midtown gem of his choosing called La Mangeoire, which looks and tastes like a slice of the French countryside. While I greedily sopped up the garlic butter from my tender escargot and Alan nibbled away on the crispy bits of cheese from his bubbling bowl of French onion soup, I asked him for his best tips on ordering well when eating out. Here’s what he had to say:
“Knowing what to order in a restaurant is fairly impossible,” he starts. “First of all, do you order what the chef’s specialties are? Do you order what you like best? Do you order what you don’t like best to see whether or not the chef makes it so well that you’re going to start liking it?” Richman takes a sip of champagne and continues. “Do you order a special of the day because the chef thinks he’s found something wonderful at the market? Or do you not order the special of the day because it’s what’s left over from three days before and you know it’s going to be terrible?”
The conclusion? “Ordering is almost impossible and the answer is to close your eyes and just pick something on the menu and eat that.” He’s half-joking, of course, but also totally right. I’d like to add that when ordering, just go with what sounds the most delicious to you at that moment; take recommendations into account but don’t over-think it.
After all, only you truly know what you feel like eating.
(P.S. If you go to La Mangeoire, we highly recommend you order the whole roast chicken for two!)