BYOB Fine Dining

I hate fine dining.

Let me rephrase that: I am not a fan of any situation where I need to speak in hushed tones and watch my laughter level, while fumbling over which fork to use.

So when my co-worker Jen told me about her experience at EL Ideas, I was intrigued.

BYOB? Super small restaurant that seats about 20? Head Chef who explains each dish to the room then helps serve tables? Cooks who drink beers and take shots from diners out in the open? Cool playlist?

Yes. To all of it.

Here are my Do’s and Don’ts when choosing EL Ideas:

DO: Hop in an uber and trust the driver to find the obscure location.

DO: Bring your favorite wine or alcohol and be sure to bring extras to share with the staff.

DO: Sit facing towards the kitchen so you can see all the action.

DO: Get chatty with the staff. Bill, the dining room captain, is the perfect mix of; personable, sleek, professional, hip, knowledgeable, warm and conversational.

DO: Prepare to open your culinary mind and be ready to try new things like lobster bisque with foie gras served in a baby bottle.

That said…

DONT: Be afraid to email the chef/staff and let them know you don’t eat meat. They swapped out meat on all my dishes and added some amazing porcini mushrooms to one of them and I swear it must have been better than the original.

the meat version

DONT: Drive if you plan to drink. It’s BYOB…be safe.

DONT: Snack before coming. I didn’t eat all day in order to take down every course and I was full, but not stuffed after. I also gave half of most plates to Shaun.

DONT: Feel stupid if you don’t know which fork to use. They provide you with only what you need for that exact course. Awesome.

DONT: Avoid taking photos. Chef Phillip Foss invites diners into the kitchen to take pics and even plate and serve the food. As people got more buzzed…they felt the urge to wait tables. Genius concept- trick people into working for you.

I loved this dining experience which began at 9:30pm and ended around 1am.

Here is the menu we experienced:

august 10, 2012
foie gras – melon / cucumber / chanterelle
hamachi – sea cress / dashi / kambuchi
salmon – kohlrabi / nasturtium / caper
fries and ice cream – potato / leek / vanilla
reuben – lamb tongue / kraut / swiss
cauliflower – bacon / cheddar / funion
explorateur – ants / on / log
maitake – beets / squash / hearts
freeze pop – prosciutto / melon
pork belly – navy bean / kimchi / scallion
infant & toddler – lobster / foie gras / truffle
beef – galanga / sesame / pine nut
peach – blackberries / graham / meringue
grapefruit – avocado / plum / shortbread
egg yolk – blueberries / chocolate / tarragon

Make a reservation in advance. Like now- they fill up weeks in advance. And here’s an inside tip: the cooks like bourbon and beer…and mescal.

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