With so many friends working the back scenes in some of Montreal’s finest eateries, how could I not share this on a snowy Sunday afternoon?
When you think about your favorite local restaurant, whether it be Chinese, Indian, Italian, or even your local pupuseria, even it doesn’t seat more than six, these are five secrets that most restaurant owners want you to know that you may be taking for granted. You’ll understand why restaurateurs can’t advertise these claims.
1.) When your steak is cooked improperly you’re likely to get a set of fresh and new sides. Now if you ordered medium and the steak is just below then it’s likely the chef will just cook the meat for the 2 minutes it takes to up the temp, and then replate the original sides. But if a steak has to be completely recooked you’ll always get a fresh new plate.
2.) When there’s a bakery on premises you get fresh bread, never recycled, 100% of the time. I’m with Anthony Bourdain on the idea that recycling bread from table to table is not that big of a deal. And any place that uses fresh bread crumbs, or makes bread pudding, uses the leftovers from the day before. Check out a cookbook and you’ll notice that it says to use “day old bread” for breadcrumbs. Again, if the restaurant has a bakery on site then this day old bread is just the extras that were never touched.
3.) The daily special is not a way to get rid of food that’s gone bad. There are two types of specials: got a still good item that’s about to go bad; and fresh food that’s prepared with care. We did a daily fish special that the chef always gave us a hard time about if we reused a portion of the previous day’s special. I might use the spicy tomato coulis from the night before to flavor a polenta, for example. It was always encouraged for a brand new set to be made each day.
And no restaurant would serve you food that’s gone bad, if the special is intended to push an item then it’s because the food is still good to eat. But there’s too much of it to sell as a normal menu item and a special is a great way to sell the food, rather than toss it in the garbage before it’s inedible.
4.) Feel good that the premium price you’re paying is because the restaurant is also paying a premium price for quality product. If your favorite restaurant is serving a local grass fed beef tenderloin and it costs a few bucks extra, you can rest assured that the chef payed that extra cost as well. You’re getting the best ingredients put on your plate that makes sense for the amount of business a reputable restaurant does. Not every place can afford to run exclusively local ingredients, but the good spots always order in the highest quality stuff that can be had.
5.) Your plates are clean and without smudges. Sounds like a small item, but we’d often joke on the line about how many bowls it would take to find a servable one. We’d go through and drop four or five plates into a drop bin until we found one that was clean.