Is It Something You Ate? Recreating Your Favorite Restaurant Dishes At Home


Dining out affords you the opportunity to try new things and to taste favorite foods prepared in a whole new way. Do you ever order something off the menu, and wonder how to make your own version at home? The next time you eat out and find something that you want to cook yourself, try the following to recreate the flavor profiles in your own kitchen:

Don't be afraid to ask. Go ahead and ask your server about dishes that you really love. While they may not give you a play-by-play of each ingredient and how much to add, they may be able to identify that something-special that elevates the dish and that sets it apart when you try to duplicate it at home.  Imitation is a sincere form of flattery so don't be worried about offending your chef or server; just ask!

Know your spices. The key to making a dish stand out often lies with the spices used. There is a difference in taste when using fresh or dried herbs and spices, so experiment to find the correct flavor profile. Also, consider what you are drinking with your meal as different wine pairings or spirits may enhance or diffuse flavors, making something taste better when eating out in a restaurant.

Some spices that may be the reason your entrée tastes so good include:

  • Paprika is a popular restaurant spice, but few home cooks actually use it for more than a colorful garnish. Paprika pairs well with citrus, and it has a very mild, mellow flavor even though it is made from dried chili peppers.
  • White pepper is a softer, tamed-down version of black pepper. The light-color works well in creamy dishes, sauces, or even eggs- when you don't want the sharp flavor or black pieces of pepper in the dish.
  • Cumin is found in many restaurant kitchens, though many home chefs tend to shy away from the smoky, sweet flavor of this yellow-colored spice. It brings an appealing hue to a sauce or dish, and the spiciness is popular in curries and ethnic cuisine.

Jot down notes. Carry a notebook in your pocket or purse to capture thoughts, flavor profiles, and information that may help you later when you want to prepare something similar. Use your phone to take a picture of the menu, which often offers a list of basic ingredients that may help you when you go grocery shopping.

Search for recipes online. Armed with the notes from your meal, look online for any sites that the restaurant might use to promote their product. Many will share recipes, cooking tips, and even secrets that can help their clientele make the same dishes at home.

Talk to your server about dishes that you are excited about, and see if the chef is willing to share his or her secrets with you. Get more familiar about spices, and ingredients in general, to ensure you are using them right and that you are getting the best quality to use at home. Take a few notes during dinner to remember highlights of your meal and to remind you to search online for the restaurant's most popular dishes and perhaps even their own recipes. Visit the best bar and grill in your area to try new foods. 


4 May 2016

Managing Your Restaurant With Care

Several years ago I realized that I needed to do something about the way that my business was running. I owned what used to be a popular restaurant, but in recent years, I was having trouble getting people in through the door. I was really frustrated with our sales, so I started focusing heavily on turning things around. I worked with a professional restaurant consultant to make some big changes, and it made a huge difference. This blog is dedicated to managing your restaurant the smart way. After all, you never know how incredible your restaurant can be without focusing on what needs to change.