Feel like an Insider With These Fancy Off-the-Menu Dishes

The best dish might be the hardest to find
Find Dining Off-the-Menu Dishes
Photo: Vergara Meatballs at Fiola | Photo: Abby Greenawalt

Unless you're friends with the chef, the menu at most high-end spots is limited to the card placed in front of you. But, there's a loophole—as long as you know how to find it. It turns out that some of the country's best restaurants, like New York's acclaimed Daniel and Philadelphia's modern Israeli dining destination Zahav, keep secret stashes in their walk-ins, ready to be made only when a guest knows to ask. Say the magic words, and you may be rewarded with Paul Bocuse's legendary truffle-stuffed chicken or a special foie gras skewer, proving that it pays to know before you go. 

① Paul Bocuse's Poularde en Vessie at Daniel, New York City

Ordering off the menu at Daniel requires a bit of planning. Call ahead, and Daniel Boulud will pay tribute to legendary French chef Paul Bocuse by preparing his poularde en vessie, a chicken stuffed with foie gras, cognac, madeira and truffles, then carefully poached.  

② Foie Gras Brulee at Boka, Chicago

While this Michelin-starred restaurant changes its selections daily, at least one dish can be guaranteed with a special advance request: a decadent foie gras, topped with brandy and brûléed. And, as a bonus, it's even prepared tableside for your viewing pleasure.

③ Meatballs at Carbone, Las Vegas


#SecretMenu: #meatballs based on Mario Carbone’s mother’s recipe are a secret item at Carbone at @AriaLV .

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The team at this extravagant Italian-American hit secretly keeps a recipe for chef Mario Carbone's mom's meatballs on hand. Make some space for them amid your many plates of spicy rigatoni vodka, baked clams and lobster fra diavolo.

④ Tuna Belly at Loring Place, New York City

To complement all the vegetables at his new restaurant, chef Dan Kluger is cooking fatty tuna belly over a wood grill, then dressing it with basil, mint, chilies, orange zest and fried garlic. The off-the-menu item is limited to the amount of tuna belly the chef can get, so it's best to order this one early in the evening.

⑤ Pasta Back at Maple & Ash, Chicago

After you've downed enough fire-roasted clams, scallops and other fruits of the sea featured in Maple & Ash's unconventional seafood tower, place an order for the "pasta back." The kitchen will bring over an overflowing bowl of fresh conchigliette in a butter-infused broth and add it to the remaining seafood and sauce. Presto: pasta of the sea. 

⑥ Foie Gras Shishlik at Zahav, Philadelphia

Between mouthfuls of freshly made hummus and lamb shoulder dressed in pomegranate and molasses, find a moment for foie gras shishlik, or skewer, served over fresh laffa, an Iraqi flatbread drizzled with sweet carob molasses and topped with pistachios.

⑦ Burger at Gramercy Tavern, New York City


Finally! � #latenight #special #burger #tavern #9pm � � � #nyc #restaurant

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Neither Gramercy Tavern's dining room nor its Tavern section officially offers any burgers, but Danny Meyer's talented staff will clandestinely create one for you if you know to ask (and as long as they haven't sold out). Note: In the evenings, the burger is only available after 9 p.m.—the perfect way to restore yourself after a few delicious cocktails.

Meatballs at Fiola, Washington, D.C.

At Fabio Trabocchi's flagship restaurant, you'll find elegant dishes like Spanish turbot with honey mussels and saffron crema and morels with black truffles and egg. But the team will also happily whip up an order of the chef's signature Vergara meatballs upon request. Beef, veal, pork, confit garlic, egg and two cheeses go into this homey treat.


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