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I was just out in Napa/Sonoma for a few days and had the pleasure of eating at Ad Hoc, Thomas Keller's family-style joint where they serve 4 courses for everyone in the restaurant; the menu changes every day; and the damage is $45/pp.

Is this type of high quality, yet cheaper joint available in DC, where everyone gets the same food? I know places have prix fixe meals, but this concept is a way to try Keller-quality (or at least his name) food for a very reasonable price (even more so than Bouchon)? Or, if not, would we ever see something like this where a chef does this very narrow type of approach for an entire restaurant (I can't recall if Komi does it--but that is more expensive)? I thought I heard at one point that Jose Andres was thinking of blowing MiniBar out to a full restaurant, but I would imagine again that would be more expensive. Would you ever see a Michele Richard or Fabio Trabbiochi (assuming he hadn't left) doing something like this?

Don-feel free to merge this into my other thread about special menus/off hour pricing.

Thanks

Nashman

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My dad used to tell me about a Mexican home in Rockville where they would serve diners whatever they cooked themselves for dinner that night. My memory is sketchy, and I realize this doesn't help you now, but there is precedent.

This was in the early 1970's, and it *might* have been unofficially called "Rio Grande," but this is a forty-five year old memory. My father enjoyed going to restaurants (oh, the memories I have of Wednesday nights in Ellicott City - the upper floor of a French restaurant there, every week, after my tennis lesson - he'd take me without fail), but he was no gourmet - does anyone else remember this place in Rockville, or was he sneaking off to a brothel? :lol:

Cheers,
Rocks.

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DonRocks said:
My dad used to tell me about a Mexican home in Rockville where they would serve diners whatever they cooked themselves for dinner that night. My memory is sketchy, and I realize this doesn't help you now, but there is precedent.

Cheers,

Rocks.

I have some very fond memories of meals like this on various Caribbean islands. Particularly on small islands, restaurants are a large table in a family's living room. We'd stop by in the morning and talk about what was for dinner that night and then show up whenever they told us to. There was some room for choices, but not much. Food served family style. As in you typically ate with the family who lived in the house. When you are living on a small rock in the middle of the ocean for several months this bit of family life is unbelievably welcome.

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A friend of mine who is from Mexico and has lived in other South American cities has been trying to talk me into opening a "private dinner club," which she says is not uncommon in places where she has lived. It is basically an underground restaurant. People pay a small fee to join your private club, and then pay you for dinner. In your home. One seating, one menu. Everyone sits around one table. No health department inspectors or ABC licensing. You could be open for as many or as few nights per week as you chose. She wants me to do it once or twice a week, so that she can enjoy the kind of good food and camaraderie that she had known in a similar "dinner club" in Santiago. I might consider doing something like that if I had a house with a big dining room and a bigger kitchen. A couple of indigenous servant women, like the ones who are ubiquitous in middle and upper class homes throughout Latin America, who would work for third world wages to help me with prep, serving and cleanup would round out the fantasy.

For many years, I had a fantasy restaurant I wanted to open, called the Santa Rosa Cafe. It had pastel-painted wooden booths, folk art on the walls and ceiling fans and was bright and sunny. A single flower in a bud vase on each table, but no tablecloths. And I would serve the most savory, lip-smacking, made-from-scratch Mexican food that's so hard to find. Handmade tortillas, tamales, lots of pork--stews and carnitas-- slow-cooked marinated barbacoa de chivo-- and a wood-grill, but no fajitas. Spicy cooked salsas with real depth of flavor. Really cold beer served in frozen mugs. Ayyyyy! Que rico!

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This thread took an interesting turn, but it's highlighted that I've always wanted to have a house on a farm where I would raise produce/herbs/chickens/etc and Thu/Fri/Sat nite I would cook a set menu for 3-4 couples a menu like this. My family has 125 acres in Upper Marlboro they are about to put on the market. Be nice to ditch the day job and go do that.

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zoramargolis said:
A friend of mine who is from Mexico and has lived in other South American cities has been trying to talk me into opening a "private dinner club," which she says is not uncommon in places where she has lived. It is basically an underground restaurant. People pay a small fee to join your private club, and then pay you for dinner. In your home.

Here's [broken link] a thread from mouthfulsfood.com about someone doing just that, and here [broken link] is a link to his website. It's an intriguing idea. What's the law say about this in DC?

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Here's a thread from mouthfulsfood.com about someone doing just that, and here is a link to his website. It's an intriguing idea. What's the law say about this in DC?

There's a guy doing something similar in Durham, NC... it's in a thread in the southeast eGullet threads. The legality is questionable there as well so I won't directly link... Basically you pay for the ingredients and he puts on the meal at his place. Not quite the same as what the original poster was looking for but similar. He's not doing it for a profit but instead doing it to get some experience but the results have been quite good based on other's comments.

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Some of the discussion above sounds like the 'guerilla gourmet' establishments described in this article. Anyone heard of these going on around DC?

The Majestic's "Nana's Sunday Dinner" [broken link] is $68, and according to the website should feed 4, or 2 with lots of leftovers. The only other places that come to mind for a family style service are some of the unmentionable Italian chains (I'd say Maggiano's is better than the other one.)

Probably one of the best places I ever had a Southern-style family dinner was at the original Claudia Sanders (as in the wife of the Colonel) outside Lousville. That was a while back and the place has changed, although from the website it looks like they do still do family-style service (with a la carte choices as well).

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goldenticket said:
The only other places that come to mind for a family style service are some of the unmentionable Italian chains (I'd say Maggiano's is better than the other one.)

Does the Sunday night "A Place at the Table" dinner at Ray's The Steaks qualify? I still haven't been to this, so I'm not sure, but it sounds at least similar to what we're discussing here.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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We do family style dinners at Food Matters. Our private room has a custom made, reclaimed barnwood table that seats 18 people.

We tend to plan the dinners at the beginning of each month but none are planned in August, for now. We also do other types of dinners and events in the room besides the family style.

It allows us to do items that may not work so well in the rest of our place. We try to use local producers and farmers, many of which are used by other, more well known restaurants.

I would be happy to schedule one if people are interested.

I think Anthony Bourdain attended a Guerilla Dinner on his No Reservations show - I think the L.A. episode.

goldenticket said:
Some of the discussion above sounds like the 'guerilla gourmet' establishments described in this article. Anyone heard of these going on around DC?
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DonRocks said:
Does the Sunday night "A Place at the Table" dinner at Ray's The Steaks qualify? I still haven't been to this, so I'm not sure, but it sounds at least similar to what we're discussing here.

Cheers,

Rocks.

Don,

I think it's very close. I think you can pick one of a few set multi-course menus (but I defer to Mr. Landrum to confirm). The difference I think is that Ad Hoc has a different menu every night and you don't know until you get there and it's only the one menu. Come to think of it, I believe this is exactly how Chez Panisse downstairs works. Every nite is different and it is a four course menu (more expensive), not family style, but everyone gets the same stuff (and it's listed on the website every week, ad hoc is not).

I think what Michael has at RTS is pretty damn close, but it is "only" the one night. I was wondering if you could do an entire restaurant on that theme?

Thanks

Nashman

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The French have long been in the forefront of this idea. I have no idea if there are still such places around but, back in the 1960s when we lived in Germany, we would take trips in the car and just pull up to whatever roadside place looked interesting when we got hungry. We were told what was on offer and then plates of stuff would be brought out to feed us four (or five, if my brother was with us) and we would be charged for the number of people. Funnily enough, I don't remember EVER eating bad food or getting bad service. At that time, American fast-food joints hadn't yet infected Europe and we had NO idea how simply civilized this type of food service would seem in retrospect. Imagine that: well-made food at rock-bottom prices. I don't think SYSCO was even in operation then. To think that people would seek out a McDonald's instead. God, I'm getting old. :angry:

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On 8/5/2007 at 4:17 PM, nashman1975 said:

I was just out in Napa/Sonoma for a few days and had the pleasure of eating at Ad Hoc, Thomas Keller's family-style joint where they serve 4 courses for everyone in the restaurant; the menu changes every day; and the damage is $45/pp.

Is this type of high quality, yet cheaper joint available in DC, where everyone gets the same food? I know places have prix fixe meals, but this concept is a way to try Keller-quality (or at least his name) food for a very reasonable price (even more so than Bouchon)? Or, if not, would we ever see something like this where a chef does this very narrow type of approach for an entire restaurant (I can't recall if Komi does it--but that is more expensive)? I thought I heard at one point that Jose Andres was thinking of blowing MiniBar out to a full restaurant, but I would imagine again that would be more expensive. Would you ever see a Michele Richard or Fabio Trabbiochi (assuming he hadn't left) doing something like this?

Don-feel free to merge this into my other thread about special menus/off hour pricing.

Thanks

Nashman

The DC area has been through an entire cycle of this since the last post in Aug, 2007 - now, the question is: What remains from the carnage?

We've had a whole life-cycle of "underground" meals, but they tended to be expensive - I know there are a couple left in the area, and certain restaurants have them on specific evenings, but what's out there right now, in 2016?

A couple of posts above mentioned The Majestic's "Nana's Sunday Night Dinner," and there's this article:

Oct 19, 2015 - "Sunday Supper Menu to Debut Nov. 1 at Majestic Cafe" by Mary Ann Barton on patch.com

Not to be a died-in-the-wool cynic, but the word "supper" always gets my antennae up, as it's tailor made for a warm-and-fuzzy feeling. If nothing else, I hope this thread demonstrates how drastically the DC restaurant setting has changed in less than nine years - this thread was from before any of these "underground dining" concepts came and went. So, what came and *hasn't* went? What's still there?

Anyone who moved from the area in 2007 and came back this year probably feels like Rick Grimes.

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