Top Ten Dishes Best Left to the Restaurants


Just because you can make a dish in your home kitchen doesn’t mean that you necessarily want to.

It might be because of the mess (deep frying) or the lengthy ingredient list (mole) or the whole production of it all.

Or, maybe you lack certain professional equipment (a grill that burns at 1,700 degrees, for instance).

And frankly, certain foods just taste better when made by a talented chef and his or her crew.

Bonus? No dishes to clean up.

Here’s our list of the top 10 dishes best left in the hands of a capable restaurant — and why:

1.  French fries

Let us count the ways way. First, there’s the mess. And then hassle of double frying to produce crisp spuds. We even know a chef who thrice cooks his fries. What to do with all the left over oil?

2.  Egg rolls

Or any Chinese food, for that matter. Too many ingredients, too much assembly required and too much deep frying.

3.  Sashimi

Sushi chefs know how to get fresh fish, know how to cut it and nobody gets hurt. Unless it’s blowfish.

4.  Souffles

When a souffle falls at home before it reaches the table, that’s not the only thing that deflates.

5.  Tamales

It takes a village to make a tamale. That’s why Mexicans make tamales at home only on special occasions, like Christmas and the birth of a child.

6.  Soft shell crabs

First there’s the matter of cleaning them (removing their guts if we’re gonna get graphic). And then that frying thing.

7.  Foie gras

Not only is there the beige matter that’s high on the ick factor (removing the membrane), most home cooks don’t know what to do with a lobe of foie gras — and it’s rather expensive for experimentation.

8.  Steak

One could argue that grilling a steak at home is one of life’s simple pleasures. But isn’t cutting into a juicy steak that’s just come off a 1,700 degree grill is much more pleasurable? Oh yeah, especially if butter poaching prior to grilling is involved.

9.  Pizza

Unless you have installed a umpteen-thousand dollar pizza oven in your back yard (and you know who you are, MG), re-creating wood-oven, artisan pizza is best left to the experts; like the one in Phoenix, the only pizza maker who’s won a James Beard Award for it.

10. Any dish from The French Laundry

Even if you wanted to, you probably couldn’t. That is not a slam about your cooking skills. It is a testament to the  general mystique of dining under Thomas Keller’s roof. You’ve at least seen the cookbook, yes?

So, what’s on your list of dishes best left to restaurants? Indian curries or tandoori? Turtle soup or gumbo? How about goat?

6 replies
  1. Sharon
    Sharon says:

    Hey, Gwen,
    I do agree with you in principle about the hassle of deep-frying (and goodness knows my husband moans so loud and long if I deep fry that it really is a buzz kill) but, that said, when my adorable younger daughter Tess begs (yes, begs) once or twice a year for me to make crescentine (basically a savory Italian fritter) that we ate in Tuscany when she was 9, what’s a mother to do?

  2. Vince
    Vince says:

    Hey Gwen, this is a really great top ten list. I tried a souffles once and found out the hard way and I would be scared to get food poisoning if I handled Sashimi on my own. I would also add Eggs Benedict, I haven’t bee able to make it as good as the worst one I’ve ever had at a restaurant. French Laundry is incredible, Thomas Keller is one of the best chef’s of all time, I also got to try Ad Hoc when it was first open. You can post this to our site and then link back to your site. We are looking for top ten lists and our users can track back to your site. The coolest feature is you can let other people vote on the rankings of your list.


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