cookbook author's restaurants
  • I know that many cookbook writers start out in restaurants - sometimes their own - perfecting their craft -- and the cookbook comes later. I'm wondering if you, my friends, have gone to the restaurants from cookbook writers you know about, and I'm wondering about your experiences.

    Today I was in Boston, and because of cookbooker and reading all of your reviews, I recognized the Flour bakery, and ate there. Oh boy was it good. And from your reviews, I knew that the desserts would likely be the best part. I admit I blew my diet and we tried four different desserts. It was very fun, and makes me now want to buy the cookbook.
    Along a similar line, my husband ate at Dinosaur BBQ, and later bought the book (we love the book).

    So - if you've reviewed from Flour - then thanks so much - and I'd love to hear your stories/experiences.
  • I haven't had the pleasure of eating at Flour but do love the cookbook. I can only think of two restaurant cookbooks I have that I've eaten at the restaurant both are in NC. Tupelo Honey Cafe and Mama Dips (I have both of her cookbooks). I enjoyed eating at both restaurants and Mama Dip signed her first book at the restaurant. I didn't get to talk to her as she was in the kitchen cooking. I did catch a glimpse of her and chatted with I think her granddaughter. Mama Dips books are filled with her southern family recipes. Tupelo Honey is filled with recipes from what they call the new South. I've loved most of the recipes I've tried from both.
  • I haven't eaten at that many restaurants where the chef has written a cookbook, but one does come to mind.....I had a wonderful meal at Lumiere in Vancouver, BC and was very excited when chef Rob Feenie came out with the book. I took one look at it and knew I would never be able to replicate any of the recipes, so that wonderful meal remains a wonderful memory! I'm sorry now that I didn't buy it as it's a gorgeous book and 10 years of cooking experience later, maybe I'd tackle a recipe or 2.

    However, I have cooked from some books that inspire me to visit the chef's restaurant if I'm ever in the area. Flour is one of them. I'd love to eat at Rebar, a (mainly) vegetarian restaurant in Victoria, BC, (Andrew, have you eaten there?), at Alice Waters' restaurant Chez Panisse and at any of Ottolenghi's restaurants in London.
  • I've eaten at a few restaurants owned by chef-cookbook writers. I have not eaten at any of the high-end Batali restaurants, but his pasta place, Becco, a few blocks off Times Square is good, very affordable for NYC, and has friendly service. I am a big fan of the pasta dishes in his cookbook Molto Gusto.

    I've also eaten at Bobby Flay's place -- well -- in the bar at Bar Americaine. Little spicy for my taste but again, wonderful service. One of my favorite meals was at Laurent Tourondel's (sp?) place at the base of Central Park (now closed) -- I would have bought the cookbook but it didn't have the recipe for the incredible chestnut soup we had there. I've eaten at Chez Panisse but I guess it was not all that memorable because I cannot remember anything about the meal. One of my favorite meals was at Ben and Karen Barker's restaurant in Durham, NC, Magnolia Grill. The persimmon pudding was amazing. I was so pleased to find a used copy of their cookbook, although I haven't cooked from it yet.

    I'd be interested in know if anybody has eaten at any of the restaurants owned by Top Chef contestants? I have eaten at Perilla which is owned by Harold Dieterle (?) who won Season 1 and it was great casual dining.
  • I realized today that I have also eaten at Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream shop in Columbus, OH. At the time her book had not been released. The lines were looooong, but the wait was oh so worth it. I would buy the book if I owned an ice cream maker.
  • I was watching tv--there was Lidia Bastianich with the current chef at Felidia--and I was pleasantly reminded of a wonderful meal at Felidia some 25 years ago, when celebrity chefs were still on the horizon but Lidia was already being featured in magazines and on television. I can still see her, wending her way through the restaurant, stopping at tables to greet diners. And I still remember a lovely meal. In particular, a very simple but quite lovely dessert of figs poached in port wine and served with teleggio cheese.
  • @Zosia: I haven't eaten at Rebar, though I should put it on my list. Every time I'm with the family in Victoria we go to Pizzeria Prima Strada, it seems... very good authentic Neapolitan style pizza.

    I did eat at Lumiere years ago, before the cookbook came out, and my wife and I bought a copy for my parents, but it turned out it was one of those cookbooks that looks lovely but is extremely challenging for home chefs to cook from.

    In Vancouver, Bishop's is a lovely little restaurant, and John Bishop, the owner/chef has published a number of extremely accessible cookbooks. That was a case where I'd read and tasted from a cookbook before going to the restaurant, and wasn't disappointed, though this was over a decade ago now.
  • We ate many times at Stephanie's eponymous restaurant in the 80s and 90s. We actually ate once before we were married at her original place next door to the massage parlour (hilarious memory of Maurice bumbling about), but then we had our hard-up period during which she moved. After that you didn't see much of Maurice and Dure had the front of house under total control. It was like being a guest in the beautifully appointed home of an impeccably hospitable hostess.

    Better yet, because of my disability we used the back door, which meant coming through the kitchen. There were people who would have paid to do that!

    We have also eaten Greg Malouf's wonderful food a number of times when he was at O'Connell's pub. Mind you, there was one occasion when my quail was undercooked, and the man himself came out and apologized - terrible that I remember that more than all the perfectly executed dishes. (Ah, but then I do recall the most divine cherry tomato soup...)

    When we went to the Barossa Valley we were hoping to eat at Maggie Beer's Pheasant Farm, but she'd just closed it down.

    We don't eat out nearly so much these days, and we never did venture north of the Yarra much in any case (Melbournians will understand), so we haven't really got much experience of the current crew. It seems like these days every chef and their kitchen cat has published a cookbook, which is not to say they're worth buying.

    An interesting question has occurred to me. Do people go to the restaurant because they've read the book, or do they buy the book afterwards? I mean, nobody has to explain buying Stephanie's books, and I would have bought Malouf's earlier books anyway, though I'm not prepared to shell out for most of his recent coffee table travel book format efforts, readable though they are.
  • OK, I did not know if my story qualified, but this encourages me. We started taking family vacations where we could stay in a National Park lodge and we would try and eat at least one meal in their better restaurant. Our first national park was Mt Ranier and I don't remember what anyone else had, but my young son had the outstanding Bourbon Buffalo Meatloaf with Jack Daniels sauce. Another year we went to multiple national parks and in Yellowstone saw several cookbooks for park lodge restaurants. I picked out the Western National Park's Lodges Cookbook because it had the previously mentioned buffalo meatloaf recipe and it was also the cover photo! I studied that cookbook before we ate out at the remainder of the Lodges on our trip and where possible we ate something that was also in the cookbook. Unfortunately it does not cover too many of the parks, but it does cover some really great ones and we hope to continue the dining and cooking adventures.
  • I have really enjoyed reading all your stories! I felt so lucky to just stumble upon FLOUR (its right next to MIT, for any of you taking high school kids on the college visit circuit). I typically use YELP to lead me to excellent restaurants, but in this case, I only knew about the cookbook from the (great) reviews I read here.

    Anyone ever eat at Moosewood in Ithica NY? I went to a meeting in Ithica once, and stood outside the closed restaurant (almost crying).

    Is there another way to find the restaurants associated with excellent cookbooks? Or is it just something you have to KNOW?
  • QS, thank you for this thread - though my bookshelf may not as it has to make way for yet another addition. ;)

    Because of it, I ordered a "used" (it's actually new) copy of Lumiere, the book I regretted not buying, and have just received it. I'm very excited.....many of the recipes are very doable and not just because my confidence in the kitchen has increased in the last 10 years, but because our grocery stores have evolved so much in that time. I didn't know what Israeli couscous or enoki mushrooms were then, now these ingredients are practically commonplace!

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