About five years ago -- around the same time we started this blog -- we also started collecting menus.
We were visiting some great restaurants, and we really wanted to remember the meals. So we got in the habit of asking for a copy of the menu before leaving the restaurant. That turned into habit, and since then, we've amassed quite a stack of menus representing memorable meals.
We went digging for something in the menu stack the other day, and got lost browsing through the dishes and thinking about the food, remembering either what we ate, or who we were with. We thought you might like to see some of the menus and hear the stories.
Here are a few of our favorites.
momofuku noodle bar - New York City - February 14, 2010
A few years ago, we somehow ended up in New York City on Valentine's Day -- with no dinner reservation and no plans. We decided to use the opportunity to make our first visit to momofuku noodle bar, and had an excelelnt time slurping ramen and diving into those legendary steamed pork buns. A Valentine's to remember.
Hundred Acres - New York City - June 20, 2009
We had been to see the most amazing production of Our Town at an Off-Broadway theater in the West Village, and we made a late dinner reservation at Hundred Acres in SoHo. It was one of those absolutely perfect nights -- we loved the food and it was an incredibly romantic meal. There was even a near-marriage proposal (but that ultimately happened several months later). And all thanks to Thornton Wilder.
Chase's Daily - Belfast, Maine - August 12, 2011
August 2011 was not the first time we went to Chase's Daily. We were already in love with the restaurant, having eaten there on a previous visit to see friends in Belfast. Chase's may be our all-time favorite restaurant (and it's vegetarian!). Most of the time, it's a daily produce market. But on Friday nights, they serve dinner.
On this trip, we were travelling with Zach's family, and we were all together to share the Chase's experience with them. We ooh-ed and ahh-ed over the cacio e pepe and still dream about the pizza with braised fennel.
Fore Street - Portland, Maine - August 27, 2009 and August 10, 2011
Fore Street is a big, cavernous restaurant in the heart of Portland, Maine. We've been lucky enough to visit twice to enjoy their grilled meats and seafood. It's like a restaurant from a dream. Seriously, it's probably the warmest, most welcoming space we've ever dined in. The scallops are heaven-sent, and it's one of the best pork chops we've ever had.
Pizzeria Mozza - Los Angeles - December 4, 2011
We were on our way back from China, and found ourselves with a five-hour layover at LAX. Rather than sit in the airport and eat bad fast food, we did something spontaneous: We jumped in a cab and headed to Pizzeria Mozza. Maybe it was coming off two weeks of eating nothing but Chinese food, but it seemed like some of the best pizza of our lives.
Little Serow - Washington, DC - December 17, 2011
Our friend Ingela came to town for the weekend and we used her visit as an excuse to try Little Serow for the first time. Little Serow is one of our favorite restaurants in D.C. right now -- Northern Thai flavors that are bold and unlike anything you've had before. The spice level is hot, hot, hot, and we loved every bite. No wonder Bon Appétit went on to name it one of the country's best new restaurants in 2012.
Union Square Cafe - New York City - October 14, 2012
One of our favorite meals last year happened on a total whim. We were in New York for Clay's work and had spent a long weekend running around town. Exhausted, we decided to go see "Argo" at a theater near Union Square. When we left the theater, it was still a reasonable time of night and we needed dinner, so we just dropped into Union Square Cafe.
It was the most perfect neighborhood restaurant -- spectacular food (we still dream about the rabbit pappardelle), an amazingly friendly staff, and extremely cozy on a Fall night. We can't wait to go back.
The stack is filled with other meals that we loved -- Cochon and Sylvain in New Orleans, ABC Kitchen and Northern Spy in New York, Animal in Los Angeles, Frances in San Francisco, and even a menu from Outstanding in the Field. Maybe we'll share more in the future.
And of course there are menus we don't have that we wish we did: Momofuku Ko, Chez Panisse. We simply forgot to ask for them (or in the case of Ko, there wasn't really a menu).
It's easy to start your own menu collection. Start by grabbing menus when you go somewhere that's special to you, file them away, and save the memories.
What about you? Do you file away menus like we do? Got an especially great restaurant memory you'd like to share? Let us know in the comments!