Daily Dining Poll: Going the Distance to Dine Out

With the proliferation of dining reviews, it’s tempting to take a train, plane, or automobile to satisfy your gastronomic cravings. And, naturally, with OpenTable being in all 50 states in addition to our international presence, we’re wondering about your willingness to go the distance to dine out at the world’s finest restaurants. Click through to take our poll!

Top Chef Just Desserts Episode 2: Boys Don’t Cry…Except for Seth

This episode turned me every which way but loose. There were candy highs and emotional lows, too many tears (I mean, really, Seth! Get a hold of yourself, man!) and too few homeruns. After wading through the many dramas of this week’s episode, I was left with many questions, some of which Le Bernardin pastry chef Michael Laiskonis is going to answer those related to the kitchen. My questions related to Seth’s well-being will have to be referred elsewhere (possibly to a mental-health professional).

TCJD 2 Kids in a Candy Store Top Chef Just Desserts Episode 2: Boys Dont Cry...Except for Seth
To the chagrin of his vegan mom, Zac fulfills his childhood candy fantasies.

Morgan is quick to point out that he and Seth aren’t same-sex oriented (He didn’t add, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that,” so I will.). That’s irrelevant in my opinion, but I wonder about gender in the pastry side of the kitchen… what’s the male to female ratio of pastry chefs in your experiences?

In my own kitchen, men just happen to make up the majority. From experience, however, I’ve found a mix of personalities, temperaments — and yes, gender — just makes for an overall good vibe. For some reason, high-end pastry has historically been a bit of a boys club, but that’s changing. There are a lot of daring, exciting up-and-coming women pastry chefs on the scene. I spend a lot of time working with culinary schools, too, and these days I see the classes skewed heavily toward the feminine!

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Top Chef Just Desserts Episode 1: 20 Questions with Pastry Chef Michael Laiskonis

Michael Laiskonis Top Chef Just Desserts Episode 1: 20 Questions with Pastry Chef Michael Laiskonis
Pastry chef Michael Laiskonis makes 'Top Chef Just Desserts' even sweeter!

Bravo’s fun Top Chef: Just Desserts premiered last week — and it’s back again tonight. The lovechild of Top Chef and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, even the show’s initial ep tested my knowledge of all things sweet. Despite my culinary school training, it turns out that I don’t know a whole heck of a lot about pastry (although I make a fierce tarte aux pomme). So I’ve called in a pro to help me figure out exactly what’s happening with Bravo’s latest confection. James Beard Foundation Award-winning pastry chef, Michael Laiskonis, from New York’s famed Le Bernardin restaurant, will be tuning in with us every week going forward, so check back tomorrow for his take on Episode 2. To kick things off, I asked him 20 questions about the premiere to help set the stage.

When I was in culinary school, the pastry people always seemed much cooler and calmer than my fellow savory chef students and I – or was that just the cool temp in their kitchen?

I think we’re beginning to see that it’s not necessarily all that calm and cool. I like to think we share the same amount of intensity as our savory cook counterparts; we pastry chefs often tend to channel that energy in a different way.

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Purchase $50 for $25: This Week’s OpenTable Spotlight Offers Are Shining Bright

Looking for ways to save big when you dine out? Check out this week’s OpenTable Spotlight offers. Purchase $50 for just $25 at the following restaurants, now through midnight EDT tonight:

Sliders at STK LA Purchase $50 for $25: This Weeks OpenTable Spotlight Offers Are Shining Bright
Don't you want to sink your teeth into the sliders at STK LA?

* Atlanta: Peasant Bistro

* Boston: Club Café

* Chicago: aria

* Los Angeles: STK

* New York: Trattoria Cinque

* Philadelphia: Matyson

* San Francisco: 5A5 Steak Lounge

* Washington, D.C.: Zengo D.C.

Hear Ye, Hear Ye! OpenTable Spotlight Comes to Philadelphia

Philadelphia Spotlight Offers Hear Ye, Hear Ye! OpenTable Spotlight Comes to PhiladelphiaLet free-dom ring! OpenTable Spotlight offers are coming to Philadelphia this week. You can now enjoy $50 for $25 at popular restaurants in Philadelphia. The name of this week’s featured restaurant will be revealed at 8PM EDT and the offer, along with others in AtlantaBostonChicagoLos AngelesNew YorkSan Francisco, and Washington, D.C., will launch at 12AM tonight!

If you can’t wait until this evening, try to guess the restaurants in each city with these fun clues on the Spotlight message boards, over on Facebook, or on Twitter.

Atlanta: With views of Centennial Park and the Atlanta skyline, this two-story bistro is both cosmopolitan and dramatic, as well as warm and inviting. Dine here to feast on French comfort food in style!

Boston: This Back Bay destination is a well established go-to for delectable late night eats and nightly live entertainment, and also features a decadent Sunday brunch buffet.

Chicago: Guests at this stunning downtown dining destination can browse the menu on the interactive, tableside i-Pads and enjoy fruits, vegetables, and herbs from the restaurant’s rooftop garden.

Los Angeles: With the quality of a traditional steakhouse but an innovative ambiance, this restaurant introduces the Steakhouse to a young sexy market.

New York: Visit this TriBeCa trattoria and take your senses on a trip back to vibrant 1960s Italy where you’ll indulge in classic Italian fare with a seasonal twist.

Philadelphia: This Center City gem is an ambassador of the Philadelphia “BYO” restaurant scene. It was born out of true love in the fall of 2003.

San Francisco: This downtown San Francisco hot spot is serving superior steaks that scintillate the senses in a stylish, vibrant atmosphere.

Washington, D.C.: This vibrant Chinatown hotspot serves a delectable blend of Asian and Latin cuisines.

Be sure to get your offers before the Spotlight goes out on Wednesday night!

Top Chef D.C. Episode 14: Return of the Jedi

I can’t believe it’s over, but it is. The finale is here! Tuning in with me for the final showdown is still-aspiring cheftestant (Are you listening, Bravo?) Ed Hardy.

TCDC14 Volt Top Chef D.C. Episode 14: Return of the Jedi
"I only wish I could've held the title for more than a few months. Jeez!"

Okay, Ed. It is on. The final EC. And the final three are charged with creating a four-course meal of the most amazing food ever! I’m not sure what that even means anymore. If you were charged with socking it to Seetoh, which former winner would you want as your sous? Hung? The Volt? Ilan?

I want Michael Volt. He’s the assistant most likely to be able to offer me a couple different perspectives on how I might change a dish or the plating of a dish our possibly just change the garnish of a dish. If I’m sick in bed, oddly enough, I do want Hung. If I’m sick in the head, I want Ilan. Call me a playa hater, but I’ve never been that impressed with him.

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It’s Here! Today Is Free Dessert Day at Participating OpenTable Restaurants

OpenTable has teamed up with Bravo to bring you Free Dessert Day! Select restaurants in several metropolitan areas are offering complimentary dessert to diners. Just make an online reservation and dine at a participating restaurant on September 15, and you will get a free dessert for every 2 diners at your table.

Book a table at a participating restaurant near you to enjoy your free treat this evening. And, don’t forget to tune in to Bravo at 11PM EDT to check out the premiere of Top Chef Just Desserts when you get home.