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.

OpenTable Spotlight Offers Launch in Washington, D.C.

US Capitol OpenTable Spotlight Offers Launch in Washington, D.C. Here’s news you’ll want to capital-ize on: OpenTable Spotlight offers are coming to our nation’s capital this week. You can enjoy $50 for $25 at a high-profile restaurant in Washington, D.C. The name will be revealed at 8PM EDT and the offer, along with others in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco, 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: Situated in the heart of Midtown and originally built as stables in 1905, this restaurant serves eclectic cuisine and housemade brews.

Boston: The masterful chef at his neighborhood gem made his mark at an acclaimed French bistro in Boston. He is now whipping up Italian cuisine with passion in the city’s historic North End.

Chicago: This Lincoln Park mainstay specializes in romance, fire and flamenco.

Los Angeles: At this modern chophouse, friendly staff of “foodie professionals” serve up retro-style dishes and perfect martinis in a 1940s supper club setting.

New York: This Spotlight feature is sandwiched between two squares in downtown Manhattan and filled with a fresh and flavorful mix of Mediterranean seafood, meat, olive oil, and herbs.

San Francisco: This restaurant seamlessly combines the refined atmosphere of French dining with the savory herbs and spices of Chinese cookery for the ultimate dining experience. Indeed, the decor is so opulent that dining here may transport you to the royal grandeur of the ancient Qing Dynasty.

Washington, D.C.: Located just off the open expanse of the National Mall, this restaurant is patriotic and proud. Dedicated to dishing out big, bold American flavors, the menu stars the very best American beef cuts and seafood classics.

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

What’s Your Favorite Dessert? Dish It in Honor of “Top Chef: Just Desserts”

Chocolate berries Whats Your Favorite Dessert? Dish It in Honor of Top Chef: Just DessertsWednesday, September 15th is Free Dessert Day — and the premiere of Top Chef: Just Desserts on Bravo! Book a reservation at a participating restaurant and you’ll receive a free dessert at the end of your meal.

In honor of this sweet offer, we’re wondering what your favorite dessert is. Anything chocolate? Gelato? New York cheesecake? Apple pie? Tell us about the best dessert you’ve ever ordered and where you ordered it — in the comments section or over on Facebook.

Bad Service at a Restaurant: Does It Leave a Bad Taste in Your Mouth?

Bad Service Bad Service at a Restaurant: Does It Leave a Bad Taste in Your Mouth?
So am I.

As you may have guessed, I am a big fan of restaurants. So, it pains me to talk about any of them in a negative light, but I just had to share a recent dining out experience. A group of us, each one a bigger foodie than the next, were hitting up a high-end, very well-reviewed restaurant I’d been to when it first opened and had very much enjoyed. I also know a few of the folks who work there. Unfortunately, they were off that evening. I say unfortunately because the service was so, well, unfortunate.

Four people in our party had never eaten at this restaurant before. And, clearly, neither had our server. She knew next to nothing about the menu. And I wish I could say this was an exaggeration. It was not. She had to go into the kitchen no fewer than eight times. EIGHT times. No one at the table had any allergies, so it wasn’t because we were asking if anything had nuts/shellfish/gluten/dairy, etc. Rather, we were asking questions such as, “What kind of oysters do you have?” (Her response: “Raw.”) and “How are the lamb chops prepared?” (Her first answer: “Rare, medium rare, medium, or well done.” This was actually better than her second answer, which was, “On a bed of vegetables.”).

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Top Chef D.C. Episode 13: And Then There Were Three…

ZOMG. We’re getting down to the wire. Just one episode away from the finale. Joining me for the penultimate (which is actually always better than any finale – really. Think about it for a minute. I’m totally right!) is aspiring cheftestant Ed Hardy. We’re chatting on delay again because I was at the US Open, watching Roger Federer serve up a big can of whoopa$$ to Roger Soderling.

Hey, Ed! First, why do you think they chose Singapore?

TCDC13 Padma Top Chef D.C. Episode 13: And Then There Were Three…
Padma tries to charm Seetoh with her impersonation of a giant prawn.

No one can argue with the cuisine of Singapore. It combines some of the best elements of different Pacific Rim cuisines along with some great spicy heat.

Does this give Angelo an unfair advantage?


Fine. Before we get into this at all, call it straight away — who won’t make the Top 3?

I’m “liken” Kelly to NOT make it to the top 3. Remember the trouble she had with never cooking Kung Pao before? She hasn’t really won anything, and she has made a living in the middle of the pack. Not a recipe for success. Continue reading…

OpenTable Spotlight Expands to Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco

OpenTable Spotlight Offers Expand OpenTable Spotlight Expands to Chicago, Los Angeles, and San FranciscoDue to popular demand, OpenTable Spotlight is set to expand. Tonight at midnight EDT, Spotlight will shine in Atlanta, Boston, and New York — as well as Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Purchase $50 for $25 — a 50% savings — at some of our favorite restaurants. Dying to know where now? See if you can guess with this week’s clever Secret Spotlight teasers — and share your answers on our Spotlight message boards, Facebook, or Twitter.

Atlanta: Outstanding garden views with a waterfall set off the casual elegance of this restaurant. Dine here and you’ll enjoy some of the best Northern Italian cuisine in Dunwoody.

Boston: Catch the incredible views and release your appetite at this classic Boston institution.

Chicago: Located in the West Loop, this restaurant locally sources every ingredient possible – from fresh fruits and vegetables to their very own draft beer.

Los Angeles: This week’s Spotlight is good at both restaurant locations. One is inland and one is beachside, but they operate under the same inspiration – serving simple, rustic dishes crafted from fresh ingredients in the style of Provençal bistros and Tuscan osterias.

New York: This tri-level hotspot in Midtown Manhattan is serving a beautiful blend of cuisines and flavors. The ravishing results are a far cry from your basic taco or Thai wrap.

San Francisco: This week’s Spotlight is good at two restaurant locations. One is situated in the heart of the city, and the other is outside the hustle and bustle on a picturesque plot. Both restaurants stick with their farm-to-table sensibilities – serving fresh, simple, inspirational cuisine.

Tune in at 8PM EDT as we reveal the restaurants participating in this week’s Spotlight offers, and be sure to buy yours before the deals go dark tomorrow night!

Make It a Happy Labor Day Weekend with OpenTable

Happy Labor Day Make It a Happy Labor Day Weekend with OpenTableThe sun is setting on summer, and Labor Day weekend is just about here! Not sure what your plans are yet? Is Earl threatening to derail your trip to the beach? Fret not. There’s still plenty to do around the nation as far as food is concerned. Chicago Gourmet Dine Around and Flavor Palm Beach Restaurant Month have just begun. Midtown Atlanta Restaurant Week kicks off tomorrow. Las Vegas Restaurant Week continues ’til September 5th, and New York City Restaurant Week and Houston Restaurant Week run through September 6th. Also, COOLinary in New Orleans and Miami Spice extend until the end of September.

Don’t miss these opportunities to make the most of your dining experiences over the holiday. And, remember to tune in on Tuesday as we announce our OpenTable Spotlight offers in Atlanta, Boston, New York — as well as Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

Happy Labor Day from everyone at OpenTable, and happy dining!

Top Chef D.C. Episode 12: The Final Countdown

Shame on me. I didn’t realize we were getting to the final four so soon. This probably explains why I’m a blogger and not, say, a calculus teacher or an engineer. I’m back with would-be cheftestant Ed Hardy. We’re chatting semi-live, meaning we both DVR’d it and watched at the same time. The U.S. Open is going on and, as it turns out, I am concurrently watching Andy Roddick get Serbed. Ha! Get it? Tipsaveric is Serbian? Anyway, let’s get Ed in on this….

First, are you excited to be here again? Tell me again why you’re watching on delay? Did you take your lovely wife out to dinner? Where’d you eat?

TCDC12 Dana Cowin Top Chef D.C. Episode 12: The Final Countdown
"I totally almost wore the same thing as Padma. Ha! NOT!"

“Excited” is a strong feeling. Especially for a person who drinks until they can’t feel feelings anymore while watching Top Chef. I’m watching on DVR because I was out at dinner at Convivio. Chef Michael White is “White” hot right now in NYC. Which is great because Italian is the new culinary black. So Chef White is the new black.  Which makes sense. Because I’ve been drinking. My wife Françoise (CP note: She’s a food writer for StarChefs and is, for all intents and purposes, out of Ed’s league. You know it’s true, Hardy!) and I found a lot to like at Convivio. Good staff, good antipasti, and sfizi (Italian amuse). Some minor texture issues with the pasta, but we’re hypercritical reviewers. Worth a second visit!

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‘Top Chef: Just Desserts’ and OpenTable Present Free Dessert Day on 9/15!

Top Chef Just Desserts Free Dessert Day Top Chef: Just Desserts and OpenTable Present Free Dessert Day on 9/15!There’s no such thing as free lunch — but there are free desserts, thanks to the foodies over at Bravo. They’re so excited for the premiere of Bravo’s newest show “Top Chef: Just Desserts” on September 15, 2010, that they’ve partnered with OpenTable restaurants to satisfy your sweet tooth for free! Just make an online reservation and dine at a participating restaurant for September 15, and you will get a free dessert for every 2 diners at your table.

Book a table today to take advantage of this fun offer — and tune in to Bravo at 11PM EDT to guarantee you’ll have sweet dreams!