Counter Point: 5 Restaurants Offering Reservations and Counter Service

Traditionally, there was a strong split between casual counter service eateries and fine dining restaurants with table service. These days, enterprising entrepreneurs are trying to recalibrate restaurants by blending the two experiences together in a variety of creative configurations. Here are five restaurants offering reservations and counter service — rewriting the rules.

Megu, New York, New York
Make a reservation to sit down in the dining room or simply saunter up to the sushi counter where it’s first come, first serve. Chef Frances Tariga-Weshnak’s dishes delight the eye and the palate equally, so be prepared to shoot an Instagram before you take a bite. Hone in on the spicy tuna and truffled avocado roll, radish-adorned Wagyu beef, and the Matcha crepe layer cake. Make a reservation at Megu.

Restaurants offering reservations and counter service

Kingside, New York, New York
You’ll need a reservation if you want to score one of the plush booths at this New American stunner from chef Marc Murphy. However, the counter with red stools at the back is open to walk-ins. No matter where you sit, make sure to order the burger topped with fiery giardiniera relish, soppressata, and a slab of white cheddar, as well as Pecorino toast slathered with a snowdrift of ricotta and a golden drizzle of truffled honey. Make a reservation at Kingside.

Restaurants offering reservations and counter service

Little Gem, San Francisco, California
Counter service by day, reservations by night. This out-of-the-box groundbreaker is the brainchild of owner Eric Lilavois and chef Dave Cruz, both alums of the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group. The idea is to accommodate a casual crowd during the day, while making it a potential date-night spot after darkness falls. Expect globally inspired salads, soups, bowls, hearty plates, and a variety of shared plates. Read the full story of this modern California eatery in our blog post here. Make a reservation at Little Gem.

Restaurants offering reservations and counter serviceContinue Reading

Little Gem: What It Means to Eat in a Modern California Eatery

Little Gem

“It’s a pretty wonderful mix,” says Eric Lilavois, owner of Little Gem in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley. “We had a couple come in last night and I think that they were fresh out of yoga and they asked, ‘Are we underdressed?’ And I said, ‘No, of course not.’”

Little Gem, a counter-service restaurant in origin that opened to countless accolades and a standing feature in Eater’s 38, has decided to open its doors to OpenTable reservations each evening. Opened by two alums of the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, the restaurant certainly has fine dining in its pedigree – but the intent was always to elevate the experience of what it means to dine in a casual environment like the one where a post-yoga salad lives side-by-side a romantic Friday evening for two.

When asked how The French Laundry legacy has informed their new approach, Lilavois points to the core of it all: “The heart of hospitality, where there was such great emphasis on care and detail with everything that we did.” In their new project, where everything from all day café-style dining to now seated dinner for any level of occasion is on offer, “it’s that very same sense of caring, attention to detail, and awareness that we apply in a deeply casual way.”

Little Gem

Whether delicate lettuces with expertly poached chicken or divine salmon tartare are your thing or you’re simply craving a fried egg-topped bibimbap with heirloom brown rice, the restaurant’s gluten, dairy, and refined sugar-free ethos make it the perfect place to indulge in just about any mild to serious craving (regardless of your dietary restrictions.) But it’s so much more than health food on the menu.Continue Reading

Counter Service Under Scrutiny; Dining Table as Changing Table + More News

It’s safe to assume that it is never okay to use your dining table as a changing table.

Food and dining news from around the web and the world…

* New year, new food apps. Here are eight recommendations for ways to make your mobile device more delish. [Forbes]

* Eva Restaurant in Los Angeles still offers that 5% discount for checking your cellphone at the door. Do you dare to disconnect? [Huffington Post]

* Restaurants will get more social in 2013. Find out which social channels you should tune in to to follow your fave places. [NRN]

* From the ‘Parents Behaving Badly’ files: A woman changes her baby’s diaper on a dining table at a restaurant. [Detroit News]

* Is counter service all it’s cracked up to be? Hanna Raskin thinks not. [Seattle Weekly]

* There’s a chef who’s hazing his fellow chefs in a very odiferous way. Guesses? [Jezebel]