Chefs share the menu items that shouldn’t have made the cut.
Don’t serve what you can’t produce. Paul Fehribach, executive chef/owner, Big Jones: “There’s something about waffles with chicken that just stirs people up into a frenzy, and I really don’t understand what it is. Every single table had to have it, and it began to consume the rest of the menu. Chicken and waffles also presented a problem because fried chicken takes so long to cook; we just don’t have room to cook it for everyone in the dining room on a Saturday night, and that’s what unfolded. It came off the menu pretty quickly. We’ve recently added some capacity and are now able to offer fried chicken during the week, and while we are embracing it as a signature dish, we don’t have the ability or the desire to cook it for 180 people on a Saturday night, so no weekends.”
Don’t be stubborn. Susan Goss, executive chef/owner, West Town Tavern: “Let me just say that no one who comes to West Town Tavern, or came to Zinfandel, will eat persimmon. Period. Celebrating Heartland food as we do, I feel not compelled but damn proud to use persimmon and to make deeply flavored persimmon pudding. I have put it on the menu so many times only to have the waiters say, ‘No one will order persimmon pudding’ that now, even the line cooks look at me and say, ‘Really? You are doing this again?’ This year I caved and did not order any persimmons.”
Don’t rely on ingredients you can’t repurpose. Eddie Lakin, chef/partner, Edzo’s Burger Shop: “I really wanted to do Italian beef, but doing it right required too much space and time, so I resigned myself to doing a really good classic Italian sausage sandwich. I sourced good sausage, ordered nice, crusty, long Italian bread for it and made pepperonata to top it. We sold only one to two a day, and since the bread was only used for that one dish, we ended up having to either serve stale bread or throw away a loaf a day. We eventually removed it from the menu. The pepperonata remains, since it’s used elsewhere on the menu, as a reminder of the whole debacle.”
Sometimes, it’s not all in a name. Gus Paschalis, owner, Wiener and Still Champion: “We do a sauce of the week. One week, I made mole aioli. Part ’cause it rhymed and part ’cause it tasted good. Well, no one got it. I usually keep the extra sauces around till they sell out, but this one I ended up throwing out.”