In 2018 when you’re going out to eat, you’re not looking for a personalized experience. You’re seeking the dish you read about in Bon Appetit, the appetizer that was raved about all over Yelp and the dessert that’s been blowing up on Instagram. You want what they’re having and you want it with the best possible lighting.
And if you’re looking for that kind of experience, you can find it at Westend Bistro, or any other restaurant in the city. But if you’re interested in a deeper culinary conversation, if you want to be served a meal that no one else will ever have, that’s where Westend really shines. Their Chef’s Table seats anywhere from two to six people and is totally and completely customized to your preferences. Executive chef Alvin Dela Cruz takes the Chef’s Table menu seriously and has patrons fill out a fairly lengthy survey about their likes and dislikes, he even calls his guests to follow up with questions.
Unfortunately for me, I was on vacation. I wasn’t answering any strange phone calls or filling out food surveys (sorry Chef!) before my visit to Westend Bistro, but my photographer did all of the above. So the meal revolved around her palate and preferences. While unintended, eating a menu that’s centered around one of your friends is a fascinating way to get to know them. From the pork belly in the tagliatelle to the bone in short rib covered in a caramelized fish sauce, the meal screamed Clarissa. There were citrus heavy dishes because that’s one of her favorite flavors and there were good beer pairings because she loves beer.
During the meal, I couldn’t help but think this would be the perfect experience for a couple or small, tight knit group of friends. Food is hugely intimate and a recipe can evoke family tradition or bring you back to the best (or worst) times of your life. What better way to get to know your loved ones then have a professional chef analyze their taste and serve it up to you? Sure, you could just cook for each other, but what’s the fun in that?