Restaurant Editor Bill Addison is traveling the country to chronicle what's happening in America's dining scene and to formulate his list of the essential 38 restaurants in America. Follow his progress in this travelogue/review series, The Road to the 38, and check back at the end of the year to find out which restaurants made the cut.
A server at Vetri hands three of us tabloid-size sheets printed with lists of more than twenty dishes divided into fish, vegetable, meat, and dessert. "So this is an idea of what your meal will look like," she says. "You'll probably see most of these throughout the evening. Is there anything you're particularly interested in trying or avoiding?"
So begins one of the country's most playful and singular takes on the tasting menu format. Diners obtain a blueprint for their dinner, but exactly how it rolls out is left to the kitchen. And the cooks often send out different dishes for each guest per course, rather than having the whole table receive the same rigatoni with Bolognese or guinea hen with chanterelles.