As a former restaurant owner I can testify that it is a blessing and burden when a menu item is beloved by the patrons. Mostly it is a blessing, though. It means you serve something they love and most likely, for them, it is attached to happy memories. At Nathans, it was the Fettuccine Alfredo, prepared with delicate noodles that were hand made fresh in-house every day by Chef Loredonna Luhrs. At one point, when I switched the menu from Italian to American, and briefly considered removing the pasta, well, there was hell to pay. Pasta remained on the menu for all the years I owned the restaurant.
For Washington chef Eric Ziebold it is his version of classic Parker House rolls. He served them -- to much fanfare -- for the decade he was executive chef at CityZen at the Mandarin Oriental hotel. He closed CityZen last December so that he and his wife, Celia, could open their own restaurants this coming winter. Will they serve the Parker House rolls? That question is at the heart of my New York Social Diary column today.