When Charlie Trotter invented the kitchen table a quarter century or so ago, it was a way to bring diners into the life of the fine-dining kitchen. And the border between us (eating) and them (cooking) has been increasingly porous ever since. 42 Grams finally brings the kitchen into the lives of the chef and his hostess wife—the restaurant is literally downstairs from the apartment of chef Jake Bickelhaupt (who worked at Trotter's) and his wife, Alexa Welsh.
As eight guests ring the counter, Bickelhaupt and his crew work doggedly on your meal inches away. That's not unique—you can sit watching people work at any number of places—but here you also have Welsh, engaging you and setting the personal context for each dish as it happens. Part dinner party, part live performance, it's as intimate as you'll get with the creation of a 15-course tasting menu . . . at least until someone invents the virtual-reality-chef headset.
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Stephanie Izard of Girl & the Goat, Little Goat
Jake Bickelhaupt of 42 Grams
Girl & the Goat
The Violet Hour
Mojito at Carnivale