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Posted at 10:00 PM ET, 03/ 8/2010

Vidalia cooks up a 24-course tasting menu

By Tom Sietsema

Add Vidalia to the list of upscale restaurants (Minibar, Volt, Poste) serving double-digit courses -- and some wild flavors -- at exclusive tables.

On Friday and Saturday nights beginning March 13, the downtown restaurant plans to serve 24 courses to up to six diners at a communal table in its wine bar. Billed as Vidalia's "24," the three-hour-long dinner will be prepared in view of customers by executive chef RJ Cooper and two sous chefs.

Cooper describes the event as an "interactive" way to experience Vidalia, a combination "tasting and cooking class" that allows the restaurant "to experiment a bit more."

No kidding. A recent trial run featured Korean egg crepes with caviar and multiple celery treatments; bresaola cured with coffee and chocolate and bundled with sheep's milk ricotta; tuna sashimi unveiled from a smoke-filled cloche; and rack of shoat (young pig) and black cumin sausage on a roasted peanut emulsion.

Multiple palate-cleansers will punctuate the dinner. But forget sorbet. Cooper is talking about offering a shard of ice flavored to resemble a dirty gin martini. "I'm looking at the classics and making them my own," he says. (Fear not: The menu will also include more traditional dishes, perhaps Dover sole with potato croquettes, sauteed spinach and brown butter sauce.)

Menus for the weekend events, which cost $150 a person including beverage pairings (but not tax or tip), will be determined after the chefs see what's available in the market the Wednesday or Thursday before the epic grazing dinners, says Cooper.

So who's looking out for patrons in the dining room when Cooper is performing dinner theater in the lounge? From where he'll be positioned, he says, he can keep an eye on both his food and what's coming out of the main kitchen.

-- Tom Sietsema


By Tom Sietsema  | March 8, 2010; 10:00 PM ET
Categories:  Restaurants  | Tags:  Tom Sietsema  
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