What is the best “secret menu” item?

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  1. Your server at a sit-down restaurant will offer you “specials,” which are off-the-menu. Very occasionally, a chef will be willing to prepare “secret” specials, but chances are that you would need to be a longtime regular before you’d be privy to this sort of information.
    Example: the other night I went with friends to an Italian restaurant whose chef once or twice a year prepares a “special” cioppino. But only on request from longtime regulars. Makes sense: cioppino requires a plethora of fresh seafood, which in turn requires that the restaurant contact its seafood suppliers at least a couple of days ahead of time, etc.
    Or else a supplier may offer a chef a deal, a seasonal bumper crop of produce, an unexpected catch of fish or harvest of shellfish. If the chef buys what’s offered, and it’s more than the restaurant can sell as a “nightly” or “weekly” special, the chef could call a couple of friends and offer to provide a (nominally “secret”) feast. That’s how we ended up with the crab cioppino.

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