-- The option to make your own food -- at a restaurant -- seems to defeat the purpose of going out.
But a growing number of restaurants are going DIY -- at least in part. It's a practice that's long been commonplace at Korean barbecue restaurants but is now making its way into other cuisines and even cocktails.
In New York, the Parker & Quinn restaurant at the Refinery Hotel recently introduced a “build your own” brunch beverage experience where guests mix their own drinks. The Bloody Board includes a carafe of Bloody Mary, accompanied by pickled vegetables, pimento olives, pepper jack cheese, bacon, celery, horseradish, beef bouillon and assorted hot sauces. The "Bubbly Board" is DIY mimosas and bellinis, with a bottle of Prosecco, and sides of raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, whipped cream, along with and mixers.
"Since people are generally decompressing from the night before or preparing for the day ahead during brunch, through our Brunch Boards they’re able to skip the hassles of cooking at home and creating cocktails from start to finish, but can still enjoy playing with their food," said Rob McGovern, Food & Beverage Director at In Good Company Hospitality. He added guests are looking for "Instagram-able” brunch experiences.
In San Diego, the Gaslamp Strip Club has diners order a cut of meat which is then served uncooked; customers bring the meat to a grill station in the middle of the restaurant to cook the meat to their liking. At the grill stations, there are instructions for recommended cooking times for different cuts, seasoning suggestions and sauce/condiment options. A restaurant spokesperson said it's a popular feature for tourists looking for something out of the ordinary, as well as locals.
Food expert Alanna Stang of The Daily Meal said the burgeoning trend is really just an extension of the DIY culture that's become so popular in recent years. "You have more people brining, pickling, jarring, etc. than in previous decades. People are into understanding how things are made--from their broth to their bitters." And while she said the idea of cooking your own food at a restaurant is "counterintuitive" it can be an enjoyable experience.
"At a restaurant people have access to all kind of ingredients and cooking methods that they may not have at home, plus you can cook together with lots of friends."