Chefs' most stimulating dishes: eye-popping, mouthwatering, aromatically exhilarating.

Stimulate Your Senses: See | Hear | Touch | Smell | Taste

See: Double-Take Dishes


© Brian Canlis

Tequila Sunrise Egg

At Canlis in Seattle, chef Jason Franey serves an amuse bouche that looks like an egg yolk but bursts in the mouth to release a cocktail of tequila, orange juice and grenadine.


Courtesy of L2O

Fake Asparagus

For the asparagus plate at Chicago's L2O, chef Laurent Gras makes one phony spear with white asparagus, cream and shallots that are pureed together, then poured into a silicone mold.

Faux Roe

One of pastry chef Brooks Headley's post-dessert extras at Del Posto in New York City appears at first glance to be a salmon-roe tart. But it's really blood-orange pearls piled on top of Meyer-lemon cream.

Hear: Sound Engineering


Courtesy of Alinea / Lara Kastner

Smashing Glass

Chef Grant Achatz at Alinea in Chicago serves a sheet of liquefied raspberries turned into brittle. Breaking it sounds like shattering a wineglass, which was the dish's inspiration.

Crashing Waves

At the Fat Duck in Bray, England, diners who order "Sound of the Sea"—seaweed and fish atop a sandlike mixture of tapioca, bread crumbs and miso oil—listen to an iPod loaded with seaside noises while they eat. Chef Heston Blumenthal believes the audio makes the flavors seem more intense.

Smell: Thank You for Smoking

rabbit town house

Courtesy of Jesse Ratliff

Pine-Smoked Rabbit

At Town House in Chilhowie, Virginia, servers lift the cloche over chef John Shields's rabbit confit with earthy ingredients like juniper, black garlic and salsify. Fragrant puffs of pine-needle smoke drift out.

hay baked lamb la fonda del sol

© Teshira Nobie

Hay-Baked Lamb

Chef Josh DeChellis's aromatic lamb at La Fonda del Sol in New York City is seared and grilled, then baked in a pastry crust with herbs and grasses from the orchards the animal once grazed on. Diners break the crust open at the table to release a smoky hay scent, along with the meat's steamy juices.

Taste: Sauces in Disguise

caesar dressing dip R2L

Courtesy of R2L

Caesar-Dressing Dip

Chef Daniel Stern's deconstructed Caesar salad at R2L in Philadelphia includes a dollop of mousse-like dressing thickened with agar. Guests can use it as a dip for the croutons.

Cocktail-Sauce Pipette

At the Bazaar by José Andrés in L.A., steamed shrimp comes with tubes of cocktail sauce for guests to squirt into their mouths as they eat the shellfish. Others are following Andrés's lead: The Vanderbilt in Brooklyn, New York, serves pig-skin chips with hot-sauce pipettes.

Touch: Supercrunchy Bits

porcini crumble Niche

Courtesy of Jennifer Silverberg

Crackly Mushrooms

At Niche in St. Louis, Gerard Craft dehydrates porcini until extra-crunchy. The mushroom crumble becomes a base for fried potato-squid puffs served with shards of crispy hen-of-the-woods mushrooms and thinly sliced, compressed potatoes.

Blueberry-Nut Sprinkles

Crushed dehydrated-blueberry meringues become a crunchy topping for a Meyer-lemon-curd dessert at Crabtree's Kittle House in Chappaqua, New York. Chef Brad McDonald also adorns the dish with pine-nut pralines and bits of sponge cake.

Touch: Restaurant Farms

dos brisas

Courtesy of The Inn at Dos Brisas

The Farm-to-Table Tour

Lots of chefs source their ingredients locally, but these two restaurants let diners play farmer. Customers at The Inn at Dos Brisas in Washington, Texas, can pick produce from its organic vegetable gardens and greenhouse to eat in dishes like squash-wrapped eggplant with coriander. Guests at Farm 255 in Athens, Georgia, can tour the restaurant's farm, which grows the peas for the puree that accompanies line-caught cod with green-garlic gremolata.

Supercharge Your Senses