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Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonette are the James Beard Award-winning chefs behind a trio of critically acclaimed restaurants in the Boston area: South End tapas spot Toro, South End Italian enoteca Coppa, and Cambridge small plates destination Little Donkey. Typically, there would be little to no chance that someone would — or even could — visit all three restaurants in one evening. But starting this week, Oringer and Bissonette began offering an opportunity to do exactly that, through the JK Food Group Crawl.
The crawl takes diners on a culinary journey to each of the three restaurants for $165-175 per person, which includes food, beverages, and tax for each restaurant, as well as car rides between each restaurant (ordered by staff). Available Sunday through Thursday, the crawl is intended for parties of four to eight people, and can be reserved during anytime that the restaurants have availability on the JK Food Group website.
According to JK Food Group marketing manager Rachel Becker, Oringer and Bissonnette came up with the idea as a way to let diners enjoy a chef- and server-driven experience that showcases what each restaurant is about.
“If you know Ken and Jamie, they’re always looking for ways to push the envelope,” Becker said. “When thinking about this idea, we wanted to give people a way to have three dinner experiences that all come together as one amazing night out with friends or family.”
While the crawl menus will vary with the seasons or if there’s a particular dish or ingredient the kitchen is excited about, Becker said that the three restaurants will likely serve dishes that fall within each one’s area of expertise. At Toro, you could find yourself munching the signature pan con tomate (toasted bread with tomato, garlic, Spanish olive oil, and sea salt) and a small plate of padrón peppers (spicy green peppers sprinkled with sea salt) and drinking a glass of vermouth or cava (Spanish wine). At Coppa, Becker said the menu focuses on pizzas, pastas, and a few other heartier dishes, also paired with wine. And at Little Donkey, diners who choose the $165 option will receive a dessert course — a sweet dish like a churro ice cream sandwich paired with a dessert wine or cocktail — while the $175 option means an additional savory course, which might include something like duck nachos or BLT lettuce wraps.
“We’ve chosen items that give people the most global experience at the restaurants,” Becker said. “If you had an hour at Toro, what would we really want you to try? What flavors of Little Donkey could you not leave without having?”
While there is a particular structure to the crawl, Becker said that exceptions can be made. You’re meant to travel from Toro to Coppa to Little Donkey, but you can also reverse the order. Though reservations are encouraged for four to eight people, Becker said they’ve already accommodated a party of two. And despite the menu being somewhat rigid by nature — a part of the crawl’s appeal is letting a server at each restaurant be your culinary guide — tweaks can be made for food allergies and dietary restrictions with advance notice.
Becker said that, for now, JK Food Group is planning to accept crawl reservations through the beginning of the summer, but may alter that based on diner response.
“This is something that could be limited time, or it could end up being something we do once a year,” Becker said. “Right now, we’re just excited to let our customers get to know our restaurants, our servers, and the ideas that come out of our kitchen. The less work for the customer, the better.”