Oversize Scrapbook for Menus
If you've got a truly serious restaurant diner on your hands, chances are they've got a "trophy case" (see: drawer) full of menus signifying their most noteworthy conquests. Give them the gift of organization as well as a trip down memory lane with an oversize scrapbook. Given that my largest menu is 12 inches by 18 inches, I like the newspaper-size scrapbooks (20 inches x 25 inches) that range around $135, but there are several styles and sizes to choose from, depending on your budget. And if you've got the time, you can set up the pages yourself. Available at your local craft, art, or office store or online.
If your favorite restaurant diners double as globetrotters, give them a guide that helps them find the best restaurants in the world. Selected by notable food critics such as author and former New York restaurant critic Gael Greene, Los Angeles Times restaurant critic Jonathan Gold, and former Gourmet editor Ruth Reichl, the guide offers details on menus, atmosphere, and service and includes critics' tips, color photographs, and bonus lists of the top 100 restaurants in France, Europe, Asia, and the United States ($19.95 at Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe)
Serious restaurant eaters dine out a lot and given the choice of two dishes they really want to try, they are apt to order them both. Translation: leftovers. Give them the gift of food storage, and they'll get a functional, surefire way to keep their leftovers fresh. A good bet is Snapware. Given the nod of approval by Cook's Illustrated magazine, this line of food keepers offers stain-proof Pyrex glass storage containers or BPA-free plastic containers in six different sizes, all with airtight, leak-proof plastic lids. Find them at your local housewares store or order online. ($29.99 for the 10-piece glass storage set.)
DIY Project: The Restaurant Diner's Must-Haves Kit
For a highly personalized gift that won't break your holiday bank, give your restaurant hound the essentials he or she needs in a convenient, take-along package that you put together yourself. First, pick up dining-out must-haves like travel-size stain remover and antibacterial soap, breath mints, a pen (half the pens at restaurants never work), and a wallet-size tip card. Then, scour your favorite vintage shops and boutiques for a stylish but durable case to put them in. Got a little extra dough left? Drop in a gift card to their favorite restaurant.