The reason this question came to mind is the dish pictured above: Chicken in Explosive Chili Peppers. This incredibly tasty dish is basically an enormous platter of dry-fried red peppers, along with plenty of Sichuan (or flower) peppers hidden in the mix. Small chunks of chicken are added to the hot frying peppers and dry-fried until done. It's totally delicious and spicy but also profligate in its use of chili peppers. Our Sichuan friend told us that this is a dish many people know how to make, but they never make it at home. It's a restaurant dish.
What are restaurant dishes for you? For me, they include some complex seafood dishes, like paella and cioppino, that are rather expensive to assemble at home. Also, oddly, I do appreciate a really well-made salad out at a restaurant, a salad that has lots and lots of different greens in it. It is time-consuming and a little tedious to do a really complex salad at home! I also enjoy ordering meats I don't make as often at home, like duck and certain cuts of pork.
And how about the reverse — dishes you would never order off a menu? For me, those include steak (for the price of a steak at a restaurant you can buy an even better one and broil it in five minutes in your oven or on your grill), and simple seafood dishes like scallops and plain white fish. There are certain dishes that (usually!) I just don't think can be done as well at restaurants, like risotto.
What about you? What do you only order out, and what do you only cook in?
(Image: Faith Durand)