Mon 21 Apr, 2008 04:15 pm
There was an article in today's New York Times by a - from what I remember from reading him years ago - particularly crabby and funny Roger Cohen, about the experience of drinking wine in restaurants, and dealing with some servers in that regard. What he describes is news to me, as, all together now, we don't do that in California. Or at least we didn't when I was last there.
For your edification or disagreement, here it is then:
LINK to article
Of Wine, Haste and Religion
I agreed, mostly on the "hustle-em-through" economics aspect.
I've had my dinner arrive before my appetizer on many occasions.
I don't think I've been anywhere where they do the glass topping thing. Ick.
Not that I go to that many restaurants of the excellent type, though I have been to some and appreciate them - but I've been to some where they don't hover, but watch generally from afar to see if you or others are reaching for that empty glass.. but then they ask.
I've only been to NYC, lately anyway, that one week of good memories back in 2003, and I don't remember it happening then either. On the other hand, I and my pals went to sort of bistro places, not and places with multiple stars by the restaurant name.
Smartest situation re serving staff in my experience was in italy on three trips, almost always in ordinary trattorias, a few times when I was by myself on that last trip, for a mid afternoon meal at a place of review regard.
I'm kidding about the California stuff, as for all I know they are doing this in LA now too, especially as the restaurant business has more economic knives coming at it. But, hey, there, I think they'd at least pour wine into the glass in a glide.
I do remember posting on a2k before about the 'is everything all right passby x 4 or 5 or 6' but that's a separate subject.
A long time friend and I had dinner Saturday night at La Vineria, a tiny restaurant near 55th & 5th, it's one of those places in NYC that locals go to to eat and talk. A bottle was selected to go with the meal. (Buffalo Mozzerlle salad & Veal Something. ) You can order anything there, it's always good. S. knows more about wine than anyone I know. I know that it comes from grapes.
So, we are talking and eating and talking (Kids who are post 35, the election, the health or lack of it in a close friend.) and eating when I reached for the wine to re-fill my glass -pow-zoom- the waiter is there!
"So sorry, allow me." he says while simultaneously smiling and wearing a grimace.
He pours. He leaves.
"Always let them pour." says S. "It tells you if they know what they are doing. A good waiter will never overfill a glass."
Joe (and if they do, I think, we can still drink it as slowly as we wish.)Nation
I only eat at places where I look up, not down , at the menu.
squinney and I are just hicks in Barneyland... but after our first pour.... which is NEVER to the top.... the servers around here, no matter where we go, leave us alone to drink at our own pace.
I have had them offer to pour while doing a routinte table check, but that's it.
They occasionally even offer to let us smell the screw top.
I think that server pouring is more about justifying the tip than doing right by the wine.
A good restaurant in our area in northern california had, by virtue of the owner's fascination, a major wine selection. It was connected with a hotel and bed and breakfast, and he gave wine lectures, etc. Anyway, they had a wine steward, and he, or she, helped people, if they wanted help, chose what wine would go well with their food and their price level. Not snobby, just helpful. What I can't remember is if it was he who came back to see if you wanted more in the glass. In any case, it wasn't obtrusive.
Still, if the kind of pouring is going on that Roger Cohen described, I can imagine insisting on pouring it myself. But, more likely, since I'm fairly forthright, I'd say 'hey!, don't fill it to the top'. And I'm naturally resistant to speeding my dinner along. On the plate thing, I'd ask for it back if it was snuck away and I wanted to linger over the 'jus' with some good bread. (How would that happen, anyway. I'd say 'don't take it', please')
We ate at a really great restaurant near Fair Hill Park (called the "Fair Hill Inn"). We had a meal that was of the quality served at the InnAt Little Washington.
I opened my meal with a serving of cherrystone clams in a wine rosemary garlic sauce. Afetr finishing the clams I was soppin up the sauce with their really excellent crusty bread and the waitperson came over and said"ill remove that for you' I said,
"Dont you dar, this sauce is so good that Im sitting here just soppin it up" She went away and the chef came out and was asking what did I like most about the sauce. WE made friends with that meal.
Good story. Way to go...
um, wine rosemary garlic sauce..
I just figured out what he was talking about : early dinner in the theatre district. Ten years ago we made the mistake of making dinner reservations for 6:30 before an eight o'clock show. Four of us all got there about 6:15 thinking we've have a drink before getting seated. Oh no. As soon as I said we were all there off to the table we went. The waiter was reciting the specials as we were still sitting down and the drink orders were taken by a drink waiter. Exactly two minutes later the waiter was asking for our orders and the drinks arrived before his dust had settled followed, it seemed to me, by the salads and the appetitisers.
The entrees were brought before anyone had had a third stab at his lobster ravioli and the cruise missle waiter was back asking about desserts maybe five minutes later.
We had the sorbet.
We had dbl espressos.
We paid the check.
It was 6:57.
They seated another foursome as we were putting on our coats.
joe(faster than a speeding boulebaise)Nation
That reminds me of meeting Roberta at Pierre au Tunnel (I remember you've been there too, sometime after 2003, meeting some mutual pals) - only Roberta got us a reservation to coincide with everyone else leaving for the theater. We had the room nearly to ourselves for as long as we wanted.
Osso(I had the tripe, a specialty, and blueberry torte when I couldn't make much of a dent in that)buco.
Oh, and that makes sense of what he's talking about.
Big New York Secret:
Dinner at eight at ANY of the theatre district restaurants is a sure thing. Eight fifteen is better because their blood pressure has almost returned to normal.
Joe(She gets too hungry for dinner at eight.... .)Nation