Here is the latest series of arguments—yeah, here we go again!—against tipping. It's discriminatory (when white and black servers are compared, diners tip blacks far less well) (PDF), it's unfair to restaurant staff, it's unfair to diners, and apparently it's unfair to Ayn Rand. Oh sure, everyone loves Kickstarter and "tip your blogger" payments, but someone brings you food and to hell with them.
Remember back in early 2011, when we warned you that Hakkasan was coming to New York City and that it would be crazy-expensive and full of the snootiest weirdos and serve very good food in general but less so in the specific? It's always gratifying being right: "Nothing I tasted at Hakkasan was unpleasant, but when the check easily surpassed $100 a person, it was hard not to feel cheated," writes the Times restaurant critic. Boom, one star.
"Claiborne observed everything when he was reviewing, but ultimately he judged restaurants by what came out of the kitchen. As this idea caught on, it became harder to confuse the country’s best restaurants with the ones that were merely favored by the aristocracy. A different hierarchy in dining, ordered by creativity and excellence in cuisine, was slowly taking shape under the guidance of a new aristocracy: an aristocracy of taste. Today, we call members of this aristocracy 'foodies.'” —I wish we didn't, as that word only makes me think of children's pajamas, which are distinctly unappetizing, and which I am sad to learn that they also make for adults. [...]
We're entering the Year of the Dragon. Last night was the beginning of the new lunar year, which makes today what we call Chinese New Year (and what they call in China, New Year). It may seem pat to take this occasion to discuss our relationship with Chinese food, and the relative expense of it over time, but it's not meant to be. At feasts all over the world today, dumplings will be eaten for prosperity and noodles for long life. And while Americans use a different metric for determining what year it is, Chinese food is as mainstream in this country as French fries and buffalo wings (both [...]
DR: Which is perhaps the least surprising thing one could learn about Adam Gopnik. I guess if it were somehow to be revealed that he is blown away—to the point where he thinks you might also find it fascinating—by some things his kids said at the Museum of Natural History, that might be less surprising. But I'm kind of with him on this one, to a great extent. Who doesn't like food?
MB: Well, you! That is to say, I have noticed that awful food, at least, exerts a [...]
Now the most delightful restaurant in the English-speaking world is in… Shacklewell? At the top of Hackney? No, sorry, ugh, London, technically they're at the top of Dalston, which is just up from Shoreditch? If that helps? "Across the street from the Istanbul Restaurant on Stoke Newington Road?" Yeah, me neither. Thanks to exceptional and prolonged tweet work, the London restaurant that most of us have never been to is now the most alluring place imaginable.
Months ago, I let a rich guy with an expensive haircut persuade me to let him cut open my abdomen in four places. Sure, this was for legitimate "medical reasons" that made me vastly safer in the long term, but agreeing to schedule this event the week before Thanksgiving was… dumb. Walking around with enough stitches to cosplay as an NFL football sucks under any circumstance, but it's especially shortsighted just before American citizens play Build-a-Blimp with their belly areas.
Since I couldn't heave big baking pans or screw around with the barbecue pit without agony, this led the family members who came down to visit me to take me [...]
"The food is more of a distraction from your fear, not something to nourish you." —Two editors at the Eater website had an experience that reminded them of being "on a bad drug trip" in the "terrifying darkness" of the midtown restaurant Dans Le Noir.
When Prince William and Kate Middleton were married last year, reporters fawned over menu items like quails eggs and Scottish langoustine canapés. The summer before, anticipation about Chelsea Clinton and Mark Mezvinsky's customized $5-million reception hit a fever pitch: would it be vegan? (Answer: no. Beef short ribs were served alongside risotto.)
But at the Zuckerberg–Chan wedding the other weekend, reporters could only note, as did the LA Times, that the food at the reception came from “budget friendly” restaurants like Fuki Sushi and Palo Alto Sol. Well, at least he wasn’t wearing that damn hoodie.
Depending on how you look at it, the Facebook IPO [...]
"It clears my mind and gives me a blank canvas to work from. That helps me create. When it gets too hectic and overwhelming, I just turn on a tune. And I focus.” —It's funny that chef Jesse Schenker listens to '90s metal band Tool while he's cooking food at his restaurant, Recette, since what that music mostly conjures for me is the creepy, nauseating imagery that always accompanied it in the videos. (The other bands he likes, too—Nine Inch Nails, Metallica, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains. Good or bad, all sort of pukey!)
"Per Se actually has a list of people who aren’t allowed to go back. There’s a range of behavior that’s appropriate. We can accommodate wacky people, and for the most part, 95 percent of the guests are well behaved. Then you have the couple that goes and has sex in the bathroom—that happens quite a lot. You have people who throw up—they throw up a lot. There was one woman—it was a VIP tasting menu, I remember this: She just threw up on the table, in the middle of an extended tasting menu. They cleaned it up, and she 'boot-and-rallied.' She finished the meal." —Now you know what [...]
"Darden Restaurants (DRI) has been struggling to make its brands relevant again as diners increasingly head to chains like Chipotle and Panera, where they feel they're getting restaurant-quality food without paying as much. As it looks for ways to catch up to shifting trends, Red Lobster this week started testing a 'pay-at-the-counter' concept at two locations near its headquarters." —The great divide between people who like to occasionally eat at a restaurant with table service and the food-obsessed coastal elite snobs grew a little wider this week, as mall chain stalwart Red Lobster began selling its Krab Dinners at the counter, McDonaldland-style.
I waited on Frank Bruni and three others on his second-to-last visit to Graydon Carter’s Monkey Bar back in 2009, and unwittingly provided him with the kicker to his one-star review (the restaurant had been aiming for two)…. This, to me, is one of the stranger outcomes of restaurant reviews: that waiters are sometimes treated like they work in the public interest, or something. But as people argue over whether the New York Times is being classist in its scathing review of Guy Fieri’s restaurant, I’d like to point out the quieter classism that is inherent to the restaurant review: that very dispensable service employees are outed for [...]
"As I kept dunking, my perspective underwent a Copernican shift. The sausage had seemed to be the center of the universe, but it turned out that it, and everything else on the plate, revolved around that mesmerizing naam phrik nuum. Though this sausage, a favorite in the Thai city of Chiang Mai, needed nothing more than a cold beer, I began dunking it into that chile paste. And then I’d dunk the Frito-size curls of fried pork rinds, and wedges of steamed kabocha squash, and long beans tied into knots. The paste, called naam phrik nuum, was hot but not chokingly so, and had some of the grassy sweetness [...]
THIS JUST IN, NEW YORK TIMESWEB FRONT PAGER: the bread at Le Bernardin could be better! As the new food critic reaffirms Le Bernardin's four stars, we must note that this is the first time that a complaint about the bread has been made. What a long trip it's been for the little fish shack on 51st street and its ever-present four stars. Let's look back!
Here is the iPhone app that lets you see (iTunes link) the Department of Health sanitation ratings around you, or in your neighborhood, or by name. The City, in announcing their app, very carefully suggests some data in praise of the grades—salmonella is down! Eating out is up!—but doesn't go so far as to suggest causation. As you can't. But yay! Total information awareness nannystate! FEAR THE B GRADES, ALL THOSE EGGS ARE SLIGHTLY WARM.
"Marlene Dietrich once said that if she heard an American man rave about a meal, she knew he must have eaten a steak," says A Treasury of Great Recipes. Published in 1965, the book was written by Vincent and Mary Price (yes, that Vincent Price, or that one, maybe you remember). Price drops the quote in a section on great New York restaurants. And it’s not just the American men who thought this (though more on that below): restaurant critic Ruth Reichl in a 1994 steakhouse round-up wrote, “But there is one thing I have no doubt about: steak is a New York tradition, and when I [...]