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Too Much Shmutz on the Table


Ellen Shapiro
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And from an Ombuds!  :wink:

Nahh, that was me with out by Ombohat on. That was my ribbing-an-expat-hat :laugh: As Ombudsman, I'de be bound to say that on balance, and taking into consideration all known facts, but within the context of a full realisation of the given circumstances, and notwithstanding various eventualities which might or might nort transpire, and in the interests of balance and the maintenance of due equilibrium, then .... I can't comment at this juncture :huh:

Suzanne, what you said about table design is something I've commented on before. It does amaze me how high-end dining establishments seem to disbelieve that people will pay more to be more comfortable. It is alleged that some places deliberately cram in small tables just to show how much in demand they are, and maybe to exercise some authority over their clientele (?). But my belief would be that places where diners can genuinely relax will ultimately become more profitable.

There is also a second dimension, which is the effect of crowding on the staff. I remember at both Racine and Club Gascon how the waitstaff were complaining that they couldn't serve us properly because of restricted space.

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I used to work in a fine dining restaurant where each Sunday brunch, the restaurant insisted on putting this "centerpiece/conversation piece" on the table: a wine glass with tap water, with grapes and a baby carrot. It was time consuming and looked atrocious. The worst part is that most clientele thought it was some sort of appetizer or finger bowl.

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I'm trying to imagine this "conversation piece." As far as I can tell, the majority of restaurants in NYC that serve Sunday brunch could care less if you're having conversation--they just want you in . . . and out--so they can turn the table. Oh no, don't get me started on Sunday brunch. It could be dangerous.

Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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That's a great idea, starting with an empty table. It has style and sense, an unusual combination   :smile:   We could call the place Nappevide . . .

No, even better: "Tabula Rasa"--the ultimate in minimalist restaurants. Undoubtedly opening next year in Greenwich Village. :blink:

I know what you mean about overcrowding of tables. I had brunch on Sunday with seven other people. Huge portions, large platters, some of us had more than one course. By the time everyone's food was served I was almost eating with my plate in my lap, and it was the biggest table in the place.

But then, you don't need dining companions to run out of room at a table. If I'm eating by myself, I need room to work: newspaper, notebooks, photographs, legal pad, etc. all spread out so I can see everything at once. Just a four-top for my own personal needs will be fine. Of course, in order to really feel comfortable, I require a table for eight. . . .

Edited by Deacon (log)
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If I'm eating by myself, I need room to work: newspaper, notebooks, photographs, legal pad, etc. all spread out so I can see everything at once. Just a four-top for my own personal needs will be fine. Of course, in order to really feel comfortable, I require a table for eight. . . .

LOL Deacon, but in fact that's a real practical issue. At my local resto they have some nicely positioned 2-tops by the window, which I prefer from a location point of view, but in truth they're not big enough for two. Especially when they bring you Grissini, bowl of olives, bowl of (home made) potato chips, bread roll, butter, glass of wine, glass of water ... and then when the food arrives :shock::sad:

When I need to work (and that may be no more than writing in a notepad) I have to take a 4-top. Same if I am there with a colleague. Of course when they're busy, that becomes a problem for me and for them. Ultimately it's the restaurant that runs the risk of losing out.

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The "too much schmutz" issue is a result of the restaurant trying to have it both ways--to

a) pack into the available space as many tables and chairs as possible, which results in too many tables, and

b) make each setting at the table as ornate and opulent as possible, which paradoxically results in elbow jostling and an unpleasant, cramped dining experience. (Room for everything but the food. If you weren't there to eat, everything would be fine.)

But you can understand why they do it--simple economics. Fewer tables would mean charging more for each meal to make up for the reduced volume, and the restaurant business is dicey enough as is.

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