Serious Eats

What's the Weirdest Thing You've Ever Seen in a Fancy Restaurant?

I read Frank Bruni's hilarious piece on the weird things people do in fancy-pants restaurants, and, ever since, I've been trying to compile my own list of the way-out-of-the-ordinary or downright aberrant behavior I have witnessed at white-tablecloth spots.

I am coming up empty. I have missed out. I've never seen anyone having sex or stripping or offering gratis caviar to tables. And damn it, I feel deprived. I think it would be fun to witness some shenanigans at Daniel or Per Se or the French Laundry or Alinea or Le Bec Fin. I long to watch three attractive women strip down to their panties and take a dip in the pool at the Four Seasons. In fact, that floor show might make up for the overpriced, less than stellar food I probably would have just finished eating.

So here's my Five Point Plan, my new approach, to eating in fancy-pants restaurants, designed to maximize my viewing pleasure.

  1. I'm not going to focus so much on my food. Food, schmood—there are spectacles to behold. If people are going to make fools of themselves, I cannot be swooning over the pork belly at Daniel.
  2. I'm going to start making 10 p.m. reservations. Don't you think you have a better chance of seeing out of control behavior at midnight instead of six? I bet you don't see anything interesting or salacious while eating early-bird specials. I haven't, and I do tend to eat early.
  3. I'm going to ask the maître'd and my server when I'm seated if there's any table or person in the restaurant I should keep my eye on. I figure the people doing weird shit are regulars who feel comfortable enough to do whatever they please. They practically consider themselves members of the restaurant "family."
  4. The sommelier and the bartender (if there is one) must know everyone's potential for mayhem, since they're the keepers of the spirits. I figure $10 each should pave the way for a heads-up.
  5. Make frequent trips to the bathroom. That's apparently where the action is. Maybe I should even ask to be seated near the bathroom.

What spectacles have you witnessed in fancy-pants restaurants? Are there any other tactics I should employ in my effort to get more bang for my buck at white-tablecloth restaurants?

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