eatiquette

Steve Cuozzo Will Hold His Breath Until White Tablecloths Come Back

Steve Cuozzo Will Hold His Breath Until White Tablecloths Come Back

Photo: Hannah Whitaker

Allegretti ditched its white tablecloths recently and Steve Cuozzo is one of the two people in the world who noticed. And of course, he’s furious about it. Searching for a scapegoat, he blames “blog-driven baloney,” “illiterate bloggers who think grown-up restaurants are over,” and “snake oil from Web sites that seem written by children.” That’s right, the Post writer thinks barbarian bloggers took his beloved white tablecloths away, and maybe he has a point. After all, this very blog recently quoted a man saying, “Fine dining is simplicity. A very simple restaurant can be fine dining.” That man just happened to be one of the most respected chefs in the world, André Soltner.

The problem is, Cuozzo never once acknowledges that by eliminating tablecloths, restaurants save a significant amount of money — something that might ultimately make the dining experience better, whether it be for diners or workers who are currently paid below minimum wage. He thinks the lack of tablecloths have upped the volume of Allegretti’s dining room, but maybe that’s simply because that other type of volume is up. Allegretti himself says that he ditched the intimidating tablecloths in order to lure in more customers. Who can blame him?

In an article about the decline of fine dining (published by New York, not by this blog!), Megu owner Hiro Nishida confessed that he thought about getting rid of linen napkins and tablecloths. He told the magazine, “Then I thought, It’s 86 cents for each napkin and it changes the whole feel of a place. We will save somewhere else.” The question is, where did he choose to save? By cutting down on things that people don’t see, like the quality of ingredients? Of course we’re not saying Megu did this, but the truth is, you don’t need to be a fine-dining restaurant to have white tablecloths. Look at any restaurant on Mulberry Street, or the Olive Garden for that matter. (Well, the Olive Garden used to have white tablecloths, anyway. Don’t blame bloggers for that change!)

This new lack of linens isn’t the only thing that has Cuozzo’s britches in a bunch: He also objects to “grazing menus” and experiments such as D.J. nights at Le Cirque’s lounge, where the music is presumably so loud he can’t hear himself rant. Then again, he admits that his praise of the Wine Bar Lounge failed to draw the masses, so where does that leave Le Cirque? Should they throw white tablecloths on the lounge tables and eliminate the bar menu in favor of pricey entrées? Somehow we don’t see that being the answer.

Anyway, Cuozzo can find consolation in knowing restaurants that don’t have to constantly launder the linens are more environmentally sound. And we also love that it’s easier to carve “Grub Street Wuz Here” into the tables. That is how you spell “wuz,” right?

Linen-ists unite! [NYP]

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