Guess Who’s (Not) Coming to Dinner?
When someone with impeccable taste in food and dining invites me to dinner, I usually accept.
However, after a recent debacle, I’ll have to re-think this policy.
This “friend” invited me to dinner at a restaurant I knew to be fantastic, but which I hadn’t visited in years. He casually mentioned to me that some his other “friends” would also be there. Fine.
I showed up on time. My next vision was right out of a horror movie. I was astounded to walk in and see twenty strangers sitting at the table. Strangers! His friends!
Aside from my host who issued the invite, I didn’t know a single soul. Worse, everyone was already sitting at the table and had jockeyed for ideal seating positions. All that were left were the shitty seats. Sort of like being last one to board the plane and having to sit in the middle seat next to the bathroom.
Well listen up: I DON’T FUCKING SIT AT THE KIDDIE TABLE!
When I show up, I want a premium seat, preferably located right next to the host. And if the host has a dull personality, which sometimes is the case more than I care to admit, then sit me next to the most interesting person or group in your party. If there are any questions, I’ll make the final determination. But you MUST save me a premium seat because I’m not sitting next to fucking strangers and ass baggers.
Should you fail to satisfy this demand, I will retaliate. And that means, I fucking walk out. Which is exactly what I did. You are therefore left to explain in utter shame and embarrassment why the most interesting guest in the group has decided to abandon your rudderless lifeboat lost in the middle what’s now a dining abyss.
There won’t even be a “goodbye.”
If you think I’m joking then talk to Yarom Limor, from Beverly Hills. He’ll tell you this is EXACTLY what happened at Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas.
In order to avoid potential problems in the future, allow me to issue this public pronouncement as to how I expect to be invited and treated to dinner.
1. TIMING IS EVERYTHING
When I honor you with my presence, expect you to be on time. My time and moments of leisure are precious. So, respect that. If I select you from among the many who long for the pleasure of my company, you have an obligation to ensure that I’m not kept waiting. Waiting is something I do when there’s absolutely no other choice — such as passing through airport security or sitting at a red light (and sometimes I run those if there are no cops around). When there’s any kind of choice and I’m forced to wait — instead, I fucking bolt.
Be on time. And have a reservation already made in advance. Prepare for my company like the special privilege that it is for you and your group.
2. THE MENU
If you pick out the restaurant, make damn sure the menu has things that I like to eat. Just because you fancy some hot spot with an unpronounceable name packed with 22-year-old waifs, doesn’t mean it’s going to please me. In fact, I’m probably going to end up furious and will never dine with you again if you take me to some pretentious “attraction” that serves nouvelle cuisine. that supposed to look like fucking art.
I want to eat the food. I don’t want to photograph it. Remember that.
A 3-ounce filet with sprigs of rosemary and dabs of sauce in the shape of the first letter of the restaurant’s name doesn’t impress me. What does impress me — real food made from fresh ingredients, served promptly, at the right temperature — by a waiter that serves me and keeps his mouth shut.
3. PARTY GUESTS
You might think your friends are interesting. To me, they’re probably a bore.
Think of it this way. How many parties have you attended where you stand around with a drink in your hand and try to act interested in the joker standing next to you? IT’S FUCKING TORTURE! So, cut the bullshit and seat with me people who are thought provoking and fun.
If you stick me among strangers, then you better be willing to “buffer” the situation like your blocking for a star quarterback. Any dinner conversation that comes to the pathetic point of — “So, what do you do for a living?” is a dead dinner where people have run out of things to talk about. It’s a couple of minutes away from becoming a life insurance seminar.
Most people aren’t going to interest me. So, I’m not enthusiastic about sitting with them. And I sure don’t want to talk with them. I might go along and pretend to be interested in your guest and the discussion for a bit, just to be polite. But I don’t want to sit through a two-hour dinner hearing the life stories of people I’ll never see again.
When you invite complete strangers, make certain they’re of high enough stock to be able to engage in my dinner conversation. Screening is strongly advised. Acceptable — PhDs in the social sciences, writers, artists, vociferous readers, nymphomaniacs. Unacceptable — – business people, Tony Robbins champions, religious nuts, Twitter freaks, poker players who think the whole fucking universe revolves around their chip counts.
Once you see me stop ordering food and drinks, that’s your sign that I’m bored out of my skull and it’s time to leave. Ask for the check.
Once again, as long as I am ordering something — be it drinks, coffee (with re-fills), or dessert — it means the dinner atmosphere is stimulating enough to maintain my presence. But once dinner and/or conversation starts dragging, I’m ready to hit the bricks. Wrap up your stories, say your goodbyes, pay the check, and let me get the fuck out to the car.
Should you not follow this request, you stand the risk of me standing up and walking out which will undoubtedly kill the momentum of the evening.
5. GENERAL GUIDELINES
Here are some general guidelines you can apply to picking the proper restaurant should you wish for me to join your gathering:
1. Italian (authentic) — (you can’t go wrong here)
2. Steakhouses (chains may be acceptable — from Longhorn Steakhouse on up/Avoid anything Outback or lower….always acceptable include Ruth’s Chris, Morten’s, Flemmings, Smith and Wollensky, Capital Grille)
3. Upscale Continental (easy way to tell — white table cloth = good)
4. Thai (always the perfect “Plan B”)
5. Family-Owned Restaurants (with them working on premises — if not, bolt for the door)
6. Haute Cuisine (with emphasis on ingredients rather than presentation)
7. Bistros and Bakeries (items must be baked *ON* property)
8. Trattorias (if deli is on premises and they sell real virgin olive oil in cans)
9. Ribs (with emphasis on the Midwest and Texas – otherwise pass)
10. Seafood (so long as it’s near the ocean or a big lake — otherwise pass)
1. Mexican (always risky)
2. Chain Restaurants (try to avoid — best to ask me first)
3. Chinese (as long as the city is 750,000 or more population and it’s in Chinatown)
4. Fusion (always a risk walking out still hungry and being $80 poorer)
5, Diners (good in the Northeast, shitty everywhere else)
6. Nouvelle Cuisine (a welcome trend 20 years ago, now overdone and unreliable — every clown in the universe now thinks he/she can cook)
7. Buffets (good indicator — $25 and up, yes/$24.99 or lower, no)
8. Greasy Spoons (you better make damn sure it’s good, no first-time let’s try this” experiences)
9. Oyster Bars (as long as I don’t have to sit on a barstool…..NOTICE: I REFUSE TO SIT ON A BAR STOOL WHILE EATING — I want my feet on the floor at all times)
10. Pancake Houses (no IHOPs….family-run places judged on a case-by-case basis)
No Fucking Way:
1. Any restaurant with a celebrity’s name attached to it (I’m there to eat the food, not see photos of famous people on the wall).
2. Sushi (never, under any circumstances….never! Never! NEVER!)
3. Bars / Lounges / Pubs (there are places to DRINK and there are places to EAT….would you get a haircut where they do oil changes?)
4. Fast-Food Joints (anyone who invites me to a fast-food joint is declared persona non gratis and gets excommunicated from my friendship).
5. Anything with an Irish Theme (have you ever had a decent meal in an Irish restaurant?)
6. Cafeterias (do I look like someone who carries his own food to the table?)
7. Truck Stops (if I’m going to eat among Republicans and gun nuts, at least make it a steakhouse in Houston).
Postscript: I would be remiss were I not to close with a revelation some might find shocking. I frequently dine alone.