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Let Them Eat Elegant

January 11, 1987

I have a few hundred comments on Ruth Reichl's article on the death of fine dining in Los Angeles ("Dinosaur Under Glass," Jan. 4).

First and foremost, elegant dining is not endangered in L.A. We never had it.

To be fair, very few cities have it; perhaps two or three places in Paris, one or two in New York. The problem is in one's definition of elegant.

For me, at $125 or more per head, "elegant has to be perfect." That precludes an owner at Le Dome saying "Don't ruin my evening" to a client seeking the seat he requested. Elegant also precludes the amateur pompous service received by the non cognoscenti at and by the haughty Michael of Michael's.

R.R. has been bemoaning the loss of Au Triangle. Right, the food is extra special. I never went back because I had waiters who last were trained at Grossinger's. Getting a pepper mill was harder than landing on the moon. At those prices, good as the food was, I should have to request very little.

As far as Silvios, Chinois, the City and their ilk are concerned, who goes to dine? It's like an evening in a wind tunnel, except wind tunnels are probably less crowded.

So! If the "elegant" spots really were, they would do a lot more business. The fad spots will come and go and, except for restaurant critics, nobody will notice.

Final pedantic notes: California, as the most populous state, is bound to spend more on food than any other. I would really hate to know just how much of that $20 billion is spent at Burger King, Wendy's, etc. 'Fraid that money has little to nothing to do with "elegant dining."


Beverly Hills

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