June 14, 1987 |
It was, I believe, Michael Caine as Alfie who once announced that "Everybody's got a fiddle." He was not, I hasten to explain, proposing that violins were ubiquitous. He was using fiddle in the sense of a swindle, a lifting-of-greenbacks-from-the-till. The restaurant business, of course has long been sort of a fiddle heaven; the possibilities are positively a la carte .
July 31, 1988 |
Gastronomic pilgrims know that the Mecca of Nice is the Restaurant Chantecler in the famed Hotel Negresco. Two stars and right on the sea front! I put on a tie and went there for dinner with my wife and two friends. One of the friends had already met chef Jacques Maximin, who at once remembered her. Small, wiry and dynamic, he streaked out of his kitchen like the meteor he is and said that he had worked out a special menu for us and would come and talk later (which he did, for an hour).
June 1, 1989 |
J.J. Wall seems like a very nice man. And if that sounds like the kind of comment a mother would make to her daughter about a pleasant but unremarkable and slightly boring suitor, you're reading the message loud and clear. Actually, headlining Tuesday at the Irvine Improvisation, Wall turned in a much stronger set than in past appearances there. But that's pretty relative. No one's going to accuse Wall, even at his best, of being on the cutting edge of stand-up. For one thing, much of his material is bland, tedious and unfunny.
June 1, 1985 |
A waiter, taking a break the other night at Alex Tambellini's downtown restaurant, sat at the bar and talked to a diner at a nearby table. "We got the worst hockey team," the waiter said of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who lost about $2.5 million last season and may be sold and moved to another city. "Yeah, but we got voted the No. 1 city," the patron answered, referring to a Rand McNally survey that was published in March.
November 30, 1986 |
Koutoubia, 2116 Westwood Blvd., West Los Angeles, (213) 475-0729. Beer and wine. Street parking. Dinner only, Tuesday-Sunday. All major credit cards accepted. Dinner for two, food only, $30-$50. There I was in Marseille, having a perfectly satisfying meal when the man at the next table leaned over and said abruptly, "You ordered all wrong." "But I like fish soup," I was saying before it occured to me that my meal was none of his business. The man shook his head impatiently.
December 6, 1987 |
To anyone who's ever tippled tepid soup, the term world's fastest waiter seems at least slightly oxymoronic. It's Roger Bourban's title, though--has been for years--and one he is proudly defending this morning. Catch him if you can; annual 10K waiters' race starts at Beverly Hills High at 8:57 a.m., contestants in appropriate regalia and toting a full bottle on a tray. Bourban, 39, is no longer a waiter (he's GM and maitre d' at Nicky Blair's on Sunset), possibly no longer as swift.
May 21, 1989 |
Claude, who is 82 and hungry, wonders if six oysters apiece will be enough. "Maybe we should each have nine," he offers. I agree. He thinks for a moment, squinting at the small, separate shellfish menu we have been given along with the regular carte . "And maybe we should have some bouquets roses , too," he adds, referring to the delicious little rosy-pink prawns that are so abundant in France this time of year. I agree again. The waiter appears. We order six plump Belons, the pride of coastal Brittany; six Belondines, similar but raised in fresh water; six salty, smooth-shelled plates from Holland; and what an American Midwesterner might well have described as a "mess" of the rosy-pink prawns.
October 8, 2003 |
The waiter was grinning when he set the plates on our table. "Pacific sea urchin," he said, "with frozen banana, puffed rice and parsnip milk." I looked at my friend Bill. "We're either at the wrong meal or in the wrong country," I said. "This should be breakfast at a sushi bar in Tokyo." No. We were in the right place at the right time -- and this was just the third course in what would be a 26-course, 15-wine, four-hour dinner.
December 17, 2003 |
If you've eaten at a serious restaurant recently -- Patina, Cicada, Geoffrey's, Lucques -- you've probably been the target of what might be diagnosed as neurotic napkin neatening. You know the drill: You get up from the table to call the sitter to make sure everyone's still alive and when you return, the napkin you left tossed casually aside has been transformed into an obsessively neat triangle or folded into an elaborate fan or hijacked and replaced altogether.