The Art of the Restaurateur
Phaidon (Penguin), $45 hb, 351 pp, 9780714864693
‘Hello, my name is Tony. I’m your waiter, and I’ll be dining with you tonight.’
One subspecies of cartoon in the New Yorker addresses the balance of power between diners and waiters. The caption above, from a cartoon by P.C. Vey, accompanies a drawing of a bemused couple holding menus, and looking at a waiter who is sitting at their table with a glass of wine. Absurd as this hypothetical situation is, it pricks at one of the central difficulties that all fine-dining restaurants must address: the distance kept by, and the demeanour of, the person without whom diners would be inhospitably stranded in a room that offers the promise of infinite riches.