Sunday, May 01, 2005

Lamer than a $600 pair of jeans

I've already grown tired of mocking Times articles that exist merely to point out, in a half-admiring tone, how much New Yorkers will spend for haircuts/blue jeans/toothpaste/whatever. These articles clearly have an audience, just like the jeans and haircuts themselves. But the latest incarnation of this genre is just absurd: It's apparently not cool enough just to go to an off-the-beaten-path upscale restaurant anymore; now the in-the-know go to invitation-only, or at least hidden-away, "occasional supper clubs," where the food is, well, food, and the people are just that much more obnoxious.

Ken Gross explains:

[T]his is about a new global dining phenomenon in which you have to know somebody who knows somebody just to find out about the place; where you have to be given a secret password, and then sneak up a back staircase just to get in. This is about dining at a culinary speak-easy." And, "like the French Resistance, they are run in small, clandestine cells, dodging the local health department and the licensing authorities.

A "culinary speak-easy"? But there's no amendment outlawing the restaurant. What are these would-be restauranteurs hiding from? Is it supposed to be a good thing that a restaurant is dodging the local health department? For such thrills, one could simply go to the Divinity School coffee shop on the UChicago campus, where, if one looks closely enough, one will see a sign proclaiming a less-than-stellar report after the last inspection.

Ken Gross, though, is convinced that he's found the next big thing:

In spite of the ups and downs, the variation in the quality, there is something brave and almost reckless about this trend toward dining clubs, or occasional restaurants, or whatever conceit you attach to them. It suggests, in their intimacy and singularity, a whiff of danger, a hunger for a more promiscuous kind of dinner party. It's even a kind of sweet revenge against all the snobbish inconveniences of dining under the glare of haute cuisine.

Again, what's so dangerous about this institution, which is essentially people charging for their private dinner parties? How is haute cuisine "snobbish" and a restaurant you need to know someone to even locate any less so? I'd say save your $40 and buy your dog something nice.


afterthoughtsdog said...

Right on target, Phoebe! I like your intelligent, cut-through-the-garbage kind of thinking.

Anonymous said...

Gross's prose and frame are obviously rather lame. But the article actually works in spite of that, due to the strength of the anecdotes.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't there some lame comedy about bumbling cops uncovering a club of rich people getting together once in a while to eat exotic animals, many of which were endangered or illegal?