Fine dining, as aforementioned in these pages, is perhaps not what it was. It would be remiss of me, therefore, not to point out the exceptions to this rule, as and when I am lucky enough to experience them. In New York, culinary Mecca, who else might be expected to provide such an experience, but a rather shouty fair-haired Englishman, televisually famed for his furious temper.
Fortunately for me, the only F-word to consider on this august occasion at the London Hotel, W. 54th St., was ‘food’. For the frugal fine diner (and who isn’t these days?), Mr. Ramsay offers a $65 repast for early birds, and the three-course menu turns out to be a seven-course delight, once you factor in all the little amuses bouche along the way. I am told this particular establishment has two Michelin stars: clearly I have been ill-raised for I could not possibly fathom how on earth it could have been finer. The forks were really all lined up. Food, service, atmosphere, attention to detail, but especially the food, were all exquisite. Whomsoever Mr. Ramsay has employed as chef du cuisine really ought to feel justly proud.
Despite the fantastic food, perhaps the foremost factor of this experience was the license it gave to the diners to behave as manly men and womanly women. Knowing how to sit; how, and what, to order; how to eat; and, most importantly, how to converse. It is rare to be afforded the opportunity to have one’s good graces aired and appreciated, and in an environment befitting the effort. A few awkward customers had clearly swum too far out, but for the most part this exemplary experience allowed for feelings of formal, yet relaxed, friendship to be fostered. In a small pocket of New York, polite men and women knew how to feel, and did not feel out place.
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