How often do diners make unwanted advances? And how professional are professional servers? Let the debates begin.
My friend and colleague Alan Richman recently published an article in GQ that, if it didn't set the food world on fire, set it on summer simmer. It started as a review of the super-hot Queens diner restaurant M.Wells, which had announced that it was closing and relocating in a rent dispute between the time the piece closed and appeared on newsstands (ah, the print cycle!).
Midway through, the article turns from an enthusiastic review to a painfully honest account of the author's having been accused by email of sexually harassing his server: The owner, in a correspondence about a planned interview, says:
It seems we couldn't make you happy, several servers heard you complain and ask for more attention. One of those servers, a female, received a hardy pat on the ass from you. Totally unacceptable in our world. I don't know what to think or how to proceed. But I must relay my worry.
The rest is Richman's reaction to the accusation, his speculation about why the owner would have made it, and a declaration of a critics' ethics, which include not commenting on or reacting to bad service, just seeing how the restaurant handles a typical evening—or as typical as an evening can be when a critic is recognized, which as he points out and I can painfully confirm never, ever, improves a dining experience.