Is an Empty Restaurant Worse Than a Crowded One?

/ October 29, 2017

This past Friday night, I had the good fortune to find, in an area brimming with packed, sizzling eateries, a spot that had hardly anyone dining inside....

How Garnishes Became the Bane of My Existence

/ October 1, 2017

Eons ago, it was parsley, solo. Then came the '80s, and kiwi ruled the plate. After that, orange slices, flower-like radishes, diminutive cherry tomatoes....

How Ambrosia's Decline Became a Win-Win for America

/ September 15, 2017

Ever wonder why you don't see ambrosia on restaurant menus anymore?...

A Diatribe Against Using Unripe Tomatoes

/ September 5, 2017

I had something happen to me at a restaurant in Chicago recently that hasn't occurred to me in a long time....

Why Service-Included Bills Shouldn't Include Space for Extra Tips

/ August 31, 2017

If you're like me and dread the process of adding up the tip at the end of a meal, you kind of like when a restaurant gives you a check where the tip is already included....

In Memoriam: Joseph Rocha

/ August 23, 2017

Every once in a while, we here at Critical Mousse need to take a breather from the world of food and recognize our friends and family who have contributed so much to our lives....

We Need More American Indian Restaurants in NYC

/ August 11, 2017

Remember Silverbird? It was an interesting, short-lived American Indian restaurant on Manhattan's Upper West Side that offered bison burgers and other treats meant to showcase the varied cuisines of the first inhabitants of the United States. I remember going to Silverbird in the 1980s and enjoying it....

The Whole EVOO Thing

/ August 4, 2017

Maybe we should just change the names of all but the simplest of ingredients into acronyms to match what's often done with extra-virgin olive oil....

My Beef with Servers Who Introduce Themselves

/ July 30, 2017

Is it just me, or is the line "Hi, my name is [insert moniker here], and I'll be your server tonight" one of the worst things to hear at a restaurant when you're ready to order?...

Is It Curtains for Restaurant Curtains?

/ July 13, 2017

You know an eatery is good if you can't see inside owing to the curtains hanging over the windows....

On Restaurants Not Seating You Until Your Entire Party Arrives

/ July 2, 2017

What's the dealio, eateries of New York City?...

Rediscovering the Avocado: A Reality Check

/ June 16, 2017

Eons ago, my mother, who grew up in Los Angeles, introduced my father, a denizen of New York City, to the avocado. It was soft. It was luscious. It was fatty....

The Day I Almost Ate Seal and Whale

/ May 25, 2017

Long ago, my parents took my sister and me to Norway, Denmark and Sweden for summer vacation. While in Oslo, we went to a very fine restaurant that was decorated in the grand style....

Are Too Few Restaurants Offering Affordable Wines?

/ May 18, 2017

When I see that a $100 bottle on a restaurant's wine list is among the lower-priced options, I want to cry....

In Memoriam

/ May 12, 2017

In memory of Saige Borden...

What's So Funny about an Elegant BBQ Restaurant?

/ May 6, 2017

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you a new idea of mine. ...

Meeting the Chef After Dinner

/ April 12, 2017

One of the most vivid culinary memories I have is of a childhood visit to a local restaurant outside Paris where the chef, following our repast, met everyone in the parking lot to shake hands with his customers....

Getting Undercharged at Restaurants: Is It Good or Bad?

/ March 26, 2017

Eons ago, when I was in college, I found a mistake in the check after eating dinner with a bunch of friends at a local Chinese restaurant in Manhattan. I called attention to it. I insisted on paying what we owed....

Would You Like Warm or Cold Bread to Start?

/ March 18, 2017

Getting served a basket of bread often signifies the beginning of a meal. They all do it—from the top fine dining restaurants to the casual eateries—and frequently, the first impression you get after stepping in the establishment is the bread basket. That's why this Conveyor of Carbs is pretty important....

Railing Against the Term 'Chicken Tenders'

/ March 16, 2017

Tender is the night. The American dollar is legal tender. One might tender a resignation....

Forget Dessert ... I'll Just Sleep in My Risotto

/ March 7, 2017

Anyone else start falling asleep at the dinner table once the clock strikes 10?...

Where Has All the Carob Gone?

/ February 26, 2017

As Pete Seeger might have sung, it's a long time passing....

Why I Just Can't Munch on Celery

/ February 19, 2017

To paraphrase E.E. Cummings, there are some foods I will not eat....

When Trendy Isn't Dandy: The 411 on Eatery Cool

/ February 9, 2017

Who gets to define the "hipness" of the crowd at a restaurant? Is cool now measured by the length of one's beard? The taste for kale or pork belly? The tilt of one's fedora?...

Do Restaurants Have a Right to Ask You to Move?

/ February 2, 2017

Say you've finished your meal at a hopping downtown eatery. You and your friends have spent upwards of $300 in total on the repast. You've just paid the bill and are casually chatting as part of the après-dinner pleasantries....

Pondering the Idea of the Raw-Meat Restaurant

/ January 26, 2017

In this brave new world that has such foodies in it, the notion that consuming raw meat, poultry, eggs or shellfish can be hazardous to one's health has permeated the restaurant landscape—so much so that eateries offering these delicacies are required to carry this reminder on their menus like a banner held aloft by a reluctant warrior in some ancient, fire-resistan...

Excuse Me, Sir, Your Communal Table Is Ready

/ January 14, 2017

Does anyone really like sitting down to dinner with a complete stranger?...

Price and Prejudice: The High Cost of Steakhouse Sides

/ January 6, 2017

Is it just me, or does it seem silly to pay extra for creamed spinach at a steakhouse? Don't get me wrong: I love a little rich, nutmeg-infused veg with my meat. But I don't love the practice of serving and pricing sides separately from the cuts at many bastions of beef, a trend that has been going on for a long, long time yet should have been stanched at the source....

Just How Long Should a Meal Be?

/ November 9, 2016

I’m a big fan of long, leisurely dinners. At many high-end restaurants, such repasts are the norm. You can’t get out before three hours are up unless you let the staff know you’re going to the theater, trying to catch a plane, seeking a spot on the line at Shake Shack and so on. Full meals shouldn’t be cut short when it comes to special occasions. Taking your ...

The Elusive Napkin-in-the-Shirt Diner

/ November 7, 2016

Manners are a fickle thing, aren’t they? It seems like only yesterday that folks around the known universe often tucked their napkins into their shirts during mealtimes. Now, however, that practice seems to be rare or even forgotten, a vestige of an all-too-gauche era during which people dried their hands on their pants and wiped their noses on their sleeves....

C’mon, C’mon, C’mon, C’mon, Don’t Touch Me, Waitstaff

/ November 3, 2016

Is it just me, or is being touched by a waiter or waitress while dining out at a restaurant the height of personal-space invasion? OK, maybe I’m being a little persnickety. But don’t you think that when you’re paying for a meal at any eatery, the service should be hands-off … literally? Why am I grousing about this, you may ask? Isn’t such a complaint rather...

Thoughts on Sitting Beside or Across From Your Dining Partner

/ November 3, 2016

One of the reasons why I like the great 1971 William Friedkin film The French Connection is because it shows a glimpse of 1970s New York City that has almost completely disappeared. Sure, we still have much of the lovable grime and debris that play such a prominent role in the movie, but there’s also a certain elegance in some scenes featuring a number of fancy stor...

Doth Music Soothe the Savage Gourmet?

/ November 3, 2016

While dining with my wife at Bouley earlier this year, I heard something rather interesting that deserves to be mentioned. Music—presumably of the recorded variety. Not unappealing, but definitely curious. What was it doing at Bouley, one of the great bastions of Manhattan gastronomy? As I recall, the selections were pleasantly jazzy, soft and subtle—no cacophonou...

The Terrible Problem of Faux Martinis

/ November 3, 2016

We’ve come to a point in time where just about any adult beverage, it seems, can be called a Martini. Chocolate Martinis, of course, are a standard now. So are those green apple things that look like pureed lime gelatin and taste like the liquid inside those wax candy sticks once sold at supermarket checkout lines in an effort to lure customers attracted to shiny, c...

Would You Like Flaccid, Oil-Soaked Fries with That?

/ November 3, 2016

There’s a horrible epidemic infecting America that few people are addressing … even though it pervades the nation’s fabric like stars spangling a banner. It’s a disease that has infiltrated the souls of U.S. citizens after being latent for many moons. It’s unstoppable, affecting both rich and poor, sad and happy, Republican and Democrat, Beatles fan and Roll...

Feelin’ Bluevy

/ November 3, 2016

In meals of yore, one would often follow entrees with cheeses that aimed to spark the appetite for sweet desserts ... or even replace them as the savory finales. Boy, have times changed. Nowadays, diners are just as likely to find the fromage at the beginning of their menus as at the end. And that has led me to wonder: What in the name of a fragrant, room-temperature ...

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