Thursday, March 02, 2006

Critical Dining

While visiting DC, my friend Aaron and I had dinner at a new restaurant on the west end of P Street, Mark & Orlando's . Dinner was great. I had the salmon, which I always try to order when dining out because I love it, yet am afraid to make it myself. I just know based on my culinary skills that I will screw it up and get a bad case of salmonella. Aaron ordered the two largest shrimp I have ever seen. But the bang was not necessarily worth the buck, in this case. There wasn't much to eat out of those jaspers and Aaron left feeling unsatisfied.

We sat next to two food critics and I guffawed (love that word) at the amount of schmoozing and toadying (love that word too) that was exchanged. The manager comes out (Mark), the chef comes out (Orlando, both at right) and suddenly everyone in the restaurant is best friends - sycophants one and all. With spectacles resting on the tips of their noses, the critics stretched out and lounged at a table in the center of the room, almost demanding that everyone else notice them: conversations were a little louder than they needed to be, gestures were a little grander than they needed to be. It wasn't enough that the staff had to cowtow to their whim, the other patrons were all basically put on hold as well.
Soundbyte: I hate being put on call-waiting while I am dining out.Why can't everyone be treated this way? You think someone who writes for a magazine or newspaper is more powerful?? There are three major forms of communication in this world: telephone, television, and tell a fag. Nothing spreads faster than a network of queens ripping something to shreds.

We all saw the grand entrance, the reserved table, the notebooks, the sudden hustle of the staff and the "meet n greet" of the owners walking around to each table to welcome the diners (Aaron assured me that this was the first time he had witnessed this in the 5 times he'd eaten here previously). If every diner was treated like a food critic, no restaurant would ever fail.
The place was pretty, the atmosphere was quaint - not too big, not too small. And while I am still baffled by the draw of Pizzeria Paradiso (it's just pizza in a crowded room people), Mark & Orlando's provides a nice dining alternative for those west of Dupont Circle.