There are certain niceties to eating out that transform eating a meal into a “dining experience.”
For example there is the attention to ambiance– the music and the decor. And obviously there is the waitstaff, which would be challenging to try at home.
However, some of the biggest game changers start on the plate itself. Like doilies. I love the way a doily makes a muffin look like it is ready to go to Sunday school. Or a cup of tea look like it is ready for its first cotillion. The first time I saw doilies en masse was at the Ritz Carlton in Boston. I had seen them manifest themselves in other hotels–they are a staple of room service carts, I suppose, room service being a dining sport unto itself.
Eating breakfast with freshly washed hair in a fluffy white hotel bathrobe while reading that city’s newspaper and pouring coffee from your own little pot and with
cream from your own little tea party sized creamer while looking out at a local landmark like our muddy river, or the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge or the Phillips Collection is one of those sensual, beatific pleasures that makes me want to pinch myself to see if I am dreaming. Don’t get any ideas, this kind of moment is as rare as hen’s teeth for me. Oh! And closer to home, the Hermitage can do it up right, too, with a view of our own capitol building.
And even closer to home, of course, is Mr. Wu’s, where radishes and carrots bloom amongst the already beautifully presented entrees.
Having watched Mr. Wu deftly create a kajillion radish roses, I don’t think I will be adding radish carving to my repertoire of dining flourishes–but I do think I might pick up some doilies and slide one under my next bowl of oatmeal.
Homely doesn’t have to mean plain!