food 04.7.04

Manhattan Waiter

"The french fries are too short."

That's the kind of complaint from diners detailed in Paul Thacker's new blog Manhattan Waiter. It's not the first waiter blog but it is the most Terkelesque. There are the expected adversarial tensions of the server and the served but Mr. Thacker sees the website less as a gripe-fest and more as an "online documentary of the waiters that serve customers in the food capital of the world. They work in diners, chain restaurants, fancy hotels, theater bars, and family businesses. The majority are Americans, but many come from all parts of the globe. I'm trying to capture the whole Manhattan experience…"

Mr. Thacker has been a waiter at two restaurants in the city: Gus' Place and Il Torino. He says, "When you wait tables, you really get to learn what people are like. Customers really feel completely comfortable giving rein to all their social pathologies."

Interviews are conducted with the names and restaurants changed. Mr. Thacker says, "Sometimes we meet after work and head out to a favorite bar and down a few drinks. And in a few rare instances, we hang out in the waiter's own restaurant after hours when the front door are locked, the house lights are down, and one of the regulars allowed to stay after closing sparks up a cigarette to mock the smoking ban. No customers. It's my favorite time to be in a restaurant. You and a few close people, sharing stories in a well-lighted place…and sucking down the owner's alcohol for free."
MUG has always loved the cooking of highly talented chef Katy Sparks, even before she was at Quilty's. She's now at Compass, 208 W. 70th [Amst] 212.875.8600, and Steve Cuozzo of the Post gave her three stars. Pascale Le Draoulec at the Daily News gave her three. Today in the Times, Amanda Hesser awards one star. (Ms. Hesser, you may recall, gave Jean-Georges Vongerichten three stars for Spice Market, but the Times had to print a correction of sorts the following week, noting that Mr. V. had blurbed Ms. H's book.) It was only one star for Noriyuki Sugie at Asiate, too, which is nuts. This is the point where MUG throws up its hands. Is this a case of NPR, Ms. Sparks and Mr. Sugie having No Prior Relationship with Ms. Hesser? One star for Ms. Sparks is patently bogus. Ms. Hesser's reputation is starting to suffer, but it's a self-inflicted wound.

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