Steve Cuozzo Will Hold His Breath Until White Tablecloths Come Back

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Photo: Hannah Whitaker

Allegretti ditched its white tablecloths recently and Steve Cuozzo is one of the two people in the world who noticed. And of course, hes furious about it. Searching for a scapegoat, he blames blog-driven baloney, illiterate bloggers who think grown-up restaurants are over, and snake oil from Web sites that seem written by children. Thats right, the Post writer thinks barbarian bloggers took his beloved white tablecloths away, and maybe he has a point. After all, this very blog recently quoted a man saying, Fine dining is simplicity. A very simple restaurant can be fine dining. That man just happened to be one of the most respected chefs in the world, Andr Soltner.

The problem is, Cuozzo never once acknowledges that by eliminating tablecloths, restaurants save a significant amount of money something that might ultimately make the dining experience better, whether it be for diners or workers who are currently paid below minimum wage. He thinks the lack of tablecloths have upped the volume of Allegrettis dining room, but maybe thats simply because that other type of volume is up. Allegretti himself says that he ditched the intimidating tablecloths in order to lure in more customers. Who can blame him?

In an article about the decline of fine dining (published by New York, not by this blog!), Megu owner Hiro Nishida confessed that he thought about getting rid of linen napkins and tablecloths. He told the magazine, Then I thought, Its 86 cents for each napkin and it changes the whole feel of a place. We will save somewhere else. The question is, where did he choose to save? By cutting down on things that people dont see, like the quality of ingredients? Of course were not saying Megu did this, but the truth is, you dont need to be a fine-dining restaurant to have white tablecloths. Look at any restaurant on Mulberry Street, or the Olive Garden for that matter. (Well, the Olive Garden used to have white tablecloths, anyway. Dont blame bloggers for that change!)

This new lack of linens isnt the only thing that has Cuozzos britches in a bunch: He also objects to grazing menus and experiments such as D.J. nights at Le Cirques lounge, where the music is presumably so loud he cant hear himself rant. Then again, he admits that his praise of the Wine Bar Lounge failed to draw the masses, so where does that leave Le Cirque? Should they throw white tablecloths on the lounge tables and eliminate the bar menu in favor of pricey entres? Somehow we dont see that being the answer.

Anyway, Cuozzo can find consolation in knowing restaurants that dont have to constantly launder the linens are more environmentally sound. And we also love that its easier to carve Grub Street Wuz Here into the tables. That is how you spell wuz, right?

Linen-ists unite! [NYP]