Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Complex math: the table wait vs. food enjoyment matrix

Leave your name, go home, have a snack
take a nap, come back,  and your table 
should be ready about an hour later

Having never worked in a restaurant, I do not know how a host/hostess estimates the wait time for a table. Divine inspiration. Experience. Randomly choosing a number the anxious diner will feel comfortable hearing. This happened last week when my friend Michael and I went to Mad for Chicken and were told there would be a 40 minute wait. An hour-and-a-half-later, we were seated. End result - after the excruciating wait Mikey likes it, although he did threaten to tackle a couple of servers as a constant stream of wings passed by.

This was not the worst. Not even close. I should be preface this wait like some great war story. Labor day weekend 2009. Clinton Street Baking Company. The sun was shining that day, my friends, but the gods were not smiling upon us. Naively, I thought that all of the lower east siders would have fled the city for the three day weekend. There crowd mulling around outside when we arrived seemed small enough, so the 45 minute estimated wait time seemed reasonable and realistic. Two-and-a-half hours passed. We went for brunch, but I was ready for dinner by the time we were seated. My insides were all torn up, having turned against me during that second hour. 
But the pancakes. Oh, the pancakes. Warm, moist, dense. And the bacon. Sugar-cured.  Blueberries, warm maple-butter on the side. Heavenly. It took a great deal of self-control, but I think the stack lasted about 30 seconds. I wanted another stack to take home, and still regret not placing that order. Possibly the best pancakes I have ever eaten. Possibly a starvation-induced hallucination. I am still too traumatized by the experience to return. One day, these wounds will heal so I can once again enjoy these damn fine pancakes.

Clinton Street Baking Company, 4 Clinton Street (Between Houston and Stanton)

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