Geez, that's a lot of rules, so it must be important, right? Another reason, at least in my mind, is that kitchens are usually not up to the task of cranking out, say 8 entrees all at the same time, all cooked and served properly. It's just pure physics. And having worked "the line" at a fancy-ish restaurant, and not being able to even get two entrees to come out correctly and at the same time - well, that's why I'm writing this damn blog.
- The fee must be listed on the menu in 10-point type or larger.
- The fee can only apply to groups of 8 or more.
- The fee cannot exceed 15 percent.
- Charges for two persons splitting one meal, or a per-person minimum charge are allowed as long as the fee is conspicuously disclosed to the consumer before the food is ordered.
A third reason, as if I need one, is the whole dietary restriction thing. One person may be a vegetarian, one a vegan, someone else only eats pork, this one can't eat pork, that one can't eat shellfish - unless it's with pork...get the picture? FWIW, Significant Eater eats everything - well, everything except oatmeal, but that was a topic for another post, wasn't it?
BTW, if you think you're actually going to have a conversation with anyone, think again. Oh, maybe with the person sitting next to you, but just try to talk to someone across the table. In a NYC restaurant. Good luck with that. Secretly, I think that's why big families like to go out to eat together - that way, no one has to listen to anything anyone is saying.
So, what to do when the rules must absolutely be broken? After all, aren't rules meant to be broken, or is it records that are meant to be broken? Hmmm. In my mind, the places that are best prepared to feed large parties tend to be the ethnic or singular - cuisine type places. Asian food, especially Chinese, lends itself well to large party dining...as a matter of fact, it can even be more fun that way - think of all the things you get to try. Most Chinese restaurants have a few large round tables that seat a lot of people. That's how Chinese families roll...and the food doesn't require a lot of last minute prep. Sure, there's stir-fry, but that takes all of 2 or 3 minutes. There's deep fried, but that's also quick. Other things are braised, roasted, and generally prepped in advance - there's not a lot of last minute fancy-dancy plating going on to muck up the works. And there's usually something for everyone - I mean, one of our favorites, Congee Village, probably has hundreds of items on the menu.
Pizza, or restaurants where the main focus is pizza, are also good for breaking the rules. Especially pizzerias where the oven is cranking in at over 1000° F - takes less than 2 minutes to bake a pie in there. And you can have your sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, whatever and make everyone happy.
A couple of other tips: a cocktail or two before dinner can help immensely - that's why the reservation is made for 7 PM - since I never drink before 6, I need the hour. Also, there's Xanax, but it must be legally prescribed, so it helps to have a good doc. Seating is quite important - never, I repeat, never place yourself in between kids who might be drinking 8 or 10 cokes over the course of the evening. Did I mention drugs, because after 8 or 10 cokes, you mights as well be doing meth.
Most of all, sit back, relax, enjoy - it is dinner after all, and as Lidia always says:
Tutti a Tavola A Mangiare!
(Everyone to the Table to Eat!)
(Everyone to the Table to Eat!)
See you at 7.