Okay, I admit it, I ordered the pork chop. I had to know just how
good it could be. It arrived, nicely charred on the outside and
juicy on the inside, but it wasn't the best pork chop I'd ever had.
My son, Sam, when he was 12, seared a pork chop then simmered it in
hot peppers and vinegar. Although the chop itself probably traveled
no more than a few states, all in all, I'd have to say Sam's was
AT ANOTHER RESTAURANT, highly regarded by people whose job
it is to regard, the waiter made sure we had one important fact
correct: "This," he told us repeatedly, "is a five-star
I know about the vaunted Michelin Three-Star, considered the most
prestigious restaurant award on the planet, and I have had the
pleasure (and financial pain) of eating at a few restaurants with
that designation. I know, too, what a AAA four-diamond is. But what
is this five-star business?
More to the point, who cares?
When I was a kid, my mother admonished me for being boastful.
"Actions speak louder than words," she said. Restaurants these days
were clearly not raised by my mother.
It seems to me that a celebrity culture has swallowed restaurants.
They make sure you know that everything they do is a labor of
fetishism. Their cherries are picked by monks on the south slope of
the north face of an ancient upper Michigan meadowland. Their
lettuce - excuse me, mesclun - arrives by helicopter wearing
sunglasses from a tiny organic farm in the iron-rich folds of the
Whoya-Whoya Valley. Their beef watches nothing but PBS.
The waiter at the TV chef's restaurant recommended the calamari as
an appetizer. "It is my favorite thing on the menu," he said,
nearly swooning. Another waiter - we had waiters coming out our
ears - explained, "The chef has learned the secret to flash