Best Restaurant Service of 2013

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Carbone

Carbone’s waiters are so slick they’re virtually invisible.

 

Stein

Stein’s pick: The waiters at Villard Michel Richard are professionals, not your friends, and they’re members of Local 6, Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees International UnionI agree that unions are death vices on restaurants in hotels, in general, but one thing they do well is service. It is uniformly terrific. These men can relate the most ridiculous of preparations—“This anchovy was massaged for two days by 38 virgins, then fried”—without making it all seem silly. It’s a rare talent. They are formal but not foreboding, pleasant but not cloying, older but not senescent.

Ozersky responds: I don’t know, Joshua. This seems to be the very least you can ask from servers. Giving them a Best Service award is like giving an actor an Oscar for not forgetting his lines. They do deserve credit for bothering at all, though, since they are essentially unfireable.

Ozersky

Ozersky’s pick: I have to go with Carbone (above) here, just because the art direction is so perfect and because they employ great veteran waiters who predate the current era. No food writer can really talk about service, though, because we all get different treatment from civilians. That’s just a fact of life in the food media.

Stein responds: Carbone employs a similarly super attenuated waitstaff as Villard but culled from red sauce joints of the past. They’re gussied up in cheesy Zac Posen suits and told, I assume, to act naturally. To me, it’s shtick. I’m not saying they’re phony or even that it’s the intention of the owners to callously fetishize them (I’m sure it isn’t), but they’ve turned veteran waiters into spectacles.

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