Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Taking a Bite of the Big Apple; Why Are Local Restaurants Becoming Surrogate Homes for Londoners - Just like Those in New York, Asks Adam Edwards

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Taking a Bite of the Big Apple; Why Are Local Restaurants Becoming Surrogate Homes for Londoners - Just like Those in New York, Asks Adam Edwards

Article excerpt

Byline: ADAM EDWARDS

THE bill was written in pencil at Elaine's restaurant.

The legendary bistro on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, where Jackie O toyed with an endive leaf and Woody Allen made jokes about the spaghetti, was not noted for the quality of its cuisine. And when the customers complained, as they invariably did, the waiter would turn his pencil around and rub out the offending dish. It kept both kitchen and regular customer happy.

For eating out in Manhattan was never about the food. The average city restaurant in New York performed the same function as the bar in a one-horse hick town. They were used as a rendezvous. They were for smart dinner parties, casual meals and solo drinking.

They were pickup joints when one was feeling frisky yet offered neighbourhood comfort when the blues struck.

Elaine's was the classic small Italian restaurant, albeit with a celebrity clientele, that was the perfect local hangout. And if the chef changed (or even if there was no chef at all), the customers would hardly have noticed.

Which should give some hope to some London restaurants, after yesterday's report that there are thousands of vacancies across the capital for restaurant and catering staff.

The problem for the ever-burgeoning restaurant market is so serious that Anton Mosimann and fellow chefs held a crisis lunch to discuss the problem.

The top chefs offered several explanations for this skill shortage - the disappearance of domestic science from schools, the long working hours, even the celebrity chefs themselves ("because they create the false impression that catering is the road to stardom"). But they have overlooked the actual reason: London is daily getting more like Manhattan in its lifestyle.

Londoners are living in restaurants, despite the poor service and very often second-rate cooking due to lack of staff.

As our actual living space gets more and more expensive - as well as smaller - the local restaurant has become our front room. Developers are now building London houses and flats with tiny living rooms and even tinier kitchens. Our homes are bird perches, useful only for sleeping and changing clothes. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.