Ask Tom: New York dining, gracious service in Washington, the Eater exposé and shirt garters

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The Washington Post's Tom Sietsema talks about the challenge of staying in shape as a restaurant critic.

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Tom Sietsema
Washington Post Food Critic
Wednesday, April 21, 2010; 11:00 AM

Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema dished about New York dining, gracious service in Washington, the Eater expose and shirt garters on Wednesday, April 21 at 11 a.m. ET.

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Tom Sietsema: UNLESS YOU'RE HITCHED TO THE MALE BARTENDERS or a few managers at Restaurant Eve and the speakasy known as PX in Old Town, you won't get to see the industry's latest fashion statement: Shirt garters, which attach the bottom of shirts to the tops of socks and make for a neater appearance.

"I have them on right now!" Todd Thrasher shared on his way to work this morning. Eve's co-owner and wine maven refers to the garters as "the greatest invention ever." Thrasher is so thrilled with his discovery, which keeps shirts from untucking, that he doled out garters to some of his crew at the restaurants last week.

Thrasher says a photograph of his grandfather in the get-up, dating to WW2, inspired him to track down the accessory online. Here's a link to his fave new purveyor, in Portland:

http://www.johnhelmer.com/level.itml/icOid/298

Happy Wednesday, everyone. Let's get rockin' here.

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Washington, D.C.: Would it be possible to add whether a restaurant can accommodate wheelchairs in your reviews. It is very frustrating to read a review only to go there and find out you cannot get in. Mentioning accessibility will also encourage more restaurants to become accessible.

Tom Sietsema: I've debated that one over the years. Accessibility is sometimes hard to gauge. Please tell me you don't just show up somewhere without calling the restaurant and asking about its design first!

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Shirt Garters: ...Are commonly worn by some members of the military for the reason you describe. Not a new trend by any means!

Tom Sietsema: But new for restaurant workers.

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What's going on?: Tom, you were away for a week, now you are back, but the chat doesn't start til 11:08. Then as of 11:14 we have only one post. What's going on?

Tom Sietsema: My computer is giving me probs this morning. Sorry for the delay. Patience, gentle reader, patience.

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Wow: 1 question in 15 minutes. Really "rockin" now!

Tom Sietsema: See above.

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Washington, D.C.: What was your reaction to the picture of you recently circulated online?

Tom Sietsema: The Eater "exposé?"

I wasn't thrilled, obviously. But it could have been a lot worse. The photo they found of me was from a public event in San Francisco, to which I went in what I call my "modified" disguise. (I don't wear hats in restaurants.)

I'm not sure what the editors' purpose was, other than to make critics' jobs just a little more difficult. Those mug shots certainly do the readers of our columns no favor. Also, the thumbnail sketches were kind of lame. I have gone on record saying my anonymity is important, for instance.

washingtonpost.com: Eater.com's field guide to restaurant critics

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Another rave about Postcards: Once again, I took some of your past Postcards on a trip and followed your advice, and once again, I had a fantastic meal. This time it was Market Table in Greenwich Village. You're always right, Tom -- please keep them coming!

Tom Sietsema: I was looking at my schedule earlier this year and thought: Is there anything I can drop? The Postcard column came to mind, because it involves at least two to four days of travel and is expensive to produce. But missives such as yours signal to me to keep on a keepin' on, as they say.

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Anacostia: Tom, I love ya', but really: Accessibility is sometimes hard to gauge. Please tell me you don't just show up somewhere without calling the restaurant and asking about its design first!

Please tell me restaurant owners don't just open their doors without considering issues of accessibility.

Tom Sietsema: I can check to see if a restaurant has a handicap bathroom and I can check for ramps (or look out for stairs). But I think gauging accessibility might also require me to carry a tape measure (you know, to verify door widths) in addition to my sound meter.

The point I wanted to make earlier was: If you have a special request, ask for it AHEAD of any visit to a restaurant. That way, no is disappointed. Or surprised.

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Cabin John, Md.: Tom: I am confused by your four star scale. -Satisfactory, --Good, ---Excellent and ----Superlative make sense to me. Where the confusion comes in is when you use half-stars. Is a restaurant that has 2.5 stars "Good +" or Excellent -"? It's quite difficult to grasp the meaning of half-stars. Indeed, in your recent Dining Guide, you seem to be using half-stars more heavily. Of the 50 restaurants on the list, 10 have 2 stars,20 have 2.5 stars, 12 have three stars, 3 have 3.5 stars and 4 have 4 stars. That means that 46% have 2.5 or 3.5 stars. I suspect that I am not the only one of your humble followers who is perplexed. I suggest you seriously consider going to a 5 or even a 10 star scale.

Tom Sietsema: Phyllis Richman recently told me I should consider a refiguring of stars, too.

I think half stars are useful. 2.5 stars falls between good and excellent. 3.5 stars indicates a place that can be excellent to superlative. Not sure where the confusion is?

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Rockville: Picture? Was I surprised!

Tom Sietsema: What surprised you?

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Reston, Va.: I'm confused about the garters -- how long are his shirttails that they can be connected to his socks? Or, alternatively, how tall are his socks that they can be connected to his shirttails? Or, even more alternatively, and probably most importantly, how long are the garters?

Tom Sietsema: Is Todd on this morning? Perhaps he can address this most pressing of issues today.

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Atlanta, Ga.: Hi Tom. Long-time reader, first-time poster, as they say. My local paper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, just featured a blog by the former restaurant critic John Kessler on how food writers keep from gaining a lot of weight. Wanted to get your take on this topic. Thanks!

Tom Sietsema: My take on the topic? It's hard to maintain an ideal weight when you eat for a living!

I have little tricks for keeping major poundage at bay, and I hope that taken together, they add up to something substantial.

As in, I avoid the bread basket (or a second piece of bread) unless the contents are truly good.

As in, I occasionally have other people order the rich dishes I really love -- and keep them out of fork or finger reach -- to avoid eating more than my share (say, a few bites of sweetbreads or more than three french fries).

I don't have a huge sweet tooth, but if something is truly special, my discipline can break down. So I've been known to sprinkle salt over a dessert I like to prevent me from finishing the pie, the cake, whatever.

If I'm super-hungry before a review, I'll reach for a piece of fruit or some almonds, both of which I keep in my office at the Post.

I also walk as much as possible during the day,and try to take stairs rather than elevators.

Some of these tricks were revealed in a recent episode of my video series, "TV Dinners," by the way.

Anyone care to share *their* tips for keeping their weight down? Share away!

washingtonpost.com: Tom Sietsema's TV Dinners: Portion control

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Anacostia: Tom,

I hate to nitpick, but wheelchair accessibility should not be considered a "special request". Humans in wheelchairs should be able to access businesses, period.

Tom Sietsema: I didn't want it to come out that way. My apologies. Bottom line: If I was partially-abled, I'd be sure to call wherever I wanted to go to make sure the restaurant/airline/theater/whatever could accommodate me. (And they should, I think we can both agree.)

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Stars: Would you publish or have you published a restaurant review with zero stars?

Tom Sietsema: Yes. When I first introduced the system, I served up examples of "poor" restaurants. One was the late Two Quail. More recently, I gave a no-star rating to a Dupont Circle eatery that turned into Jack's and is morphing into Agora, a Turkish spot. Can anyone remember the name? I'm blanking.

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Relax, Tom: I couldn't pick you out of a line up using that photo. Don't know what they were thinking!

Tom Sietsema: I'm honestly not all that concerned about my image, but some of my brethren are really exposed.

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shirt garters... photo: For the inquiring minds

complete with a photo. (Thank heavens for boxers...)

Tom Sietsema: And now we know.

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Centreville, Va.: Tom-

Went to Sushi Taro last weekend to do the Omikase at the Chef's table, and it was amazing. I was a little intimidated going in there at first thinking that some of the items would be like an episode of Bizarre Foods, but it was easily the best sushi I have ever tried, and I was even able to be adventurous and try things I wouldn't otherwise (eel liver is delicious!). It was a great experience, and something I would like to do again. Just wanted readers to know that it is worth the $$$

Tom Sietsema: You're talking to a big fan here. Dinner at that handsome counter in the rear of the restaurant is truly transporting.

washingtonpost.com: 2009 Dining Guide: Sushi Taro

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It's Todd: Hello Tom, with regards to the shirt garters they are made out elastic and they have adjustments like suspenders would, so they are easily adjustable for men or women of all heights. And they are the greatest invention ever!

TT

Tom Sietsema: He's here! Thanks, sir.

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re: weight control: Share share share! And I sometimes put my napkin over the plate (last course of course) if I can't resist eating it. It is especially good with french fries, as I am addicted to them!

Tom Sietsema: French fries account for at LEAST one of my several rolls.

Your advice is good: I find that sharing plates encourages a diner to eat less, because everyone is trying to save something for everyone else.

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Disappointed: Tom you were gone for a week, started the chat late and all we talk about is garters? Come on! Let's talk about food!

Tom Sietsema: Hey, I had a computer glitch! Trust me, by chat's end you'll still get plenty of questions answered (and in your case, gripes addressed).

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You are not old: coulda sworn you were an old fat man. Guess not.

Tom Sietsema: Feeling old and fat -- and beaten up on today, man! Where, oh where, is the love? (I'm joking, I'm joking.)

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Toronto: Tom, I'm going to be in a meeting so thought that I'd submit this early. A huge THANK YOU for your recommendations in New York. My husband and I went to both Eleven Madison Park and Laconda Verde. Different restaurants in style and food, both outstanding. Apart from the food at Eleven Madison (we weren't offered the all-you-can-have cognac), the service was so smooth. And I'm still salivating for the steak tartare and duck at Laconda Verde. Once again, thanks for the weekly chats. Next stop -- San Francisco in August.

Tom Sietsema: (I like your travel schedule.)

No cognac at the end of dinner at Eleven Madison? I was told that that splash of hospitality is standard there.

washingtonpost.com: Postcard from Tom: New York

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Capital Hill: I'm looking for a lunch place on Capitol Hill to take my visiting brother and sister-in-law on Friday. We're doing Eastern Market for Saturday, so thoughts on where else we can go? Any kind of food is OK.

Tom Sietsema: My favorite lunch spot is tiny: Seventh Hill Pizza, from the owners of the neighboring Montmartre. But you might also try the new Zest or Cava or Matchbox nearby.

washingtonpost.com: Frist Bite: Seventh Hill

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Arlington, Va.: Hello Tom. What would you consider the best D.C. restaurant(s) for wine snobs dining out on a special occasion? Nice photo!

Tom Sietsema: For wine FANS, perhaps? I'd go to Adour, Eve, Marcel's -- to list just a few. (Readers, feel free to weigh in.)

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Brussels, Belgium: Le Pigalle in DuPont Circle. Zero Stars. Do I get a prize?

Tom Sietsema: Yes, of course! How could I forget the place? I can still hear my Pollyana-ish friend saying at the end of a truly awful meal: "At least the water is cold."

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Fabio Trabocchi coming back to D.C.?: I read in a twit that Fabio Trabocchi signed a lease where in the place where Le Paradou was. Do you have any news about this? Too bad his Maestro space is gone, but I will be really excited if this is true. I ate at Maestro a lot and went to Fiamma as well. This will be a big plus for the D.C. dining scene.

Tom Sietsema: The chef told me last week that there's no firm (signed) deal at this point. I'll let you know if that situation changes.

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For the producer: I have emailed a few times about this, so I am desperate and trying this way--sorry! The chat transcript for John Kelly's chat from last Friday just gets you to a submit a question page. It was that way last week all during the chat, too. Did he not have one? http://live.washingtonpost.com/john-kelly's-washington-04-16-10.html

washingtonpost.com: Producer Julia here. I'm told that John Kelly was off last week and the link you provide here is for the chat coming up on Friday, which is why you can submit questions. Sorry for the confusion! (And apologies, fellow food fans, for the interruption. Let's get back to the shirt garters.)

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Weight control: My food gets divided into thirds between my toddler, myself, and my husband (he finishes what we don't eat).

Tom Sietsema: Trying to imagine this ....

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Logan Circle: Hi Tom, Great review of Againn. You clearly liked the place which I hapen to agree, it is one of our favorites in the city. But you gave them 2 stars. What is the deal? We are puzzled.

Tom Sietsema: What are you puzzled by? Two stars is my idea of "good." What's wrong with good?

For space reasons, I didn't include more food criticism (a couple pork dishes were not to my liking, for instance). I've also received some complaints about service from readers, which is why I said what I said about the staff toward the end of the review.

washingtonpost.com: This Week's Review: Againn

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Jack's predecessor: Le Pigalle

washingtonpost.com: Tom's review of Le Pigalle: At least the water was cold

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Chevy Chase, Md.: My uncle and his family are coming to D.C. for spring break next week. I have volunteered to babysit so the grown ups can have an adult evening out. They have reservations at Rasika. Is there anywhere you would suggest they go for a pre- or post-dinner drink? Should they have dessert at Rasika or try someplace else in the area?

Also, could you make any recommendations for lunches or dinners during the week in the downtown/museum area? The kids (8, 10 and 13) are fairly adventurous eaters at home, but I'm not sure they are quite as trusting in restaurants. I was thinking that Jaleo (early) might be kid friendly as you can easily order more of what they like and if they don't like something there isn't too much of it with small plates. And the adults would enjoy it too.

Thanks so much for your help.

Tom Sietsema: For a drink before Rasika (good call, by the way!), I'd go to the Asian-themed Sei or the modern American PS 7's. Both are a short stroll away from the Indian restaurant, and both have interesting cocktail programs.

Dessert? The group might wander over to Cafe Atlantico and hope there are some tables free to enjoy pineapple-lime cake or coconut two ways, among other sweets.

Kid-friendly spots downtown? Jaleo's small plates fit the bill and so do the pizzas and mini-burgers at Machbox in Chinatown. Another option: the courtyard at Poste in the Monaco Hotel.

Good luck (and how cool of you to baby-sit for a night).

washingtonpost.com: 2006 Fall Dining Guide: Cafe Atlantico and 2009 Dining Guide: Sei

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Panzanella Salad: Hi Tom! I had never tried panzanella salad until Saturday night at Radius Pizza in Mt. Pleasant, and now I am an addict. The croutons were crisp but not shattering in my mouth and the dressing had a lemony finish that was very refreshing. It was the best salad I've ever had, and I am a vegetarian. I even chose that over the pizza! (Which my boyfriend said was very good but didn't try.) The dining room noise was at shouting level, although that may have been due to the Caps game, but the salad more than made up for it. Just thought I'd pass this along for anyone looking for a great salad now that warm weather is here, and in a blatant attempt to strong arm them into elevating it from special to menu item. Thanks!!

Tom Sietsema: For those who don't know it, panzanella is one of the great salads out there. It typically relies on tomatoes, onions, olive oil and fresh basil for its flavor.

Panzanella is a peasant dish; the croutons are often made from leftover or dried out bread, which is sometimes baked before adding to the salad.

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Arlington, Va.: On your photo, you would probably see four or five different guys who look like you in any crowded restaurant in DC, particularly if you switched the sun glasses for regular rimless spectacles.

Tom Sietsema: Exactly the approach I was after! Critics want to blend in, not stand out.

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EMP: I've been to EMP and was offered the cognac bottle as well, for what it's worth. And it really is a fantastic place. Cityzen and Palena measure up to it food wise, but the service at Eleven Madison Park is beyond anything I've experienced in D.C., at least recently.

Tom Sietsema: Glad to hear that our meals, right down to the gratis cognac set on the table, compare.

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Tips for keeping weight down: Get a dog -- a big dog. They never let you rest. Eat on smaller plates. Put the food away as soon as you make your plate so you don't go for seconds. Drink lots of water. Or decide you don't care and eat it all.

Tom Sietsema: And hide your M & M's in the sock drawer.

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Wine Snob Dinner: Surprised you didn't suggest it - Proof!

Tom Sietsema: Of course. Proof is all about (good) grape juice, too.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Tom--

Welcome back! Love the chats. Ignore the gripers!

I'm looking for an interesting dining expereince for my husband's upcoming birthday. We did the kaiseki menu at Sushi Taro for my last birthday, and LOVED it. We especially loved that dinner was an "event" that we enjoyed over the course of a whole evening and got to really experience the food. I'm looking to return the treat with something similar and new! For scale, I would like to keep the tab to around $200, but we would also be equally happy some place divey if it's interesting and authentic. I'm too late for Minibar or Komi. Any other thoughts? Something off the beaten path?

Tom Sietsema: Here's something different: What about a dining/drinking tour of the Atlas District? I'd definitely include time at the delicious Ethiopian newcomer, Ethiopic, and order a round or three of cocktails at the groovy Toyland. And I keep hearing good things about Souk, a tiny Moroccan place. Eat well, drink well -- come home with change!

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Arlington, Va.: Great Service:

Went to J&G Steakhouse with 8 other people for bachelor party dinner and the people that were using our table were taking quite a long time to finish up. Our reservation was for 9:30 and we waited about an hour and weren't seated till around 10:40. While waiting in the downstairs wine bar the manager came down to apologize and let us know we had two bottles of wine and appetizers waiting for us. Someone asked if we could have scotch as well and were told not a problem. Service throught the whole meal was great and we were only charged two additional drinks the whole night.

Tom Sietsema: Kudos to that (oh so wise) manager!

washingtonpost.com: 2009 Dining Guide: J and G Steakhouse

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Adams Morgan: Tom, What am I doing wrong? Everyone loves Obelisk, but we have been there three times in two years and have been substantially underwhelmed with the food each time. My wife and I really want to like the place. The atmosphere is great, the service friendly, but the food just hasn't been good. Are there certain things we should be looking for on the menu? Everyone speaks so highly of the food, and our expereince is just so different. We are planning on giving it one more try with some industry friends who love it on the theory that if that goes wrong then it must just be us.

Tom Sietsema: You have a right to question the restaurant's raves, but it would help me (and Obelisk) if you offered some details. What, exactly, has been wrong or underwhelming with the food you've ordered there?

washingtonpost.com: 2009 Dining Guide: Obelisk

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Silver Spring, Md.: Submitting very early but I just wanted to share my appreciation of the staff at 8407. After the having great meals at Nicaro, I am very excited to have Pedro Matamoros and his team back in the kitchen and participating in the community. My friends and I had a great dinner there this Saturday (cheese, charcuterie, scallops, lamb bolognese and gnocchi all exceeded our expectations)and are very excited about the newest addition to our neighborhood. Besides the delicious food and great service, I really want to commend the staff for being very gracious in returning my wallet to me! Having had several negative experiences with establishmnents' "lost and founds" in my day, I am very grateful that Nancy left me a message within minutes of my having left the restaurant. Definitely looking forward to future visits.

Tom Sietsema: Yep. 8407 Kitchen Bar is a swell addition to the dining scene in Silver Spring. I'm a fan of the Cubano sandwich, among other plates, and the dining room is a looker.

washingtonpost.com: Today's First Bite: 8407 Kitchen Bar

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Reston, Va.: Hi Tom -- I must tell you about my experience on Saturday at Jackson's in Reston Town Center. I ordered the jumbo shrimp dinner. When it arrived I couldn't eat it because the shrimp were way overcooked. I didn't complain about it but I ate the sides that came with it. When the waitress came by to clean the table, she noticed I didn't eat the shrimp. I told her that they were like rubber. 30 seconds later he manager, Steve Wagner came to the table and told me how sorry he was that I was unable to eat my dinner. He asked what he could bring me to eat and I told him not to worry about it. He did not charge me for the meal and also he gave me a gift card to use next time I came in worth $20.00.

What a great experience. Kudos to the waitress and to Steve.

Tom Sietsema: The thoughtfulness doesn't surprise me. Jackson's Mighty Fine Food & Lucky Lounge is a member of the Great American Restaurant group, which excels at service.

I hate to chastise you, but why didn't you bring the problem to the attention of the server when you first discovered the shrimp were overcooked? You would have had a replacement meal in a matter of minutes.

washingtonpost.com: 2009 Review: Jackson's Mighty Fine Food and Lucky Lounge

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Kudos to Corduroy!: Hi Tom, welcome back (I hope!) to the US.

I just want to use this chat to give a big shout out to Corduroy. My husband knows I think you're the gospel when it comes to D.C. restaurants so for my birthday last Friday he picked it based on your reviews. Dinner was fabulous but what made the evening standout, for which I will always remember, was when about 3/4 of the way through our main course, our waitress, Susan, came to our table and apologized for the restaurant being so noisy. Two tables away was a party of 8 and next to us was a party of 5. They actually weren't bothering us too much originally -- we're used to loud dining experiences and I was actually thinking how nice it was to be able to enjoy the peacefulness the restaurant offered when I used the ladies room earlier. However, about 5 minutes later, another waiter (or mgr, I'm not sure, but his name was Kyle) came by and offered the same thing to us. With it being brought to our attention, we thought a quieter table would be nice, so we took him up on the offer. A few minutes later, we were whisked upstairs to a nearly private room with two glasses of champagne waiting for us. The rest of the evening was splendid, even more so with their thoughtfullness, which in my opinion, was above and beyond standard service. We will definitely be back at Corduroy for another special occasion in the future!

Tom Sietsema: I wonder if the merry-makers were the Pulitzer Prize winner and Style editors I sent over there on Friday! At any rate, kudos to the crew at Corduroy for trying to make your evening a pleasant one.

As for my trip to London last Thursday, it never happened. Unfortunately, I found out *only* after I got to DCA (at 5 a.m. for my 6 a.m. departure to New York) and went through security. But better to be grounded here than stuck abroad, in limbo. I've rescheduled my trip for July.

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Online reservations and more....: People, when you you make online reservations or by phone, PLEASE don't make a lot of special requests. The more requests you make the less likely we view you to actually appear. We don't do candles. We don't place flowers on the table for your date (unless you bring them!). We don't have booths in the window overlooking the capitol. You requests showing that you've NEVER been to our restaurant show that you are a st-time diner. You will be met with ridicule. We are professionals. You are an Olive Garden/chain restaurant refugee. Prime spots are reserved for people who frequent our establishment. Or known as spenders. If you want VIP status, make friends w/a server/bartender/manager at the soonest moments. Your demands on an obvious 1st-visit don't impress us. Your demeanor and willingness to enjoy our hospitality on the 1st-visit do. And you will likely be remembered. Maybe not on the 2nd go-around, but likely by the 3rd....

Tom Sietsema: You raise some good points in your post, but buddy, why not be a little more diplomatic about the way you present them?

If someone has never been to a restaurant where he's asking for special favors, it would behoove him to make a reservation ahead of the big day and actually taste-test the place. Make a reservation. Introduce yourself to the manager. Let him or her know you're primed to enjoy yourself tonight and the next time. Be gracious. And tip at least 20 percent.

I agree with the poster that prime tables and other perks are typically earned over time, just as they are with airlines and other services.

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Falls Church: I hesitate to mention this (fearing the subject will rear its ugly head again)...please NO MORE kids in restaurants discussions. It has been discussed to death. I realize you were going to the radio show, but when we have to read from a child development specialist on the dining chat...enough, already! Please! All anyone needs to use is common sense regarding this topic and anything else, for that matter.

Tom Sietsema: I hesitate to outright ban any topic in this forum, but I'll attempt not to type k-i-d-s or c-h-i-l-d-r-e-n on this chat for the next month or so.

Advance warning: If you agree with Falls Church, skip my Ask Tom columnn for May 9, which features The Topic We Can't Broach Right Now.

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Rockville, Md.: Tom, you always look so dapper (from the neck down, of course) in your TV Dinners videos -- clean, pressed shirt, good fingernails, even nicely polished shoes, when they show. Do you always look so good, or do you dress for the video?

Tom Sietsema: Awfully nice of you to say. Basically, I wear for the videos what I wear to the office.

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Falls Church, Va.: For the gent wanting to dine on near Captiol Hill.

My husband and I went to Belga recently and loved it. great outdoor area

Tom Sietsema: I like it best at the bar, eating mussels and drinking beer. Nearby, another option is the new Zest (better for dinner than for lunch, however).

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Thai X-ing: have you been? i'm intrigued, but scared off by the rumor of awkardness and absurdly long waits.

Tom Sietsema: I HAVE, I HAVE. Stay tuned for my review next month.

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Accommodations: I agree that wheelchairs should be accommodated whenever possible and feasible. I agree that Braille menus and/or signers should be available whenever possible and feasible. I agree that food allergies and religious dietary laws should be accommodated whenever possible and feasible. But it's not always possible and feasible.

What about the restaurateur who opens up a marvelous place in an historic, narrow townhouse reached from the street by six or seven stairs? What about restaurants where the bar is downstairs and the main dining area is the next floor up and there is no elevator? To say that a business should be required to renovate with 100% accommodation would mean that a lot of businesses would never get off the ground. That sort of construction can be cost-prohibitive.

So, is it really so difficult to call ahead and ensure that your dining experience is a good one? Your dining dollars speak for you. If a business doesn't accommodate, they are cutting themselves off from potential customers and a revenue source. I don't think that decision comes from any place other than it just not being possible and feasible.

Tom Sietsema: Well said!

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Harrisburg, Pa.: Portion control -- I find that just slowing down and chewing/enjoying my food (surprise) really helps with dealing with the clean plate issue. Scarfing down meals doesn't do anyone any good, but it's also helpful when you're with a group of people and the conversation is really going. Oversalting or fiddling w/my food just seems a bit much, and I'd rather take it to go; if worse comes to worse, I can leave it in the box on top of a can for homeless to pick up.

Tom Sietsema: More good advice.

And for those of you at home: Do not eat standing up. Or out of a container. Treat yourself as if you're a special guest.

We're out of time. Thanks for your patience and let's meet again next Wednesday.

Cheers for now.

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A veteran food writer, Sietsema has worked as a critic in Washington, Seattle, San Francisco and Milwaukee and covers the local scene in his Dining, First Bite and Dish columns and moderates the Sietsema's Table discussion group. He's on video now as well, with his Tom Sietsema's TV Dinners series. Find all of Tom Sietsema's Washington Post writing at washingtonpost.com/tomsietsema. Join his live Q&A every Wednesday at 11 a.m. ET.

Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.


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