Originally published in The Daily Gullet at eGullet.com in 2003
CLASS. SOPHISTICATION. Applied with sincerity to a restaurant that
takes pride in hospitality, these words make service charming rather
Dropped like banana peels on the floor of a restaurant that feeds ’em and shoves ’em out the door, they’re ironically hilarious.
Whatever tone they have, though, Class and Sophistication are not about anything as discrete as the cost or scarcity of the ingredients a restaurant uses. Class and Sophistication are all about attitude.
Checking out a restaurant’s attitude starts with two questions: Do they want me to come into their restaurant? If so, what are the signs?
All was well, right? A grown man got a balloon, two people had a
chance encounter just off the highway, and I had a BLT. Well, no.
Don’t ever discount the flying monkeys. They must have made quick work of attractive bus-person because he returned moments later and said he had to repo the balloon. Painfully embarrassed, he apologized for letting “them” know it wasn’t really my friend’s birthday. There was an awkward silence as he untied the disgraced inflatable from my friend’s chair.
A few examples point out how a restaurant can zoom to the Height of
Class and Sophistication (HOCAS), or sink to the Nadir of Class and
A HOCAS restaurant can be a mom-and-pop that sends out a glass of wine on your birthday, or a mid-price place that always deals graciously with that member of your party who wants everything “on the side” — and gets the order right. A HOCAS does everything within its powers to please. It’s smart to do so because every restaurant makes mistakes.