TURNING THE TABLES by Steven A. Shaw

TURNING THE TABLES

Restaurants from the Inside Out
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Restaurant critic Shaw, founder and publisher of Fat-Guy.com and eGullet.com, reveals secrets about commercial restaurants, including how to get a good table.

Shaw began his career as a lawyer, but he was always a food lover at heart, and he eventually found his place in his rightful field of employ. Now, as a restaurant columnist (Elle, Saveur, etc.), he has even more entree into his favorite places, and here he shares his trade secrets. Hanging out with the reservationist (yes, he assures the reader, it is a word), assisting in the kitchen of Manhattan’s renowned Gramercy Tavern and counting the number of eggs used on a Sunday at the Tavern on the Green, Shaw darts into those exalted places that most foodies only conjecture about, and he soaks up the atmosphere for hours and days at a time. Possibly his best practical advice is on how to get a table at a hot restaurant—being persistent and becoming a regular are two of the top methods—and his revelations about the reservation software and how closely it tracks the diner will ensure that readers will never be no-shows again. Shaw's philosophy, in a nutshell, is that regulars get the best service; therefore, people who enjoy dining out should find restaurants they love and go to them repeatedly. The author also visits the suppliers—the fishmongers, cheese makers and humane veal farmers—who cater to the best kitchens. The grueling nature of restaurant work may best be illustrated by the hours it involves: the fish market is hopping at 2 a.m., roughly the time most waiters are finally able to go out to dinner themselves, and so on. An unabashed restaurant fan, Shaw places himself in contrast with Ruth Reichl and Mimi Sheraton (who reviewed anonymously), saying that reviewers and restaurants should have a cozier relationship.

Solid work, if a tad stuffy.

Pub Date: Aug. 16th, 2005
ISBN: 0-06-073780-8
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2005