Shut up, I'm listening…
Wednesday, May 25th, 2022 Alive 18,656 days
I donʼt know if lunch at Galatoireʼs was the finest meal Iʼve ever eaten, but it is certainly in the top two of all time.
Part of it was the food, which was excellent. But most of it was the people. Both the staff, and the other customers.
The wait staff were the most professional Iʼve ever seen. They have mastered the art of being exactly where they should be at exactly the right time. Of being invisible, yet always on hand. Of being friendly, while being anonymous. Of putting the “serve” into service. And not just the ones attending my table. Watching the others around the dining room, I could see similar attention being given to everyone.
When the entire staff from the butter-and-rolls guy to the manager visits a pair of regulars over the course of an hour and greets them like old friends, it shows why those people keep coming back.
And thatʼs just it — this was a room of regulars. Each part of an individual knot of friends, but in a room full of friends new, old, and not yet met. And everyone so interesting to look at and listen to that my wife were silent with each other as we eagerly devoured multiple conversations from multiple tables at the same time.
- There was a table of what looked like old school lawyers and politicians discussing local issues in a way I couldn't comprehend.
- One of them went over to the table behind me to congratulate a debutante who was celebrating becoming a newly minted lawyer with her friend.
- There was a gaggle of ladies who lunch, celebrating the 70th birthday of a woman who didnʼt look a day over 45 — a good 45.
- A pair of 30-something gentlemen in subtle but designer clothes with impeccable table manners, looking like a cross between old plantation trust fund babies and rock stars.
Plus a scattering of people who looked like writers, playwrights, bankers, fashion designers, and a 30ish woman eating alone that the staff ensured was never lonely during her meal.
An in this age when too many American restaurants think “hospitality” means putting a time limit on your visit so they can “turn” the table for a new revenue source, my wife and I never felt rushed. We were there for two-and-a-half hours, and could easily have stayed longer. That was also true for everyone else. Most of the parties were already seated when we arrived, and when we left were still there talking, reminiscing, conspiring, and engaging in fruitful human-to-human contact in a way that has been largely lost elsewhere.
As a restauranteur, when a hundred people gather in your room, and nobody takes out their smartphone, you know youʼve done your job right.