The other day, as Best Friend and I were eating at a local restaurant, I looked at my place setting:
Plastic plate, thin paper napkin, and lousy metal utensils.
These days, dining out is nothing to write home about insofar as the presentation of meals. Even the waitstaff don’t wear nice uniforms anymore. They look like slobs that just rolled in off the street after getting out of bed in a hurry.
Then I remembered dining in the Olden Days:
Chinaware, linen napkins, glassware, and real silverware.
Not so long ago, restaurant tables were set with cloth tablecloths and cloth napkins (or at least top quality, thick paper napkins). The restaurants’ silverware was real – heavy, substantial, with sharp fork tines, and knife blades that could actually cut meat. Some of the better restaurants even had their name engraved or embossed on all the utensils. The china was anything but cheesy. The glassware was real glass, not plastic made to look like glass. The waiters and waitresses dressed nicely in uniforms. Busboys – well, they were a standard, too. And the waitstaff would stop by every so often to ask how everything was. If you had leftovers, your meal was wrapped in tinfoil and placed in a cheerfully printed doggie bag – a picture of a happy dog looking forward to the meal inside. Some restaurants even fashioned your leftovers in a tinfoil swan shape.
Nowadays, we get forks that can’t stab butter, knives that have no sharp cutting edge nor serrated edge, spoons with near-flat bowls that couldn’t hold an eighth of ounce of anything. All the utensils of today are made with cheap, cheesy, thin stainless steel from China. Drinkware is mostly plastic made to look like glass – Surprise! Surprise! The waitstaff are sloppy in their garb, with jeans and a T-shirt with the restaurant’s name printed on them. They come by your table asking, “How’s it tastin’?” (I hear that more and more now), and it’s rare to see a busboy. And your leftovers are no longer wrapped in tinfoil. You get to take them home in a Styrofoam box that drips.
These are my general observations. There are a few places where the tables are set with linen tablecloths today, and the place settings are top shelf. But they are few and far between. And to be more clear, I’m not talking about fast food places, like the national hamburger joints. It’s expected to find paper napkins and plasticware there. What I’m referring to are the sit-down restaurants that have more than not degenerated into shoddiness. *Sigh.*
At home, I try my best to always have a pretty table set with our Fiestaware, our good silverware, and good quality napkins.
Well, at least somewhere, Best Friend and I have a place to eat where the experience is always classy.
If you want it done right, do it yourself.
Lady Susan Marie Molloy
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