I'm not talking about David Paul Larousse's cooking. I'm talking about his concern with the increasingly poor service in restaurants, and how it affects the entire meal, no matter how good the food is.
What bothers him isn't always the same thing that bothers me. He rails against the growing practice of informality by one's servers. For example, he really resents being flirted with at the table by his server... when he's dining with his wife. What if he were ALONE, I wonder?
For ME, on the other hand, THAT behavior would lay the groundwork for a huge tip (and phone number?) at the end of the meal. kidding...sort of.
My most vivid experience of this informal approach to service was when we ONCE (and only once) went to an Outback Steakhouse. We went with our voraciously carnivorous son, on the mistaken belief that we could get a good steak. After we were seated, our server comes over AND SITS HIMSELF RIGHT DOWN AT OUR TABLE AND INTRODUCES HIMSELF. He was very affable and not a bad waiter, but even my teenager was startled at the unexpected intrusion into our personal space.
Larrousse takes this one step further by declaring that he wants NO personal information at all about his waiter. I don't always feel this way. Of course, I would start a conversation* with an earthworm. But, I do agree that you don't go to a restaurant to have an evening out with the waitstaff, and they should never interfere with (or contribute to) your conversations.
My biggest bête noires are in the actual service department - taking away plates before everyone is finished is my number one; not bringing silverware when you're sitting there forkless; not refilling water glasses...stuff like that.
Here are a few of the items in Larrousse's list of the greatest service transgressions. (This is Larrousse talking):
• I am not dining out in order to have an experience with you, nor will we strike up a life-long friendship.
• Do not ask me "Is everything OK?" As a professional, you should be able to discern this without asking — and if you cannot, then you should consider entering a different profession.
• If I pay the bill with cash, do not ever ask me if I want my change. Bring the change — always. As a food professional, I promise I will reward your fine service with an appropriate gratuity.
* Last week at a local restaurant, I learned that Gary, our waiter, was trying to decide between medical schools. I did offer my insight into the one that I thought would best serve his interests...after a 2 minute conversation. But this was ME launching the foray into a personal conversation.