Things learned from dinner with Tyler Cowen:

Always order salmon when at a good restaurant (they have to do something good with it to keep it on the menu).

At a fish restaurant, the greater the number of Asians the better. The greater the number of pretty apricot tarts, and joke-telling happy people, the worse the restaurant as they're not serious about food.

Order the ugly and unknown as they have to be good to be on menu.

The best strip malls for food don't have a big box like Walmart.

Conscientiousness is the key quality to get a job for young people these days.

The median income has declined some 10% in last 10 years.

The rate of unemployment for males of working age these days is 18% up from 8%.

Le Bernadin (New York, NY) is his favorite American restaurant.

Get the best sushi on side streets rather than avenues, and stay away from Paris for good food.

He has eaten at Noma in Copenhagen.

Cowen was New Jersey chess champion or some such at age 14. His step daughter Yanna is very expert at health care, and works for a firm The Advisory Board Co. that is very interesting.

German economists have depth but not agility unlike his friend Kasparov, who has both but is better at the tactics than Karpov.

Canned food has the best (i.e. least) environmental impact.

Italian wine growers are leaving their firms disproportionately to their female progeny but he doesn't believe the explanation is mainly genetic as in Galton's demonstration that the decline of eminence in England was due to the eminent marrying heiresses who were relatively barren.

A good question that Tyler always asks before ordering any item of the waiter is "if this were your last meal on earth, what would you order?".

Steve Leslie writes: 

I liked the last point. Here are a few extra thoughts. If you have a favorite restaurant, get to know the owner, the maitre d, the bartender, and the ex chef. When you make your reservations, mention the owner by name and tell them you want a good table.

Find out what the specials are for the evening. If there is any advanced preparation necessary tell them to set aside enough for you. If necessary leave your credit card. When you arrive, ask to speak to the chef for just a moment. Depending on the place you might be able to go into the kitchen and speak to the chef directly.

Send a drink to the kitchen for the chef and one to the bar for the bartender. This lets them know that you are discriminating and want special service. They will respect this. Trust me they will take care of you. 

If you want service you have to kiss a little ass. Ask the chef what is they would recommend. and go with it. 

If you are traveling ask the concierge to suggest somewhere to eat. Have them make the reservations for you. That is their job. Also ask them if they have privileges at private restaurants and clubs by staying at the hotel. Be specific as to what you are looking to eat. Fish, chops, steak, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Brazilian Beef, Asian Fusion.

When you arrive, be polite and friendly but not snobbish or pretentious. Be pleasant. If the place doesn't meet your expectations, mention to the owner or the manager that things were not to your standards. They will take care of it for you. Once again deftness is the key. Fine dining should be a special experience. In the words of Julia Child "Bon Apetit"!





Speak your mind

2 Comments so far

  1. Frank Carlton Serafino Feranna, Jr. on June 11, 2015 4:20 pm

    All of Steve Leslie’s suggestions are terrible. Well, the first one is not. It is good to get to know the owner, bartender, waiter, etc.

    You get that by being a regular.

    If you are a regular you don’t need to drop the bosses name because the waiter and everyone else already knows who you are.

    Don’t go back into the kitchen. The chef doesn’t want you there. All he is thinking is “ugh, I gotta talk to this jerk because he’s friends with the boss”.

    Also, don’t send them a jerk. Nothing says douchebag like paying 8 dollars for a drink for a guy who can get it for free.

    You don’t have to kiss ass for good service. You need to simply follow the golden rule.

  2. William Bruce Bailey on June 11, 2015 4:25 pm

    “Once again deftness is the key. ”

    Telling the waiter you are friends with the owner and going into the kitchen is the opposite of deftness. Trying to make up for it by pretentiously buying drinks for them actually has the opposite effect.

    The key to good service is simply living by the Golden Rule.


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