Hot to Tot. Photo Courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bargas/ / CC BY 2.0
So this week I talked to NY Times reporter Melena Ryzik for a Dining section article on the new definition of a date night restaurant. (Yes, that’s me using the words “double whammy” and tater tots in the national paper of record. I am nothing if not classy.) Melena’s premise — and one I totally agree with — is that the old dinner date paradigm of the white tablecloth medium-priced one-star bistro is being tossed aside for one with food that’s well… more fun. As Ryzik notes, it’s a shift that mirrors that of eating out in this city in general. Sure, Mas or Per Se on somebody else’s dime would still be a sweet score — though let’s dearly hope you like ’em — but more often these days a date means splitting a fancy burger at the bar or hitting a taco truck or ramen shop or pupusa stall.
As one of my fellow quotees notes, you’re a hell of a lot more relaxed with a date (or with anybody) when you’re at a restaurant you feel comforable in — and few of us feel comfortable in a hush-hush space with several servers hovering over the incredibly expensive red wine stain you just made on the white tablecloth. At least in my book, which is basically what I told Melena.
While we were talking, she also made one interesting point: That while the cost of the meal or at least its level of formality has gone down, those two things have gone up when it comes to the pre-dinner cocktail. Though at a place like PDT, you can make up the cost if you keep dinner to two bacon-wrapped Crif Dogs and a big paper boat of tater tots.