Hot Stuff, Those Tater Tots (aka Dating & Dining)

Hot to Tot. Photo Courtesy: / 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.





Rachel Wharton is the former deputy editor of Edible Brooklyn and Edible Manhattan. She won a 2010 James Beard food journalism award, holds a master’s degree in Food Studies from New York University, and has more than 15 years of experience as a writer, editor and reporter. A North Carolina native and a former features food reporter for the New York Daily News, she edited the Edible Brooklyn cookbook and was the co-author of both Handheld Pies and DiPalo's Guide to the Essential Foods of Italy. Her work also appears in publications such as The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Saveur.