I was browsing the NYT Dining Out Forum, and came across the following advice from Steven Shaw: "One of the secrets of getting excellent treatment in top American restaurants, by the way, is to take steps early on to let the waitstaff and kitchen know your expectations" and to show that you genuinely care about food. I've seen similar advice on these boards.
How exactly is this done, particularly if you're:
1. Rather shy
2. Very bad at pretending to be something I'm not (I don't claim any moral superiority for myself on this score; it's just a fact)
3. Not knowledgeable enough about food to make questions or comments that would impress my waiter/waitress with my sophistication. (And yet I still enjoy good food, and my palate has gotten pickier in the two years I've lived in Manhattan.)
"Just being yourself" isn't the answer; as I said above, I'm shy, and I am uncomfortable chatting with strangers. I'd be especially uncomfortable doing so for ulterior motives.
Frankly, I resent the idea that I have to put on a performance to get my money's worth at an expensive restaurant. I enjoy places like Jean-Georges and Lespinasse, but when I read stuff like this I feel like saying "the heck with it."