Frat Party at Per Se

I’ve never been more shocked at people’s behavior in restaurants than when dining at pricey spots in New York. I blamed the loud, bravado-bloated conversations (often between strangers at neighboring tables) and terrible rudeness to servers on extreme wealth mixed with a little too much wine. But as it turns out, the Big Apple’s rich drunks do a lot more than say awful things in restaurants. They also get sloshed enough to strip, have sex, and vomit while out to dinner, according to an enjoyable column by Frank Bruni in Wednesday’s New York Times.

The theory is that NYC’s fine diners drink like they’re at a frat party because unlike restaurant-goers in most other U.S. cities, they don’t have to worry about driving home afterward. That might be why, as one server-cum-memoirist puts it,

[M]ore people throw up in the dining room of Per Se than your average college bar.

I have a friend who yakked a few feet from the restroom of a fancy Parisian restaurant (I wish I could remember which one) when we were in college, but this article makes it seem like the young’uns aren’t the only ones who have trouble keeping their dinner down in chichi spots:

‘Happens all the time,’ said Joseph Bastianich, one of the principal owners of the Italian restaurants Del Posto, Babbo and Felidia, among others. His voice had the bored, blasé tone of someone stating the patently obvious.

It happens even outside the confines and privacy of the restrooms?

‘Oh, yeah, in the dining room, all over the table, on their dinner companions,’ Mr. Bastianich said. ‘You’ve never seen that?’

Um, no.

‘Well, you go out to restaurants a lot,’ he said. ‘Maybe you’ll run into it before you’re done. Hopefully, you won’t get splashed.’

Like Bruni, I’m skeptical that it really happens that often—has anyone here seen it? And what about under-the-table sex or blatant stripping? I’ve never come across either (and hope not to in the future), but the servers in this article have been through it all.

And in one case, the restaurant insider sounds just as horrible as the offending diner: Check out this gem of a quote from a former sommelier at Daniel, describing a woman who did a drunken striptease in the dining room:

She was not necessarily attractive or young, so it was disruptive. If she were beautiful, it might have been different. People might have been cheering her on.

Someone really said that? Lord.

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