Adam Roberts, the Amateur Gourmet, is grappling with the idea of requiring formal attire at restaurants. On one hand, he believes that “a dress code sets a mood and a tone; it makes an evening special.” But on the other hand, he doesn’t have a problem with the people wearing hats and sneakers at David Chang’s Ssäm Bar or Marco Canora’s Hearth in Manhattan’s East Village—he doesn’t even mind that the some of the servers at nearby Prune “aren’t even wearing bras.” After much deliberation, Roberts says:
I think dress codes are silly and outmoded. I want everyone, regardless of dress, to have access to the world’s greatest dishes. I want you to try the milk chocolate caramel egg at Le Bernardin and I want you to be able to do so without having to buy a suit. For the price of a suit, you can buy two lunches at Le Bernardin.
Well, actually, Le Bernardin doesn’t require an expensive suit—my husband had no trouble getting served in a navy jacket and brown pants that were both purchased at the Gap—but the AG does make a good point: So far, the younger generation of respected New York City chefs doesn’t seem interested in the old guard’s jacket requirements. Roberts wonders if the restaurant dress codes will eventually fade into the past:
Maybe in 20 years the Daniels and Per Ses will look a lot more like the Ssam Bars and Prunes? And if that happens, what will we have lost? What will we have gained?