Columnists: Dishing It Up in the Times

The slight man with the crinkled, smiling eyes is not the sort of celebrity for whom headwaiters snap to attention. When he walks into a Manhattan restaurant, hardly anyone notices. But he notices everything. Is the decor adequate? Does the headwaiter seem anxious to get on to someone else? Is there any single offering out of the ordinary on the menu? Is the wine overpriced? Is the busboy attentive to such details as discarded swizzle sticks and filled ashtrays? Are the service plates set just right? Then, having eaten and paid for...

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