New Year’s Eve: What to Eat, What to Drink, Where to Party, and What Your Resolutions Should Be

Dec. 31: New Year’s Resolutions for Diners

Oh, it’s list-icle week, when every other blog is totting up 2012’s top 10 best, worst, or least indifferent restaurants. But we here at EDP like to do things differently, so this week we’re talking about you, Westchester’s diners. What’s it been—have you been naughty or nice in 2012? We’re here to make it all better. Here are five resolutions to make you a better diner in 2013.

1. Show up for your reservation. Oh, how diners complain when they learn that a restaurant won’t accept reservations for parties of fewer than six (that’s right, I’m looking at you, The Cookery and Ocean House). The same diners also usually complain if they are asked to leave their credit card numbers when booking a table. But here’s the thing: These restaurants are only protecting themselves from the evil no-show rezzy, which causes dead time at tables and, taken in aggregate, can seriously cut into profits. Do your part as a diner and honor your reservations, or don’t be surprised when this restaurant courtesy simply disappears.

2. Show up on time for your reservation. If you’ve reserved a table of four for 7:15, but you show up at 7:40 with only two diners, you have screwed up. Try harder, chief.

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3. Talk before you write. Look, I know what a seductress the power of print is; after all, I make my living as a restaurant critic. But we professionals know that when you’ve had a bad experience, it’s only fair to give the restaurant a chance to make up for the mistake. Don’t sit mute during your meal, plotting revenge with a screed on Yelp, Chowhound, or Do the right thing and air your complaint to the management, as reasonably and discretely as possible, during the meal. You might be surprised by the result—and, if not, it makes for an even better Yelp slam.

4. Be respectful to other diners. It sounds so easy. I mean, who isn’t respectful to other diners? But, if you have committed any of the below crimes, you have not been respectful to other diners. You have not been respectful if you have…

a. brought a child to a child-inappropriate restaurant. Look, every other parent in the room is paying a babysitter for the privilege of an all-adult evening. Now they’re listening to you try to entertain your bored, fussy child while they pay a rate of $15 to $20 per hour for a break from their own.
b. pushed a dress code. Diners celebrate at high-end restaurants on their birthdays and anniversaries as a break from the ordinary—to feel elevated and elegant; you are disrespecting those diners (not to mention the restaurant) when you show up in that wrinkled shirt and jeans.
c. talked too loudly, camped at a hot table (especially when others are waiting), pushed too far back from a table. Pick your eyes up from your own table and try to empathize with the folks all around you.

5. A 15- to 20-percent tip is not discretionary—it’s an obligation. I’ve seen diners skate away from the table after leaving a 10-percent tip because their food took too long to arrive, wasn’t tasty, or because the diner had to wait too long for his table. Look, none of those problems were caused by your waiter. Don’t punish the messenger, whose income is based on earning 15 to 20 percent in tips on every shift. Also, try to empathize with your server when his boss offers Restaurant Week menus, Groupons, Early Bird Specials, or other discounts. While the boss can tailor his menu to protect his profit margins, the waiters cannot; they are doing the same amount of work for far less money. Throw in tips that cover a few extra percentage points.

Hey, EDP readers! Let me know your own diners’ resolutions. And sure, go ahead—what would you like to see restaurants give up in the New Year?

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Hot Date

New Year’s Eve Is Tonight!
Did you see this piece in the Times? And my EDP post last week? Dude! Shrug the crumbs off your Slanket and get out on the town! We hear there are tables left at many of the restaurants in both articles, so you don’t need to spend New Year’s Eve making like a slime mold on your sofa.

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EDP’s Totally Unscientific Roundup of What People Who Matter Will Be Drinking on New Year’s Eve!
Are you looking in your fridge right now and wondering if your bottle of champagne measures up to the bubbly swilled by the big boys? You know, the folks that matter in the wine world? I’ve placed some calls and here’s what they’re drinking, so you can feel a little better about what you’re packin’ tonight.

• Anthony Colasacco, Owner of Pour Wine Bar
“Okay, so my New Year’s drinking will probably revolve around the brown stuff this year, since I have acquired so much of it. More than likely, I will treat myself to some Pappy Van Winkle 20 Year Old, because it’s my fave, but I’m also really loving my Sazerca Rye. [I finally scored a few bottles]. And I always ring in the New Year with some bubbly, which will be one of the few bottles I have of Camile Saves Brut Rose Champagne. So basically, brown and bubbly stuff.

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• Derek Todd, Owner of Wine Geeks of Armonk
“My wife and I really like rosé champagne; it’s a little more special. We like Moutard Brut Rose, 100 percent pinot noir grapes. Reasonably priced at $39.99.”

Joseph Bastianich, MasterChef Judge (and All-Around Wine-World Heavyweight)
He starts off New Year’s Eve with a Negroni and finishes with his favorite white—his flagship, Vespa Bianco, from the Bastianich winery.

Billy Rattner, Beverage Director for Xaviar’s Restaurant Group
“Well, I’ll be on the job on New Year’s Eve, so, as every year, I’ll be toasting with a Toques Clochers Crémant de Limoux. It’s wonderful, and Limoux is reputed to be the birthplace of bubbly. Afterward, we’re talking a Captain Lawrence Brown Ale…and at some point, we’ll be toasting with some of our own Slovenian vodka”

Eric Gabrynowicz, Executive Chef of Restaurant North (and Winner of Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Chef Northeast Award)
“Hudson-Chatham Winery’s sparkling wine…it’s amazing, small amount of residual, Seyval Blanc grapes.”

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Hot Plate

Neil’s Café Jerk Chicken in New Rochelle
Okay, we’re talking oxtails, curry goat, fried chicken, collard greens and mac and cheese; white Styro clamshells of inexpensive and delicious Caribbean/soul food washed down with homemade mauby and sorrell drink. Neil’s Café, a bright, cheerful newcomer at 534 North Ave. in New Rochelle, does a mean trade in takeout. Stop in for this tangy-hot jerk chicken, served with craveable rice and peas and collard greens. Call (914) 355-5857, or follow Neil’s Cafe on Twitter, here.

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