Genius in the Details
Such thought is exactly what distinguishes Tabla and Danny Meyers other restaurants from their peers and competitors. Blue Smoke, Eleven Madison Park, and Gramercy Tavern all boast tasty fare, but none are ever going to match the quality and skills offered by the likes of one-namers like Daniel or Ducasse. This is not to say that the food is poor; to the contrary, it is quite tasty, but the appeal lies in the details and the service.
For example, about a decade ago, I dined at Gram-Tav with a comely female companion. She commented to our captain that she was feeling cold, and he quickly replied with a question.
"What color shawl would you like?"
She selected charcoal, and sure enough, a stylish charcoal shawl materialized at our table almost instantly. My favorite part of the experience came at meal's end when she had grown so attached to the garment (not to mention attached to the four bottles of wine that we had downed) that she left the premises with the piece firmly, uh, shouldered. As we were hailing a cab, the hostess appeared to retrieve the garment. Having consumed my fair share of the vino, I offered a few hundred dollars in cash for the shawl.
Aghast the kind employee declined the money questioning, "What would the other patrons wear when they get cold?"
Now, that is true dedication!
On the afore-mentioned windy visit to Bread Bar, we caught glimpse of none other than Danny Meyer himself. Mr. Meyer's background is actually in politics which make explain his devotion to pleasing as many people as possible. He certainly looked the part last week in a sharp suit with a bold, yet tasteful chartreuse tie. We engaged him in a conversation which may have bordered on some outright ass-kissing, but he humored it graciously. We spoke about his love of details be it shawls or matchbooks, all of the highest quality.
Then as the conversation wound down, the weather followed suit. The winds stopped pushing glasses and began pushing clouds. A light drizzle began to flirt with monsoon proportions.
Mr. Meyer prepared to bid us adieu, but first he commented that his favorite detail is the umbrellas... Needless to say we left lunch happy and dry beneath some top-of-the-line Tabla parasols!