In her “occasional column” for the Post today, former restaurant critic Phyllis Richman rants about the practice of pouncing on diner’s dishes the moment a member of the restaurant staff suspects they might not be in use.
I chuckled at it because I always thought the absolutely most egregious offender was our very own Four Courts in Arlington. Every week, a group of us would gather for pub quiz, and every week, you practically had to throw your body on top of your dinner plate any time a busboy (bus-man? bus-person?) came anywhere near the table.
If you so much as dropped your hands into your lap while one of these gentleman was nearby, they’d swoop in and try to take your plate, no matter how much food was still on it. I suspect this is likely due to management cracking down a mite too hard on unoccupied staff, or perhaps the Courts just doesn’t have enough dishes to let them sit on the tables?
In any case, Richman is correct- just as it’s rude to start eating before everyone has been served (and why everyone’s food should arrive at the same time), it’s also inappropriate to clear plates one at a time, leaving the slower-eating diners self-conscious about still having their plates on an otherwise empty table. Maybe I should send this article to Jimmy at Four Courts?