This PDF is a sample menu. Please note the columns.
Basically, you pick one ingredient from each horizontal column, and then tell them if you don't like any foods, prefer a certain preparation and have any special requests. For example, Dan asked about the foie gras.
"It's presented as a terrine, Dan." Said Kevin, our server/best friend. "It's served cold with a pineapple chutney."
"You don't have a pan-fried hot version, I take it?" Asked Dan.
"I'm sorry." Replied Kevin. "Tonight's preparations are cold."
Brooke piped up. "So much for being able to do anything."
She was teasing, of course. It was all so over the top. But Kevin ran off, and Brooke put her head in her hands.
"You and Kevin are in a fight!" I whispered.
Minutes later, Kevin returned. "Dan, we'd be delighted to do a seared preparation for you."
As we sat down to our 10pm reservation, Dan "explored" the wine list and ordered something that I'm sure was very fancy. When presented with a wine glass, I apologetically smiled at Kevin and said, "I'm not drinking."
"In that case, Beth." Kevin said, "May I have the bartender pair each of your courses with an appropriate non-alcoholic cocktail?"
"Seriously?" I asked.
"Seriously." Kevin said.
Our food was amazing, we laughed so much we may have offended other tables and the service was literally the best formal service I have ever experienced. After dessert, Kevin brought over little stone blocks with candies and cookies. In front of each of us, he placed a lovely brandy glass. Coming over to Dan, Kevin said, "Dan, this is a 1992 brandy from the (insert something French and complicated.) It's a perfect finish to your meal, and I'll pour each of you a glass. I leave the bottle here, with our compliments. Please stay as long as you wish."
It was 1am.
Then Kevin came over to me. "Beth, this is a sparkling apple cider from the Loire Valley. It's an (insert something complicated about apples) and a perfect finish to your meal. I'll pour you a glass and I leave the bottle here with our compliments.
All four of us looked at Kevin. And then each other.
"Pretty fucking classy."
"I'm like, touched."
"I am emotional about your cider."
I have been to lots of places that make me feel perfectly comfortable about not ordering booze. In this day and age, good bars are pretty cool about those of us on the wagon. And some bars, even fancy ones, still give me a look of disdain and say something like, "Well, we have cranberry juice."
But I mentioned casually and once at the beginning of our three-hour meal at Eleven Madison Park that I would not be drinking. And 10 minutes later, the bartender came over, introduced himself, talked about my order and thoughtfully paired my entire experience with non-alcoholic adult beverages.
There was no, "Can I get you another Diet Coke." Oh no. Kevin and the other 647 people serving us filed away each of our requests and made sure every single second of our experience was silently considered.
I got drunk on class.
So thank you Dan, Kevin, Eleven Madison Park and New York, for showing me how it's done...