Reservations Recommended
Chapter 1: The Alley View Grill
Part 9: The Review
by Eric Kraft, as Peter Leroy
Reservations Recommended

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The Epicurean Adventures of B. W. Beath in the Hub of the Universe

THE ALLEY VIEW GRILL

We really enjoy the Alley View Grill.  Honest.  We do.  Whenever we get a late-night craving for goat-cheese pizza or a veal-and-pancetta burger with some  tomato coulis, itís almost the first place that comes to mind.  Oh, sure, we know itís a frenzied, schizoid place, with one foot in Momís kitchen back in bucolic Kansas and the other in New Yorkís arty SoHo, but what the heck, weíre probably a little schizy ourselves.
    The décoróah, the décor.  Faux-zebra Formica, faux-tiger upholstery, faux-leopard carpeting, faux-peacock wallpaper.  Our companion thought she had stumbled into an old Busby Berkeley musicalósomething like Decorators on Safari.  But we like it.  And since weíve always favored gigantism in floral arrangements, we adore the Brobdingnagian bouquets.  We donít even blush at their showy sexuality, the way they flaunt their whopping pistils, their stupendous stamens.  We keep an open mind.  We tolerate lubricious vegetation in all its bizarre varieties.  We donít even blink at the gigantic buds of shell ginger, which seem to us so very like the spent and drooping members of enormous armadillos.
    In a way, the Alley View Grill is a mom-and-pop eatery brought up to date: the décor is dada-deco, and the food is nouvelle Momóa type that we have begun to see more and more in cutting-edge restaurants.  Restaurateurs seem to be savoring anew their memories of Momís kitchen.  Suddenly theyíre nostalgic for the food they ate before they came to the city, learned to speak another language, began ridiculing their parents, and tried to hide their small-town naïveté.  They donít serve up their nostalgia straight, of course; itís seasoned with the sophistication theyíve acquired away from home.  So every remembered dish must be treated with face-saving contempt.  Each is made the butt of an elegant, and sometimes quite delicious, joke.  So the Alley View Grill offers Dadís favoriteógrilled sirloinóbut itís smothered in nasturtiums, not the onions Dad preferred.  It arrives looking like a ritual sacrifice to Kongógrilled thigh of virgin, perhaps.  Thereís grilled pork tenderloin, too, but itís served rare, flouting everything Mom said about pork.  The apple pie is made with six varieties of apple (three American, one French, two Australian) and dusted with chopped macadamia nuts.  There is even a burger, but it is the aforementioned veal-and-pancetta burger, with tomato coulis, about which Mom and Dad knew from nothiní, we bet.  (Even Dadís martini gets the snicker treatment.  Itís just a frozen ginsicle, minus the touch of vermouth that would elevate it from an anaesthetic to Nick and Noraís favorite tipple.)
    The service.  Well.  Our heart is warmed by the sight of waiters and waitresses enjoying themselves, and here they certainly do.  On some evenings our heart has been so warmed by their happy chatting and chortling that we have scarcely noticed that they have scarcely noticed us.  Apparently the owners have quite an enlightened attitude toward what in the old, benighted, classist days of dining used to be called ďservice.Ē  Nor does the enlightenment end there.  The Alley View Grill has, apparently, a hiring practice that favors waiters and waitresses with striking good looks and a total ignorance of food.  We say bravo!  These people have to start somewhere, donít they?  Let them practice on us!  We can attest to the fact that the Alley View gang learns quickly.  Theyíve already mastered indolence, indifference, and ignorance, the three essentials of contemporary sophisticated service.  But does the place have style!  The waiters mispronounce the names of the foods with impressive panache, and the menu misspells them in handsome deco-revival type.  The golden-tressed fellow who will tell you, when you phone for a reservation on a Friday or Saturday, that he canít possibly fit you in for four weeks will be speaking to you over an old black telephone straight out of an uncolorized film noir (perhaps that should be a film noir-et-blanc).  The neon sign over the entrance once flashed beside a motel somewhere on the banks of the Connecticut River, the Valley View.  Rescued from a salvage yard, it flashes again, all but the first V.  And the ne plus ultra: above the bar, in pale green neon script, is the single word Champagne.  Now if thatís not style, we sure donít know what is.
    Of course we adore the ebullient, well-dressed clientele.  Theyíre a vastly diverse group, representing every shade of sexual preference, sporting the latest garb smuggled in from New York.  Youíll get to know them well, thanks to their indefatigable table hopping, the extravagance of their greetings (are they performing for hidden cameras?), and the fact that the management has had the foresight to put the tables close enough to one another so that your neighbor (soon your chum!) is nearer (soon dearer!) to you than your dinner companion.  Beware, though, of the weekends, when the truly trendy are squeezed out by poseurs from the íburbs, who have come in to see what they should be wearing and find out what arugula tastes like.

  óBWB
The Alley View Grill
221 Rear Bartleby Street, 555-6100.
American Express, Visa, MasterCard.  No checks.
Handicapped: handicapped restrooms. 
Lunch 12-3, Tuesday-Saturday.
Brunch 12-3, Sunday.
Dinner 6-11 Tuesday-Sunday.
Reservations recommended weekdays, a must weekends.
  Detail from the Cover of the Original Crown Hardcover Edition
RESERVATIONS RECOMMENDED | CHAPTER 2, PART 1 | CONTENTS PAGE


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Reservations Recommended is published in paperback by Picador, a division of St. Martinís Press, at $12.00.

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Copyright © 1990 by Eric Kraft

Reservations Recommended is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, dialogues, settings, and businesses portrayed in it are products of the authorís imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

First published by Crown Publishers, Inc., 201 East 50th Street, New York, New York 10022. Member of the Crown Publishing Group.

Now available in paperback from Picador USA, a division of St. Martinís Press.

For information about publication rights outside the U. S. A., audio rights, serial rights, screen rights, and so on, e-mail Alec ďNickĒ Rafter, the authorís earnest agent.

The illustration at the top of the page is an adaptation of an illustration by Stewart Rouse that first appeared on the cover of the August 1931 issue of Modern Mechanics and Inventions. The boy at the controls of the aerocycle doesnít particularly resemble Peter Leroyóexcept, perhaps, for the smile.

 

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