Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Et Voila!

As the first of January dawned this morning and the new year was unveiled before my eyes, I thought of the one time I visited Lutèce.

Lutèce was, of course, the famous restaurant founded in New York by Alsatian super-chef André Soltner. It opened in 1961 and was in operation until Valentine's Day of 2004. The restaurant didn't so much go out of business as go extinct.

This was a quintessential old school French restaurant, staffed by knowledgeable and prickly French waiters with serious attitude, or perhaps one could say fooditude.

I will always remember when our waiter brought the food on a silver platter, under a silver dome called a cloche. Just like in the old movies. He was a short, compact man with impeccably white hair. He wore impeccably white gloves and an impeccably white jacket. He carefully placed the silver platter on our table and lifted the silver dome toward the ceiling, revealing a gorgeous, fragrant meal. With eagerness and perceptible pride, he said, "Et voila!" I had to stifle a chuckle.

He had even addressed us in French when asking for our order. If my dining companion and I hadn't happened to understand French, we would have been intimidated and probably humiliated, which I suppose was the point. That, in a nutshell, was why Lutèce went extinct.

But as the new year dawned this morning, I eased myself out of my dreaming and, for some reason, remembered that little waiter. It was as if he was presenting me with a delicious new year, lifting a silver cloche and whispering, "Et voila!"

1 comment:

Tai said...

I love this story. It's perfect from beginning to end. The silver cloche, the immaculate waiter, the extinct restaurant--all such ideal symbols of the beauty and absurdity of time.