Too fancy by half
I'll admit it: the fanciest restaurant I ever worked in was a Country Kitchen. I'm also one of those people who can't keep a straight face while the poor waitstaff at fancy restaurants are explaining the night's specials to me, using phrases like "balsamic vinegars" and "perfectly aged" and "oil infused with truffles."
So, okay, I probably wasn't the desired audience for Phoebe Damrosch's memoir Service Included: Four-Star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter. I wanted to like it. I like food. I like memoirs starring saucy service types (Debra Ginsberg's memoir Waiting: The True Confessions of a Waitress, is one of my favorite books ever, and she provides a blurb on the back of this book.). So why didn't I like this book?
Well, I can't say I've ever had a whole lot of interest in Chef Thomas Keller or his famous California restaurant, French Laundry. Damrosch details her time spent working in his New York restaurant, Per Se, as well as her budding romance with the restaurant's sommelier Andre. Her descriptions of how tricky it is to work in a restaurant of that caliber are evocative; she makes the food sound delicious and she even does a good job of describing personality clashes between some of the restaurant's staff.
But it just didn't grab me. It didn't have the out-and-out vulgarity of Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential, and it certainly didn't have the earthiness of Ginsberg's memoir. But who knows? Someone with a more refined palate than mine might find a lot to enjoy here.