An Eater correspondent complains to the site:
So my wife and I finally got a reservation at Per Se — amazing tasting menu, Robert Deniro sighting!, blah, blah, blah... But here's the thing that sticks out: The sommelier brought our first bottle of wine to the table and proceeded to unwrap and uncork it. No problem there. Then, without missing a beat, HE JAMMED THE BOTTLE UP TO HIS NOSTRIL AND TOOK IN A BIG WHIFF! I mean, there was full contact between his nose hairs and the top of our wine bottle. My wife and I were too stunned to say anything and we figured our un-cultured asses didn't know this is what happens when you shell out $210 per person. Now I'm starting to think we were being fucked with. The sommelier probably bet the guys in the back that he could get us to drink in his snot. Now I need to know: is this an actual wine-sniffing technique or are we suckers?
Taking the liberty of answering another site's query, we'd like the mucus drinkers to know that they are not suckers; rather, they are part of a long and venerable history of pranks played by restaurant folk, whose whimsical sense of humor has been noted in story and song. And, as is the case in so many walks of life, New York restaurateurs have no peer when it comes to jokery. After the jump, a quick highlight reel of classic New York restaurant "punkings." Also, ewww.
- 1895: Delmonico chef Charles Ranhofer pulls the first recorded "special cream soup" stunt on then-Police Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt.
- 1966: A furious Sirio Maccioni convinces a patron who has attempted to enter Le Cirque without a tie that the only way his reservation will be honored is if he allows Maccioni to rub his testicles on the patron's bald head three times at the restaurant's center table. The patron assents, and is then forced to wear a tie anyway.
- 1975: Elaine Kaufman tricks Woody Allen into actually trying the food at Elaine's.
- 1998: Mario Batali opens Babbo.
- 2001: Daniel Boulud, short on foie gras, fills the center of his DB burger with the fecal material of a diarrheal busboy; orders actually go up.
- 2002: David Bouley "pranks" his insurance company with a $2.2 million claim for Ground Zero losses, cheekily "forgetting" to mention the $5.8 million he made feeding rescue workers.
- FW: Per Se Suckers? [Eater]