Leslie Kaufman's feature on Waverly Inn for the Times dining section reads too cutesy and is almost nakedly self-ingratiating. The writer couldn't find one angry chef or would-be patron to slag Graydon Carter's It-restaurant? But the piece is well-researched, on its own puffy terms, and thus useful to those strivers eager to be seen among the restaurant's celebrity diners, no matter how expensive the macaroni or rich the wine list. Here, then, is a quick list of the ways to lose friends and alienate people, and perhaps accomplish the opposite, at the Waverly:
- DO have neighborhood clout. The president of the local block association, Marilyn Dorato, has her own table at the restaurant, which she occupies weekly. Graydon wouldn't want to much of a fuss over the limos and paparazzi and drunken revelry and so forth.
- DO NOT complain about your food. "The reservations system has miniprofiles on clients: the number of times they have eaten at the restaurant... whether they complained about the food, whether they yelled at a waiter..."
- DO NOT work in reality TV or hedge fund management. "'For that reason, we screen calls from the 203 area code,' [Carter] said, poking fun at chateau country in the Connecticut suburbs."
- DO NOT notify the paps of your reservation. "Mr. Varda admits that there is one group [blacklisted]. 'B-list stars who call the paparazzi from inside the restaurant... They are not invited back.' (Privacy is so sacred at the Waverly that Mr. Varda says he has stopped a major film star from photographing his own family at dinner.)"
- DO NOT take a seat in the garden. It is Siberia. Carter claims it's great but "no one is buying it."
- DO NOT sit out front, oh God: "There is also a tiny outside area out front with tables in summer, but that is irrelevant - one frequent diner called it 'tragic.'"
- DO NOT brag about hanging out at the bar. No one cares, because that is also Siberia.
- DO perhaps try just asking at the front desk. It worked for the Kaufman. Go figure.
- DO be Harvey Weinstein, a very close personal friend of Mr. Carter. "Weinstein, for example, lives nearby and, according to Mr. Varda, frequently arrives for dinner without calling ahead to reserve. 'He is family,' Mr. Varda said, 'so we make room anyway.'"
Or just wait for the restaurant to become less fashionable, or for your ego to stop caring, both of which will happen eventually. (Until that day, you can scour the restaurant's blog for still more tips.)
(Photo by Pistols Drawn on Flickr, who managed to do what the Times could not and get a picture inside the theatrically secretive restaurant.)