Saturday, March 7, 2009
To: Bobby Flay, Chef-partner Bar Americain, Midtown West, NYC
From: Blushing (and might I add, Disgusted) Hostess
Re: Sommelier and hand washing procedures
Chef, this is not the sort of thing I would expect or excuse more from an employee of a burger joint in a truck stop off 95. In fact, I like to think, having a bit of experience in this area, that the one thing all food purveyors have in common at the end of the day is their commitment to a sanitary environment.
I said I like to think that, but the New York City Board of Health is forever setting me straight: Why, as recently as a few months ago Mario Batali's Del Posto was temporarily shuttered for pest violations: They could minimize their carbon footprint but apparently could not force their bug collection to do the same. So, I don't go there anymore: Marked once and for all in my mind as filthy, no matter what the BOH assures in the papers.
I suppose it was lucky then, that on this past Wednesday night when my Husband and I ducked into Bar Americain, that soaring luxe jewel in your crown, that it was after dinner when I went to the ladies room and there encountered the sommelier leaving the loo. She stood right next to me as I scrubbed at my hands with soap. She rubbed at her eye makeup with her fingers, adjusted her hair, and left never having washed her hands.
I was disgusted but not altogether surprised. She had been at our table and offered to help with the wine but, as BH readers will remember, I had a baby only ten days before and was finally able to have a cocktail (Champagne) and an after dinner drink (Brandy Alexander - which, Chef, I prefer creamy). My husband is a single malt drinker. Consequently, we declined her offer choosing instead to pick a by the glass selection of red wine for the main course: I had the Malbec which was very nice and a suggestion of our waiters, and Josh had the Cab which was, for our taste, weapons-grade swill.
The food was great but there was very little of it: About a tablespoon of food arrived for my Crispy Squash Blossoms, granted they are out of season in New York so the flight costs must be staggering! But we enjoyed the tuna tartare and green tomato and fava beam salad; the steak was just okay which is disappointing when one considers the cost. But the real charmer turned out to be the horseradish steak sauce which was rich and piquant. It will linger in my memory.
For years I worked in this neighborhood, one block away. If I were still toiling away at 53rd and Seventh, I would have enjoyed bringing vendors and colleagues there. And since it is so well located for the theaters, which I have long complained had strictly pedestrian quality restaurants, it would be a great destination before a show as it was for us on our way to see Will Ferrell.
But for naught. I cannot, will not abide by unsanitary conditions, especially when returning home to a two week old child who is just building a store of immunities great enough to fight off the inexcuseably poor hygenics of irresponsible restaurant employees.
And a note to the sommelier: You never know who is at the sink next to you, could be the health inspector...