I wallowed in excellent food last night, oh lucky me. For all you people who email me asking where to take dates--and my god, there's a lot of you--just go make a reservation at La Spiga. There's an ugly heap of construction happening around the building, but inside is gorgeous--kind of half old ship, half 70s bachelor pad, in the very coolest possible sense of both. Even the less-good food was still happily worth eating, and the better stuff was spectacular. Last night there were lots of kids around, and a jazz trumpet-keyboard combo, which normally would be enough to fill me with hate. Not this time. Make a reservation, ask for a booth or at least wait until a table along the side in back opens up, and arrive hungry.
When I returned home and told Sweetie of my adventures, the subject of women-only tables came up. He kind of didn't believe what I was describing was a problem, until I offered another, more pointed example: As a brand-new baby food critic, I went with my (female) editor to a swank new downtown place. It was empty, except for one party of three at the bar. We were there at noon, so if there was a lunch rush, we would have been seeing it. We were taken to the worst possible table, immediately next to the door into the kitchen. My editor was wise enough to suggest we could have one of the cozy booths under a window instead, and we were re-seated (with a slight grudge). This happened again last night--we walked past two empty booths and were shown to a shared table in the middle of the room, which had several kids seated at the other end. It's a pretty easy thing to fix politely, especially if you're willing to wait for a table where you can actually enjoy your food. I'm also pretty sure that there's a fair amount of truth to the belief that a total bill for two women is, on average, going to be smaller than a bill for two men, assuming in these cases--which isn't a good assumption on Cap Hill--that these two pairs are friends and not on a date. I can't agree that women tip less--I know cheapskates of both sexes, and overtippers of both sexes--but if the total check is a lower total, then sure, the tip is going to be less. The bad table thing simply does not happen when I'm out with my snappy-dressin' white male husband, whether we have reservations or not. It likely is yet another tiny part of life that comes back to women making 79 cents to the male dollar.