The Cheap Bastard's Guide to Eating Like a Fancy Bastard
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Course 1: Water
At fancy restaurants, servers unfold your napkin for you and place it in your lap, as rich folk have notoriously horrible fine-motor skills. When a server unfolds a napkin and places it in your lap, it is polite to have a boner. Immediately following the weird napkin thing, you will be asked whether you would like a glass of still, sparkling or "Dallas' finest tap water." The test here is simple: Dallas water is for Normals. If you simply order Dallas water, you have outed yourself to your server as a Normal before menus have been opened. In this moment, the way to sound like a true Dallas Fancy is to say, "What's water? Please fetch me a wine list."
The typical Normal will think that simply ordering bottled water will disguise her normal-tude. This is because the typical Normal is an idiot. A true Fancy understands that, much like wine, the appropriate water pairing for your meal is determined by its 1) rarity, 2) how far it has to travel and 3) the obscurity of its label. Many Fancy poseurs will demand something like Skëdzlx, which is a mix of melted glacial and hot mineral spring water carted by Tom Cruise (on horseback) from Iceland to the States. But, if you're really celebrating, ask your server for "Oak Cliff's finest," which is an incredibly rare local vintage found only at the tap at Taquería El Si Hay. It has distinct notes of minimum wage and hipster, with the occasional bonus of tapeworm (every Fancy's favorite diet plan).
Pro tip: To make sure that your server knows he is your property for the next few hours, take a mouthful of Skëdzlx, then immediately blow an enormous spit-take across your table while shouting at your server, "Bitch, do NOT try to play like this water is chilled to 52 degrees! I know you did not just serve me some regular-temperatured-ass bullshit."
Course 2: Amuse Bouche
"Amuse bouche" is French for "a baby-bird-mouth-sized bite of seared tuna or a half-teaspoon of cold soup in a shot glass." Undeniably, the best part of the amuse bouche is that it is given to you for free, as a "thank you" from the chef for being so rich and bringing your wallet to his restaurant. It showcases his talents, and it should make you feel important.
Amuse bouches looooove to show up on your table in shot glasses because rich people think it's fun to shoot food instead of booze. Ask Dean Fearing. I dare you to go to Fearing's and not get served some super tasty food that's been cheffed into a blender and poured into a shot glass. In fact, when the clock strikes 10 p.m. at Dean Fearing's, it is not unusual to see cougars doing Dean's famous tortilla soup body shots and downing mini-vanilla-maltshake bombs at the bar. Do not stare at this delicious, delicious scene.
What if someone has amuse bouche stuck in her teeth?
Your first instinct might be to ignore the food teeth, and that instinct would be wrong. Always remember: Fancy people are too fancy to ignore things. They point that shit out using code and starting with a pet name. So, you could say something like, "Darling, you have a mouth wedgie."
What if I don't like an amuse bouche? Can I send it back?
Absolutely. If you don't like an amuse bouche, it is perfectly acceptable to send it back. At this point, if the chef understands the true etiquette of a fancy meal, he will come out to your table from the kitchen and will serve you the traditional punch in the tit. Probably the one on the left.
Course 3: Free Bread
While expensive restaurants do charge more money per entree, they serve much more free food than you might expect. The traditional fancy restaurant follow-up to the free amuse bouche is the free basket of breadies. At Stephan Pyles, for example, a server approaches your table with an entire basket of miniature loaves of bread, saying, "You can have as many as you want. And don't forget the free mini blue cornbread you get -- that'll show up in a minute." It's a carb fetishist's dream.
If you brought one of those cartoon X-ray machines into The Mansion, I guarantee you'll find every Prada bag in the joint filled to the brim with loaves of fresh-baked baguettes. You'll also see be-diamonded, unlicensed lady pistols and James Avery shivs in there, because, hey, you never know what the valet will try to get away with when he brings your car back.
Course 4: Wine and Cocktails
If you're going to order a cocktail at a fancy restaurant, order a classy cocktail, like a Jack Daniel's and Diet Coke. Never order "well" drinks. Always drop a brand name, like Lone Star or McCormick. If they don't have the brand you have requested--for instance, say they're out of Schlitz--make sure to sigh loudly and then ask them which 40-ounces are available at the bar tonight.
Old grapes are very delicious. Nobody knows this better than a Fancy. Rare wines, like Franzia, are a real treat. You can't get a box wine in every fancy restaurant, but it never hurts to ask. When you find one, treasure it.
Next: What the shits is the Wine Dance?
1321 Commerce St., Dallas, TX