Let the economic experts who have done so well so far duke it out over whether we are headed for or already in a recession. I’m going to take my cues from restaurateurs forgoing great-but-pricey birds in favor of Bell & Evans (in the land of the one-eyed critic, the blind steward is king) and from food magazines foretelling their publisher’s troubles. You know it’s a leading economic indicator when the Journal of Conspicuous Consumption does a whole issue on high/low eating. Never a discouraging bean was ever seen in those pages. Gold cards must be getting kicked back all over America.
At the same time, it makes me uncharacteristically sad for my profession to see how the national epidemic — greed with a capital G — has infected so many restaurateurs. I was half-tempted by Park Avenue Season for my birthday until reading it is being sued for stiffing employees. Pastis and Balthazar are accused of being just as venal. And the guy who cleans up with those strange Cinema Cafes just got caught with his hand in the sales-tax till, as the Shore owner did before him. The food world has always been exploitative, but now either more bad behavior is going on or more evildoers are getting caught. And if it’s the latter, could the restaurant investigators maybe head over to the banks now? Or the oil companies?