Waiters Holiday: At the Witherspoon Grill

You know that Princeton has come up in the world, as a dining destination, when a French waiter from a very French Upper East Side restaurant (left) chooses a Princeton restaurant (above) for his night on the town.

It was one of those fun Princeton-in-the-wider-world moments. On the spur of the moment today we hopped the train to catch the almost-last showing of Peter Greenaway’s evocation of Da Vinci’s Last Supper at the Park Avenue Armory. (How did I know about it? I wanted to see a Greenaway installation in Venice and missed it by a fluke. I would have missed this one except that Ragged Sky Press happened to tweet about it. The power of Twitter!)

We figured there would plenty of places to eat around there, in the neighborhood of Hunter College. Wrong. We began to think we would have to settle for pizza when we stumbled into what looked like a hotel but was actually an elegant French restaurant on Park Avenue at 65th. (When I first wrote this I didn’t include the actual name of the restaurant, but now I can — it’s Daniel’s.. Turns out it has three Michelin *** and four New York Times stars and is arguably the best French restaurant in Manhattan.)

We weren’t dressed for elegant dining but they let us hang out in the lounge, and having consumed some really fabulous food, delivered with really fabulous service, discovered that our waiter (I don’t have his permission to use his name) actually lives in Bucks County and commutes by NJ Transit.

We chatted about Princeton’s dining scene; he remembered Les Copains and said his favorite spot is the Witherspoon Grill, because it does such great things with meats. He brings his wife there for his own night on the town.

When I get his permission I’ll add his name and the name of the New York eatery. (It’s Pascal Vittu, and he’s the cheese steward at Daniel’s.) Here’s the strange or perhaps not so strange part: He had never heard of Lahiere’s.

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