Former New York Times restaurant critic/current Snowfaller-in-chief Sam Sifton dined out at haute red sauce joint Carbone last night, and he was Not Pleased with his fellow patrons’ attire. Specifically, Sifton takes issue with those willing to pay $54 for a plate of veal parm but who won’t bother to just put on a damn button-down.
Current critic Pete Wells backed up the sentiment, urging diners to “wear some clothes unless you’re the reincarnation of Vincent the Chin,” because t-shirts no longer fit under the category of “clothes.” All of which begs the question: If you’re forking over hundreds of your precious dollars to dine at a restaurant, aren’t you entitled to wear whatever you damn well please? And is the sight of another human wearing comfortable attire really that detrimental to the vintage Italian-American immersion experience that is Carbone?
We at FWF are firmly on Team T-Shirt—our EiC proudly wore a Bart Simpson sweatshirt the last time visited Carbone, and was pleased to receive excellent service from the sommelier in spite of this choice (dining in aggressive hoodies is the new Wells Decoy review gambit). But Sifton’s outrage still raises the issue of whether nice restaurants should bother having dress codes at all. There’s something to be said for creating an atmosphere, but then again, that’s the restaurant’s job—and Carbone’s fancy Zac Posen waiter outfits do plenty without customers wearing Don Corleone suits.
What do you think?