Eat, Drink, Man, Woman: Or, Women Like Eating Fish In Mint Green Rooms

Illustration for article titled Eat, Drink, Man, Woman: Or, Women Like Eating Fish In Mint Green Rooms

FYI: You like meat. But you kind of feel bad about it, so menus have to trick you into ordering it. Oh, and you're really sensitive to harsh lighting, too. What, you didn't know? Well, according to the Times, every restauranteur does: it all comes out in a piece on the often "laughably clichéd" differences — traditional and otherwise — between diners of different sexes.While traditional gestures like serving ladies first, giving the guy the check and letting women have the banquette seat (courtly or paternalistic?) are far less prevalent than they were — to the confusion of servers everywhere — certain distinctions apparently still apply. Well, obviously: I mean, in an industry where success can hinge on the width of a napkin ring, no one's gonna blow off the divides in a customer base's priorities, expectations and tastes.“Women are looking for somewhere comfortable,” says Mario Batali. “Men are looking for somewhere to show off.” Now that the old rules don't apply so much anymore — no smart restauranteur is going to assume a woman can't handle a wine list — and some of the gender gap has been closed by fads like the gender-neutral low-carb trend or equal-op annoying foodie-ism, the more fundamental divides between the eatin' sexes are apparently becoming manifest. Since we all love being told about ourselves by groups of strangers, here's the breakdown! We sit in banquettes: Even though it's no longer the protocol — like any guys still know that rule, anyway — apparently women gravitate towards the seats that give the best view of the room/potential assassins. We Need Warm Rooms: We apparently "tend to dress with more skin showing" so the thermostat's got to be up. We Like Healthy Food: "Women more often ask if a menu has leaner, healthier options. Men more often ask if they can get a decent steak." We Don't Like Crappy Places: "A woman is more likely to take offense if the restrooms are cramped, ugly and messy. " We Do Like Awesome Places: "She’s also more likely to appreciate color and playfulness in a restaurant’s design, while there’s more risk that a man will be cool to that." Apparently this one mint-green restaurant with a seafood-heavy menu was attracting such a disproportionately female crowd that the owner redid it to make it more gender neutral. “There’s more meat now — a Niman Ranch pork chop, veal breast, a lamb T-bone,” and it's been repainted cream. We Like Meat But We Like To Be Tricked Into It: "Stephen Starr, who owns Buddakan and Morimoto, said that women more often hesitate if the name or look of a dish is too blunt a reminder that they’re biting into an animal. 'If it’s something that says chorizo with some sort of egg, they’ll eat it,” Mr. Starr said. “If it’s a suckling pig, they’re not going near it.'" (Not true. Suckling pig delicious.) We Don't Actually Tip Less, But Parties Of Women Still Suck for Waiters: Although the pernicious fiction that women are bad tippers is apparently a myth, we do tend to order less and hold tables hostage four hours so a server can't turn it over. We're Less Insecure: "A man is more likely to care about being greeted rapturously and treated like an insider," whereas we apparently just want to eat fish and "eggs" in stifling hot mint green rooms, for hours, while seated in a banquette. Old Gender Roles With Your Dinner? [New York Times]


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I can't stand not being able to see the room, but true hell is having to sit at a freezing cold table, with the a/c draft sitting there. It's so depressing to know you'll be stuck there, freezing, for at least an hour, and that your food will be cold in a nanosecond. It takes all the joy out of dining out.