Sunday, May 24, 2009

How many rules are enough?

There only are Seven Deadly Sins and Ten Commandments. A 12-step program can cure all sorts of ills.

But La Bernardin restaurant in New York City has 129 Cardinal Rules. Most of the no-no's in the restaurant—considered one of America's best for over 20 years—involve server sins. Here are a few random rules pulled off the list, posted by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune on its website:

13. Salt and pepper shakers that are half empty.

14. Salt or sugar crusted inside the shakers.

15. Carelessly placed items on the tables.

16. Table linen with small holes, rips or burns.

Some of the rules are obvious like No. 71 (Serving with an elbow in the guest's face) while others, like No. 74 (Not moving with the "speed of the room") are a bit more obscure.

Some of them seem to be mutually exclusive. How can you follow No. 80 and clear plates promptly and stay in compliance with No. 78 by refraining from clearing any plates until all guests are done? I guess you could stay nearby until the last guest at a table finished the last bite on his plate and then swoop in and clear them, but in the meantime you could get busted on No. 89 (Standing around doing nothing.)

While this seems to be overkill, you have to applaud them for having clear standards. Apparently, it works for them. You can't argue with success.

And it appears that they are not committing to stopping at 129. The final entry on the list is, "To be continued. . ."

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