LIKE MANY RESTAURANT FANATICS of a certain age, I used to like to grab a pack or two of matches on my way out the door of the places I reviewed or dined at semi-regularly. Since we have a working fireplace at home, there was some practical value to this old habit, which likely goes back to the vanished era of the Stork Club and the Rainbow Room, when gentlemen drank their martinis straight up at lunchtime and the most sophisticated couples burned through a pack of cigarettes a day. Lots of places have discontinued the practice in recent years, preferring to dispense carefully carved toothpicks, or mini-notepads, or party bags filled with boxes of organic chocolate or granola. In our household, these tend to get lost, or thrown away, or eaten, but the old fine-dining matchbooks still survive, stowed furtively in bathrooms or tossed in a ceramic bowl above the fireplace.
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October 26– November 08, 2020