Friday, August 3, 2007

Service Included: Four-Star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter by Phoebe Damrosch

In Service Included, Phoebe Damrosch gives us a behind the scenes look at the life of a captain at the 4-star New York restaurant, Per Se. Her main focus is the restaurant, the other staff, the clientele and, of course, the food. However, we get to also see her life outside of work: where she lives, where she eats, whom she dates.

I really enjoyed this one. It bought back all kinds of memories from my line cook days in a much more casual restaurant. The information she provided was fascinating. I was confused about a few things, but mostly the author took the time to explain all of the fine details of the fine dining experience. The whole scenario sort of reminded me of a stage play with adlibbing permitted.

Phoebe’s life outside of work was not quite as interesting, but it was still fun to read about. Her insecurities about her relationship with AndrĂ© were easy to relate to, but her outing with Patrick to find the best bone marrow was not. Patty melts I can handle, bone marrow, not so much.

To put this review into perspective, I’ve never dined in a 4-star restaurant and I’m not even sure I’d be that relaxed there. I really it like when I have one server who takes my order, brings my food, clears the plates, pours me water and brings the bill. Otherwise, I don’t know to whom I can direct my questions. Is it ok to ask the person who brings my food for more coffee? Is it ok to ask the guys who fills my water glass for more salad dressing? Maybe if I knew “the rules”, I could do it. Besides, I could never afford to drop $20,000 on dinner or order an item off the menu that has 3 digits in the price. I’ll put this on my to-do list after I win the lottery.

I’d recommend this to readers who have an interest in food or those who have dined at a fine dining establishment and would like a glimpse behind the scenes.

I got this book from HarperCollins First Look program.


  1. Oh! I so want to read this book. I'm a foodie, you see :)
    There was a story in the NY times earlier this week and it had some references to the book and a few words from the author. It was basically about drunk-behaviour in 4-star restaurants. Quite funny :)

  2. I don't know that I'd call myself a "foodie", but I like reading novels, biographies, mysteries etc. where food is featured. Oh, and I like to eat, too. ;)


Thanks so much for your comment. I really appreciate it. Unfortunately, I've been getting lots of spam comments, so I'm turning on word verification to help keep spammers away. I know it's a pain; I don't like it either. Hopefully, in time I'll be able to turn it off again. Thank you!