Restaurant critic stories: Secret agent man or flimflam artist?

Our server was fantastic and fabulous, the type of almost-stereotypical gay waiter who always manages to mesh with the crew I usually roll with. We joked, we sniped, we had a great time with the guy. But when it was all over and I jammed my credit card in the check presenter, he stopped in mid-turn and asked me for ID. Wha-huh? Did we give off some undefinable aura of criminal malfeasance? Did he have a highly advanced bullshit detector? Or maybe, although unlikely, he just wanted to scope my address so he could ask me out later?

In any case, he wasn't the type to be bullied, so after some uncomfortable distraction techniques that got me nowhere, I pulled out a card with my name on it and handed it to him, taking the other card back. Then, the real slap in the face. He just glanced at it, glanced at my ID and waltzed away with a slightly befuddled look on his face.

Maybe he thought he had averted some potentially damaging fraud to the restaurant, or maybe he was honestly confused. All I know is that he obviously didn't know who I was.


(Stay tuned for The Nest review this Wednesday.)

I'm pretty serious about my anonymity. I've had both very good and very bad experiences on the few occasions when I know I've been recognized while out for a review — sometimes I think restaurants get flustered or try too hard when they know a critic is in the house — but going in under the radar guarantees that I'll be seeing the same kind of stuff that regular folks would be served. That's why you'll find it nearly impossible to locate a pic of me on the interweb, why I don't make TV appearances (except for those unfortunate Channel 13 segments where I appeared behnd a backlit screen in "accused chold-molester style"), and why I use credit cards that don't have my name on them.

But rarely — only twice, to be exact — I've had a server question my pseudonym card and ask for ID. The first time, I bullied the poor fella and claimed I didn't have my license (in spite of the fact that my wallet was sitting on the table in front of me). He considered for a moment, then realized how little he cared and decided to back off. The second time was last week, at The Nest.

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