Micro Restaurants’ Latest Request: Pay-Before-You-Dine

When micro restaurants first started popping up across the U.S. last year, a gasp spread nationwide. Fifteen-seat restaurants serving 20+ pricey prix-fixe courses at kitchen counters across from the chef who gives you no right to choose which dishes you want? Blasphemous. But shock is intriguing, and limitations yield creativity, and so these micro restaurants have become the culinary scene’s new Cool Best Friend. And like all relationships, the Cool Best Friend has realized how tirelessly doting its culinary buddy is and has decided to take full advantage. Micro’s latest request: pay before you dine, not after.

Instead of receiving the check post-meal and doing the little “ I’ll pay, no, please, really, me” dance upon the counter, some micro-restaurants are demanding the tango before the meal. Eighteen-percent gratuity included. By paying pre-meal, the restaurants are less likely to face sudden cancellations, and more likely to ruin dates before they begin. 

The latest restaurant to join the system: New York’s two Michelin-starred spot Atera, which has 20+ courses for $165 ($700 for two with wine pairings) and 13 seats. Other pioneers of the trend: three Michelin-starred Brooklyn Fare in downtown Brooklyn, and Next and Alinea in Chicago. 

What will be micro’s next request? Dining with your hands if your boots are scuffed? Eating only the bread crusts if your tie is crooked? Oh, you gotta love inequitable relationships. 

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Get Down With 2013’s Michelin-Rated Restaurants

This week restaurants around the city celebrated the release of the 2013 Michelin Guide. One of the best features about this prestigious tome is their “good cuisine at reasonable price,” Bib Gourmand section. For the Bib Gourmand, they consider restaurant that offer two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less. Here, they don’t offer stars, but getting mentioned in the guide is enough for many eateries. 

“I couldn’t be more excited about our mention in the Michelin guide,” said Speedy Romeo chef and co-owner Justin Bazdarich. “I really see the guide as an honest measure for a restaurant rating, so, it means a lot to me to gain their respect.”

Aside from Speedy Romeo, highlighted this year include Gran Electrica, Pok Pok, and Battersby, which was also voted one of the best new restaurants in America by Bon Appetite magazine. It also appears to be the golden time for Bed-Stuy’s Do or Dine. Not only did chef and co-owner Justin Warner winFood Network Star a couple months ago, but the restaurant has their second notable mention in the Michelin Guide.

In Manhattan, notice went to August, Il Buco Aimentari & Vineria, and Danny Meyer’s Untitled. There were also quite a few Asian places in the guide including Family Recipe, Jin Ramen, Yunnan Kitchen, and Uncle Zhou in Queens. With the one-star awards, the Asian trend continued with Café China, Hakkasan, and Jungsik at the top of the list.

On the higher end of things, three Michelin stars went, unsurprisingly, to eateries including Per Se, Eleven Madison Park, and La Bernardin. There was one astounding twist; out of seven venues, one award went to a non-Manhattan restaurant: Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare. See folks, Brooklyn is rising. Just wait until it’s all outer boroughs and ramen joints.