“Dress up. Montrealers take pride in their appearance, always preferring to be over – than underdressed. If there was ever any time to pack those fancy designer heels or stylish slacks, this would be it. No running shoes please. Men should wear a jacket for restaurants in the $$$$ range.” ~ Fodor’s Travel; Montreal and Quebec City.
“I think fine dining is dying out everywhere… but I think there will be – and there has to always be – room for at least a small number of really fine, old-school fine-dining restaurants.” ~ Anthony Bourdain
There was a time, back in what many in my advanced generation call the “olden days,” when dining out was an event that included a whole series of formal elements, one of which was dressing up. The whole rite could seem just short of a coronation; reservations made a month or more in advance, the laying out of clothes, dressing up, and arriving at the restaurant with an anticipation that was fitting for the special experience.
Entering the restaurant we would approach the maitre d’s station as if it were a judge’s bench and announce ourselves. With a stern, officious manner he (it was always a HE) would run a rigid finger down the list of reservations glancing up now and again in appraisal of our appearance. Once satisfied that we were worthy of gaining entrée he would snap into an about face and, walking ramrod straight as if it were a changing of the guard, lead us to our table. Once at the table he would pull out chairs for the ladies and present each of us with a menu, treating the bill of fare with all the reverence befitting an official document.
The server, often outfitted with a starched white apron and a white linen napkin draped over an arm would take the cocktail order and explain the specials in a manner only slightly less affected than the maitre d’s. No there would be no perky, server bouncing to the table and chirping, “Hi I’m Brittany and I’ll be taking care of you tonight.”