Illustration by Anika Orrock

Love LettersNew York

The Small Things Make Restaurants Special


Do you remember the small things that used to make a restaurant sing? After nearly a year of pandemic living, I’m starting to forget them. Those little details, sensations, and elements that make a dining experience memorable, beyond the food. So, I tried to commit them to memory in a similarly small — yet poetic — way: haikus. The following are 17-syllable odes to what I remember dining in New York to be like. Maybe you’ll start remembering, too.

The paper plate flops, 
Grease slowly runs down my sleeve: 
The price for a slice. 

~ Ode to dollar pizza ~

Spinning the Lazy
Susan is half the fun. Twirl
For duck, tea, choy sum.

~ Ode to banquet dining ~ 

A thing I miss most 
Is googling pasta names, then 
Pretending I know.

  ~ Ode to cavatappi, strozzapreti, and gemelli ~

Kaiser rolls stacked high.
The striped bodega cat yawns.
The griddle sizzles. 

~ Ode to the bodega ~

At dim sum parlors, 
I play the pointing game. “This. 
This. That.” Stamp, stamp, stamp. 

~ Ode to the dim sum cart ladies ~

Breakfast in New York
Consists of three little things:
Bacon, egg, and cheese.

~ Ode to my hangover cure ~ 

They rattle them off, 
Today’s torrent of specials,
A pause. Come again?

~ Ode to servers with better memories than I ~

Can someone tell me 
How to artfully order 
The cheapest wine? Thanks. 

~ Ode to the wine list ~

Look at the server. 
Now back to the menu. Pause. 
“The… conglichie?” 

~ Ode to mispronouncing menu items ~

In baskets piled high
Dumplings in threes and four
Unleash their steam clouds. 

~ Ode to 11 a.m. in Chinatown ~

A box of matches 
Grabbed swiftly from the host stand 
To say, “I was here.”

~ Ode to souvenirs ~

Noëmie Carrant is a Resy staff writer. Follow Resy on Instagram and Twitter.