If my father had made a million dollars, he wouldn’t have eaten at La Belle Epoque. To him, restaurants were the ultimate expression of ungodly waste. For of all the luxuries that your money could buy, a restaurant left you the least to show for it.
But for me, dinner at a fine restaurant was the ultimate luxury. It was the very height of civilization. For what was civilization but the intellect’s ascendancy out of the doldrums of necessity (shelter, sustenance and survival) into the ether of finely superfluous (poetry, handbags and haute cuisine)? So removed from daily life was the whole experience that when all was rotten to the core, a fine dinner could revive the spirits. If and when I had twenty dollars left to my name, I was going to invest it right here in an elegant hour that couldn’t be hocked.
– Kathy Kontent, Rules of Civility by Amor Towles