Dining as Sport

New York is full of people obsessed with restaurants.

That's great for us who want to work in them but for people wishing to grab a table, it can be a nightmare.

I experienced this firsthand at least three times in the past week.

In New York, dining at a trendy restaurant can seem like a competition, a status thing, really.

Two weeks ago I met up with a friend from out-of-town who wanted to hit the Doughnut Plant and Clinton Street Baking Company all before 11 a.m. I warned him that the wait for a table at Clinton Street for brunch could be as long as two hours. "So let's get there by 10," he said.

So much for sleeping in on the weekends. First we hit the Doughnut Plant at 9:30 for the freshest, most creative morsels of deep-fried goodness. I devoured dulce de leche, vanilla bean and Meyer lemon donuts in seconds. We walked to Clinton Street before the 10 a.m. opening and already there was a line. Luckily, New Yorkers do brunch late - like noon and on - so our wait was only 10 minutes at most. But within minutes of sitting down, the restaurant was packed. We dutifully ordered the popular blueberry pancakes. I thought to myself, "How exciting can a blueberry pancake be?" It turns it out the ones at Clinton Street were exceptional - cake-like in texture and flavor while maintaining the freshness of the berries.

Speaking of sweets, one bakery I avoid is Magnolia. The original location in the West Village, which was popularized in the series "Sex and the City," almost always has a line snaking around the corner.

And this weekend, I trekked out to Queens to check out Jollibee, the Philippines' version of McDonald's. I went more for the cultural experience than food but once my friend and I arrived, again, there was a line. It took 40 minutes before we could even place an order in the packed restaurant. As my friend joked, "It's like the entire Filipino population in the tri-state area was there."

If New Yorkers really want a table, they will wait.

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