The closing of Charlie Trotter’s, which Trotter announced to diners (and the Sun-Times
) on New Year’s Eve, has me thinking about a decade-old essay on high-end dining that Martha Bayne wrote for the Reader
. As the (unexpected) result of a joint project, Bayne and a friend had about a thousand dollars to spend as they chose. Deciding to blow it at Trotter’s, Bayne wrote the piece as a reflection on what she calls her “$370 reality check." In preparation for the meal, Bayne caught up with the Trotter literary canon, which comprised volumes on both cooking and management style authored or inspired by the famously fastidious chef. The dinner, as it turned out, served as “a reminder of what we're not missing over there in the parallel universe of expense accounts and valet parking”—it was cold in actual fact (“strangely lukewarm,” she and her dining partner agreed) and in emotional impact. Read the essay here.