Friday marks one year since The New York Times published its Harvey Weinstein exposé, an astounding piece of investigative journalism that jump-started the “Me Too” movement, as well as a less necessary national conversation about whether America’s creeps had been unfairly ostracized by society.
Maybe it’s too soon to make a determination on that count. We can report, however, that even Weinstein himself — supposed pariah of pariahs — can get a table for six at LAVO, night of, no questions asked.
How do we know? We did it ourselves. Calling on behalf of Weinstein on Wednesday, we asked 16 of New York’s most exclusive restaurants if it was possible to get an 8 p.m. reservation that night for Weinstein and five guests — something that, for those living outside of high society, is basically unheard of. Often the answer was yes. Sometimes they needed a bit of wiggle room to get it done. Just a few said there was nothing available that day. Consider this one measure of Weinstein’s ostracism from polite society: L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon asked him to sit at the counter.
One important note: We took care to cancel all the reservations. But at the Mario Batali restaurant Babbo, rumor of the reservation seems to have leaked. Eater published a story Thursday that claimed Weinstein had “dined” at the restaurant the night before; apparently a photographer was waiting outside the restaurant, too. Eater later softened the story to say that Weinstein had “reportedly made a reservation.” Per Eater, “reps with the restaurant say that Weinstein canceled the reservation, assuming the whole thing was a prank.” We can confirm that it was indeed a prank.
Below is a list of the restaurants we tried, with a brief transcript of the call. We considered any reservation granted within an hour’s range of 8 p.m. to be a yes.
ABC Kitchen: No, but how about Thursday?*
“We have a private event at ABC Kitchen and ABC Cocina tonight.” How about tomorrow? “Tomorrow at Kitchen, the large tables are completely overbooked. The only thing I would have available wouldn’t be until after 9 p.m.” We could potentially do later tomorrow. “Later would be around 10 p.m.” We could make that work. “OK, hold on one second.” [Put on hold.] “Sorry it took so long. I’m just creating something that doesn’t exist.”
*ABC Kitchen called after the Eater story published the next day. We’d tried to cancel but there must have been a mixup, because now the restaurant was getting in touch to tell us that it could no longer accommodate a party of six at 10 o’clock.
Babbo: No, but how about 10:30 p.m.?
“I was going over the books and I spoke with my general manager. We’re fully booked tonight but if there’s still interest, we have availability after 10:30 this evening.” That will work. [The employee then asked if his name was spelled H-A-R-V-E-Y or H-A-R-V-Y.] “Does anyone in the party have any allergies or dietary restrictions?”
Blue Hill at Stone Barns: Yes.
“Can I put you on hold for one second while I check for you?” [Put on hold.] “There is availability at 7 o’clock, would that work?”
Cipriani Downtown: Yes.
“You’re all set. Under ‘Harvey Weinstein,’ correct?” Correct.
“Unfortunately tonight we are fully booked.” You don’t have anything at all? “For a party of six, actually, one moment, we could do 8:45.”
Del Posto: Yes.
The 7:45 p.m. reservation email we receive refers to one “Harbey Weinstein.”
Eleven Madison Park: No, but how about lunch Friday?
“We are fully reserved at this point. Happy to add you to the waitlist but we don’t have anything available for six. We do have a party of two available at our bar.” Do you have anything later that night? “We don’t.” Is there any opening tomorrow? “Our first availability for a party of six would be on Friday at 12:45 for lunch service.”
Jean-Georges: No, but how about earlier or later?
“For a party of six, we only have 5:30 p.m. or 11 p.m. available.”
L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon: Yes, basically.
“I could definitely accommodate him. We have two options. We could accommodate Mr. Weinstein for counter seating, if you’d prefer that. Or if he prefers a table, we can accommodate them in our private dining room.”
Le Bernardin: No.
“We have a few tables that can seat that size, let me see if they’re available.” [Put on hold.] “We only have four tables in the dining room that can seat that size, but they’ve all been reserved this evening.” When is the soonest time that we could reserve a table with you? “Not for this evening, everything is taken.”
“I have to check with chef. I’m not 100 percent sure we have enough fish, as our fish is imported from Japan on a daily basis. Allow me a moment please.” [Calls back.] “We can accommodate six guests this evening. However, in order to assure the table will be ready in a timely manner, we can accommodate at 9 p.m.”
Minetta Tavern: Hell yes.
“We can do 8:30.” OK. “Can I have the last name you’d like on the reservation?” Weinstein. W-E-I-N-S-T-E-I-N. “And the first name please?” Harvey. H-A-R-V-E-Y. “And the telephone number you guys usually book with?” [NUMBER] “Do you guys usually book with the office number?” I’m a new assistant for him. “Oh, OK, OK, because we do see here that he’s one of our preferred guests ... And I do see here that we’re actually able to do that 8 o’clock for him. So he’s all set. Six at eight o’clock, tonight for dinner, at Minetta Tavern. Harvey Weinstein.”
Nobu Fifty Seven: Yes.
“Sure, may I ask you to hold, please?” [Put on hold.] “Thank you for your patience. So we could book a party of six tonight at 8:15, if that’s OK.”
Per Se: No, but how about earlier or later?
“We can do either 5:30 or 9:30.”