Best Front Person Besides Al Biernat - 2004
Michel Boutemy de Guislain at Popolos
No one tops Al Biernat in the meet-and-greet. But Michel etc. comes as close as any restaurant host possibly can. Like Biernat, he (yes, he--Michel is as masculine a name as they have in France) flashes a genuine smile at each guest, throws his arms in welcoming gestures and directs people to their tables with a fluid grace. He is charming without being overbearing. Gracious without too much obsequiousness. Plus he understands the ways of fine dining and--more important--fine drinking. During his stint at Paris Vendome, BdG would spend time patiently explaining to American novices the rules of upscale European alcoholism, which basically involved downing many drinks, but in a specific order (aperitifs before dinner, that sort of thing). His talents are probably lost on the cruise-ship crowd (walk in, glance around, you'll understand what we mean) at Popolos, but what the hell. He makes it worth a visit.