Lunch at Michael’s: “There Are No Specials Today” Edition

Sorry we’re two days late on your weekly Michael’s fix, but the anticipation just makes it sweeter. Besides, the Wednesday before the most-travellingest day of the year does not for a booming lunch business make; indeed, Michael’s had a lonely, muted feel Wednesday in a half-empty room; even Michael Wolff could have gotten a table. They were clearly not gunning for a huge crowd, either; our waiter opened with a greeting followed by the blunt “There are no specials today.” Okay, then. Nonetheless, there were still some media luminaries to be seen (and all sorts of look-alikes, which kind of counts), plus pithy commentary on what people were wearing and eating, or what kind of famous people they kind of looked like.

Vamanos, muchachas! Let the parade of Cobb Salads begin.

Table 1: Crack photojournalist Harry Benson of Vanity Fair, Life, and about a zillion other places – check out some of his amazing photos from all over the world (and, indeed, modern history) here. Beatles, Reagans, Kennedys, Astaires, Clintons and John Wayne Bobbit (yes, that guy). Also: Diane Sawyer with long hair here, sporting a positively Katie Couric-like grin.

Table 11: Snowy-bearded Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, who we can safely assume will not be shopping today.

Table 12: A very attractive man who I instantly recognized as someone who had to be on network news. Straight out of central casting. Turned out he’s just that: Bob Woodruff of ABC news, anchor of “World News Tonight Saturday.” He was with Susan Zarinsky, who I believe is still with CBS and on whom the Holly Hunter character in “Broadcast News” was based (but presumably not the Holly Hunter character in “The Piano”).

Table 18: Liz Smith, beaming as she walked into the restaurant, looking suntanned, perfectly-coiffed and resplendent in an orange blazer with just a hint of coral. She dined with a man who looked like James Cromwell (Ruth’s husband on “Six Feet Under,” inter alia) and a blonde woman who we couldn’t really see. Didn’t catch their order but for dessert Liz had some sort of yummy-looking chocolate cake-type thing and her companions each had mango sorbet. Forgot to check if they ate their rolls.

Table 17: Men’s Health editor David Zinczenko with MH spinoff Best Life editor Stephen Perrine (and not, for a change, with former Men’s Journal EIC Michael Caruso). Zinczenko had the abs-friendly salmon, but we were heartened to see him raise a cookie to us in greeting. Aw. Even the abs need a treat now and again.

Table 6: The look-alike table to end all look-alike tables. Dead ringer for Fred Willard (“wha’ happened?“), with a man who certain diners who shall remain nameless suggested was “a young Stanley Bing” and a woman in a black beret who actually kind of looked like the woman in the beret hanging on the wall by Table 4 (not an actual woman).

Table 15: Our table! Fishbowl had the pleasure of dining as the guest of Table 15 habitu&#233 David Hirshey of HarperCollins/soccer-scoring fame, plus ESPN Books editor Michael Solomon, who both looked dashing in tweedy blazers, plus me, Rachel Sklar. Hirshey and I each had the Cobb Salad, and I was a little devastated to see that they’d changed it – what happened to the creamy mix of deliciousness featuring big chunks of egg white? (Note: egg white is abs-friendly). This concoction was leafier and less pleasing to Fisbhowl’s refined palate. Michael, if you’re reading this, please revert. Thanks. Luckily, Solomon ordered a chicken dish accompanied by fries, and he let us eat off his plate. For dessert we enjoyed some Proust-friendly madeleines. Stephen Perrine, please don’t be mad at us.

Additional sightings: Apparently Ron Perleman was there at some point, but we missed him.

More random look-alikes: A cheerfully-smiling blonde woman in a purply woolen blazer who closely resembled Meredith Baxter Birney of “Family Ties”; a silver-haired man striding out from the back room whom we thought for a moment might be Anderson Cooper. The hair wasn’t silver enough though.

On the way out we looked at pictures of Loreal‘s adorable new baby Sophia, who is as cute a lil’ Thanksgiving pumpkin as anything. Upshot: Babies are cute, madeleines are delicious, and Cobb salads are best left alone. See you next week!

Schematic of Michael’s, not including the back room. Please. Who eats there?*

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*Just kidding. Sometimes we try snotty on to see how it feels but it never feels like we’re going to get a free meal in the back room at Michael’s. A thanksgiving lesson for us all.