If restaurants are doing their job—in other words, sweeping you up into an illusion—then you’re really not supposed to think about something as inconsequential as, for instance, the napkin on your table.

But even if you eat out only occasionally I’m guessing that at some point the following thought has crossed your mind: is it me or does every place nowadays have the same napkin?

Short answer: it’s not you.

Wait a second, do you mean to tell me that this is going to be an entire column about a napkin?

I hear you, believe me. But more awaits you than talk about thread count, I promise. Known variously in the industry as either the “signature stripe”—for the band of blue, red, green, or other colors that run down the center when folded—or “the bistro napkin,” the thing looks, at a glance, more pedestrian than either of those names suggest. It looks like a tea towel or a dish towel, the kind of cloth a chef might use to snatch a scalding pan from the stove.

Read the rest of the Washingtonian article here >>

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