Sweetbitter was a great summer read. It’s the story of Tess who comes to New York City after graduating from college in the midwest with a liberal arts degree. She somehow works her way into a job at a very prestigious restaurant despite having less than the bare minimum of required experience. What follows is a coming of age story filled with broken hearts, delicious food, and coke fueled nights.
Apparently Danler worked at Union Square Cafe and pulled from her experiences to create the fabric of Sweetbitter. The setting of the restaurant is so vivid and I’m sure much of that has to do with Danler’s experience in the industry. Of course writers can use their imagination, but there’s so much rich detail that this book would probably have been impossible to write without having first hand knowledge of similar settings. There’s an incredible energy to Sweetbitter and the restaurant is almost a supporting character.
Danler’s writing is beyond great. She has a knack for description and food writing. Lesser writers might have let some of that get in the way of the story, but Danler (or her editor) keeps the novel tight.
If there’s one part of the novel that’s lacking, it’s the plot. There is a plot and I enjoyed it, I just wished it had been fleshed out a bit more. I’m being a bit nitpicky here, I’ll admit it. With the writing at such high quality though, the surface level of the plot just can’t quite live up to it in comparison.
I would still absolutely recommend Sweetbitter however! It was a complete delight to read and if you love food, wine, or coming of age stories, I feel confident in saying you’ll probably like this.