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Food & Drink

Best Restaurant When Someone Else Pays 

Arthur Clay's

Successful freeloading is equal parts poker, theater and ballet. It doesn't begin when the check arrives. Rather, the curtain rises when the plans are made, and a well-rehearsed script is a must. Got a birthday coming up? Win an award? Have a baby? Anything will suffice. Just casually mention it without any hint of entitlement. You want them to come up with the notion that you deserve a free dinner. If, by the end of the conversation, they haven't bought in, you're going to have to gamble and try a different approach. Once you arrive at Arthur Clay's in downtown Maplewood, suck up to your companions. Sparkle. Order big. If someone chooses a $12 single-malt, raise "em a $16 snifter's worth. The place serves exquisite baby back ribs, the best we've ever had. Recommend them; it'll score you bonus points. Arthur Clay's must have a private hotline to the coasts, because a rare piece of their tuna is still breathing on the inside. Definitely order dessert and a tawny Port (it reinforces the notion that this is a celebration). All the while, befriend your server; speak to him with your eyes. Finally, when the check heads your way, smile and eye-point the bill in the other direction. Then, just as the bill hits the table, the ballet: a subtle, graceful lean-back and eye twinkle with a ting. Oh yes. Life's good on the dole.

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