I’ve dined out for decades and have been to almost every restaurant I longed to try, thanks to my perseverance and an irrepressible appetite. Yet, one place has endlessly intrigued and eluded me: the cafeteria of New York’s Metropolitan Opera House.

Patrons range from stagehands to stars. Sadly, I am neither. And because tables are reserved only for employees of the opera house, and, occasionally, for dancers from American Ballet Theatre, I’ve never been able to get in. Just to be clear, I harbor no desire to meet a sylph-like ballerina or even a robust soprano. I simply wish to learn if the cafeteria is as romantic as I have imagined. And like every New Yorker, I want access to what I have been denied.