Sunday, May 29, 2011

100 Things a Customer Should Never Do -Part 2

Well, here it is, a year and a half later - part 2 of “100 things a restaurant customer should never do". We covered the basics on 1-50. now we get into more of what I like to call the “insider shit.” These are things that may seem harmless enough at first, but begin to slowly, or rapidly, eat away at restaurant employees over the course of time. Personally, I don’t feel that any of these requests are unreasonable...

One should never:

Request a “quiet table” when it’s painfully obvious that one does not exist.

Assume you can seat yourself before a restaurant is actually open - does any other kind of business let you in early? When you go to the bank, Staples, or the library do they let you just come in an hang out? Employees are busy setting up and trying to enjoy their last few peaceful moments before having to deal with people like you.

Wear an asphyxiating amount of cologne/perfume. It is amusing, however, to know that there’s no way you could possibly complain about how the food tastes if your senses are so dead that you don’t notice how awful you smell.

Give me nasty looks when I offer you a cocktail and you happen to be pregnant. First of all, I’ve been avoiding having to look at you all that much, and second, a simple “no thank you” would be just fine.

Blankly observe us pouring you water with ice, and then request water without.

Frantically wave your arms to get attention. Blatantly ignoring people who do this is one of our favorite things to do.

Freely grope and fondle your date at the table. This is behavior for the car, your bedroom, Happy Wheels, or the dumpster outside, but no one wants to see it in here. I think I’m speaking for all of us here.

Make little scrunchy faces of disapproval when you don’t like the idea of something. It’s very unattractive.

When ordering next to nothing, explain to me it’s because you “already ate,” and expect me to not be thinking “then why the fuck are you out to dinner, then?”

Eat bar garnishes out of the tray as if it were an Mediterranean-style buffet of olives, lemons, and maraschino cherries, all laid out for your pleasure, Baachus.

Fold up menus when they clearly should not be folded. If you see a dotted line going up the center with an image of a pair of scissors, then by all means...

When told that reservations are only available at 6:30, repeatedly ask "what about 7:30? Nothing at 7:30?"

Ask for an entire rundown of the menu over the phone during service - this is a call to be made during the day.

When told a restaurant is full for the evening and no tables are available, say moronic things like "you should save spots for walk-ins.” Oh we should? I guess you know best!

Talk about your gluten allergy as if it were a life-threatening shellfish or peanut allergy. It’s not. It causes discomfort, yes, and should be avoided – but stop acting like this is a life or death situation.

Assert to anyone who will listen that because you've been to Japan once, for a week, that you know everything there is to know about their diverse cuisine and customs. Also, I’ll save your friends the trouble and tell you that when you attempt to speak Japanese, it makes Japanese people cringe and die a little on the inside.

Assume that because you've read Kitchen Confidential you're somehow "wise to the whole restaurant scene." Please refrain from smilingly knowingly while using terms like “86’ed," "two-top," and “in the weeds.”

Say things like “What’s fresh here?” as this implies that we serve food that is not fresh. Funny, we’re fresh out of the entire menu though, how bout’ the check!

Post negative reviews on the internet while hiding, in a cowardly fashion, behind the vale of anonymity.

Steal things, such as salt shakers and votive holders. What? You don't think this happens?

Assume we’re trying to gyp you out of something if we don't bring you a basket of bread right away... Calm it down, little piggy, the “bread basket helpers” are just a little busy right now.

Assume that, although occasionally we can help you out, we are obligated to provide an outlet for you to charge your cell-phone.

Take what feels like an eternity to order your food, and then become insistent that you’re “trying to catch a movie in 35 minutes.” Looks like you’re going to be late for March of the Penguins IV after all...

Upon receipt of the “black” coffee you ordered, request cream and sugar. Upon receipt of the cream, insist that you wanted milk.

Upon receipt of your “decaf” coffee, use the line “Are you sure this is decaf? Ok, I want your phone number because if it’s not I’ll be calling you at two in the morning when I can’t sleep!”
You can call me at two in the morning, and I'll show up on your doorstep with a bottle of Don Julio. We're going to wake up your twenty one year old daughter and the three of us will be stay up drinking until you finally get that sleep you've been wanting so bad...

Be a dining martyr. While ordering your meal go on and on about how you wish you could have certain foods but you can’t, loudly inquiring about the ingredients on everything down to the ice water, so everyone in the restaurant knows about your terrible affliction or personal choices. Trust me - we're all tired of hearing about it.

While being led by the hostess through the dining room to your table, decide you’d like to take the seating arrangement into your own hands and stop abruptly at the table you'd prefer. No, nobody wants to tackle you in the middle of the restaurant. No, no one would ever want that, everyone loves you and that shit-eating grin of yours...

Inquire, after the fact, about whether a tip was “good enough.” If you’re asking, chances are that you know it wasn’t. If you’re going to tip poorly, just do it and own it.

Ask a server how much you should tip them. My standard response? One thousand dollars. Hey, you asked! The only exception to this rule would be if you’re from abroad, and truly have no idea.

Upon sauntering into a restaurant with a full roadie of beer, become belligerent and insist that you’re the one who’s offended by having to take it outside.

Upon ordering, Provide an unsolicited explanation of what an Arnold Palmer is. This makes me want to substitute grenadine for the lemonade portion of the drink just to make you tell me again.

Act like we’re here to accommodate your wildly disturbing iced tea/diet coke habit, and grow increasingly frustrated when you don’t receive your 12th refill in due time.

Assume that we haven’t already guessed that you’re from “The City.”

Become bitchy when you receive a stupid answer to a stupid question. Example, “what should I do if my car is at a 15 minute parking meter and I’m here for lunch?” and the answer is “move your car to a meter that isn’t a 15 minute one.”

Linger and bottleneck traffic in the dining room while all 15 of you say goodbye to each other.

Ask questions that you don’t want to hear the answer to. Example, “Oh! are we keeping you all here late?” and the answer is “absolutely.”

Become belligerent when you’re credit card is declined, or treat us as if we’re ruining your entire dining experience because we don’t take American Express. Or Discover.

Act surprised and offended that we won’t accept a personal check. Why are you out to dinner with your checkbook anyway?!

Go to a sushi bar, in the current state of affairs, and ask which fish are “radioactive.”

Assume that we’re delighted by the fact that your child only seems to know one word and insists on shouting it repeatedly.

Be surprised that I’m surprised that you have successfully made it to what appears to be 45 years of age being as seemingly helpless as you are.

Forget that if you also work in a restaurant and we are aware of this, you need to behave accordingly.

If seated in the lounge, remove shoes and put feet up. No comment really necessary here.

Unless blind, wear sunglasses while dining inside. This is dangerous for two reasons, A. you may not notice a slight step down on the way to the bathroom, causing you to trip and fall or B. You may get the shit kicked out of you on your way to the bathroom.

Leave little passive-aggressive notes scrawled on the check about how service could have been better. Then again, that’s just the way you are, isn’t it?

Become visually appalled by things like head-on shrimp or chicken feet, acting like we’re the ones in the wrong by “showing you things like that.” I know, in your mind, there are fields of chicken breasts and oceans full of fish filets, but welcome back to reality.

If presented with an open kitchen, hover over the chef and question his every move. Yes, we understand that you are fascinated by what he is doing, but what you’re doing is about as annoying as it gets.

Also in the situation of an open kitchen, blatantly ignore your server and try to order items through the chef, thinking this will get you some kind of preferential treatment. It won’t.

Remember that the menu is there for a reason, and “just cook me something, whatever you want!” is not a proper order unless “chef’s choice” is on that menu. The same goes for drinks, “make me something good” does nothing but “make bartenders want to throw ice at you.”

Request me as a server, as you can clearly see what an asshole I am.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Certain Processed Foods Are Not To Be Trifled With...

There are people out there who would argue that one should avoid processed foods altogether, claiming that you should always know where your dinner comes from. They say that you should strictly eat foods with ingredients that occur in nature, and are “organic,” and prefer to make everything they eat from scratch.

Unfortunately for them, certain joys just cannot and should not be attempted to be made at home or even in a restaurant kitchen. One could spend their whole life “chasing the dragon” with these items, at some point possibly producing a replica that is passable at best.

Some things, like Kraft Blue Box Mac N’ Cheese for instance, that are delicious and comforting, but better Mac & Cheese can be created from scratch. What follows are the processed foods that are perfect the way they are, and, in my opinion, should under no circumstances be fucked with.

We shall begin with the gold standard:

Heinz Ketchup

Ketchup, the original “Sauce American,” is one of my favorite condiments, therefore I insist on Heinz. It is perfectly balanced in flavor and texture, with an intensely satisfying combination of tangy and sweet. People who use Hunt’s brand can often be found drowning in a sea of mediocrity, badly in need of a life preserver but having no idea how to use it were you to throw them one.

Users of Annie’s Naturals Organic are comforted by overpaying for inferior products, where as fans of generic crap like President’s Choice are just too stingy to purchase ketchup that they don’t deserve anyway.

Lastly, those who attempt “house-made” or “farmhouse” ketchups seem to exist solely to both ruin the French fries that they’ve worked so hard to perfect, and to get me all bent out of shape. You simply can’t achieve the velvety delightfulness of Heinz’s vastly superior product.

Hidden Valley Ranch

Hidden Valley claims that their Ranch dressing is the “only way to get kids to eat their vegetables.” While this is a valid point, these kids also end up looking much like I do–pretty fucking overweight.

Though clearly not the healthiest choice of dressing, it is the best Ranch ever, and one should never cheat themselves by purchasing the “lite” or “non-fat versions.” These are still terrible for you but have the extra added bonus of tasting just like shit.

I will also add that when it comes to salads, putting ranch on anything but iceberg lettuce is completely ludicrous, as a dressing devoid of nutritional value needs a lettuce that is equally so. While your at it, don’t hold back with the Chatham House butter and garlic croutons, Kraft singles, and Baco’s.

Nabisco Ritz Crackers

I’ll say it once and I’ll say it again– I’m not happy until the spoon stands straight up in my soup. “Ritz Porridge,” canned Progresso or Campbell’s soup piled up with so many crushed Ritz crackers that it no longer resembles a soup, or even a thick chowder, is like a ghetto-fied polenta of sorts, and I don’t care what you think– it tastes delightful.

Even Betty fucking Crocker herself, with help from Little Debbie, Mrs. Field’s, and Mrs. Dash, could never reproduce these ethereal buttery delights out of a non-factory kitchen. So don’t try, just give in to the red and yellow box at the end of the cracker isle.

You can be comforted with the knowledge that you never had a choice.

General Mills Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal

These three chaotic evil magnificent bastard chefs have committed themselves to an eternity of enslaving children like myself with tiny wafers of real cinnamon and sugar, an important part of any balanced breakfast. Day in and day out they practice their dark magic, levitating boxes and luring children in with their siren’s song.

Personally, I gave up this breakfast kryptonite a long time ago. I came to the realization that, with no adult supervision to tell me when to stop, the entire box of CTC didn’t stand a chance. Those first few minutes while the cereal is crunchy and reminiscent of real cinnamon toast give way to the pillowy comforts of stage 2, when it softens up and starts to work it’s magic on the milk.

Truly the "King of Kid's Cereals," with Honey Combs being a distant second place. Attempt to bake your own and you will be visited in your sleep by the chaotic evil magnificent bastard chefs, who will proceed feed you to Cerberus, the three headed hellhound who has been re-assiogned to guard their bakery.

Pilsbury Crescent Rolls

In the film Indiana Jones and Last Crusade, the Holy Grail is said to be found in the Canyon of the Crescent Moon. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that theses flaky, buttery little trollops also claimed origin from that very canyon. Impregnate them with Hillshire Farm’s Lil’ Smokies, and, as the elderly knight would say, “You have chosen...wisely.”

The undisputed, heavyweight champion of the dinner roll basket, they need no butter to shine but that certainly shouldn’t stop you from slathering an extra 300 calories onto each one. They also make a fine, though blasphemous, wrapper for Peking Duck.

Nestle Drumsticks

When I’ve got a mind-numbing, soul crushing hangover, there’s nothing nearly as delightful as sitting very still and slowly eating a drumstick. My patience is rewarded each time as I get to the chocolatey, chewy and coney bottom, prompting me to tell anyone within earshot about how these little bastards are a fucking godsend.

Though they come in several flavors, I prefer the classic vanilla. There are many who would argue that the Chocotaco, actually the best part of the drumstick through and through, is better. Personally, I enjoy working for that last, perfect bite.

Ferrero Nutella

All hail the legendary hazelnut spread that, much like Sriracha, goes well on damn near everything and even makes this moronic child seem mildly amusing.

Sure, you could make your own, but why? They’ve already done it for you! It’s perfect! Foregoing massive time-wasters like making homemade Nutella allows for more time to watch pornography (preferably with a mouthful of Nutella), season your wok, Zoomba (with a mouthful of Nutella), play Laser Tag, obsess over what a failure you’ve become, challenge friends to a Hypnotiq drinking contest, and maybe get around to directing that snuff film you’ve always wanted to do.

I like Nutella. I like it maybe more than a friend.

Frito Lay French Onion Sun Chips

Until they introduced their “100% Compostable Bag” they were simply my favorite chips, hands down. Nothing pairs up better with a large pizza and an outrageously expensive bottle of Champagne.

Now, avec new bag, they have also become the absolute fucking LOUDEST bag of chips in existence. Every deafening crunch of the packaging prompts yet another person in the room to ask “Is it just me, or is that the loudest fucking bag of chips ever?”

I just can’t be sure of the origins of the “once you pop, you can’t stop – bleeding out of your ears” technology developed by the French Onion Sunchip Research Team, but I may venture to say that it’s causing me to lean more and more towards the Cooler (and quieter) Ranch Doritos camp each day...

R.I.P. Special Tribute Selection:
Nabisco Crown Pilot Crackers

The problem with “Nabisco’s Oldest Product” was that it’s fan base generally fell under the umbrella of “New England’s Oldest People.” Sure, there were a few of us who recognized it as what it was , the ultimate chowder cracker, but in the end the ignorance of the rest of the nation left Nabisco with no choice but to stop production on the Crown Pilot cracker..

It was like a perfect cross between a Saltine and an Oyster Cracker, and I feel genuinely sorry for the new generation that will never know how much better their bowl of chowder could have been..

In Conclusion:

I have chosen to express my views on a topic that i'm confident every single person In the world has an opinion about. Yes, I left out Goldfish, Milano Cookies, Goya Mexican Rice, Near East Rice Pilaf, Oreo Cookies, Twinkies, Cheez-Its, Flintstones Push-Up Pops, Flintstones Vitamins, Cookie Crisp, Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pies, Snickers Bars, Take 5 Bars, Peach Flavored Snapple Iced Tea, and Dr. Pepper - but honestly I didn't have all night... and these Colt 45 pounder cans are making me a little woozy..

Friday, May 13, 2011

Blood Into Wine - A Portland Food Coma Event

Come and join me for a screening of "Blood Into Wine," a documentary by filmmakers Christopher Pomerenke and Ryan Page, chronicling the endeavours of Tool/Perfect Circle/Puscifer Frontman Maynard James Keenan and his partner, Eric Glomski, as they transform a stretch of Arizona desert into a thriving vineyard.

The Venue?

We will be tasting six of Maynard's wines, with each available by the glass or bottle throughout the evening. Selections will include Caduceus "Naga," Merkin Vineyards "Chupacabra," and four offerings from Arizona Stronghold Vineyards.

Dinner will be prepared by none other than Josh Potocki, Deathmatch Chef and Proprietor of 158 bakery.

Sunday, June 5th, 2011
Doors Open At 6:00, Show Starts At 6:30

$50 gets you dinner, a tasting of each wine, and the film - including a Q & A with special guest Rod Young, CEO of the Winery.

There are only 50 spots available for this event, for ticketing go to One Longfellow Square's website.

Looking Forward to Seeing You There!


Special Thanks To:

South Portland Wine Company
Aurora Provisions