24. November 2010 14:09
The service industry occupies a wide spectrum. Past ineptitude, falls “attitude” where the bartender knows she is inept and shoves it in the face of customers. At Sunda, management is highly skilled at hiring buffoons that can ruin the best of meals.
On this fine eve of Blackout Wednesday, the female wanted to hit Sunda for a few. All seemed quiet on the drinking front and we looked forward to a friendly bar scene at a place where the default is that of crush and never comfort. Friendly. Riiiight.
Someone forgot to tell that evening’s bar-tend duo that the bar was empty. In normal circumstances (and for normal workers) the laws of supply and demand dictate that the smaller number of customers should be treated better in order to maximize tip-profits. Instead, these two put on a symphony of stupid never before seen at such distance from LA. I guess the crispy rice and tuna was not the only thing they imported from the land of lazy. But just a note: the actor attitude, although never forgivable when working, you know, AS A BARTENDER, isn’t even plausible when you’re not all that hot and don’t have the loud obnoxious Margaret Cho personality fat chicks develop to compensate for boys not kissing them in high school.
As we were packing up to leave, I explained to my companion why our presence was cut short. At that moment, a voice from right beside us introduced himself as the Assistant GM. He was not on duty and much like we, just stopped in for a drink. He had overheard the peak of the frustration and offered us some drinks and a profuse apology. We accepted both. And even though he was a nice, disarming guy who at a young age already mastered the art of customer politics, a bar that permits its staff to be rude deliberately and then make sure the customer is fully aware of the intent is no place that will ever see my voluntary pennies. Unless they’re fired from a slingshot.
21. November 2010 00:51
Your presence is irrelevant. If a tree falls in the forest, air is forced away from impact no matter if your eardrums vibrate. And so Pane Caldo remains one of the city’s finest restaurants despite the fact that you have never eaten there and probably never will.
Economics is a dismal science. Ask people with that misspent education (author included) and they’ll probably spew off some happy horse-poopy about supply and demand and equilibrium and production and distribution and Zeus knows what else. It’ll surely be enough syllables to beat the vindaloo out of India. But bet you anything they’ll forget “consumption” which happens to be our special expertise. What do you think “consumer” is for Allah’s sake? Unfortunately, due to low demand for Pane’s tables, (we were, and frequently are, the only party in the restaurant) prices cannot find equilibrium until they reach the level of 4-star dining. Even more unfortunately, the service rarely scrapes beyond 2.5. If you are the only table at the place, you might get 3 but not always. A shame, because if ever there was a case where food outshines the service by 2 standard deviations, it is Pane Caldo.
The margherita pizza tasted like the tomatoes were just plucked down from the vine. If you have ever visited Seattle’s Pike Place Market in the summer and had the guy cut you a slice of freshly-ripe tomato you would know what I mean. Where in Odin’s name did they get them at this time of year? And why is everyone else in Chicago using the same pasty crap they toss on my Subway club? Pane Caldo must have their own greenhouse because the sauce seemed one with the tomatoes but thicker – like a tomato smoothie – hey it’s a fruit after all! The cheese was freshly shorn and baked a few degrees shy of crispy like on a fine bowl of French Onion soup. We devoured it with no regard for the damage boiling tomatoes do to roofs of mouths. It was that good.
Pane’s pasta is divine. There is nothing like it anywhere. Yeah, I’m talking to you La Scarola and Carmine’s fans. Not even at Spiaggia. Pane’s is cooked with the light of Horus and the same tomatoes sliced on ZZa go into the sauce. But don’t feel obligated to stick to red-based sauces. A friend, with insider information, always orders the asparagus tortellini. They make it for her despite its rare appearance on the dinner menu. She ordered it today and sweeter was its taste than all the rivers of milk and honey in the Kingdom of Jehovah.
With a sushi restaurant, a good barometer of quality is the spicy tuna roll. Long the trash receptacle of tuna unfit for consumption, chefs would mix these dregs with spicy mayo and VIOLIN! You have another way to charge 10 dollars! No longer would they throw away the sinews by the tail or the brown stuff sitting out a night. In with the mayo and good as sold! But a good place uses good tuna even though no one can tell through the mayo-spicy goop. Sure, it’s like ordering a Bloody Mary with fine vodka but if we pay for it why should the chef care that we can’t taste for what we’re paying?
And so, at Pane Caldo, the barometer is not the Maggiano mound but the finished plate. They all go back clean. And the inadequacy of all the tables’ bread to mop up the last possible drop of amazing, delectable, orgasmic sauce makes many leave their table manners up on Rush Street. I don’t care. Tomato sauce looks good on my tie. Tastes even better.