3. September 2009 18:42
South Beach is not known for its affordability. Apparently, someone noticed and invented the greatest thing since sliced fish on rice: The Miami Spice Menu. For 35 dollars, restaurants offer sample portions of their popular menu items and in return benefit from a combined marketing budget promoting the Miami Spice program. Win/win. At Bond Street, we had edamame, miso, a roll and a sashimi platter for the paltry sum and then added on some rolls we wanted. A lot of rolls. Along with 2 bottles of house sake our bill was still barely scratching $100.
The sushi itself was better than average but not by much. Sashimi is sashimi and unless management is so cheap that they make the chefs use the sinewy tail portions of the tuna, everyone in America pretty much has the same supplier: the Tsukiji market in Tokyo. But I do like to see how creative the rolls are. And they were good. Can’t complain. But if the bill were 2x I’d complain a lot believe you me.
23. January 2009 20:03
Dear Mastro’s Steakhouse,
On Friday, the 23rd of January, the year of our Lord and Savior Jesus H. Christ, Two Thousand and Nine, we dined at Mastro’s Steakhouse Beverly Hills. Dinner was a symphony of errors. Not for want of service or flavor but management.
If a restaurant chooses to datestamp its menu like an entry in a server log, it should take care to make the date current. My menu stated that it was December 23rd or some such thing giving the impression that the ingredients have been patiently sitting on the counter hoping someone would order them for a month. Yes, intelligent diners will understand that a restaurant does not reprint a menu every day but there is no reason to boldly proclaim the menu’s age unless it’s flattering.
I have, with advancing age and wisdom, begun informing the wait staff of my steak’s preferred temperature rather than giving a blanket term that everyone seems to define at their convenience. The preference is cool red center. Having advised the waiter of this, my steak was still overcooked throughout its majority but there was definitely a portion of the center that managed to evade heat at all. As I relished this morsel I wondered what natural phenomenon could have made this possible.
Inflation happens. Costs increase and having no alternative, people accept it. However, when one charges US$39 for a fine cut of slightly overcooked beef, and has an extensive wine list with bottles in the thousands of dollars, charging US$18 for a martini is beyond explanation. It is simply an assault on alcoholic decency. Mastro’s is a restaurant, not a resort. Even Sunset Tower charges US$15 and one could argue that it is both. Completely unacceptable.
And finally, when one wants to be taken seriously in any field that requires communications such as from the kitchen to the customer by way of the menu, one learns to spell properly. Ask a random sample of people on the street for the spelling of Johnnie Walker’s family of scotches, and one is likely to hear the same mistake 8 out of 10 times. Fix the damn thing before someone does a special titled: Celebrity Restaurants: They’re just like us! They can’t spell either.
The Food Bitch
9. May 2008 21:51
Attn: James Vold, GM, Eva Longoria, ???
6350 Hollywood Blvd
Hollywood CA 90028
Dear Mr. Vold,
On Friday, May 9th, in the year of our Lord and Savior, 2008, I dined in your new Hollywood restaurant: Beso and toward the end of dinner, I would have enjoyed nothing more than to present myself to the chef, remove my trousers and force him to Beso my big, hairy ass with a pinch of salt.
It is common for a celebrity to open a restaurant that she “does not want to be one of those celebrity restaurants” only to have it then follow the script as closely as a teleprompter. Naturally, the scene was great. Lots of the requisite pretty people trying their hardest to look casual and fabulously well designed interior trying its hardest not to look ethnic. Who could ask for anything more? From a bar. From a restaurant, one could, and indeed should, ask for a little extra.
We were seated 30 minutes late even though our table was “being set” for at least 15. I assumed that the rage in Hollywood has become hiring bus staff that move like glaciers. But then, my partner in dine was bumped at least a dozen times by various employees who were moving around far too quickly to avoid obstacles and wore the dedicated expression known to waiters (and evidently glacial bus persons) that discourages stupid customer requests such as: “May I have some more water?” Where were these people when we needed a table? They could have bumped other diners clean across the dining room and then reset the table like a champion cup stacker.
Then came the food. How did thou gag me? Let me count the ways:
- If one charges US$14 for a tablespoon of guacamole, one should probably lace it with illegal narcotics or gold flakes or something. There is no such thing as a U$14 tablespoon of guac. Or was the price in Pesos? Damn. I should have looked.
- Being white and stupid, I sometimes can’t tell between products of Indian and Mexican DNA. But I can certainly tell between their food. Why serve Nan bread at a Latin-themed restaurant?
- Grilled shrimp should require neither a cleaver nor a personal crab claw to enjoy. All it should require is a little prep work in the kitchen. Anything else isn’t kosher.
- Skirt steak is skirt steak. It’s either raw or burnt. When did people start getting the impression that skirt steak was Filet Mignon? I guess when it started costing US$29.
Overall, if I can say one thing to help out your future bloated customers it is this: LAY OFF THE SALT! I seriously thought that I was going to shrivel unless I got some water pronto but, of course, no matter how prominently I placed my empty glass, no one could be bothered to refill it. I looked for salvation in the remnants of the Nan bread which seemed to have (only) 4 spoons full of salt sprinkled on but definitely could have used an intravenous drip after finishing my skirt steak. It may have skirted on many things but covered the old Sodium Chloride as thoroughly as a long denim skirt covers an Orthodox chick.
If I were smarter and more driven, I’d open up a bottled water stand on your sidewalk. Then I’d have the most profitable 9 months in business history.
28. January 2007 13:44
On January 27th, in the year of our Lord and Savior, 2007, I attempted to have dinner at the restaurant. Being an experienced Japonais diner, I made reservations nearly a month in advance. One would think that such diligence would escalate one’s priority past the walk-in crowd. Maybe last year.
As the clock swept well past reservation time, I checked with the host several times and was told after each one that our table was “paying” which presumably meant that it would be available shortly. After 50 minutes of “paying,” my companion and I gave up on the hope of a fine dinner and decided to eat at the bar. This decision had consequences to which we’ll come back in a paragraph.
Having lived in LA for most of 2006, I have become accustomed to dining room ineptitude. I even forgive most of their infractions just as I would a misbehaving child, contenting myself to an eye-roll and audible sigh. But I hold Japonais to a higher standard. One does not need to be an operations guru to know that a 15 minute delay is uncomfortable but tolerable, 30 is annoying and beyond is simply unacceptable. One also must not blame the table-hoarding patrons as it is not their job to manage flow. When diners are taking their sweet time and reservations are crowding in, suck it up and buy the hoarders a bottle of cheap champagne (at the bar) and watch how quickly they’ll high-tail it out of their seats.
Now, we must re-visit the unfortunate consequences of the bar’s abbreviated menu.
In LA, revelers are limited in their alcoholic intake because of the inevitable drive home. A person can easily pull a Paris Hilton by having a margarita on an empty stomach. Therefore, in Chicago, one is forced to capitalize on the ability to drink to the point of dementia and take a cab home. My companion’s and my alcoholic intake, although impressive, is tempered by the size of the evening’s dinner, however, to limit ourselves this day seemed like a colossal waste of a Saturday night in the city. And so, there we sat, angrily drinking at the bar with nothing but a few rolls to distract our respective digestive systems from metabolizing the free-flow of alcohol. My memory failed somewhere during the fourth bite of the Spicy Mono Roll but I am told that we had gone to several places hence.
As my Sunday fell casualty to Saturday’s hangover, I have no one to blame but you for not keeping my reservation time and interfering with a precise and calculated formula for alcoholism and thus ruining my weekend. Although your food prevents you from making the full descent into restaurant mediocrity, your operations have certainly deployed your landing gear.
18. November 2006 21:59
Dear Ashton Kutcher,
On Saturday, November 18th, in the year of our Lord and Savior: 2006, I dined at Dolce Enoteca, your Italian/American fusion/fission restaurant/bar. May the good Lord rest my digestive system.
I won’t complain about the moderately bad service. I have been to enough LA restaurants to know that what you people call a service industry is simply legalized aggressive begging by wannabe actors. So it’s OK that our water was refilled sparingly, bus service was non-existent and our second round of drinks shuffled to the table roughly 10 minutes after we finished our meals. I won’t complain about a 20 dollar crab cake appetizer that made up for its tiny size with completely average taste. Nor about the six or seven crab ravioli that couldn’t decide if they wanted to be hot or cold or just plain strong.
But when your bathroom(s) staged an uprising and released a torrent of excrement into the dining room entrance, this pious diner had had his fill. How is it possible that a mere toilet could spew forth a river of waste through an entire restaurant? Or was the toilet a mere agent and an overfed customer the principle? Indeed, the Tigris and Euphrates could never flood with such a return on the gallon. But whereas the former cradled civilization, your floor will now cradle E. Coli. And Cholera. And your competitor’s burritos.
So long. Farewell. Smell you laters.
19. May 2004 13:42
Dear Mr. McLain,
On Tuesday, May 18th, in the year of our Lord 2004, I had dinner at your new establishment: Green Zebra. The portions enabled me and my companion to sample as many of the menu items as would ordinarily be impossible outside of a party of 6 and the flavors were worthy of your esteemed reputation as one of the city’‘s finest chefs.
The prices were amazingly reasonable causing me to proclaim the dinner a success, place Green Zebra on my list of gastronomical triumphs and vow a quick return. We couldn’‘t wait for desert! Having been on a cheese-tasting campaign for the last few months, my accomplice and I were intrigued by your selections, many of which we had never had and decided to make them our desert! Them…
Can you imagine the crushing blow of reality when we discovered that 6 US dollars bought but one type of cheese? Based on the pricing structure, 24 US dollars would be required in order to sample every unique and tasty variety. I was mortified.
On May 18th, in the year of our Lord 2004, GOLD closed at 382 US$/oz or 13.474664456 US$/gram. Now I am not sure how many grams constitute a cheese course at Green Zebra but observing the size of previous portions, I can only hope that it is more than 1.781120418 grams. If it is not, Green Zebra values its collection of cheeses (average retail price of which is ~25 US$/lb.) more than gold.
I would hate to imagine the chaos that would ensue if word of such valuations got out. Markets would quickly feel the might of a powerful new commodity next to which precious metals are but a moon-cast shadow. Demand for cheese and other dairy products would skyrocket and roaming gangs of hoodlums would make cattle thievery a profitable profession once more. Amish cheese-producing communes would create a cartel and hold other cheese-industrialized faiths at the mercy of relentless cheese embargos. This is to say nothing of the black-market cheeses that would surface and potentially get eaten before being aged the requisite 60 days.
I can only hope that when asked about what started these horrors you have the decency to say: The Cheese Course at Green Zebra.
17. January 2004 13:40
On January 15th, 2004 I lunched at Joe’s.
Many restaurants can only hope to achieve on their best days the level of service that Joe’s gives on an off one. The food was as exceptional as always and the atmosphere provided nothing but creature comfort.
Then, unfortunately, the bill came. Now normally, I would have just stuck out my credit card with little more than a casual glance at the total, but this time, the server left the receipt (see attached) on the table while he took the order of several other patrons. Because in my youth I have taken far too many accounting classes, I saw the subtotal and the tax and before I could stop myself, added them together and got: 40.99. !!! Whoa! This total agreed with every law of arithmetic since ancient Greece and yet did not agree with the computer-generated sub-total. Where did the extra penny come from? Was it a computer glitch? A quantum fluctuation? The same fuzzy math exposed by Al Gore in his 2000 campaign against our President? Let’s just call it the penny-pinch, or PP (PeePee) for short.
Mr. [Manager], I cannot tell you how much this revelation has changed my life. Now that I have been the victim of peepee, I find myself unable to pay a bill without meticulously checking its arithmetic integrity. No matter the size of the group or its respective level of intoxication, there I sit, carefully adding pennies.
Have you any idea as to the long-term economic consequences of peepee? In order to maintain my own arithmetic acuity, I will drink less and turn tables slower. In my newfound sobriety, I will tip more to the tune of 20% instead of the alcohol-induced 80%+. The people I will tell about this will do the same. Employee turn-over at popular restaurants will increase and so will unemployment in the food service industry thus increasing competition for the most desirable server jobs. With decreased supply, demand will overflow into the upscale ranks of career servers preventing working students from funding their educations and decreasing overall achievement in academia. With more aspiring smart people out of work, America will become less competitive over time and the dollar will continue on a never-ending slide against the Euro affecting the balance of trade and eventually doom American prosperity.
I just hope that when asked about what started these horrors you have the courtesy to say: PeePee at Joe’s.
2. January 2004 22:04
Contrary to my (many) previous experiences at Subway, this one was worthy of complaining. I was greeted after no less than a minute of waiting by an extremely unfriendly man who seemed interrupted from his backroom affairs. He took my order and (to compliment him) prepared my sandwich with such speed and accuracy that I could barely see his hands moving. However, when he added hot peppers, he simply dumped a spoonful onto the sandwich. After I had asked him to spread around the peppers, he looked up at me (for the first time) with an expression of amazement at my daring to question his sandwich artistry. Quickly returning his eyes to his work he picked up one pepper threw it onto the other side of the sandwich and wrapped it up. Following the mood, he performed the same toss operation when returning my change to the counter instead of to my open palm.
I find this treatment unacceptable and consequently will never return to this Subway again.