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Lawrys 2012-12-17

by Foodbitch 17. December 2012 00:25

Richard N. Frank

234 E Colorado Boulevard # 500

Pasadena, CA  91101-2211


Dear Mr. Frank,

On December 17th, I dined at Lawry’s Chicago. Although my Prime Rib sandwich was, as it always is, excellent, I cannot say the same for the salad of my date. Indeed, I even feel discomfort using the term “salad” to describe the horror that was served. It seemed as though what passed for lettuce in Lawry’s Chicago sphere of gravity was a wilted and aged relic with a frozen past. The promised egg was missing and someone thought it wise to make up in seasoning what the entrée lacked in freshness. Much like my own wilting glow and souring scent of youth has forced me to resort to brightly colored outfits, jewelry and oceans of cologne. Yet I have seen McDonald’s hide their disdain for freshness better that Lawry’s did today and at least they don’t charge $10 for their assaults on salad-eating palates.

My complaint is, sadly, twofold. It is exceedingly rare to be served such inedibility anywhere in Chicago. When it happens, I like to monitor the server’s reaction to clearing a full plate. Today, the bus staff cleared the table and took no notice whatsoever. This is bad training. As is the fact that wilted, browning lettuce can make it past a single pair of kitchen eyeballs and down on a paying person’s plate. This kind of carelessness trickles from the top. So, after paying for our luncheon, I asked the hostess for the manager. “Is it important?” I was asked. I would like to think that if I’m asking, clearly I consider it important but alas, there was no manager around. At all. It startled me that a chain as successful as Lawry’s could fail to impress upon a general manager the importance of having supervisors available to customers at all hours they are served. Especially during lunchtime rush on Michigan Avenue. Had I been able to speak about the matter in real-time, this would have gone no further. But since the GM obviously cares so little for his operations I feel this escalation is a favor to a restaurant where I had enjoyed so many prior meals. And hope to in the future.

You see Mr. Frank, Lawry’s, unlike most of Chicago’s temples to carnivorousness, has never cared for their vegetarian clientele quite as much as I believed was business savvy. Go to Gibson’s or Joe’s and order a salad and what comes back is a caricature on a serving platter. For a comparable pittance. They have, unlike Lawry’s, figured out that the flesh-eaters must often dine with those who are still stuck in moral purgatory eating the plant diets of great apes. They don’t understand that all domestic animals are alive for our entertainment or consumption but instead of shunning these poor souls, feed them! And you’ll see more of their dinner partners too! The marginal increase in cost for a head of lettuce is trivial after the supply chain absorbs the cost of the first 100 units. If you promise egg, deliver it! And a few more than 5 tiny croutons (we counted). And…who thought that freezing lettuce was a good idea? Unlike animal protein, water-rich plant membranes do not maintain cellular integrity (or taste) after being pierced with ice crystals. This is why JR Simplot’s process of flash-freezing his potatoes enabled us to become a country of freeze-dried, French-fried tastelessness. Let them be thankful for International Flavors and Fragrances for creating the chemical mirage of flavor. Lawry’s – I held to higher standards.

Mr. Frank, I love your company’s accomplishments almost as much as I loved the food. But the decline in “caring” continues unabated. Please sir, sneak in one day and eat at Lawry’s Chicago’s lunchtime counter. If you proclaim it even passable (C-) I will eat this letter right in front of you. It’s printed on 32 lb. paper so this is not a run-of-the-mill boast. Although it may not be the worst thing for me. They keep telling me I need more fiber in my diet.


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Maxwells At the Club 2009-11-05

by foodbitch 6. November 2009 20:58

East Bank Club has had a restaurant for 30 years. But only for the last 2 have they given a gosh-darn. They have a web site, they buy advertising, they hire professional wait staff. They actually seem like they care which is strange for a group that banks 70M/yr no matter how bad they are.

When one is as old and rich as Dan Levin and partners, one cares very little indeed about petty things like incline benches or food-service. Why should they when they have morons like the author paying them 2Gs/yr for no reason other than the 5 or 6 days/yr he can use the sun-deck? That’s roughly $400/visit. And with drinks, it’s more like $1000. Not a bad price tag. Hell, if I charged idiots those sums, I wouldn’t give a flying rodent bottom about sillines like exercise equipment or friendly service. I wouldn’t fear the XSport Fitness clubs that manage, for $40/mo to have the best equipment, the largest spaces, the hugest dudes, the best smoothies and free parking. Nah – I’d be old and rich and white and would tell all the haters like me to go elsewhere. And get bent. So one can imagine my surprise when, after a 4 year hiatus, I went to the re-designed restaurant on prime-rib night, ordered one rare, and actually got it that way.

In ages and ages past, the restaurant (which never had a proper name) would routinely run out of its special dinner entrée around 7 PM. This must have been economical because dinner started at 5:30 PM, the geriatric crowd was fed by 6, changing into their yellow pants to go cruising for Russian hookers at Tavern or Jilly’s. The only problem was, for those of us that actually work out, the fact that we’d be roped in for a special and be obligated to swill the regular. This was unacceptable. But with the passing of Hubbard Street Grill there were few options.

As any diner worth his/her sea salt knows: the difference between a 2-star meal and 4 is service. Everyone in Chicago gets their meat from Randolph Street and everything else from Sysco. The difference is made by what is thrown away before being put in front of the hungry, by how a plate is presented, and by how friendly and attentive is the person presenting it. Thus, last night was a home run. Or, by the aforementioned count a triple. But that doesn’t sound as good. Which is why it helps the author of sport metaphor to know what the sam-hill he/she is talking about.

Anyway, we came for prime-rib special and prime-rib special we got. Rare. Like our pre-fire ancestors used to eat. That’s more nostalgic than accurate since fire came before the cow but you get my drift. It was excellent! It was as good as I remember the few times I actually managed to score some before the male-enhancement crowd. It was so good that I didn’t actually have room for desert. For me, this is remarkable.

So – East Bank Club – congratulations. You can add my $120/month to your 70M annual profit margin. Now all you need is a leg sled and we’ll be friends again.


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About the author

FB is the CTO of an entertainment company and, these days, writes much more in prose than he ever wrote in code. Which is a good thing. Because people expect quality from code. Meal me:

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