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Robin Garr

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Re: Restaurant fads you're tired of?

by Robin Garr » Thu May 15, 2008 12:36 pm

Paul Winalski wrote:The question "Are you still working on that?" from a waitperson. Certainly not a fad, but something one hears distressingly often in restaurants.

I'll agree with this if we can re-state it. The issue for me isn't the specific terminology, it's the irritation of having your conversation frequently interrupted by having servers reaching in to clear the table the instant you finish a plate. I don't get the impression that it's a rush-you-out, turn-the-table deal. I believe they think people will consider it poor service if they don't keep the table clear. But there ought to be a comfortable middle ground between ignoring the table and hovering.
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Bill Spohn

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Re: Restaurant fads you're tired of?

by Bill Spohn » Thu May 15, 2008 1:33 pm

Robin Garr wrote: The issue for me isn't the specific terminology, it's the irritation of having your conversation frequently interrupted by having servers reaching in to clear the table the instant you finish a plate.


Exacty. They open their mouths and make noise only because they think it is what is expected of them. I have told them that they don't need to keep checking with me, and that they can rely on me to bring any shortcomings in service or food quality to their attention (I probably sound like a real curmudgeon - I don't do this all the time, but once in awhile their inane chatter exceeds even my generous tolerance level). The Keg is particularly annoying (also in the matter of 'Hi, I'm X, and I'll be your server today")

Similarly, they ask you as you leave if everything was alright. I do often respond and tell them and detail any flaws (the chicken was dried out, the steak was overdone, etc.) and they seem surprised that I don't just respond in the affirmative and walk out. I get the impression that they ask as a habit, not really expecting any response other than "Fine, thanks"
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Carrie L.

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Re: Restaurant fads you're tired of?

by Carrie L. » Thu May 15, 2008 1:39 pm

As a dessert lover, I'm a little tired of these tiny, overly-stylized desserts that don't satisfy my sweet-tooth. For example, white chocolate "ravioli" filled with chocolate mousse, with a crystalized sugar thingy sticking out of it, and root beer foam. I enjoy "art" as much as the next person, but would rather have a dessert that tastes good and enough of it to share! Case in point: A dessert trend I will probably not ever tire of--Chocolate lava cake (unless it's served with carrot ice cream or something equally silly.)
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Howie Hart

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Re: Restaurant fads you're tired of?

by Howie Hart » Thu May 15, 2008 2:49 pm

Carrie L. wrote:...but would rather have a dessert that tastes good and enough of it to share! Case in point: A dessert trend I will probably not ever tire of--Chocolate lava cake (unless it's served with carrot ice cream or something equally silly.)
My favorite local restaurant, Suzanne's, is noted for bread pudding - wonderful stuff. I usually end up taking half of it home and eating it for breakfast the next day.
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Re: Restaurant fads you're tired of?

by Rahsaan » Thu May 15, 2008 3:44 pm

Stuart Yaniger wrote:Interesting! I've used it for toppings (especially potato) but never in the crust. Not too tough?


I don't know where you get your rosemary that it would be tough? Ours is pretty tender and fragrant. I should add that I use the Cuisinart to make the dough, so the rosemary gets diced and becomes small flecks dotted throughout the dough. Nice background flavor hints.
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Karen/NoCA

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Re: Restaurant fads you're tired of?

by Karen/NoCA » Thu May 15, 2008 4:01 pm

I dislike it when an overly friendly wait person comes up and announces loudly who they are and they will be our server. I've had them plop down next to me while taking our orders. I also hate loud restaurants where all the wait staff are loud and constanly keep coming by to ask how we are doing. Now I say, "just as well as I was the last time you were here!" This seems to lessen their visits.
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Frank Deis

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Re: Restaurant fads you're tired of?

by Frank Deis » Thu May 15, 2008 5:25 pm

Ditto the foam. Maybe at El Bulli but not in New Jersey.

Otherwise -- I don't know. I had a pretty fabulous pig three ways at Troquet in Boston IIRC, a few years ago. And right in New Brunswick at Soho on George they used to serve squid 4 ways as an appetizer, and I thought that was delightful. Great variety of textures, some cooked very long, some very short, one choice was the standard but delicious fried and breaded calamari. The problem was most diners really only wanted THAT so they quit offering it.

I kind of like Tapas too -- I'm into the whole tasting menu thing, when that's done well. And I've never been to Spain and have no real standard for what is a "real" tapas and what isn't. If it tastes good I'll enjoy it... And having multiple small dishes with widely varying flavors and textures is a treat for me.

The behavior of wait-staff is a whole separate issue, many waiters seem to be untrained or badly trained. Actually one of my best recent experiences was at the Bouchon Bakery up on the 3rd floor balcony at the Time Warner building. This cafe looks like a hole in the wall and the menu is limited. But Keller or someone has produced a brilliant wait-staff there, everyone I came into contact with was intelligent and efficient and did their job perfectly.

F
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Stuart Yaniger

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Re: Restaurant fads you're tired of?

by Stuart Yaniger » Thu May 15, 2008 6:14 pm

I should add that I use the Cuisinart to make the dough


Aha! The knife blade in action. I pick my rosemary from a neighbor's bush and just cut up with a knife.

I've been experimenting with the food processor method, using a very wet dough of 3c tipo fino 00, 1/2c semolina, and about 1.5-1.75c of water. Seems to work very well. I'll try the rosemary incorporation- seems like a cool idea to steal.
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Rahsaan

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Re: Restaurant fads you're tired of?

by Rahsaan » Thu May 15, 2008 8:52 pm

Stuart Yaniger wrote:I've been experimenting with the food processor method, using a very wet dough of 3c tipo fino 00, 1/2c semolina, and about 1.5-1.75c of water. Seems to work very well. I'll try the rosemary incorporation- seems like a cool idea to steal.


That does sound wet. I usually use .5c of water for 1.5c of flour/cornmeal. Will happily steal your ratios in return.. :wink:
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Re: Restaurant fads you're tired of?

by Stuart Yaniger » Thu May 15, 2008 9:18 pm

The trick is to push it out on parchment paper with oiled fingers, then put the whole thing on the stone (the infamous Becca Method). That way, you can keep things wet without worrying about sticking to the peel. After the bottom has set, the asbestos-fingered can use a fingertip to hold the pizza in place while using the other hand to pull out the browned parchment, so the crust cooks directly against the stone.

When you were over last, did JD and I do a pizza? If so, you've seen all this, so sorry for the repetition.
"A clown is funny in the circus ring, but what would be the normal reaction to opening a door at midnight and finding the same clown standing there in the moonlight?" — Lon Chaney, Sr.
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Re: Restaurant fads you're tired of?

by Rahsaan » Thu May 15, 2008 9:20 pm

Stuart Yaniger wrote:When you were over last, did JD and I do a pizza? If so, you've seen all this, so sorry for the repetition.


No, I've never seen you do a pizza.

Interesting technique.
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Robin Garr

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Re: Restaurant fads you're tired of?

by Robin Garr » Thu May 15, 2008 9:25 pm

Stuart Yaniger wrote: the asbestos-fingered can use a fingertip to hold the pizza in place while using the other hand to pull out the browned parchment

Hold it back with a wooden spoon, and you don't need insulated fingers.
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Re: Restaurant fads you're tired of?

by Stuart Yaniger » Thu May 15, 2008 10:12 pm

Wuss!
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Paul Winalski

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Re: Restaurant fads you're tired of?

by Paul Winalski » Thu May 15, 2008 11:06 pm

Robin Garr wrote:
Paul Winalski wrote:The question "Are you still working on that?" from a waitperson. Certainly not a fad, but something one hears distressingly often in restaurants.

I'll agree with this if we can re-state it. The issue for me isn't the specific terminology, it's the irritation of having your conversation frequently interrupted by having servers reaching in to clear the table the instant you finish a plate. I don't get the impression that it's a rush-you-out, turn-the-table deal. I believe they think people will consider it poor service if they don't keep the table clear. But there ought to be a comfortable middle ground between ignoring the table and hovering.


I agree with the restatement. Although the "working on that" terminology particularly grates on my nerves.

It's even worse when they are reaching in to clear the table BEFORE you finish a plate.

It's been my observation of Michelin starred restaurants in France that one thing that sets them apart is the magical way that the servers are always there when you want them, and how the things you're done with seem to magically disappear from the table without your noticing them. The serving staff (which often outnumbers the patrons 2 to 1 or more) is watching you like hawks, but you never notice them. Perfection in service is when it's always helpful and never intrusive. It's a great professional skill and art that's all too sadly lacking in most US restaurants. There ARE notable exceptions, of course. For exampe, it should surprise nobody that I found the staff at the French Laundry up to the finest standards I've experienced.

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Bob Henrick

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Re: Restaurant fads you're tired of?

by Bob Henrick » Thu May 15, 2008 11:12 pm

Howie Hart wrote:My favorite local restaurant, Suzanne's, is noted for bread pudding - wonderful stuff. I usually end up taking half of it home and eating it for breakfast the next day.


Howie, get their recipe. We will go into business and make a fortune.
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Howie Hart

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Re: Restaurant fads you're tired of?

by Howie Hart » Fri May 16, 2008 12:12 pm

Bob Henrick wrote:Howie, get their recipe. We will go into business and make a fortune.
I don't have their's, but here's Robin's: Bread Pudding. Not quite the same - I think they use Rum.
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Jon Peterson

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Re: Restaurant fads you're tired of?

by Jon Peterson » Fri May 16, 2008 3:12 pm

One of mine is - "Do you need change back?"

Another is - "Our special is such-an-such." Now, without knowing the price, how do I know just how special it is?

Lastly, on the tapas issue, I am usually bothered by all the comings and goings of the wait staff necessitated by a meal on many small plates.
I just wanted to inform you that I find you to be very attractive. Thank you and have a nice day.
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Bernard Roth

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Re: Restaurant fads you're tired of?

by Bernard Roth » Sat May 17, 2008 5:46 pm

I guess we need to separate fads from pet peeves, as many annoyances are not really fads.

These fads bother me:

1. Dim lighting.
2. Too many servers, where your primary waiter disappears for too long, leaving other staff to fill in.
3. Too frequent wine glass topping, especially when fad 2 occurs.
4. Overwrought presentations with too many ingredients. Inevitably, they clash or turn into a muddled mess.
5. Olive oil decanters with garlic or herbs. They are never fresh, thereby encouraging the growth of harmful bacteria.
6. Balsamic vinegar poured into the olive oil dish that is supposed to be your bread-dipping sauce. Invariably it is a crappy, severe balsamic vinegar like Roland. But it might kill the rancid character of the pomice oil they are pouring.
7. Factory "Kobe" beef that lacks distinction other than high price.
8. "Prime" rib that isn't prime, and the staff does not know what grade is actually used.
Regards,
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Re: Restaurant fads you're tired of?

by ChefJCarey » Sat May 17, 2008 6:40 pm

I agree with the "gastrique." let's toss in "coulis" while we're at it.

Many of the things you folk mention are anathema to me. I told employees to use common sense. Don't treat anyone the way you wouldn't want to be treated.

And, yes, I agree that local products should be mentioned and touted where appropriate.

Tis is a topic that I could extend for several thousand words. These are some of the reasons I went into this business in the first place. I said to myself "this shit is just wrong."

Feed people good fresh food in a pleasant, relaxed environment. The rest is just smoke and mirrors.
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David M. Bueker

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Re: Restaurant fads you're tired of?

by David M. Bueker » Sat May 17, 2008 10:01 pm

A lot of things have been mentions, but one thing really drives me nuts these days:

the near complete lack of properly prepared vegetables on most dinner plates.

Am I weird? Does nobody else want some well-prepped veggies with their dinner? Usually it's one nearly raw hunk of broccoli or a half-cup of overcooked zucchini, or even nothing!

Argh!
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Carrie L.

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Re: Restaurant fads you're tired of?

by Carrie L. » Sat May 17, 2008 10:14 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:Usually it's one nearly raw hunk of broccoli or a half-cup of overcooked zucchini, or even nothing!

Argh!


You are so right, David!
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Robin Garr

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Re: Restaurant fads you're tired of?

by Robin Garr » Sun May 18, 2008 9:19 am

David M. Bueker wrote:Am I weird? Does nobody else want some well-prepped veggies with their dinner? Usually it's one nearly raw hunk of broccoli or a half-cup of overcooked zucchini, or even nothing!

Argh!

No joke! I reviewed a local spot recently and singled out the chef for praise because he actually bothers to do interesting things with the veggies rather than just throwing a quick garnish next to the meat.
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Jeff Grossman/NYC

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Re: Restaurant fads you're tired of?

by Jeff Grossman/NYC » Wed May 21, 2008 1:44 am

Carrie L. wrote:A dessert trend I will probably not ever tire of--Chocolate lava cake (unless it's served with carrot ice cream or something equally silly.)

And here I am, just the reverse: I'm at the point where chocolate lava cake is no more than an adult Ring Ding, but I am eager to go have that celery sorbet again! :D
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Re: Restaurant fads you're tired of?

by David M. Bueker » Wed May 21, 2008 8:09 am

Jeff Grossman/NYC wrote:
Carrie L. wrote:A dessert trend I will probably not ever tire of--Chocolate lava cake (unless it's served with carrot ice cream or something equally silly.)

And here I am, just the reverse: I'm at the point where chocolate lava cake is no more than an adult Ring Ding, but I am eager to go have that celery sorbet again! :D


If there was a private hell, mine would have celery sorbet.
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