Monday, October 02, 2006

"My Dinner With Andre 2: Electric Boogaloo vs. The Giant Clusterf*ck"

Hey kids!

I haven' posted in a while because I've been too tired and lazy. Sorry. I've got a cold that kicked my ass for the first couple days, but it's essentially settled down now. For the most part my week has been pretty uneventful. Work was about as great as a bag of whale sputum, but I won't talk about that...

This evening I went out for dinner with a good friend. We don't usually have much of a plan going into it. We usually make our dining decision as we're driving around. We're not a very decisive duo. My friend recommended an Italian place called Cuchina Bravo on Haggerty. She had a horrible experience her first time, but had decent experiences since and I'd never been so I figured I'd give it a whirl. First of all, it's one of those cookie-cutter chain monstrosities. The menu was predictable and the wine list fair. Let me preface by saying that our server was always very pleasant as was the rest of the staff. I ordered a bottle of Craneford Shiraz and another server then brought us glassware and poured THE WRONG WINE without asking if it was the correct bottle (Bleasdale Cabernet/Syrah was brought to the table. A decent wine, but not the caliber of the Craneford). He disappeared before we could catch him. While waiting for our waitress to return I spotted incorrect placement of fingers by servers all over the dining room. That is NOT how you hold or present a plate! Anyhoo, our server finally returned and I told her that we had ordered a different wine. She was apologetic and finally brought us the correct bottle several minutes later. She had great difficult opening it. (She's just young and inexperienced. I won't hold that against her. I always try to be helpful in such situations by offering help or allowing the server to set the bottle on the table.) The bread was gummy on the inside and took a long time to receive the bruschetta appetizer that I ordered. In fairness it was pretty good as was the white bean soup that I eventually received. I had ordered the pork chops (cooked medium) for my entree. The table that was seated next to us about 15 minutes after we sat down received their filet mignons way before we received our entrees. Everything that WE ordered was taking a very long time. She was very friendly and very apologetic and I'm a very patient and forgiving restaurant patron as I know how the game works. Much, much later the manager served us our dinners. My friend's dinner was correct, but I had a rack of lamb set in front of me. I told him that I ordered the pork chops and that it was probably someone else's entree. He said that she had ordered the lamb instead of the pork chops (server error). I didn't want to cause a fuss so I said I'd keep the lamb chops (which I LOVE anyway). The only issue was that they were supposed to be cooked "medium" as I had ordered for the pork, but I like my lamb rare to medium rare. Luckily enough the kitchen undercooked my lamb, which was actually just perfect for me, but an error on their part. The haricot vert were perfectly al dente, but the garlic mashed potatoes were way too salty. I'm a glutton for punishment so I ordered dessert (lemon orange sorbet and an espresso). It actually came out correctly. It took about half an hour for our server to check on us (she actually didn't stop to check on us, I had to wave her down with some authority). Overall the food was actually pretty decent, but service was abysmal. Our server was always friendly, but just dumb and inexperienced. The table on the other side of us asked for Parmesan and the waiter said they were out. How can an Italian restaurant run out of Parmesan cheese? The whole waistaff seemed to be painfully inexperienced which virtually makes me nauseous. As a former waiter (a good one at that if I may say so) trained in French, Russian, and American service it literally pains me when I see servers doing things incorrectly. The handprints on the windows were a nice touch too. To be a good server you have to have great time-management skills and have an eye for detail. It seemed that all of the servers had blinders on. A good server should not only be attentive of their own tables, but of others as well. The servers and bussers at Cucina Bravo need a lot of work! A lot! It was a painful experience. The manager was kind enough to comp our entrees, so I actually ended up getting a free rack of lamb. I won't argue that. But I also won't revisit that establishment until they replace their waitstaff with a bunch of old school professional waiters who know how to debone a Dover sole table-side. I should know better than to eat at a chain anyway...

Speaking of chains...
Tyler Florence (celebrity chef and cookbook author) has created some signature dinners for Applebees. I used to like him quite a bit. Now he's just another sellout. Good for him though to make a bigger name for himself and to bring in some big consulting bucks.

Last week I broke in my new Le Creuset Dutch oven with an awesome batch of short ribs. The short ribs at Farmer Jack were rather small so I bought about 15 of them (and two beef shanks). It's a big-ass Dutch oven! I started by rendering some cubes of pancetta in peanut oil and then removing them to dry. I added the short ribs and beef shanks which were seasoned and floured and browned them in groups. After all the meat was removed I added the mirepoix and let it soften for a bit. I added some tomato paste, garlic paste, anchovy paste, bay leaves, dried basil, and thyme and let it cook for a bit. I then added a whole head of garlic (in whole cloves) and then put the meat back in as well as the reserved pancetta, fresh mushrooms, and pearl onions. I then added some chicken stock and a bottle of a Cote du Languedoc I had lying around. I brought it to a quick boil and then let it drop to a simmer and put it in a 325 degree oven for just over three hours. butter. They fell off the bone and melted in the mouth. I gave a hefty portion to my landlords as they were kind enough to get me the new Le Creuset for my birthday. Simple country food is the most satisfying. Delicious!

This clip is REALLY FUNNY and REALLY WRONG. Talk about an evil step-mom...

Jack Lessenberry hits the nail on the head again! Another reason to be afraid of Dick DeVos. Read here.

This may be a little late but kudos to President Clinton for having the balls to confront Chris Wallace on Fox "Conservative Turd Nugget" News last week. You can watch the excerpt of the interview here.

Did you hear about the 5th grade art teacher in Texas that lost her job because she took her students to an art museum. Although all the children had permission slips from their parents it turns out that some of the parents were offended after the fact by the nudity appearing in varied pieces of art. She was teacher of the year two years ago and had an excellent record for over 20 years but lost her job due to nut-job conservative Texan (gotta watch out for them!) parents. It's a museum...not a GG Allin show! Dumb ass Toby Keith listenin' Skoal chewin' whitebread eatin' intelligent design teachin' Halliburton stock totin' hate mongerin' inbred fucktards! What is life without art?

Random poll- Where have you had the best and worst restaurant service?
(The best service I've had in the US was at Trio in Evanston, Illinois. The best service overall was probably in Australia though. Cucina Bravo ranks with the worst. As much as I love the Traffic Jam, I've had some seriously bad service there in the past.)




Blogger Kathleen said...

I despise chain restaurants.

As bad as TJ's has been at times, the worst service I've ever had was at the Friendly's out in Plymouth (a hundred years ago obviously). We ordered ice cream only and 30 minutes later still didn't have it. We saw our waitress sitting at a table near us socialising. She was PISSED when she didn't get a tip.

Best service? Nothing stands out, I'd have to say.

12:49 PM  
Anonymous btremelo said...

Best service & meal I've ever had was about 12 years ago at Stafford's Perry Hotel in downtown Petoskey, Michigan. It was like our waiter had e.s.p.-- he was always right there the moment you needed him... extremely attentive without ever being annoying or in the way. It was the first time I'd ever had escargot or duck sausage... mmmm. And my filet mignon was to DIE for. But the best part of the evening was when our waiter let a drunken Rico Suave play the restaurant piano. I also remember riding back to the cottage in the back seat of Glen's car listening to Ornette Coleman's "Free Jazz" album, slightly tipsy myself, and feeling sooooo content.

Worst service ever was the night I "beat the sh*t" out of the waiter at Andoni's. Classic line of the evening: "Are you TRYING to be an a**hole?!"

12:52 AM  

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