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Posts posted by ingridsf

  1. This was a great article. I am now starving. Ruhlman's recipe puzzled me, as well. But I figured the essential first step he may not have mentioned was, "Buy a fantastic bird." Because I could gussy up a scrawny-yet-fat-filled chicken and no technique is going to redeem it. I'm a tad embarrassed to say that the best roast chicken I ever made was inspired by a Food Network program -- Tyler's Ultimate, I believe. So I started with a good-quality roaster, not Kosher, and no brining. I slathered herb butter under/over the skin and laid strips of bacon across that. Half an onion in the cavity, half cut-side down in the pan. 425 degrees until the bacon's crisp and removed, then reduce to 350 degrees until the juices run clear and the leg wiggles easily in the joint. Frankly, a roast chicken is simply a gravy-delivery-device in my world, so the gravy this one yields is what makes it a keeper for me. Serve with mashed potatoes and Lipitor.

  2. Or while my wife and I were having an anniversary dinner at Stroud's Restaurant in Wichita, we were treated to the rather bawdy conversation between a woman of respectable age and her 3 male companions, 2 of which she was kissing in a rather friendly manner, while they debated if white zinfandel went with fried chicken.

    PDA and bawdy talk aside, may I say how envious I am that you have a serious fried chicken restaurant available to you. (If I'm correct about Strouds.)

    The only wine I want with my fried chicken is iced tea. Or cream gravy.

    Shamefully, I've been involved in some conversations myself that could be complained about here. I used to go out to lunch with the nurses I worked with. Gyn nurse practitioners in a free clinic. Oh boy. I hereby apologize because "bawdy" doesn't even begin to describe it.

  3. I just came back from lunch out and am ever-more committed to renaming this thread, "Loud/Obnoxious in Restaurants."

    It's gorgeous today, I'm off work, and my bud had a Hollandaise jones, so like the good friend I am, we hit a little place we love at 11:30. It's popular with the stroller set and there must have been three parked at tables when we got there. Also some toddlers. But none of the kiddos did a damn thing to bug us except -- oh horrors -- coo, chortle, chomp enthusiastically, and maybe wave their arms around.

    What did bug us was the all-grown-up event planner across the room who was on her cell phone for 20 minutes negotiating rates with a hotel. I know this because she was so friggin' loud. It's a casual place; I don't care when people chat on their phones. (Though I laugh when I see people in groups and phones are in use.) But don't put it on me, or the staff, to teach adults basic manners.

  4. "Designed by nature for baby calves, cow's milk is meant for heifers who double their weight in 45 days, grow 4 stomachs, and grow to over 300 lbs in 1 year. 4 times more protein than human milk and 50% more fat. Furthermore, any milk is only meant for INFANT consumption.

    And sure, soy has its problems as well, some irreputable producers use GMOs and other undesirables. But a good soy milk beats cow's milk all the time!"

    No arguments from me, menton1, about the power and the perils of PR. But all that aside, I've never understood the objection about "designed by nature." It's an argument against consumption for this one item but I seldom hear it made about others.

    Chicken eggs -- or any eggs -- for example. Or chicken feet -- weren't those made for walkin'? :rolleyes: Other animals eat other animals; I think consuming one creature's milk and eggs is part of that. And humans are omnivores whereas calves/cows are not, and the structure of our digestive tracts is vastly different. Comparing them is apples/oranges.

    As a rule, humans don't make choices based on what the item is "meant" for. Meant by whom? Not to get quasi-philosophical but I don't see nature as Nature, and I don't see biology as destiny. We eat what we can get our hands on and what we want. I don't see that milk is only for infants. Creme brulee? Camembert? Pizza? All need milk (cream is part of milk, in my book), and they are most definitely for non-infants.

    Because that's another thing human eaters do: we cook. We manipulate and process the heck out of food, sometimes turning wheat kernels into bread and coffee beans into my drug of choice; other times taking I-don't-know-what and making Slim Jims. Cow's milk (raw and local, as I can get it) is pretty close to unprocessed and doesn't have anything added to it, whereas the soy milk I could get -- which I'm not saying is bad stuff -- is heavily processed (soy beans aren't all that drinkable!) and often has sugar added along with stuff to make it shelf stable. There are more unknowns, to me, in that glass of soy milk than in my glass of cow's milk.

    What I would prefer is to not exalt or vilify either of these.

  5. Secondly, if you travel anywhere on the East Coast that's more than about 50 miles from Philadelphia and ask for a "hoagie," you will be met with a blank stare, then, "You mean a sub?"

    Au contraire. If you were lucky enough to be in Leoni's, where I went to when I grew up outside New Haven, CT, you'd be asking for a "grinder."

    Welcome to the Bay Area! If you're looking for a nice toasted sandwich in SF, try DeLessio's Cuban. I have no idea how it ranks in authenticity but it's damn tasty. Top it off with a piece of their chocolate sour cream Bundt cake, and you've basically justified your trip to SF. It's on Market (F streetcar line) at Gough, next to the McCroskey mattress factory (which goes well with any proper lunch, come to think of it).

  6. Milk, however, is really not a good food for humans.  There are now warnings about giving too much of it to children; it is also the Number one allergen in the food supply (!!) 

    Perhaps notice also ought to be taken of the increasing popularity of soy milk, a much more healthful food...

    I used to work for a breast cancer advocacy org and, believe me, I've heard more (informed) debate about the dairy/soy issue than most people. Just in relation to breast cancer, the unsatisfying situation right now is that cow's milk and soy both have warnings associated with them. Soy's estrogen-rich properties have to be judged in a context that takes into account that we are now absorbing estrogen from our environment from plastics and many other sources. This influences how healthful a soy-rich product is.

    I would suggest a careful attention to the source of whatever product you ingest, as much if not more than what you consume. I buy raw milk from a small, local, and reputable supplier; I'm fairly confident I'm drinking unprocessed milk from clean, healthy cows who did not consume pesticides, heavy metals, antibiotics, or hormones. Silk soy milk, for example, is owned by Dean Foods which has lobbied for a weakening of US organic food standards. They also use GMOs and some non-domestic suppliers. So it's not so simple in my mind.

    My brother is lactose intolerant. Cow's milk is not for him. I have a congenital condition that involves muscle deterioration that makes breathing and eating more tiring than for most people. Cow's milk is an easy thing for me to get in my body to get my energy going; I've tried soy milk and it just doesn't have the same effect.

  7. Were there any inclusions/exclusions that you were surprised about in the list? Why?

    I'm probably in the minority but I don't get the love for The Slanted Door. At least not its most current incarnation. I feel like it's shifted to a cocktails-and-views place. The food doesn't stand out and the decor seems chilly in a cafeteria kind of way.

    I was curious about Nopa's rapid rise. Granted, I've only eaten there once but it was such that I wouldn't go out of my way to return. We tried lots of stuff but only the flatbread was truly delicious. The chicken I've heard raves about was dry and quite bland, and the fries were flabby. Off night?

    Very happy to see Clementine on the list. I've had many, many wonderful meals there. Chapeau! is comparable in many ways, but it's so noisy and the tables so wedged together that I think Clementine is the better of the two.

  8. Adults (or I should say parents, as nobody so far has identified nannys or babysitters as being problematic in this way - but of course they are getting paid to watch the children which somehow makes it different in our society, doesn't it . . .) who are too busy doing "their own thing" (talking to each other, using their cellphones, whatever) to supervise their children in restaurants or more often coffeehouse-type-of-places are (to my mind) the indirect subjects of two recent stories in the NYT. One is about the culture of multi-tasking that pervades our society at various levels (sometimes, maybe, this *can* be geographically sorted to a point) and another is one step further away, but speaks about the desire to succeed.

    The second article focuses on young women, who still even today generally more than their young men peers, will have to struggle with whether they will be mostly a career woman or mostly someone who raises children, or whether they will get up on the high wire to do the lovely acrobatic act called "having it all".

    We've got a lot of mixed messages going on that affect these young women. Obviously these mixed messages will ultimately affect our society at large (yes, in restaurants, that most public place where we show ourselves to the world and to each other) and will affect their own families as those families grow.

    It's sort of hard to have it all. Yet somehow the seed has been sown that indeed, it is possible. I wonder, myself, how possible this is for how many, ultimately. Can the best cellphone and the right shoes make life flow in some special way?

    This, is what it seems to me is happening, mostly, when disruptions occur with children and their adult attendees in restaurants. Kids, often enough, are just not as well loved as a cellphone and a double latte with the perfect haircut. Or maybe its not that they are not as well loved, but they sure can be more difficult to deal with.

    There's a lot of lip-service in the US about how wonderful children are and that mothers (specifically) are doing the most important kind of work there is. But that doesn't jibe with the 76-55 cents being earned by women who are mothers, compared to 90 cents by women who are not mothers, and the dollar earned by men. The Center for Work Law Life at UC Hastings College of the Law has reputable information about the real pressures mothers/caregivers face, and how those pressures short-change children.

    I think much parental behavior today -- in restaurants and elsewhere -- is heavily influenced by guilt. One reason is workers in the US work longer hours than anywhere else in the industrialized world, and it's not often by choice. When time with a child is limited, parents don't want to spend it in conflict. The other reason is that some women who leave the workforce to take care of their kids say they feel they need to be the "best" mothers or they would feel guilt for not excelling at their job; maybe they think a squalling, angry kid means they're messing up.

  9. If a customer is forced to wait longer than whatever the restaurant's stated alloted time that a reservation will be held until the table is given away in case of lateness or no show, then the appropriate thing to do is for the restaurant to make the delay as tolerable as possible by providing a round of drinks or appetizers at the bar without charge.  I've shaken many a free drink in my day and that's the cost to the restaurant for overbooking.  However, if the restaurant does allot a reasonable amount of time for guests to eat without being rushed, gets the food out of the kitchen in a timely fashion, etc. they often end up having to buy the "campers" that are screwing everything up a round of after dinner drinks to get them to unass the chairs in the dining room.  So the restaurant, even when they're doing everything right, ends up giving stuff away just to appease everyone.

    When's the last time your appointment at the doctor, dentist or hairdresser was actually on time?  If it wasn't, did they provide refreshments or a discount??

    Well, unlike many restaurants around here, Kaiser gets me in for same-day appts and, actually, has seen me early when I've arrived early. That's at least keeping up w/ a good percentage of restaurants. Of course, most of us are seldom reluctant to unass ourselves from an exam table. Also, I just realized there's no charge for canceling or even for no-showing. Clearly, Kaiser's laissez-faire attitude is destroying the hospitality industry.

    My hairdresser is a whole other story. She runs late but she always offers to go get me coffee and a sweet treat.

    I am curious, though, how you handle it when customers have to wait, say, more than 30 minutes despite having a reservation. Chilling for 15-20 minutes isn't unusual and it's easy with a drink or just hanging out. But more than that can deflate the evening, or wreck post-dinner plans.

  10. had they comped us a drink or an amuse or even provided decent service perhaps in some way acknowledged  the fubar we might have been back. @ over $100/head it was simply inexcusable.

    And lousy business sense. At least we got one free dessert -- at least it showed they understood there was something to rectify. Saying, "I'm so sorry," is free, you knuckleheads!

    In regard to having to wait for a table, I totally agree customers should understand there has to be a grace period. But I'd like that grace period to be the same as the length of time the restaurant holds the table if I'm late. If I have to wait longer than that, I want some woo-age to make up for it!

  11. On the flipside we had a reservation for 5 @ Fora here in Long Beach last year for 5- they had overbooked (sadly I used to like that place). We arrived @ the appointed time - they said 15 minutes... Over an hour later we were seated, after having a pint @ the pub (unconnected to Fora) next door. For me paying for that that dinner represented  several days work. F' them we have not been back since. Cancellations @ the last moment are a bad deal for the restaurant. Overbooking gone awry in my case anyway = never coming back there.

    I described a similar experience upthread. My question remains:

    "Should the customer's financial obligation -- whatever the restaurant's policy ends up being -- be equal to the customer's compensation if there's a problem honoring the reservation?"

    Neither Fora nor the restaurant I went to had a stated policy of charging for no-shows but I do think such policies beg the question of what happens when the customer is the one who is stiffed.

  12. This thread is such a coincidence -- I started buying milk regularly about 2 months ago. We drank it at lunch and dinner growing up so it's a familiar flavor. I'm really liking it now as a quick breakfast, in itself, and as an evening snack. The organic delivery service I use has raw whole milk, which is what I get. If it's not available, I get a local organic brand, Straus, that's very good. Yeah, it's expensive but it's cheaper than buying "energy bars" or whatever.

    I downed a glass of cold milk and, boy, will I never do that again. That was an ice cream headache from hell.

    Yes, I do believe I read something about the fat in milk facilitating absorption of certain nutrients. It's not like I drink whole milk just because I love fat, or anything. It's all about taking care of myself. :wink:

  13. Logically, you'd expect some level of customer appreciation and loyalty for restaurants that provide excellent customer service consistently, and you'd think folks would show the most minimal level of common courtesy and call and cancel, yet they don't, or do so when it's no longer of any use.  WHY IS THIS????  No one has yet explained this to me to my satisfaction.

    But I tried! I called it "the curse of competence." In my work, it means that if I do my job well and my colleague doesn't, my "reward" is a heavier workload because my boss can trust me. Growing up, I gave my mother more shit than my father, because I could rely on her more.

    Haven't you heard the saying, "You only hurt the ones you love,"? :laugh:

  14. Well, I find it awfully hard to not be disturbed by behavior like that.  You can't even talk to each other at the table, the level of noise and activity is so loud and distracting.  I'm not saying it's the child's fault, but I don't think a child who acts that way belongs in a restaurant.  It's typical toddler behavior and there's nothing wrong with it ... in the right context.

    And I totally get that it could disturb someone -- it's a subjective standard. The problem is that I see a fair number of adults in restaurants who are just as disruptive as the children described on this thread. And they're a whole lot less cute, to boot. I would prefer the approach be to address behaviors rather than identity, i.e., loud voices, cell phone usage, roaming, to name a few, rather than making a class of people (children) feel unwelcome solely on the basis of age.

  15. The bad behavior I see the most isn't a kid running around -- it's picking up the silverware and clanking it, playing with the water glass and clanking and sloshing it, pouring salt and pepper into the water glass, and loudly pounding toys on the table.

    See, that behavior would not have disturbed me. The kid's at the table and it doesn't sound like any more noise than what a typical adult loud-talker would make, or the ruckus made by a boisterous bunch of grown-ups. As far as what's appropriate at-table behavior, I saw a woman unpin, rearrange, and repin her hair during dinner at one of our city's top French restaurants last weekend. If that's what an adult can engage in at the table, fiddling with silverware doesn't seem so bad.

    And again -- kids aren't making the decisions about being in the restaurants so I see this as a parental-behavior issue, not a kid-behavior thing.

  16. I don't think it matters whether they're the minority or not. It's not about numbers; we have laws not because so many people's behavior necessitates them but because we know there will always be the few from whom we need protection.

    So, fine, quite likely many parents can be trusted to bring their babies/children to restaurants. But that doesn't speak to the question of how to address the problems caused by the minority.

    And I really wish this whole area of discussion left children, per se, out altogether. They're not a cause of the problem. I'd rather frame it as "disruptive adults," a group that includes some parents but also other adults whose behavior can be just as intrusive.

  17. For the record, hotels and airlines should be treating you nicely as well.  And most of the time those experiences cost a heck of a lot more money than a dinner out at anything but the highest end restaurant.  Yet by your own admission, you expect less from them.  What's wrong with that picture?  :hmmm:

    The treating of the dining experience as "casual" is definitely part of the problem.  But it's puzzling to me that hotels and airlines have fees for no-shows or non-refundable tickets and no one seems the least bit outraged by that, yet restaurants are held to a different standard.  I just don't get it.

    Sadly, I'd call it the curse of competence; I expect less from those other industries because I can't trust them. Their area of expertise seems to be the Lucy van Pelt maneuver, the one where she snatches the football just away as Charlie Brown's about to kick it. Restaurants generally do better so I expect better. I'm not saying the picture's right, in terms of being fair.

    Hotels and airlines are seldom stand-alone operations, as well. It's got to be easier to establish "rules" like fees for no-shows in a more centralized, corporate culture than in a loosely-connected community of independent restaurants.

    And that brings up the issue of power. I've got about none when I'm dealing with Marriott (who Charlie Browned me so badly I almost went out and got a beagle) but the power dynamic's a bit more in my favor in most restaurants. As George Costanza would say, the customer has a lot of hand in a restaurant relationship.

  18. Get a clue folks.  Restaurants are businesses and not charities.  They need to utilize their resources in the most profitable and productive manner possible to stay afloat financially.  It's arithmetic, not calculus.  Think about it.  Why does no one grasp the obvious??  No one thinks twice about being charged for no shows in other industries.  Why should restuarants be any different?  Simply because we have to eat???  That's not a good enough reason.  You could eat at home.

    I think one reason is that people eat out a lot and it's not such a special occasion thing so they treat it too casually. Also, eating out isn't really about eating, as in just ending your hunger. It's recreational much of the time. So if something comes up that affects your ability to have fun, like a cranky/tired companion, or bad news -- real but non-emergency stuff -- going might seem like a waste of money. And it's hard to always foresee when what was going to be fun will turn into not-fun.

    I get it, though. From a restaurant's position, my not showing up without sufficient notice causes them to have wasted the table -- money, in other words.

    I don't know if this has anything to do with it but a restaurant is one of the few businesses I can think of where I still expect very nice treatment most of the time. Hotels? Not so much. Travel, as in flying, isn't exactly smooth. For a reliably pleasant customer service fix, I can eat out. Or go to Nordstroms. That's about all I can count on.

  19. Semi-serious question: I went to a popular, foo-foo steakhouse once and waited almost an hour past the res time for our table. I'm pretty sure we would have lost the table had we been the ones running late -- a cancellation, in effect. Should the customer's financial obligation -- whatever the restaurant's policy ends up being -- be equal to the customer's compensation if there's a problem honoring the reservation?

    We got offered one free dessert for the two of us.

  20. 6PM on the day of?? I've never seen a hotel that accepts anything less than 24 hour notice..most are 48 hours.

    It's not that uncommon. Practices vary a lot. I've booked at some in resort areas that want 7 days in advance and I've stayed at many that are 6PM night of.

    The important part of this for me as a customer is that I know what the policy is. When my hairdresser (who owns the salon) instituted a 24-hour cancellation policy, the staff told customers when they made the appointment. That, to my mind, was what made it fair. It's her business and her decision. I'd feel the same about a restaurant.

    However, this is not what caught my attention about this thread. It was the restaurant's scolding the customer after failing (apparently, I may be wrong on this point) to state their cancellation policy. Right now there is no consensus or common practice on what a customer is supposed to do. Or be accountable for.

    So I encourage restaurant owners to take as much guesswork out of it as possible; at some point, maybe we'll get to the point where most people "just know" what will happen when they don't give sufficient notice that they're canceling.

  21. Chow and Park Chow are both big favorites. Both are on bus/streetcar lines, and Park Chow is on 9th Avenue at Lincoln, right where Golden Gate Park has an entrance to the Arboretum. The menu changes frequently but the quality/price ratio is consistently good. I always get dessert there -- warm ginger cake w/ pumpkin ice cream, or coconut cream pie.

    Cha Cha Cha is a long-time favorite for lunch, on Haight at Shrader. Funky, happy place serving tropical/Latin small plates. Much better than Thirsty Bear in my opinion. Fried new potatoes with chipolte (sp) aioli, shrimp in Cajun cream sauce, plantanos with black beans and crema...love it all. Oh yeah, and mussels, and calamari, among other stuff.

    Burma SuperStar is indeed good. I like the ginger salad a lot.

    If you like hotdogs, and find yourself near one of a few What's Up, Dog?s, try a dog. They have all kinds of sausages but I go for the basic model.

    Both Clementine and Chapeau! in the Richmond have wonderful early-bird dinner specials if you want Cal-French in a nice, small restaurant.

    Incanto in Noe Valley (streetcar line nearby) is a terrific Italian place, known for in-house charcuterie, pasta, and using the whole animal. Not cheap but certainly not the top tier, price-wise.

    Zazie on Cole in Cole Valley (streetcar line right there) is good for weekday breakfast, lunch. Love the eggs scrambled with chorizo, roasted peppers and white cheddar. They may have dinner specials, not sure.

    Cafe New Central on South Van Ness at 14th has my favorite soft tacos al pastor, ask for the home-made tortillas.

  22. One thing I notice in this discussion is that it seems many industry professionals assume that food is their restaurants' primary attraction. I can speak for myself as a customer and for most of my friends: Your service is what matters most. Sure, food's incredibly important and it's understandable why a chef would assume it's the make-or-break thing. It isn't with me. There's a ton of mouth-watering food out there and while I might have an occasional craving for a particular dish, it's not really what gets my butt in a restaurant's chair. Scolding customers is Step One in creating a reputation that will deter me from becoming your customer.

    It's sad that "passion and personality" are equated with being belligerent. Sounds like the Ramsay-ization of an industry!

    If that's the way it's going to go, I've got two words: Take-out.

    Given the likelihood that there will continue to be three-year-olds, no-show babysitters, nasty bugs that show up late in the day, and Bay Bridge traffic that made a trip take anywhere from 40 minutes to over 2 hours, here's my solution:

    -Bitch about me. Behind my back. Loudly. Graphically. With hard-consonant Anglo-Saxon words.

    -State your cancellation policy when the reservation's made. If you are going to require 24-hour notice, say so.

    -Take a cc deposit.

    -If all that doesn't work, don't take reservations.

    I totally agree customers should be courteous. I made a good friend call to cancel when she was just going to blow off a res. Her reason for cancelling? "I just don't feel like being there tonight." She's a psychiatric nurse. She got hit at work that day. Given the stress level she has to deal with on her job, she'd have scant patience for somebody who loses their professionalism because she's canceling, even last minute.

    Giving a harder time to people who call you than people who don't seems unfair. How likely is it that you will be called if people can complain, "But I don't want a lecture,"?

  23. Will they charge corkage if a patron brings their own bottle?

    Given the type of caps bottled water uses, the appropriate term would be "screwage."

    I'm with eje -- Incanto's been doing the same thing for years. Personally, I'm hoping there's a trickle-down effect. :laugh:

    It may have been unrelated but when I went to a high-end SF restaurant this weekend, I noticed a much less aggressive approach when water was offered. Tap wasn't even mentioned a year ago. The old ask was, "What would you like a bottle of, still or sparkling water?" (Not an exact quote.) It could have been our particular server this weekend but I appreciated him including tap as an option. (No mention of filtration though.)

    I'm going to CP (downstairs) in a few weeks and am very much looking forward to having my choices limited by Alice Waters, especially given that it's going to save me a few dollars.

  24. What a coincidence. I just reread my falling-apart edition of AoE. I think Consider the Oyster is my favorite right now. It's tone is jauntier and the memories are blended in more smoothly. One section of The Gastronomical Me I can't abide -- not sure why -- is the part near the end in Mexico. There's something about it that aggravates me but it's difficult to pinpoint. Maybe it's that there's too much about music and not enough about food.

    I like her writing the way I like the seasons -- I like them at first but after a certain amount of time, it's, Enough, already. I've always felt she wrote the way an opera singer sings. It's a big voice, that's for sure. I think her style is quite theatrical. So it seems natural she would've created a character, or at least a persona, that didn't reflect the "real" woman.

    I didn't know anything about her biography and admit it sounds oh-so-intriguing. And yes! "Chexbres" has baffled me as a name from the first time I saw it. I just thought I was an uncultured twit who didn't know how to pronounce it.

  25. I do love La Folie...it has a very personal feel to it. I've described this before, but will mention again how cool they were last Nov., when we celebrated my friend's b-day. I called and talked to Chef Passot, told him my friend's food-favorites, and my price-range, and he prepared a special 6-course menu. This was just for 3 people, which I thought was very nice since they weren't going to make a huge tab off us. Also, I like that they have a little sense of humor. I'd wanted souflles for dessert which are not on the menu; they'd regretfully said it wasn't possible. So, then we get souflees! and Passot is standing there grinning, saying, "I lied to you, hee hee."

    I'm sure Fleur de Lys has their deservedly devoted loyalists but this is my 2 cents. Have fun!

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