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Everything posted by ingridsf

  1. I've said this elsewhere but want to make sure people know: The Cafe is not accessible to people with mobility-related disabilities, as far as I know. There's a ramp entrance but it only reaches the downstairs dining room level. You end up having to come in through the kitchen which in most places would piss me off but tickles me here because it's the *Chez Panisse* kitchen. Because the Cafe is not accessible, they will seat you in the downstairs dining room and you'll order off the Cafe menu. The caveats are that I would imagine being a walk-in (ooh, bad pun alert) is a problem, and not sure about lunch as the downstairs dining room is dinner-only. Ironic, as Berkeley is a center of the Independent Living movement.
  2. I'd much rather be in a restaurant than a church -- eternity's more comfortably contemplated on a full stomach and at least a restaurant's moment of judgement is itemized and comes with a candy or two. Yeah, corruption is a part of all institutionalized religions. Indulgences, anyone? But is the money collected go back into the 'business" or the clergyperson? If it's going into maintenance and counseling services and salaries and, in more than a few instances, shelters and food programs, I'm confused why you have a problem with someone who gave money feeling good, reassured, about it. Wanting to "play it safe" may simply be a cynical term for describing a perfectly ethical desire: to feel good about oneself by helping another person. If someone gives a car to clergy on the sly and gets front-row seating as a result, yup, that's bribe and it's not good. I'm not on a high horse and I'm not out to take money away from service workers. I've said repeatedly that although tips are a poor system for paying people, I believe in tipping well. Precisely because they're how people earn their living. But bribes are outside that system and because they are, that hostess in the article may not have to give a cut to the bus-person who cleared that fancy table she made $20 on. Or am I wrong?
  3. My understanding of a "bribe" is that an employee appropriates something (a good table, for example) and inserts him/herself as a collection agent between the customer and the real owner of the item -- the employer/business -- and takes clandestine payments for it. Payments the business, coworkers and our lovely government get no share of, as they do with tips in most cases. (I'm not weeping for the gov't. But if I have to declare income, so should other people.) It would be like me, as a non-profit fundraiser, secretly bumping sponsors up a giving level because they gave me a case of wine instead of making a donation in the amount the giving level is defined as. This is NOT considered okay in my profession no matter if anyone cynically thinks we all approach our jobs in such a cold-blooded fashion. If someone shows appreciation for being treated well, that's all to the good. I've found service staff to be mostly generous and helpful and I hope I've expressed that verbally and financially.
  4. Well, I'd definitely have a problem with it if management allowed it. If they did, then easy enough solution: find another place of employment because that would be the least of your problems. But let's face it: we're not discussing the payroll clerk getting a kickback. We're talking about paying the going price for prompter service, in an industry where the practice of paying extra for extra performance is quite accepted. But what if, just what if, it is a routine part of their job? I'd be shocked if the management of the Vegas/NYC/etc places didn't know that this was happening. Further I'd bet that they regularly sell the position as having that benefit. If they wanted it banned, then go ahead and call it a bribe and fire them if they are caught. It wouldn't continue for long if management was serious about rooting it out and enforcing it. So I must conclude that they do support this practice. Since they can set prices within their establishment any way they see fit (or even not set it!), it can hardly be labeled perjoratively. I'm curious about how you see this situation: how about a business dinner with potential clients: wining-and-dining the clients, hoping for their future business? Let's figure that the impatient diner with the bribe is the host in this example, and the MD is the client who is representing her organization in this transaction. If the client signs up for a deal after having been wined-and-dined, has she been bribed? ← So it does become unacceptable and a kickback (sounds even worse than bribery)when the squeeze is put on you. Not seeing any difference in principle or process. That payroll person or manager could just as easily claim they're helping you get your paycheck more promptly or going that extra mile to make sure you're on the schedule. I can't see how what was "routine" wouldn't then inevitably become a narrower and narrower range of job duties. And it wouldn't shock me in the slightest to learn that some management in some establishments don't care about this stuff. Getting to know the people you're thinking of doing business with is thought to be a smart thing to do. And paying for the person you invited generally gets labeled "gracious" more than "suspicious." If the client signs solely because a $1,000 bottle of wine ended up in his trunk, yup, that's a bribe. I also think he's a lousy business person!
  5. I'm relieved to see I'm not the only one who thought "pre-tipping" or tips-before-service was straining the concept! Also, no matter how many folks do it, I still have a gut-level response of apprehension to just shrugging at bribing as "business is business." And the fact that the bribes don't seem to be shared among staff as tips often are is just one reason.
  6. I just saw this place mentioned fondly in another thread so thought I'd give it a bump. Anybody got anything new to report about on it? (I know, I should just go myself if I'm still so curious. We'll see.)
  7. I think the general public's understanding of tipping is that it's part of paying the bill, and that they don't even know it's an acronym. It's the *hope* of a tip that insures the prompt service. Somebody up-thread introduced the term "pre-tip" as a way of not using the word bribe because they thought it sounded too harsh.
  8. My Executive Director takes all final-stage job candidates out to a restaurant (individually). She told me about a potential hire who had been unfailingly charming throughout the interview process but who behaved very poorly toward the servers. Discrimination and sexual harassment in the hospitality industry is one of our priority areas so you can imagine the impression that made.
  9. Maybe I'm just misunderstanding some of the earlier posts, or even the article that started this whole thing. Some of the examples people mention as pre-tip-worthy do sound above-and-beyond, but others sound like rewarding people for meeting the minimal demands of the job. It could be my streets are not so much mean as naive. I thought restaurants pretty much seated people in the order they showed if they didn't have a reservation, and that if you were polite about asking for another table or whatever, they'd do it if it was available. Instead, the article and some posts showed this kind of stuff being up for bid. In some places, not everywhere.
  10. So whether you call it a bribe or pre-tipping, are you going to be as open to it when the gal who cuts your paycheck starts expecting a little something-something to help her remember how many hours you really did work? Or your manager needs some encouragement to keep scheduling you? To clarify, what I'm objecting to is having to pay someone extra to do the routine tasks of their job. That's why I use the perjorative term that started this thread -- bribing. Tips are a way of showing appreciation for going that extra mile (pls note I've said earlier I object to staff being paid largely in tips). Bribes are a desparation ploy to get the table you reserved but have watched walk-ins get, or not dent your car while they're parking it.
  11. Queso fresco and cotijo are pretty easy to get now and the cotija is especially good crumbled on top of beans and tacos. Neither is so assertive that people expecting jack would be put off, IMO. Good cotijo has a slightly tart creaminess that's more complex than jack. It's just my taste, but I find cheddars to be too bitter for this kind of food. How about nopales for the veggie lovers?
  12. Words to live by! And putting them on the griddle instead of steaming...<Homer Simpson drool> Any thoughts on cheeses?
  13. As I understand from this thread, bribes are different from tips because tips are about responding to service provided. Personally, I think they're inappropriate methods of compensation. Service should be an item on the bill so customers can't nickel and dime staff. But that's a whole other discussion. When I'm talking about bribes I'm talking about giving people money before they've performed a service. So, if you want to call this "pre-tipping," or something, fine. Don't forget to share your loot with your coworkers and pay your taxes on it, though. And let's hope that this mnd-set doesn't catch on with transplant doctors. *** My boss replied to my deman -- er, request for bribes as follows: Work turned in ahead of schedule: I get to keep my job. Work turned in on schedule: I get to keep my job. Work turned in late: I get to keep my job but I have to bribe her.
  14. Work in the FOH? In Vegas? ← I appreciate the "tips," heh heh. But I'm not looking to switch jobs or cities. And I insist on keeping the discussion on bribes, not tips. Half-seriously I ask, why should some employees be allowed to run a personal concession stand? Our receptionist doesn't demand that people pony up before she announces them. And here's another thing: I'm expected to bring my best performance to the clients our non-profit serves because it's my job. In terms of public information, I think what it would do is reveal the essential tackiness of bribing. But, we do have prices on menus. There are even supplemental charges on prix fixe menus. Hell, there's "water service." Why NOT have supplemental service charges? So, perhaps an elegantly lettered sign at the host stand, listing your service options. Better yet, here's an excerpt from the script for the phone reservationist on "Selling Up on Service Options": "We value our customers at Chez Dewey Cheatum & Howe. We have a range of service level options. The base level -- with no additional front-load fees -- includes seating of our hostess' choice, after waiting for your reservation for up to a maximum of 15 minutes. A captain will nod in a friendly manner as he walks by but not stop. This is a fantastic plan for beginners because all you pay is the bill, the tax, and the tip. "But perhaps you're ready to step away from the pack. If you're ready to experience real service satisfaction, a crumpled, greasy twenty will entitle you to a smile from our hostess that shows both her upper and lower teeth as she whisks you to a table that is guaranteed to be no less than 20 ft from the john. As if that weren't enough, our Floor Manager will personally decrumb your linen and engage you in thoughtful but nonintrusive conversation about What You Thought of the Meal. Then all you have to do is pay the bill, the tax, and the tip. "Admittedly, this is as much as most people are willing to invest in a meal. And that's okay. We like that because if all customers were willing to really commit to truly fine service, well, it wouldn't be all that special, would it. If everybody was getting the same good service. However, we do have a premium service level that, if you insist on pressing a C-note into the well-manicured hand of our Maitre-D', can be activated by his pressing a secret button under the bar. I'm not at liberty to divulge the details, but rest assured you'll be getting to know the chef very well. And then you'll pay the bill, the tax, and the tip." *** I'm sticking with my extreme beauty -- it really is extraordinary and I haven't even touched on my mind-blowing inner radiance -- as my palm-grease of choice.
  15. Thanks all! u.e. ← I always love my times at La Folie on Polk. It's high-end French, the Chron gives it 4 stars. I can understand why someone might say it's cookie-cutter, but it is some good kind of cookie. The reason I like it so much is that it's quite small and seems much more personal than some of the "name" restaurants in the city. When I arranged a friend's birthday dinner for 3 last fall, they passed me to Chef Passot on the phone to talk about the menu. I may be wrong but I wonder if I'd get to do that with Gary Danko or Michael Minna so easily. (Apologies if I'm wrong.) If you want more of a scene, or just lots of bustle, it may not be the place. It's not like Boulevard. If you want to bypass the haute-rich thing, and also experience California cuisine, I'd say make the effort to go to Chez Panisse in Berkeley. The downstairs. The only down-side to La Folie is that I usually eat too much and because it's rich food, it can make my digestion bumpy if I'm not careful. Eating at CP always makes me feel well afterwards. I recommend the downstairs because it's more peaceful than upstairs and it's a real pleasure to leave the menu selections in the hands of such a kitchen. And it feels homey. Enjoy!
  16. The problem with it's not made public information. If there's a surcharge for a prime table let all the customers know what it is. Again, I'm waiting to find out how much I can charge my boss for work that is: -turned in prior to the deadline -on time -late And how can I get in on this undeclared income gig?
  17. This thread's about bribes, so I'm not talking about tipping. However often they happen, and however well-rationalized they are, taking bribes are all about lowering standards. That said, I'm going to give it a try. Can anyone tell me how to explain to my boss that the proposal she's waiting on from me is going to cost her? Also, when's the right time to "request" the "comfy" handcuffs from the arresting officer? I mean, since bribes are no big deal....
  18. ingridsf

    Top Chef

    My money's still on Lee Anne. She's a better leader than Tiffani, much cooler under pressure and she has both strong cooking and management skills. She's not grabbing for attention except byhaving food that tastes good -- Tiffani gets in people's faces. Bleech.
  19. I agree it's far from the worst. But the discrepancy between its reputation/cost and my actual experience upped the disappointment. But as I said, it was one visit. And it may also simply be a style that's not to my taste.
  20. When considering pre-tipping, just keep in mind that all prophylactics have some kind of failure rate. Consider using a back-up method as well. I believe Fatguy's book explains a number of them.
  21. I've only gone once to the Ferry Plaza Building location so take this as you will. I really disliked my experience. We had a reservation for two on a weeknight and were kept waiting for two seats at a communal table. This can be fun but it wasn't. It's a loud, sterile space. I love Vietnamese food. This was easily the most expensive and least flavorful I've had in SF. We had a glazed duck dish and a grilled beef one. Each came rather nakedly on a plate with an orange slice. But not memorable in the slightest. We weren't drinking more than a cocktail apiece and drinking seems to be the draw there more than the food. Eh. I like my mom-and-pop place, Minh's Garden, in the Richmond so much better than this cacophonous bar scene.
  22. I susect that the increase in food allergies is caused in part from non-food sources, stuff like pesticides, heavy metals, bovine growth hormone, among others. Humans are omniverous animals, built to eat everything. And if there's a single modifier that describes the human diet, it's "processed." It's rare that we don't modify our food before eating it, come to think of it. I have a casual acquaintance who has a photocopied list of foods she doesn't eat. She gives it to event planners, friends, etc. There are 38 items on it, many of them single fruits and vegetables but others are broader, like "food additives." I like this woman and don't want to offend her. Yet I'm so wanting to ask, "Seriously, are we talking peanut-allergy-level risk on all of these or extra-morning-mucus-discomfort?" With 11 million allergy sufferers, I think we need a color-coded alert system. Finally, I am a Libra and there's no way I'm giving up tacos.
  23. Somehow I forgot -- forgive me, my extreme beauty distracts even me -- to tell you all exactly why my nice guy friend should never have attempted a Smooth Move. After he handed the neatly folded but highly visible bill to the MD, the MD handed it back to him. Without a single word but a silence hung heavily with meaning.
  24. I have found that being extremely beautiful works equally well. And a crate of brown ale goes with any outfit. I don't snap my fingers, though. I simply exude my attractiveness and all respond instantly. *** A cautionary note: I was with a nice guy once who also thought a little strategic pre-tipping was the way to go. We were in a swell-elegant type steak joint. Bottom line, not everyone should attempt this maneuver. Particularly if you feel at all hesitant about it. It was extremely awkward. I so wanted to give this "tip" to him: You're less likely to be embarrassed by flashing good manners than cash. Here's a question: Have any women tried this practice?
  25. I REALLY loved this episode because I can't go above ~4500 ft and this is as close as I'm going to get. But how do coca leaves actually help oxygen deprivation? Do they just mask the symptoms, like coffee?
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