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Everything posted by phlox

  1. I love the Riedel Ouverture glasses for a good all-purpose set to have at home and use for everything. A nice glass makes wine more enjoyable to me, but the business of having a glass for each specific type of wine can get to be a bit much for me.
  2. Taste, taste, taste. The good, the bad, the ugly. Almost any wine can teach you something. Theory is important, too, but it's a bit easier to get at thanks to the Internet than the actual product. Try to find or form a tasting group in your area. If you decide to do the CMS program, after you do the Introductory course you get a free years' membership to their guildsomm site, which is a good way to find tasting groups and wine events in your area. Second (or third?) the congrats to Dex! I just passed the Certified, and was surprised how much I enjoyed the process. I also just finished a new 30 week program in wine and beverage at the CIA at Greystone and am deciding where I want to go next with my wine nerd-dom.
  3. I'm really itching to go back to school (I finished undergrad almost four years ago) and right now I'm the assistant manager at a pan-Asian restaurant and run the beverage program. We don't have a huge wine list, but I've worked at restaurants that do in the past. I love food and wine and would love to do a degree or certificate program aimed at people in the hospitality industry. I don't want to become a winemaker or anything like that, so something like UD Davis' program isn't quite what I'm after. Basically, I want to get a masters' in wine and food geekery, but I'm not sure if such a thing exists...
  4. Does anyone know of a better-than-average coffee shop in that neighborhood? I will be, shall we say, enjoying myself in the evenings and want a good place to stumble into to caffeinate before heading to the Javits Center.
  5. Oh dear! I called yesterday for general info and the gentleman who answered the phone said that they serve a bar menu between lunch and dinner, which would probably suit my needs just fine. Sounds like that might not always be true, which doesn't bode well. I was thinking about Craftbar since their web site says lunch service extends right up until dinner. I've been to Craft and loved it, so maybe I'll try that...
  6. I went in 07 and it was a ton of fun. I'm really looking forward to going again this year. My one big piece of advice for those who've never been is to just pick a few categories of things you're interested in and concentrate on those, otherwise you'll burn out. And if you can, spread it out over two days.
  7. I will be in NYC this weekend and early next week and am looking for a fun place to go for a late lunch before I leave on Tuesday. I was thinking about Bar Boulud but have read/heard mixed reviews. What do you all think? I don't want to drop a *ton* of cash, but it doesn't have to be dirt cheap and I am a really adventurous eater. The hotel I'm staying in is near the Javits Center because I'm going to the Fancy Food show, so if anyone knows of a cool place near there that would be great, but not a dealbreaker. Thanks in advance!
  8. phlox

    Open Table

    I've used Open Table in several restaurants I've worked in, and the biggest piece of advice I can give if you're planning on buying is to make sure you and your staff use it to its full advantage, because as Fat Guy said, the cost can add up. You can use OT to pull up all sorts of useful little reports about when people are coming in the most, who's made reservations more than 5, 10, whatever times, and you can use it to build a big database about your guests preferences and behavior. One place I worked had the little printer attached so that OT printed a ticket with all the guest's info, which was useful in such a large restaurant. The servers would keep the little chits and write notes about the guests on the back, like 'loves Mer Soleil' or 'likes her cosmo x way,' or 'has a severe gluten allergy.' Then they would give them back to me and I would put the new notes back in the guest files. Obviously, OT appeals to my anal retentive nature!
  9. Brown sugar has always been my favorite pop tart flavor - I can't wait to try this recipe!
  10. I did chill it again after heating, but tim, I think you are right that I probably heated it too much before cooling it back down. I will try the syrup method next time - thanks!
  11. Does cream become somehow unwhippable if it's heated and then allowed to cool again? I wanted to make mint whipped cream tonight and thought, hey, I'll heat the cream with mint leaves and then let it cool and strain out the mint, and then whip it. It wouldn't whip! Any ideas as to what I'm doing wrong?
  12. The server should have told you. I think it's borderline unethical to not tell guests that a gratuity has already been added to their bill.
  13. I try to do a sort of non-verbal check-in once per course to avoid saying something ridiculous along these lines, because believe me, I have said some insane things at tables. Once, after nearly spilling a tray full of drinks, the people I was waiting on said, wow, that was amazing, I thought the whole thing would go down! I set the drinks down, laughed nervously and said, 'Oh, I have the reflexes of a panther!' and made a paw swipe hand motion. WHY?! I get embarrassed just thinking about it. A panther?! WTF? Sometimes when you're busy and thinking about a million things at once, things come out wrong! If, for example, seat 4 is merely picking at her cod while everyone around her is chowing down, I might ask her, individually, if she's enjoying her meal. One problem I encounter a lot in waiting tables, though, is that so many people don't follow established etiquette/customs, which doesn't offend me, but it makes it harder to do my job. For example, I normally don't approach a table to take an order until everyone's menus are closed. This seems like a pretty reliable rule of thumb, no? But I actually have had people *complain to my boss* that I am slow even though I had been standing a few feet from them waiting for them to close their damn menus but not wanting to hover or bother them. I even went several times to pour water for these people, hoping that someone would say something to me to get the ball rolling, but they'd just ignore me! Many people also don't put their silverware in the usual 'I'm done' configuration which makes it hard to know when to ask to clear, or they'll put their credit card inside the check presenter without the top sticking out and then put their arm over the whole thing and then complain I took too long to take the check. A lot of things that seem on the surface like silly Emily Post rules are actually extremely helpful non-verbal cues for service staff! I love waiting on people. Almost nothing, except maybe bacon, makes me happier than helping someone have a really special, relaxing evening in a restaurant. I am not, however, a mind reader! Help me help you!!
  14. I just mean for entry-level jobs. In any industry, companies like hiring folks who are really young for those types of positions. Once you've been around longer and might demand a higher salary, it gets harder. Sorry to get off-topic - I think casual, comfort-food type places will stay popular. What I see is that the perception of how expensive a restaurant is is more important than what the actual prices are.
  15. In my city, bistro type restaurants are doing OK and fine-dining is really hurting. I'm about to start selling plasma. It's hard not to be discouraged and I feel selfish for feeling this way...but I'm just pissed off! I love what I do, and I'm finally at an age/level of experience where I could actually have a career, and instead there will just be nothing, and by the time this turns around, I will be too old to be eligible for management jobs.
  16. I'd like to make cupcakes with a Nutella center. What is the best way to accomplish this? Should I put the Nutella in before baking or just make a hole after the cupcakes are baked and add the filling after? Any advice would be appreciated, oh expert bakers!!
  17. She put a blanket over her own head? Whaa? I've waited on breastfeeding mothers several times, and it was never awkward. My favorite was a mother of what looked like about four children (they were having a family celebration in one of our private dining rooms) who had a Red Seal Ale while breastfeeding! She just had the one and sipped it very slowly, but it still cracked me up. Way to be, sister! My kind of mommy!
  18. I wish more chefs would do this. I am always super on top of my tables and would love to be able to work with our chef in this way. As it is, when things get backed up, I just become really, really persistent and annoying, because otherwise things fall through the cracks and I get blamed for it.
  19. I waited on a group of people who work for the PLCB recently, and talk about lacking in seriousness. The whole time I kept thinking, who are these clowns and why are they choosing which wines to buy for our state?!
  20. Has anyone in the Pittsburgh area checked this place out? I'm working there and wondering if any eGulleters have been there, and if so, what they think.
  21. I pretty much always have a waiters' key on me. It's one of the things that's always in my purse along with Aquaphor for lip balm and Between dental gum.
  22. Bwah! I was a host for a couple of years and observed the same thing. It really is OK to eat at a time other than 7pm, people. Ergh.
  23. It's majorly shady to rip people off, but count me in as being more worried about folks with allergies! People with nut and peanut allergies scare me! Please, if you have one, when you go out to eat, *tell your server.* No one's allowed to keel over in my section!
  24. I think other guests seeing something that looks tempting and then ordering it is a big factor in all this, especially desset, which tends to be more of an impulse decision. Where I work, we have this delicious wok-sauteed lobster with XO sauce. It looks really impressive all piled on the plate and smells amazing, rich and spicy. If I bring one out, chances are I'll sell a few more in my section! People just look at it and think mmm, want.
  25. It's easy to panic and get preoccupied with things that you know will get you in trouble or are a disaster waiting to happen and skimp on the little things. When you have to be physically in the kitchen every time food for one of your tables comes out to make sure they actually did the mods you asked for and that they don't try to sneak out an incomplete order, for example, or spend 20 minutes searching for a bottle of sake that may or may not exist in the restaurant because the liquor is not organized, it becomes harder to do all those little things every single time. Believe me, I am extremely detail oriented, but I can't do those things and spend tons of time at my tables if I'm not backed up, you know what I mean? It becomes a vicious cycle. In a volatile environment where you know you will catch more hell for certain things than for others, it becomes more about damage control than anything else. I hate it more than anyone - I didn't start doing this job to make money, I did it because I love food and restaurants and finally accepted that I had to put in a certain amount of time serving before anyone would even consider me for a management job. The constant tension, yelling, blaming, paranoia that every tiny mistake will push you further down in the server hierarchy...ugh, I feel like I'm on some kind of demented sports team and it's draft pick time every single day. And because I'm a server, I feel like it's always assumed that I have the worst intentions, like the kitchen and management staff just assume that if I press the wrong button on the POS or add something incorrectly, that I'm trying to steal or something. Sorry to go off-topic, maybe I should just start another thread.
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