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Posts posted by StanSherman

  1. So I have a question. What do you think the cost savings is between a plate of iceberg lettuce and a plastic cup of dressing compared to some mixed greens tossed with a nice local blue cheese dressing?

    What does it cost to bring a steak dinner out on a cart with the baked potato fixings and dress it up?

    Maybe this dinner should be $25 or maybe a nice salad and 8oz of meat instead of 12. I'd like to give the place some constructive information. In this case I may not be back and not only will they lose 4-6 more meals from me this year, The gas station and hotel will also not see us as we will be in another town where we want to spent our dinner after nine hours of driving.

    I truly believe it's possible to serve a good meal at a fair price. The evening before this meal I had a great dinner in Rawlings Wyoming. 8 small grilled local lamb chops Thai style with a stir fry of green peppers, onions, broccoli, carrots and a wonderful sauce. Side of rice all for $15.

    The restaurant business is in for some turbulent time IMHO but innovation may be the key to staying alive. Maybe a menu like "you don't want to look like a big fat pig" with more realistic portions. We are looking at a farm in Iowa tomorrow. Town of 36 and they have a place that serves a 20 oz cheeseburger for $6.50. It's a gimmick but it does drive traffic.

  2. Whats so special about "corn fed" beef?

    My best guess is what your taste buds get used to at an early age. I personally like the flavor of corn finished beef. It's a treat for me not something to eat on a weekly basis.

    I actually support grass fed beef for many reasons.

  3. What else would you expect for 17.95 prime rib? Your not getting prime at that price, maybe not even choice...

    Prime rib in not necessary any particular grade, but you'd be suprized at some of the quality that is served in some small mid-west town hole in the wall places. They are getting rarer though. Last year they were $15.95 for a great steak.

  4. Your post confuses me too.....on many levels.

    First, I'm trying to figure out the math.

    If you ate 40,000 meals in restaurants, by my calculations, if you ate one meal a day in a food establishment, 365 days a year, it would take approximately 109 years for you to accomplish that.

    If you ate 3 meals day 365 days a year it would take you approximately 36 years.


    My math was off.  but it averages about one meal a day, since I travel so much.

    One could assume that:

    -you don't cook much

    -you have a lot of disposable income to spend on meals out

    Lots of business meals

    -you're well past middle age

    -you'd be more than familiar with the way restaurants operate and what to expect.

    Given that, I'd say I'm surprised that as a seasoned restaurant veteran, you are just now surprised (and annoyed?) that the server is checking with you to see how your meal is. I've eaten significantly less meals at restaurants and I'd be surprised if they DIDN'T ask that. Good economy or bad, that's the server's job.

    It's the homogenized approach

    As a food professional I can tell you that given the skinny profit margins that restaurants have in the first place, this recent turn in food prices, the price of oil, and the decline in consumer spending has us scrambling. Also consider that especially when it comes to produce, we have to pay more for product of a lower quality. Bad year for lettuce? The prices go up and the quality goes down. Could be that iceberg was the only decent lettuce they could get in that week. Or that the iceberg was the only lettuce they could get in that stayed within their pre-determined food cost.

    I observed their business as being way off, but I'm not sure all the normal problems exist in the corn belt.  Corn farmers and their suppliers are doing well.  They surely understand the cost increases and I'm wondering if they are staying away because of quality.

    What would you expect a restaurant to do? We're faced with the fact that consumers don't have a lot of extra money to spend, so raising menu prices is the last thing we want to do, and since people will balk at that, and we lose business.

    To keep menu prices the same, we have to either/or reduce portion size or buy in cheaper quality food......this is the unfortunate truth.

    It's a quandary.

    Do you.......raise prices and risk losing belt tightening clientele,


    try to keep menu prices the same by cutting corners and hoping you don't offend or lose the discerning diner?

    It's a question many a restaurant manager is wrestling with.

    It's tough for a restaurant to stay in business.....especially now.

    I think they are reacting to the economy as best they can.

    I brought up the question because I wonder also.

  5. Sorry you had a bad experience - believe me, I grew up in NW Iowa/Nebraska and it is highly unusual to receive a "lean" prime rib.  Further, most people in this area of the country do not need to be educated regarding the virtues of fat marbling in beef. 

    I'm responding to your post because I'm just curious - what would have been the appropriate way for the server to address your table?

    I'm not really sure.  The words were fine.  I just here the same words in any town or city we go to.  I spend 100-120 days a year traveling.  I give great care in finding local places to it's kinda wierd that they would all use the same words. 

    Would it have been better for her NOT to ask how your meal was?

    Of course not.

      I don't get it.  Also, what type of service were you expecting?  I'm guessing this wasn't a "white table cloth" establishment.  Finally, what do you believe the restaurant should have done in response to your experience?

    The service was fine.  I was mainly commenting on how staff is trained these days.  This place is the nice place in this town, but calling it "white table cloth" would not be accurate.

  6. Simply curious - if you had dined there before and knew precisely what to expect (and that is what you received):  (a) why did you return and (b) if you got what was expected why do you complain?

    In the past we have gotten a good salad and a great steak. Good enough that we went out of the way to return. Our disappointment is in the way establishments have reacted to the current economic conditions. I do not pretend to be a great writer, thus I don't convey my feelings as well as I wish.

  7. I figure I’ve eaten at least 20,000 meals in restaurants, but more likely 40,000. Tonight we ate in a place in the middle of Central Nebraska. We have gone there while passing through for several years. The place seats a few hundred people, been around for over 50 years and tonight (Saturday) I doubt they will turn 100 heads.

    This place had great, reasonable corn fed steaks for years. We had never been there on Saturday so had not tried their specialty of cooked overnight prime rib. We were seated in the romantic corner with the crooked table while 20 tables overlooking the pretty lake sat empty. Our Waitress, Sandy (17) assured us that the prime rib there was the best and it was her favorite thing on the menu. We both ordered the 12oz $17.95 portions and prayed. Our salads came out with the standard pre-portioned cups of salad dressing that is no mandatory at all restaurants in the mid-west plus a basket of 8 rolls we never touched.

    As a joke I told my dinner companion that she would soon been out asking how our salad was tasting. I figure the NRA has recently decided that that was the proper way for uneducated servers to address customers. 90 seconds later as on cue she asked. How does a couple from Northern California respond to shitty iceberg lettuce with crappy dressing? She served what she was given. No comment on our part would ever produce a salad that we wished. We came for corn fed meat.

    Before we had a chance to scramble our salads around the plates the meat arrived. Perfectly cooked lean prime rib. As good as any Dennys or Perkins. I knew Sandy would be out shortly querying on how our meal was tasting but she showed up early because of my companions giggles. Sharper than most, she figured out that we were not thrilled and asked if it was too “fatty”. I tried to explain to her that fat on beef was not always a bad thing. “Bummer” about the meal, and off she went. I now predicted she would return with a platter of 4 cheesecakes and something else. I told sweetie the offering with nuts will get the bad taste out best.

    Out comes the platter of four cheesecakes since the sold out of the one chocolate item. One has nuts so we get that one. Guess was is on its way? How is your desert tasting?

    Sandy did nothing wrong. The food now sucks and we will most likely never return. I don’t believe that restaurants are responding to the economy correctly.

  8. I heard worse on the radio once. It was agricultural talk radio in Nebraska and the woman sounded like Dr. Laura. She went into a rant on how organic growers were Godless degenerates. It was not God's intention to help small family farms. Slow Food is obviously part of Lucifer's scheme.

    We're starting our move to Iowa at the end of the month and happen to have sold some chicken brooders to a woman who raises several types of animals that are sold through Slow Foods. Slow Foods allows her to spend more time with her several kids. They have helped her with hooking up with other farmers who they can no split large quantities of feed and other goods.

  9. Most small scale farmers don't have access to USDA licensed slaughter facilities. They can use state licensed lockers who can process the whole animal for sale as either whole or half. Basically you are buying a live animal and having it processed. This meat can't be legally be sold in stores. A whole lamb is not much more than the chops, legs and rack so you may as well get it all.

  10. About 15 months ago I started cooking and curing Charcuterie. Since we have a farm we put a pig in the freezer and keep another one full of chickens. Two others are full of everything else. Food rotation surely has become a chore since children are now gone.

    I had cured 35 pounds of bacon once the family got a taste and decided it was a good thing. We brought out a pound at a time and bacon life was good. The lad really liked the bacon and thought of it as a commodity. At 21, he was starting to think about a mate but being in a small farm town he was somewhat limited. Low and behold his buddy’s mother drives up with his “princess” fresh from Los Angeles.

    She is adorable and his buddy’s mom liked our bacon. The boy thought the bacon was the best possible thing he could give. Recently when we went to get some bacon out of the freezer it became apparent that some creative food arrangement had occurred inside of the freezer. The lad had rewarded buddies mom with pretty much all the bacon. We haven’t told him directly that we know he traded our bacon for a gal but I think he gets the idea when I call her “bacon bit”.

    Bacon Bit starts cooking classes here next week, so this thread is great. What better way to use up supplies but to teach. The lad is a human vacuum cleaner and we do need to make some space for the 2008 crop.

  11. I think we're going to do a soup bar. Chili, Dutch split pea and tomato.

    We're wondering if we shouldn't keep the chili without beans. For some reason it seems high altitude brings on more gas than normal. Really don't want nine guys sitting around scratching and farting too.

    The Dutch split pea soup give me something to do with a trotter. There are a full set tin the freezer. We were going to do Zampone for NYE.

  12. For New Years Eve we will be working with and cooking for a pyrotechnic crew doing a fireworks show in the snow. We will be setting up most of the day and maybe have an hour to prep before going back to work. We will be done about 10pm and want to serve something hot asap. There will be 9 guys and one gal. I have no idea what the kitchen will be like. It is a ski resort condo.

    I have never met 8 of theses people so we have no idea of their food preferences. I have plenty of time for a couple of days before so cook ahead ideas may be the best.

    The canning pantry is pretty well stocked with hundreds of jars from the garden:



    Tomato soup

    Pea soup

    Green beans



    V8 juice

    Grape juice


    Freezer has:

    ¼ of a Berkshire hog



    For desert we have a good make ahead chocolate soufflé recipe that we have 3oz ramekins for.

    Any good ideas? Thanks.

  13. I don't know if that's good advice....boiling will surely kill the bacteria, but won't do anything to the toxins they may leave behind. I wouldn't go around preaching that type of behavior...

    Before pressure canning, that was a proper technique for food preservation. From what I understand after the first boil spores can then "hatch" a couple days later. The second and third boil get rid of the spores.

    Since we pressure can large batches I'm not sure of the time intervals necessary for chicken stock.

  14. John - I do not read French but I am especially interested in the review on Bushi-Tei as I dined there for the second time last week and was completely underwhelmed (despite a first visit that was quite good). They have a Michelin star which boggles my mind...

    We had the same impression. It was good, but not memorable. The only thing I remember was the server touting the Omasake wine pairing that was grown in the Russian River region of Napa.

    They had tough competition since we ate at Kiss the night before.

  15. I grew up in Burbank and practically LIVED at Bob's through my teen years!

    Though now in WA I still visit family and manage to get to Bob's every so often.  Great memories!

    Bob's Big Boy and The Smoke House were my haunts and still revisited as often as possible.

    Those did seem like good times. Mom still lives in Toluca Lake (same place since 1947) so I still go to the Smoke House a couple times a year. Now that we live in a very small town I don't have the tolerance to wait that long in line to get into Bobs. My dad actually checked out of St. Joseph's Hospital once, had someone drive him over to Bobs and then checked back into the hospital.

  16. We either need to make or have made some finger sandwich platters for a get together in a hotel suite near O’Hare. Sandwiches de miga from an Argentinean deli/bakery would be perfect. Any ideas?

  17. We'll have to change it to decorate the barn, but I love the idea. Since we probabally can't do this until the end of season we'll have pistachos and walnuts. Maybe some salty rendition of them.

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