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Everything posted by san

  1. san

    Menu Atrocities

    i just came from a new lebanese restaurant whose "filet of salmon" and "grilled swordfish" are noted as vegetarian entrees.
  2. I couldn't find any topics on the Wolfgang Puck Grille, and it seems to me that the Michael Mina restaurants have gotten a lot more press. I haven't heard anything about WPG yet other than the one newspaper review. Anyone been?
  3. san

    Smoking chefs

    I did a dining room stage last month at an old school restaurant here in Detroit that recently (a few years ago) won the Restaurant of the Year in the local upscale magazine. Walked into the kitchen at about 8:30 and saw the exec. chef on the line calling out orders in the middle of the rush with a marlboro hanging out of his mouth. Incidentally the Maitre D' interviewed me the day before while standing above me and smoking as I sat in a chair and answered his questions. Probably should have noticed the red flag blowing in my face.
  4. I'm pretty sure there's a Gus O'Conners in Rochester as well. I've never been to either, but I am a huge fan of the Redcoat Tavern on Woodward in Royal Oak. Obviously it's british food rather than Irish, but it is one of the few Detroit restaurants I would feel comfortable ordering pretty much anything on the menu with confidence that it will be good... And they have the best burger in the city. In fact I think I will go there tonight.......
  5. any dinner with a specific member of my family that will go nameless. some of my favorites are: "my friend said you paid for his appetizers when he came here, can you do that for us?" and the numerous times he complains (once about a well done veal chop taking too long- about 20 minutes) and when the manager offers dessert, he'll order 2 for every person at the table, to go (he once ordered an entree to go after a manager offered dessert to make up for a complaint). I try never to return to a restaurant I'd visited with him.
  6. 1. The Whitney (Detroit)- My wedding 2. Lafayette Coney Island (Detroit)- 1am post wedding dinner 3. Alinea (chicago) Birthday Dinner 4. Vetri (Philadelphia) Best Italian I've ever had 5. Grammercy Tavern (ny)- Birthday Lunch- Hands down best lunch I've ever had, probably top 5 meals 6. Moto (chicago) 7. Davio's (philadelphia) Dinner for my last day 8. Violet Hour (Chicago) I figure liquid meals should count since they're often more fun anyway 9. Snackbar (philadelphia) 10. Amada (philadelphia) 11. Tru (chicago) 12. Balthazar (ny) Brunch for parent's birthday 13. Room For Dessert (ny) 14. Blackbird (chicago) Obviously I've factored in context (and service) in this list, which most likely is the only one in which Lafayette beats Alinea
  7. Agreed. I would throw the service into the 90's category as well. Each time I've dined there, I've felt that I wasn't really 'cool' enough to be there and that I might be kicked out at any time for not looking hip enough. The 'better than you' vibe I've gotten each time I've been there has always been a huge turn-off for me. Not quite huge enough to ruin the incredible food, though.
  8. san

    obnoxious diners

    agreed. i have on a couple occasions politely asked the host if they would like to move into our private dining room (that happened to be empty that night) so that they 'didn't have to worry about the other guests' and could let loose and have fun. obviously that wasn't an option in this instance. anyone who's been in the business should have a plan for anything and everything; loud people most definitely included. even if a server comes up every few minutes and interrupts them to get their attention (to take an order, to describe the entrees they just received, to go over the dessert menus, etc) that will stop the momentum of their increasing volume. there are any number of solutions for these issues. bad management simply throws their hands up and relinquishes responsibility.
  9. i'm not sure of the slovakian gentleman, but this is the japanese man Kazuo Ueda who I believe is credited with inventing the hard shake. it's nice to finally see video....
  10. most restaurants use micros or similar pos systems, which give endless statistics. not all restaurants use them, but many do. if you asked for a manager, they would often be able to give you the restaurant's per person overall check average (which as was noted upthead isn't necessarily that helpful). Usually, though, a little further down in those statistics are food per person average, liquor ppa, and wine ppa. if those stats aren't readily available they can be very easily computed by simply dividing the sales for that department by the number of guests served. if you ask a manager for this info be sure to have them only look at numbers in the dining room since the overall numbers may include bar sales which skew averages since most don't eat there. it's a little more work but if you don't call during service (2-5pm or 8-11am) any manager worth their weight in salt will be happy to quickly look it up for you. i suppose some might not be too forthcoming if they think you are a competitor though.
  11. i've used menupages.com whenever possible, but after recently moving to detroit where it doesn't exist, i won't be able to. i have, in the past, called a restaurant to see how much they charge for entrees, and then followed up with steaks and pastas... that has given me a good enough idea of how the menu would be priced
  12. I often go to Holiday Market in Royal Oak, but more out of convenience than anything else- I've found their prices to be noticeably higher than most other wine shops in the area. Papa Joe's in Birmingham has an excellent selection with very fair prices, and I also sometimes go to Beverage Warehouse at 13/Southfield. I just moved back here (after a 2 year hiatus), and I've heard really good things about Plum Market. I would also love to hear more suggestions........
  13. I haven't lined up employment as of yet... I actually just arrived late last night and will be digging my way out of the 50,000 boxes in my house for the next several days, then start the job hunt.
  14. san

    Sushi etiquette

    are there any japanese (or other) restaurants in the u.s. that serve real wasabi? i've only heard about it being extremely rare and expensive. does it even resemble the wasabi powder mix served normally, or does it taste completely different?
  15. when i used to work at davio's they had some excellent brulees- my favorites were raspberry and gianduja. not sure what they're serving now but i would guess it's worth trying if you are a brulee fan
  16. i requested a table for 4 if possible (but made it clear that a table for 2 would be fine too) at any time/day during the 2008 season. got my response this morning and my wife and i will be there on april 9th!
  17. Back to berkley (11/woodward) yes, just places for her to go before work or on weekend mornings thanks for all the help everyone...
  18. i will be moving back to the d in a month or so and my wife is very concerned about her coffee shop options. does anyone know of a coffee shop worthy of a discriminating (obsessive) palate? she especially likes illy and intelligentsia.... i appreciate any and all suggestions
  19. san

    Poor Service

    everything starts from the top. management can be blamed for all or any of the following: poorly cooked stead could mean the kitchen was understaffed or underqualified, or that the server was busy (understaffed dining room) and entered it wrong. the food runner may have switched the med-rare steak with the med-well one and the bartender doesn't know the right proportions for a simple drink, or doesn't care. if you've had that server before and they usually do a good job i would personally do the same thing you did and recommend they work somewhere else so that they can still take care of you since you won't be going back there any time soon. usually if you notify mgmt they will adjust the bill fairly. you did exactly what i would do in the same situation. it also could have been one of those random days where 3 people don't show up and they do the best they can with what they've got, especially if you know them to do a much better job
  20. what if the laptop was a notebook? does that disturb guests the way a laptop does? should it disturb a guest as much as or less than a laptop? i doubt the owner would object, but aren't they both doing the same thing? at a non-crowded neighborhood bar, i can't imagine too many people have been kicked out for writing in a notebook- so why so much anger about a laptop?
  21. only because this is the system for all of the restaurants. it isn't feasible to think that after one restaurant decides to pay their servers from their sales and not accept gratuities (raising their menu prices), all other restaurants would follow suit. personally, i think it is a completely non-hospitable system we have here in the states where establishments charge guests and then expect those guests to pay for their staff by tipping them (whether it is a busboy, server, bellman, houskeeper, etc). unfortunately no one will lead the charge to change because it's highly doubtful that people will flock to a place who charges significantly more than their competition, even if tipping isn't expected. you're right. i got a little carried away. the point i was trying to make is that everyone makes small mistakes in the workplace, but only servers are ordered to pay for them out of their own pocket. i do feel strongly that a server (or anyone's) pay should not be taken away due to a mistake that is very often (almost always) due to either someone else's mistake or improper training/management. there are a lot of bad servers out there, but most of them are bad because that's how mgmt trained them to be.
  22. i went for the 2nd time last night and was just as impressed (if not more) than the first. the southside was outstanding and the chi-town flip was probably the best cold weather drink i have ever had. i made a promise to myself that i would try as many different drinks as possible and it took every fiber of my being not to order a 2nd CTF. after a disappointing service experience last weekend at a top Chicago restaurant, my wife and i were totally inspired and overjoyed to see that the service at TVH is as great as the drinks- which is really saying a lot. we chatted with michael for about an hour and a half and he was totally informative and friendly. i love that a place can have so much style and not be at all snobby or 'holier than thou'- establishments that can achieve both of those great qualities are few and very far between. i can't say enough great things about this bar.
  23. i have worked in the restaurant industry for just under 20 years, and am very much in favor of a mandatory service charge. if servers are paid an hourly rate of 2-3$ per hour, a mandatory grat is the only way for them to receive good compensation. if the establishment decides to pay them a competitive hourly wage, their labor cost would skyrocket and their prices would soar into ridiculousness. i disagree. if no minimum grat is charged, servers get less tips, plain and simple. especially in a place where many tourists who aren't used to our system like WDW. I worked in a tourist area of San Francisco and for a short time they didn't charge a minimum grat. it was not unusual for servers to walk out of the restaurant with about 5% of their total sales (if all of your tips were 18% you would leave with 15% after tipping out busboys, bartenders, and food runners). any server who is even remotely good at his job will simply leave if they are getting paid 1/3 the amount the servers are at a similar restaurant down the street. what is left are unqualified, unmotivated and untalented staff. when a restaurant whose guests don't tip well doesn't protect its staff, it has a weak staff of people who can't get a job anywhere else. this is when service suffers. many of the best restaurants in the country have mandatory service charges (french laundry/per se, charlie trotter's). management dictates the level of service in a restaurant more than anything else. a minimum grat or service charge IMO is a fair way to protect servers from being taken advantage of by someone who is either uninformed or totally insensitive. only in the restaurant industry can someone purchase a service and dictate how much they pay for it. i would love to go into best buy and pick out a $3000 plasma hdtv and tell them i only feel like giving them $1000 for it. if service is not acceptable to the guest, management usually is willing to discount the bill. it is, however, IMO completely inappropriate to charge a server for a mistake in service, especially when it is often a situation in which the server had no control of to begin with. by charging a server i am referring to the fact that when they are 'stiffed', they still have to tip out several support staff members, so the server ends up having to pay to spend 2 hours running around and working to please a group of guests.
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