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Joe McConnell

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Posts posted by Joe McConnell

  1. So I bring home a third of a pound of good deli pastrami.  It's not warm.  How would you warm it, quickly but gently, to achieve a hot pastrami sandwich in the comfort of your own kitchen?

    Thanks -- good ideas. And yes, please, let's not kick off a smoked meat vs

    pastrami debate -- there's enough doctrinal dispute in the world as it is.

  2. So I bring home a third of a pound of good deli pastrami. It's not warm. How would you warm it, quickly but gently, to achieve a hot pastrami sandwich in the comfort of your own kitchen?

  3. We have a small restaurant located in a lovely, but remote location.  We get no drive by traffic -- everyone makes a reservation.  Since we've been open (a short time) we've received some really nice reviews and good publicity.  That said, we are almost entirely dependent on word of mouth.  People have the perception that we are an impossible reservation and some will book months in advance.  Saturday nights are usually packed and we do have to turn people away most Saturdays.  Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays, however, can vary wildly from very busy to depressingly empty. 

    Here is the question -- what would you, the dining public, think if you came to our place on an off night and found 15 people in the place? Would it depress you?  Could you have a good time if everything else was to your liking - food, service, etc?  Would you think the place was failing and does that impression have greater ramifications (i.e. do people start spreading the word that that the restaurant is not making it - a perception that could snowball - or do people give us the benefit of the doubt since we are new?)

    I am curious as to your thoughts.  We torment ourselves about about a really slow night more because of its effect on someones dining experience than even the effect on our bottom line. 


    I've had this experience frequently, since I travel and rely on reviews and Zagat and so on to decide where I'm going to eat. I'd walk in, anyway, since I need dinner, and judge you on your food and service, not on your critical mass. One of my standard Japanese places in Dulles-land never has more than 5 or 10 people dining on a week night, seems like, but it survives and I keep coming back.

  4. The guest who took a one-hour lunch-n-learn with a local sous-chef on knife skills. Picked up my knife and said, "hmmm -- pretty dull, guess I'll have to come over and sharpen it for you." Homicide was narrowly avoided. (It was NOT dull, BTW, I later found out that the instructor in this "class" was as clueless about knife edge geometries as most chefs are, and just handed out a bunch of incorrect information.)

  5. *snore* -- looks like you've been recommended "the usual suspects". Beverly Hills Grill is way overrated, I think. Rattlesnake Club and the Whitney are in Detroit proper, about an hour from A2. Tribute is closer to A2, in Farmington Hills. I can give you directions if you need them. For sushi, there have been sushi places popping up all over the area like mushrooms. Noble Fish in Clawson is good and cheap, but you'll have to carry out. The local Japanese community tends to congregate at Musashi in Southfield and Sharaku in West Bloomfield.

    Make sure you know whether you want to visit A2, Detroit, or the suburbs -- everything is really spread out, so you probably will not be able to cover that big of a geographic region. Do you have your itinerary already?

    Are you visiting A2 for any special reason? (game, checking out the U-M, etc.?) If you're going to be in Ann Arbor, there are a few other places you should check out:

    Zydeco (decent Cajun food -- make sure you order the bread pudding for dessert)

    Ali Baba's (a cheap Middle Eastern restaurant near the law school)

    Zingerman's (a legend. Go there to browse and drool. The sandwiches are a bit too pricey, IMHO, but definitely buy some bread and sample the cheeses)

    Blue Nile (Ethiopian)

    BTW, mlpc, sorry I didn't answer all your questions! I tend to be on the stingy side, and after one too many times of being disappointed by an expensive meal, I decided to focus more on my home cooking instead.

    Gotta run. Happy eating!

    With the exception of Yotsuba, I agree with the snore, completely. Try Paesano's for Italian -- Veneto-born chef Isabella, and a truly personable Wine Director, Chaad. Ask for him.

  6. It might help hone the responses to this form of question: "where's a good place to eat in (name of location here)" if posters ruled in or ruled out chains.  Dave's BBQ, for example, is a chain, as is the Outback.  Wouldn't occur to me to name 'em, since I'd

    assume the poster was able to find 'em in the phone book.

    In this case, Pam did specify "I'd love a non-chain, non-burger choice. Please."

    True - sorry. But then she got a series of chain suggestions. Specifically Daves' which we first encountered at Taste of Madison, where it's chain-ness was not obvious. Somewhat disappointed later on, when we went to one in ND and experienced the usual chain service, beverage list, and other chain attributes. Oh, well.

    On an unrelated ND note, I was flying over the state once, seated next to a woman who had the whole place as her territory, selling cosmetics. She characterized it as the "giant concrete cow state." Most cement cows per capital she'd ever seen. Can any one confirm or deny?

  7. We had a neighborhood bar when I was a student, back in the '70s -- just burgers n' beer, been there since my parents were students at the same college. I'd been there a few times with my cousin, who was not a fan of the grilled onions ... the last time I went there with him, he ordered a burger and said, loudly, "And if you put onions on it, I'm going to go home and get an axe and kill you." Nobody, including the cops sitting in the corner, paid the least attention. But no onions, I admit.

  8. Yeah, there are SE Michigan people, although few actual "metro Detroiters" really seem to post. As I noted over on another thread, http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=99068&st=60#,

    there are some good options in Ann Arbor and Dearborn. I may be out of the loop, but Royal Oak hasn't really shown me anything yet, and downtown spots seem to come and go with some frequency.

    Of course, the famous La Shish mini-chain is changing its name and breaking franchise deals, due to the original owner's political and legal problems.

    Are you aware of the Michigan paradox? Two of the three best restaurants in the

    state are hundreds of miles up-north (pronounced as one word), in a town the size of my living room. Tapawingo and the Rowe Inn are in a hamlet called Ellsworth, and making a trio with Tribute (which is down here, in Farmington Hills) are the three top venues.

  9. I believe somewhere in his books, Bourdain expresses a fondness for Globals. I forget what Batali uses.

    Many of these folks' actual preferences will have been submerged in branding deals, though. Just for interest's sake, why do you care?

  10. Please share your favorite all-round online resources. I've found a few online merchants recommended by eGulleters but I am trying to find one or two well-rounded, comprehensive, recommended online resources for my kitchen cooking and baking needs.

    Here's my thing.... I have bought kitchen stuff through Amazon (and their myriad of merchants) and knives from a knife specialty place but I dislike buying from so many different places and having UPS and FedEx running up and down my driveway so often; sometimes just to deliver one tiny item.

    I am trying to think green and efficient. I would like to do most of my shopping at one (or two) place(s) and have fewer deliveries. Lowered shipping costs are nice but that's not the point. If I want computer parts "NewEgg" consistently has almost everything I could ask for, the prices are good, they almost always have it in stock and they deliver on-time or early. It has always been a pleasant experience and I am totally satisfied with buying computer related products from them. I want the same for cooking tools and accessories from one or two places! Do places like this exist? I'm not sure I've found the right one yet.

    I am near New Haven, Connecticut so I buy a lot of things out of New York and the New England area, if I can. And, besides "Bed, Bath and Beyond", I don't know where I can drive to locally and shop.

    As I've noted elsewhere, I default to http://www.cutleryandmore.com/, although it must be said, they don't have EVERYTHING. (Good grips stuff, for example.)

  11. Ann Arbor:

    - Kerrytown market inside, esp Sparrow Meats and Monahan's Seafood; Everyday Wines

    - Saturday and Wednesday AMs, there's a reasonable farmer's market at Kerrytown

    Market, outside

    - Morgan and York, cheese, deli, high end wines

    - Produce Station, fresh produce

    - Tsai Grocery. asian groceries

    Ann Arbor is crawling with small, strip-mall located Asian and South Asian markets, of wildly varying quality. Needless to say, avoid all supermarkets.

    Village Corner used to be the go-to spot for wine, but they're getting on toward retirement, and it's in the dead center of campus parking hell -- Morgan and York and Every Day Wines are my current recommendations unless you're looking for something very specific that VC alone carries.

    FYI, I keep a search engine of some of these recommendations at www.culinaryintelligence.com. It's free.

  12. Hot - physically hot - pastrami, tomato, easy on the mayo, and meunster cheese, on a kaiser roll. Drives deli types nuts, but it's my personal test case when trying out a new deli. If they can't do that to order, they're in the wrong business.

    But nobody else agrees with me, especially about the cheese.

  13. I wouldn't go so far as to ban them -- they're a great genetic marker. If this place has wraps, I don't need to eat here. They do show up at office lunches with distressing frequency, though, meaning that you need to make the ethical choice between eating crap because it's free or not eating it ...

  14. You can order extremely cheap white lab coats on line. If you're doing the come-home-and-start-cooking thing in the evenings, a lab coat is a better cover up for good clothes than an apron, and makes you look like Thomas Dolby. I hum "blinded me with culinary science" as I prep things.

  15. How about "all day"?  If I use it outside the kitchen, with normal folks,  how on earth do you explain THAT?

    And what about 86? In school I was told it was the number of times an old school chef stabbed a cook who'd run out of the most popular dish on the menu.

    I read somewhere that to 86 an item comes from Delmonico's in NY. It refers to running out of the 86th item on the menu: delmonico steak.

  16. I suggest looking at Henckels' new four star II line. If you want an absolutely general purpose shape, an 8" chefs is pretty much the standard. That will handle all the prep work you can do and work acceptably for trimming, but not full scale butchering of meat. None of the combinations of shapes and manufacturers mentioned are really for going "through" bones -- not sure what you meant by that.

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