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    Chapel Hill, NC
  1. I love the food at Lupa, but they have the most uncomfortable chairs ever. Also, the last time I went the somalier pissed me off. I asked him about a gewerztraminer on the list and he went into this long oratory about what gewerztraminers "tend" to be like, as if I neededa lesson, without asking me if I was familiar with the grape or not. He assumed me to be ignorant, and when I told him I knew what they "tended" to be like, but I wanted to know what this one was like, he was so mad all he'd say is that it was "good". I asked him about another wine and he said that was good too. Humph.
  2. Besha

    Tim Tam Biscuits

    To hell with Violet Crumbles, what you really want is a Picnic Bar. And I thought the way to eat a Tim Tam was to nibble around the outside, then pry off the top bicky, then lick the chocky stuff off....I guess even national rituals change when you're gone for long enough....sigh.
  3. When I was in Melbourne last year I spent the entire visit on a quest to find the almond croissant of my childhood. It was the one the French guy at the Vic Markets used to sell...kinda flat and covered in powdered sugar and almonds. I still remember the day he changed to the nasty goopy on the inside kind. It was tragic. I found some good ones, but not the one I was searching for. Any suggestions?
  4. It was surely the most unbelievable thing that has ever happened to me in a restaurant. It nearly made me cry, and that's quite a trick. The raw fish part was to prove to my boy how fresh the fish was (because the guy found out that Ryan was a cook in a respectable restaurant, which made him even madder, because then he couldn't think we were just two dumb kids). Looking back, I guess it is silly and funny, but I still wish it had not happened. It was pretty upsetting, and took a lot of oysters and pink champagne to get over.
  5. I'm soooo excited for Blue Ribbon Sushi. I also love Convivium, the seafood tapas for two is so good, and so much fun. And yes, it was the chef who came out and screamed at us. Not only that, he threw a piece of raw fish on the table to prove how fresh it was. But this experience deserves a more thorough explanation, and right now I'm late for work, where I will be very diligent (as always) about letting all customers know what we are out of.
  6. Nina- I live in Carroll Gardens and it always strikes me as strange that the Slope doesn't have more good restaurants...not the Slope proper at least. No one can knock al di la on 5th ave, and as for comfort food...I recently got screamed and cursed at by a chef at the Jersey shore for sending my entree back (something I've never done before). I walked out, took the first train back to the city, and went to Blue Ribbon Brooklyn for oysters and pink champagne. Now that's comfort!
  7. Anyone tried a deep fried candy bar? I had one bite of the deep fried Snickers at last year's NC state fair...my teeth still hurt thinking about it.
  8. Believe it or not, there are many bad waiters out therewho are not "differently abled", they are lazy, and in many cases, lazy rich kids who don't have to be good waiters because their daddy's paying their rent for them. People have said here that they'd prefer the waiter's salary be made up in the price of the bill, and yet people get so offended when a gratuity is added for them. Isn't this the same thing? As for people always tipping the same, and waiters always giving the same service, in any tip pooling house there are a few waiters who always bring in more money than anyone else. Good waiters make more money.
  9. We went for Lobster Night. A full menu of lobster dishes, plus the regular menu. “Two please” we said at the door. “Ok,” said the host, “but I have to tell you that we’re out of lobster”. We sat anyway. We had been here before, egged on last summer by a wonderful review in the Times, which said among other things that Bistro Saint Marks had a level of service rarely seen in the boroughs. We had been pleasantly surprised by the restaurant’s attempt at Brooklyn haute cuisine, although it was obvious that the floor manager also waited tables, and understaffed on purpose in order to bring in more tips for himself. This time, the shmoozy French manager/waiter was gone, and our waitress was one of those girls who is so beautiful that she’s never had to do anything well in her life. We sat and waited for her for a long time. The wine list was short. When our beautiful waitress finally blew in, I asked her about an Italian white. “That’s a crowd-pleaser,” she said, nodding enthusiastically. “Have you tried it?” “No, but people really like it.” “What about this Riesling? Is it dry?” “Um, yeah, it’s a dry Riesling, but sometimes if we have no dessert wine we serve that instead. So it’s kinda dry and kinda not.” Although I was not in the mood for anything cloying, it’s rare for me to meet a decent Riesling that I don’t get along with, as opposed to Italian crowd pleasers, which could mean anything. We decided to go for that, then tried to order. “We’ll start with the oysters,” Ryan started. “We’re out of oysters.” The waitress interrupted. “Ok, um….we might need a minute to figure out what we want to do then,” Ryan tried. The waitress was not so easily scared off. “You might want to try the carpaccio,” she said, leaning over with her pen and paper. “Yeah, we were going to have that too, but…” “Good,” she said, and started writing. “What else?” She wasn’t even being a bitch. She was that clueless. “Let’s just do what we were gonna do without the oysters,” I said. I just wanted her out of there. “Well, maybe you should get the cod instead for your entrée,” Ryan suggested. “We’re out of Cod,” the waitress said. “And you’re out of all the lobster dishes?” I asked, just to make sure, pointing to the top section of the menu where seven or eight lobster dished appeared in half or whole portions. “Everything but the lobster sandwich. But it’s not worth it anyway,” she said dismissively. “Ok, fine,” I said. “We’ll start with the carpaccio, then we’ll split a half order of the chicken livers,” “Do you want that to come with the carpaccio?” “No, in the middle. Then we’ll each have an order of the tuna.” “Ok, good.” She snatched our menus and was off. Ryan was furious. I was worn out already. The wine came, then the scallop carpaccio on a b&b plate. The scallops were tender and fresh, and seasoned with a lovely herb oil, or at least I think that’s what I remember from the bite and a half that was my share. We finished it and were only a few sips into our wine when the chicken livers and two tunas we ordered were dumped in front of us. We had been there for thirty minutes, spent ten waiting for the waitress, ten squabbling with her about what we could or should or shouldn’t have, and here we were, ten minutes later, with the last two courses of the three we ordered already crowding our table. I pushed the tuna over to the side, took a deep breath, and started on the livers, which had been advertised as livers and figs on the menu, but was more like a big plate of pasta with a few livers on top. Figs can be one of my favorite foods, but when they’re cooked, they need to be macerated beforehand in order to keep their flavor. These seemed to have simply been thrown in with no prior attention, and were a bland waste as a result. When we go out to eat, we like to sit and drink and eat a lot. We’ll usually go through a bottle and a half of wine, spend a lot of money, and tip very well for a place putting up with us settling in for a couple of hours. By the time I moved my (by now cold) tuna entrée over, I was only a sip into my second glass of wine, and I felt like crying. We don’t have the money to do this all the time. If I’m not enjoying myself, it’s my one true joy of the week down the toilet. When we first ate here, I had the tune entrée, which I loved. Seared tuna over strips of shaved fennel root, with the tuna itself smothered in a fennel leaf oil. The absolutely overboard with the fennel routine worked for some reason, worked well, and I think I dreamed about it at one point. Well, I don’t know what happened, but it’s different. The dish now has a more Asian lean to it, with the addition of pickled ginger, and a LOT of vinegar. Ryan, the cook, loves vinegar, and spends most of his free time in the kitchen pickling whatever he can get his hands on. But after a valiant effort, he finally pushed his plate away. “I just can’t eat that much vinegar.” He said sadly. In a second our plates were whisked away, and dessert menus dropped. We decided we were still hungry and would go for the cheese plate, which would be hard to fuck up. At the bottom of the menu, it claimed that we could have tawny or ruby port. When the waitress appeared, I asked her what kind of port it was. “Um, well, as far as ports go….I mean, I’m not sure.” She looked at us. We stared at her. “Do you want me to ask?” “Yeah, that’d be great.” In a minute she came back and said very seriously, her pretty eyes open wide, her head nodding, “It’s port wine.” When that wasn’t enough, she turned to the man behind the bar and whined “They still want to know what kind it is.” When she came back, she had two bottles of port in her hands, which she dumped on the table. “Ok,” I said, “we’ll have two glasses of the tawny and the cheese plate.” “We’re out of the cheese plate,” she said. “Baby,” Ryan said as we walked out the door, “I feel like we’ve been chewed up and shit out.”
  10. As my friend Jason (One of the best waiters I've met) once put it to a customer "The way tipping works in America, if you don't tip me, I in effect pay to serve you...and while it's been a pleasure, I'm not sure I want to pay to do it". In Europe and Australia, no one is expected to tip more than 10%, and the waiters there make around $20 an hour. In those CRAZY socialist countries, they probably have free healthcare, free education, and god knows what else. Here, the government assumes that a waiter is making 15% of their sales, and taxes accordingly, more than eating up the $2 an hour waiters make. Does anyone know how hard it is to keep a restaurant running, financially? If restaurants had to pay their waiters a living wage, it would be impossible for new restaurants to get past that hump that's hard enough as it is. In a recent trip to Australia, where the waiters don't have to rely on tips to pay rent, the service sucked everywhere I went. At least here, when the service sucks, I have a way to show my disappointment. When the service is fantastic, I leave 30%. And I'm just a lowly waitress.
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