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Saffy

All Your Food- and Drink-Related Pet Peeves

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What don’t I like in bars?

Sticky Glassware

Sticky Bartops

Anybody attempting Karaoke :angry:

Bartenders trying to foist off port that has been open for many months and is oxidized

Children running in to grab cherries by hand

Bands going through set up at prime hours

Finding cherry stems in the pretzels

Really rowdy drunks

Really depressed drunks

Dummies who stand in front of the bathrooms but never go in or get out of the way

$24 well drinks

Call drinks made with generic stuff

When you go to a pub for darts and some dummy has taken a table and put it on the toe-line so that it is impossible to shoot at all, and the dummy is drunk and aggressive

Managers who don’t clear out dummies so that darts can be thrown

:wacko:

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I DON'T like it when I want a Shirley Temple (extra cherries, boy will give you a five for your trouble) and the bartender laughs at me.

Or when I ask for my rum drink (don't ask, they're both EASY to make, but weird) and the bartender tries to talk me into some other more common, albeit similar, drink, to the point of arguing. If that's what I'm really in the mood for, that's what I should be able to get.

Colored sugar really sets my teeth on edge, I can't stand 'precious' stuff.

I don't like bright lights, bar stools that don't swivel or glass tops.

I really like it if there is a booth somewhere, there are times when it's appropos.

I DO like it when the bartender puts extra olives in my date's martinis. I don't drink martinis, but I DO enjoy those drunken olives!

Meanwhile, I'm probably at a bar to meet'n'mingle with the talent, or to accompany a date who has be met'n'mingled, or I'm there to canoodle with a date! It's all about the lack of lighting and the alcohol at that point. :cool:

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:wub: :

A bar thats accommodates diners as well as drinkers...

Hooks underneath the bar so I don't have to put my purse down in who knows what...

Comfortable stools that make me want to stay...

Bartenders who know how to be friendly and make just the right amount of conversation without monopolizing me/us...

Enough space for elbow room...

Bartenders who can make good recommendations when I don't know what I'm in the mood for...

:hmmm: :

Bartenders who ignore patrons who don't flirt with them (this goes for both sexes)

Smoke. Sorry, but I'm really allergic!

Bartenders who are too busy 'posing' to pour drinks

Bars without good wines by the glass

Guess I can think of a lot more things that I like, huh? :laugh: You know I'll come up with more...!

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:wub: :

Bartenders who can make good recommendations when I don't know what I'm in the mood for...

I guess this is close to the whole "bartender as psychic" thing and probably doesn't happen very often at busy bars.

But, you know, if a bartender can even get it close to right, after a couple drinks, with some small amount of direction, in a quiet bar, I will really remember the experience.

Or even better, point me in the direction of something I didn't know I liked...

edit - add comment.


Edited by eje (log)

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LOUD music.

Maybe I'll start a sister topic about what people LIKE about the bar experience.

Oh dear. You aren't gonna like the bar when I'm behind it. And you've got that great big hockey stick, too . . . :smile:

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LOUD music.

Maybe I'll start a sister topic about what people LIKE about the bar experience.

Oh dear. You aren't gonna like the bar when I'm behind it. And you've got that great big hockey stick, too . . . :smile:

I don't know it just ruins it for me when I have to yell my order in the bartenders ear or have someone's spit end up in my ear when they are yelling at me.

Yeah right, a 8 1/2 pound hockey stick. :cool:

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"Bartenders" who do not know how to make and Old Fashioned or think you're crazy to ask for it with Jack Daniel's instead of Southern Comfort.

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2. If it's clear that the bartender really doesn't want to be there.

Nobody want to be at work all the time, but it can go too far. We were in a fancy restaurant in a casino, having dinner at the bar. Two friends of the bartender, clearly off-duty employees, were sitting there having (I guess) nonalcoholic drinks and the bartender was talking loudly with them the whole time about how horrible it is to drink alcohol. It started out being about one of them trying to stop drinking, but soon became pretty much of an extended sneer at their customers. I know that drunken gamblers can get very obnoxious, and a lot of what goes on can be depressing to watch, but please. I was trying to enjoy some wine with my dinner; I was not trying to get drunk but I felt embarrassed about asking these people for another glass and afraid I would get a lecture.

I have to say, I know I would have a hard time being a bartender because of the way a lot of customers act. There always seems to be someone drinking and wanting the bartender to share his or her bizarre political views or something; it must get pretty tiring.

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"Bartenders" who do not know how to make and Old Fashioned or think you're crazy to ask for it with Jack Daniel's instead of Southern Comfort.

Say wha? Where is this crazy part of the world is it that thinks an Old Fashioned is made with Southern Comfort? That's just silly.

Of course I shouldn't talk. In my home state of Wisconsin the default hooch in a Manhattan is brandy and, in some parts of the state brandy's the default for the OF too (which is then, bleaahh, topped with 7-Up). You'll just have to forgive me, though, for thinking that a Southern Comfort OF makes the Wisconsin Brandy Old Fashioned Sweet look good in comparison. Well, almost...

You may want to consider reminding the offending bartenders that the full name for this drink is the Old Fashioned Whiskey Cocktail. Southern Comfort may be closely related to whiskey but whiskey it ain't. Also, considering how sweet it is I don't see the point. Sure, add a couple dashes of bitters to it--couldn't hurt--but sugar too? Why not a little grenadine for "color"? Sheesh, some people. :blink:

While ol'JD wouldn't be my first choice in an Old Fashioned I'm on your side here, Pyewacket. You are most definitely in the right on this one. Don't let those nut-jobs get you down, man!

Kurt

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:wub: :

A bar thats accommodates diners as well as drinkers...

Amen sista'!

Hooks underneath the bar so I don't have to put my purse down in who knows what...

YESSSSS!!! As God as my witness, any bar I ever run and have some say in the construction elements will have this feature.

Comfortable stools that make me want to stay...

There's a reason they don't want you to get tooo comfortable. :smile:

Bartenders who know how to be friendly and make just the right amount of conversation without monopolizing me/us...

This is part of the "reading the customer" element that some bartenders are geniuses at, and some simply aren't.

Enough space for elbow room...

Didn't your mamma tell you it's impolite to put your elbows on the table? :raz:

Bartenders who can make good recommendations when I don't know what I'm in the mood for...

I try very hard to be this bartender. I'm at a distinct advantage having constructed the program where I am. It helps to know the menu well too. I love having a customer ask me to pair wine with each course. That makes my day!

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OK, I think it's possible to eat very well in Seattle, and we have access to great ingredients if we look in the right places, etc.

On the other hand I'm sure everyone has some pet frustrations with dining or food shopping in Seattle... Feel free to share yours.

Here are some of mine.

Dining:

  • $17 plates of pasta that are almost four times the amount of food a normal human stomach really needs, making it impossible to order anything else to enjoy along with it. (Granted, it's not as bad if you know where to look, but you do have to know where to look; you can't just stumble into an Italian place and expect it to be decent).
  • An almost complete lack of effort to offer high-quality lowbrow daily dining options, other than maybe sandwiches and some passable pizza-by-the-slice. A little attention to detail, please! If we can do it with coffee, we can figure out how to get decent soba, maybe a quick piadina, and Mexican quick-service spots at least smart enough to eschew yellow Irish cheese without having to run all over town. The majority of lunch spots and inexpensive dining places aspire only to mediocrity, rarely approaching the level of professionalism I can expect from a local indie barista (Yes, I know there are a few exceptions, but I find a much better success rate when I am in Japan, Korea, and even Germany, purely by stumbling in; it seems to be harder to succeed if you're not at least good, whereas you can open a terrible ambiguously Asian restaurant on Broadway and gain a loyal following simply by offering big food.).
  • The Japanese restaurants that get the most buzz/attention (which shall remain nameless) primarily offer weirdly presented food with inappropriate scale, decidedly un-Japanese combinations of ingredients that aren't actually even "innovative", and a strange tendency to try to cram too many unrelated categories of food onto the same menu, doing little better than an average middle-of-nowhere "family restaurant" in Japan.

Shopping:

  • Frighteningly bad to mediocre supermarket tomatoes, generally from BC Hothouses, even during the late summer/early fall months when perfectly good ones are in season locally.
  • The softest tofu at most supermarkets, including PCC and Whole Foods, starts at Firm and goes to Extra Firm, and is usually old. This is a travesty, as it continues to perpetuate continued abuse (and the myth that tofu needs to be excessively seasoned to become palatable), and makes preparing Korean and Japanese food at home a serious problem unless I plan my week around trips to Asian markets or Central Market. I want custardy, fresh oboro tofu, soon dubu, and kinugoshi tofu, momen at the firmest, and it must taste like soybeans, not sour milk. (Yes, I know I have options at Uwajimaya and some Korean markets, and at Thanh Son if I ask to skip the soft tofu's syrup. But they aren't in my neighborhood).
  • Pastries that are so big they lose their charm about half-way through... Even the bakeries that I like are guilty of this. I know they need their average ticket prices to meet a certain threshhold, but do I really need a croissant to weigh a half pound?

OK, enough venting for one day. I'm sure I can keep ranting.


Edited by JasonTrue (log)

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I think some (maybe all-not sure about the tofu) of your rants are actually a problem everywhere in the US, not just Seattle. I don't know any city in the country where you can walk into a random Italian restaurant and get a good plate of pasta-I always have to do a LOT of homework if I'm want to eat Italian in another city since most places are mediocre Italian-American. And supermarket produce is uniformly bad everywhere, in all seasons, I think. I never expect to see anything local unless it is in a specialty store, coop or farmer's market. And pastries...god, its not just the size, but you have to look really hard to find good pastry in the US.

I'm definitely not arguing we have a perfect dining scene here, so rant on everyone :) But, those things above I think are a problem everywhere.

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OK, I think it's possible to eat very well in Seattle, and we have access to great ingredients if we look in the right places, etc.

On the other hand I'm sure everyone has some pet frustrations with dining or food shopping in Seattle... Feel free to share yours.

Hi Jason,

<p>A number of your pet peeves resonate with me. The biggest would have to be the lack of simple sandwiches in an affordable restaurant setting. I lived in Manhattan and Boston and every few blocks there was either a Greek coffee shop or a boulangerie that had tables and served simple, made-to-order sandwiches with high quality ingredients: Roasted turkey, tuna salad, ham and cheese, BLT, etc.</p>

<p>There are a few places in Seattle that make good, fresh sandwiches, but most of them are delis with no table service, and no comfortable tables to sit at (a couple of rickety two-person tables near a drafty doorway -- if anything). If I try to get a normal sandwich at a sit-down restaurant, it arrives on a plate heaped with fries or salad, has some kind of tough artisanal bread sliced 1 inch thick, is slathered with chilipotle mayonnaise, and costs $12.</p>

<p>The only places downtown I've ever been able to get a fresh, affordable sandwich in an enjoyable lunch environment are Bakeman's on Cherry and a couple of the taverns near Pioneer Square. Has anyone found anything good in the shopping district? Maybe Von's?</p>

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I suppose I might be identifying problems that are national in scope, but I've been traveling far more internationally in the last several years than domestically, so my point of reference is primarily not the US. Also, although they may be problems everywhere in the US, I have a personal interest in seeing improvements close to home!

Sure, I've had some particularly hideous dining experiences in Orlando and even Chicago without (and with) proper research. However, I've had fairly good luck stumbling around San Francisco (not so much the rest of the Bay Area, though) without doing much advance research; I trust my instincts when on my own, which usually helps screen out total disasters, but the same instincts don't always work everywhere. I suspect that not every town is full of mediocrity...

Of course, most every city has its own kind of common milieu of mediocrity and redeeming charms... In Chicago, bad coffee, overcooked pasta and big food are commonplace, but then they have a higher minimum bar on Greek restaurants than much of the rest of the country, for example (granted, that may not be saying much). In San Francisco, although most of my Japantown dining experiences were unimpressive, it seemed easier to accidentally walk into a good Italian or Chinese restaurant than Seattle. In Vancouver, BC, most cake, pastry, Italian and Indian spots that I've found are reliably disappointing, but you can fall into a Japanese, Korean or Chinese restaurant and expect reasonably good results (or maybe I was just lucky).

In Tokyo, the most frightening things are done to Mexican food... I remember tortilla chips made from flour tortillas, served with tabasco sauce mixed with canned tomatoes as the salsa. But I can find almost-fresh food in convenience stores (not that I particlarly like it) that rivals what average US Japanese restaurants serve, and then there's not a bad soba shop to be found. (The fact that on most trips to Japan I have enough time to find myself eating at non-Japanese restaurants is another issue, I suppose).


Edited by JasonTrue (log)

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For sandwiches - I'd add "Dexters Deli" (on Dexter) although limited amount of tables but good service and good prices for the sandwiches.

Jason

OK, I think it's possible to eat very well in Seattle, and we have access to great ingredients if we look in the right places, etc.

On the other hand I'm sure everyone has some pet frustrations with dining or food shopping in Seattle... Feel free to share yours.

Hi Jason,

<p>A number of your pet peeves resonate with me. The biggest would have to be the lack of simple sandwiches in an affordable restaurant setting. I lived in Manhattan and Boston and every few blocks there was either a Greek coffee shop or a boulangerie that had tables and served simple, made-to-order sandwiches with high quality ingredients: Roasted turkey, tuna salad, ham and cheese, BLT, etc.</p>

<p>There are a few places in Seattle that make good, fresh sandwiches, but most of them are delis with no table service, and no comfortable tables to sit at (a couple of rickety two-person tables near a drafty doorway -- if anything). If I try to get a normal sandwich at a sit-down restaurant, it arrives on a plate heaped with fries or salad, has some kind of tough artisanal bread sliced 1 inch thick, is slathered with chilipotle mayonnaise, and costs $12.</p>

<p>The only places downtown I've ever been able to get a fresh, affordable sandwich in an enjoyable lunch environment are Bakeman's on Cherry and a couple of the taverns near Pioneer Square. Has anyone found anything good in the shopping district? Maybe Von's?</p>

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Good sandwiches with sit-down: Harried & Hungry on 3rd btw Union & Pike, Nordstrom Grill in the basement of the store

Piadina: Osteria La Spiga, soon to reopen on 12th on Capital Hill (great, appropriately portioned, pasta as well)

My biggest shopping complaint remains the difficulty in getting decent, non-sprouted, garlic.

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I remember tortilla chips made from flour tortillas

This has nothing to do with this topic, but it reminded me that last month in Paris I saw tortilla chips labeled "tacos" at Lenotre. I thought it was cute and wondered who buys them.

In San Francisco, although most of my Japantown dining experiences were unimpressive, it seemed easier to accidentally walk into a good Italian or Chinese restaurant than Seattle.

You will have to start sharing some of your favorites on the CA board. I travel to SF fairly often for work and have the WORST time, looking at opinions on egullet (and Chowhound), finding Italian and Chinese restaurants that people recommend. For every place that someone likes, someone else says it's awful, filthy, etc. *sigh*

I agree La Spiga has appropriately portioned pasta...too appropriately, I think-I could eat twice as much (and I did eat about 10 times as much as normal on their last, all-you-can-eat, day).


Edited by kiliki (log)

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Where do you live Jason? We can help you find soft tofu outside of the ID.

My peeve is that Indian food is fantastic in Vancouver, B.C. and that Vancouver, B.C is not

within "hunger" distance when I want to eat. Why is the food in Seattle so different? Can't any of those restaurant owners from Vancouver come down here?

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I'm in Fremont... though I'm pretty familiar with my nearest supermarket options. The PCC locations seem to be the worst place for finding soft, fresh tofu... QFC has it sometimes, but not usually in very good shape (thanks to optimistic expiration dates). Trader Joe's once upon a time had soft tofu but now it's hard or harder. If I go north toward the Korean shops in Shoreline or south to the ID, I can find decent options, just not in nearby markets.

I'm aware of La Spiga but it's not quite the "everyday dining" spot, or price range, that piadina would normally be, except maybe at lunch, when I'm generally not nearby... The fact that it's La Spiga is the exception is basically my complaint.

I haven't been to Vij's yet, but my stumbling Indian dining experience in Vancouver was less than remarkable (the same is true in Seattle for the most part, with a few Eastside exceptions).

Where do you live Jason? We can help you find soft tofu outside of the ID.

My peeve is that Indian food is fantastic in Vancouver, B.C. and that Vancouver, B.C is not

within "hunger" distance when I want to eat. Why is the food in Seattle so different? Can't any of those restaurant owners from Vancouver come down here?

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My peeve is that Indian food is fantastic in Vancouver, B.C. and that Vancouver, B.C is not within "hunger" distance when I want to eat. Why is the food in Seattle so different? Can't any of those restaurant owners from Vancouver come down here?

I haven't been to Vij's yet, but my stumbling Indian dining experience in Vancouver was less than remarkable (the same is true in Seattle for the most part, with a few Eastside exceptions).

But did you consult the locals for recommendations before you did your stumbling?

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Except for the as-yet-unnattainable Vij experience, not so much.

Of course, part of the problem with North American dining is I have to ask people... the minimum bar to restaurant success is so low, that I can't expect much without doing so. In Japan, Korea, and Hong Kong, I've had fairly good results without needing to ask too many questions, though I've certainly benefited from help when it was available.

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  • The softest tofu at most supermarkets, including PCC and Whole Foods, starts at Firm and goes to Extra Firm, and is usually old. This is a travesty, as it continues to perpetuate continued abuse (and the myth that tofu needs to be excessively seasoned to become palatable), and makes preparing Korean and Japanese food at home a serious problem unless I plan my week around trips to Asian markets or Central Market. I want custardy, fresh oboro tofu, soon dubu, and kinugoshi tofu, momen at the firmest, and it must taste like soybeans, not sour milk. (Yes, I know I have options at Uwajimaya and some Korean markets, and at Thanh Son if I ask to skip the soft tofu's syrup. But they aren't in my neighborhood).

I saw one brand of soft tofu at the Roosevelt Whole Foods today. It would probably cost you $10 to make a plate of mapo dofu given the size of the box but it does exist!

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I'm in Fremont... though I'm pretty familiar with my nearest supermarket options. The PCC locations seem to be the worst place for finding soft, fresh tofu... QFC has it sometimes, but not usually in very good shape (thanks to optimistic expiration dates). Trader Joe's once upon a time had soft tofu but now it's hard or harder. If I go north toward the Korean shops in Shoreline or south to the ID, I can find decent options, just not in nearby markets.

I'm aware of La Spiga but it's not quite the "everyday dining" spot, or price range, that piadina would normally be, except maybe at lunch, when I'm generally not nearby... The fact that it's La Spiga is the exception is basically my complaint.

I haven't been to Vij's yet, but my stumbling Indian dining experience in Vancouver was less than remarkable (the same is true in Seattle for the most part, with a few Eastside exceptions).

Where do you live Jason? We can help you find soft tofu outside of the ID.

My peeve is that Indian food is fantastic in Vancouver, B.C. and that Vancouver, B.C is not

within "hunger" distance when I want to eat. Why is the food in Seattle so different? Can't any of those restaurant owners from Vancouver come down here?

I regularly buy soft tofu and hadn't realized it was a problem to find - both Safeway and Met Market on Queen Anne have at least medium and usually soft tofu.

cburnsi

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I'm aware of La Spiga but it's not quite the "everyday dining" spot, or price range, that piadina would normally be, except maybe at lunch, when I'm generally not nearby... The fact that it's La Spiga is the exception is basically my complaint.

I guess I'm a little confused on the piadina issue in particular. Is there some place outside Emilia-Romagna where they're inexpensive and widely available? When La Spiga opened, they were one of two restaurants in the entire US serving authentic piadina sandwiches.

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I suppose I worded my complaint a bit carelessly... I just don't like that it's so hard to find places that are in the "affordable/everyday-dining" range that have the same kind of attention to detail that I can expect in the same price categories in Japan, Korea, Hong Kong or Germany/rest of Europe. Simple, fresh, not-heavily-processed food, made with an obsession for getting it right, instead of just turning tables as quickly as possible.

I can find a good sandwich or decent slice of pizza, but I can't turn to the Turkish Imbiss that uses same-day-baked Turkish bread and well-made things to stuff it, I can't get soba that's made so perfectly it needs nothing more than a house-made tsuyu and a couple of bites of pickled vegetables to accompany it, or a nicely done bibimbap, or piadina, or whatever... the kind of food you might spend $5-12 for here. The specifics of the cuisine aren't so important as the focus on quality (instead of, for example, size and speed).

There are, I think, pockets of this attention to detail in Seattle, but it's far easier to find in service of making coffee than it is to find in food. The minimum bar for quality in Japan or Korea, in my experience, is much higher, even on the most ordinary of foods. It's hard to survive by selling "big", for example, instead of "good."

I guess I'm a little confused on the piadina issue in particular.  Is there some place outside Emilia-Romagna where they're inexpensive and widely available?  When La Spiga opened, they were one of two restaurants in the entire US serving authentic piadina sandwiches.

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