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poor meal at jujube


umbabaru
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Since Chef Deal is one of the folks I most respect in the triangle food industry, I thought I'd try to find out what's up.

It's been a while since I've been to Jujube, but I was surprised at how mediocre it was last night. Granted, it was Monday, but the meal reminded me so much of The Grasshopper near it's end. The ingredients in the noodles I had were way out of proportion, with heaps of scallions overpowering everything, and little sign of balance. A soup I had was so incredibly hot (and I like hot food) that it was impossible to enjoy. And poor service (which, I guess, the place has always had in my opinion). It was a totally mediocre meal.

So has Chef Deal busy with new ventures? I remember hearing something about a high-end Mexican place, but perhaps Super Taco and the other outstanding Mexican eateries in town put an end to that venture.

Edited by umbabaru (log)
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Obviously I love Jujube for a variety of reasons. I've never actually eaten a normal meal in the dining room, always at the pass or for a special event, but the service I've had has always struck me as particularly friendly. I will agree though that I have had soupy dishes there that have been literally scaldingly hot.

Still, one of the most exciting restaurants in the area without question.

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For what it's worth...

Certainly I never take the news that somebody had a poor meal at my place in a cavalier manner and always look specifically into the concerns raised as best I can. While I'm not sure which noodle dish you are talking about, nor the server, the only thing I can suss out it is the mushroom soup. That dish is a rather curious situation for me. The same guy makes it every time in large enough batches that I can only assume that what you had is how we serve it. To be honest, I agree that it's quite spicy and frankly, thicker than I prefer, but I fear that if I ever changed it, there'd be hell to pay. There is no single dish on the menu that is as ferverently ordered by the same people over and over. Literally, we have people who come in for lunch more than once a week and get a large bowl of that with rice, every single time. We don't even bother offering them menus anymore. I'm not telling that guy we "fixed" it.

Once again, I'm sorry you had a bad experience but you'll need to take my word for it that, as far as I can see, we're not turning into the next Grasshopper. I am fortunate to say that I have never been involved with a restaurant that had as loyal and regular customers who seem to nearly always be having a great time. My current chef Josh is turning out exceptional food and I'm very, very pleased with the staff in general. Business, by the way, is also staying quite strong even in the face of financial doomsday reports and a basketball crazed community in the throws of it's annual orgy of brackets (I'm really not kidding about the later as establishments without dozens of TVs refer to this time of year as "March Sadness").

Does this mean that we never mis-step? Hardly. Though I should add that the next restaurant that I've gone to more than once or twice, even those with exceptional reps and lofty price points to match, that hadn't disappointed me one or twice will be the first. There's basically a few options, either examine every plate on every night that goes out, pay enough people enough money to insure that you will never make a profit, or grit your teeth and accept the fact that, like basically every other industry in existence, you're not going to bat 1.000. Honestly, the only realistic option is #3. Nobody owes it to anyone to be a martyr. I got into it once with somebody on another board (about a restaurant other than mine) because this was an unsavory truth they did not want to accept. Their point, "we don't accept failure from surgeons and airplane pilots, why restaurants?" Mine, was that line cooks make about $10 an hour and the economies of the industry will not support any more. I think it's fair to hold them to lower standards than surgeons and pilots. This is not carte blanche on happily accepting poor food (either from the standpoint of a consumer or as the proprietor), rather coming to grips with reality. An interesting stat: If I get it right with 99% of the time, I will piss off about 10 people per week.

I like my servers and feel fortunate to have as loyal and good hearted a crew as I do. They donate their time when we have charity events to allow us to give as much of the proceeds as possible to the cause. They've become more and more interested in food, wine, and service with each passing day. However, let's not fool ourselves, service as a whole is slipping everywhere and there's some very simple economics behind it. When I was coming up in the industry, your average busboy was in their early 20s and waiters started there and went up into the 30s. As one of those busboys, I knew more about wine than nearly any waiter I can remember waiting on me in any restaurant I've eaten at in the triangle. Now? I have exactly one server over 25 years old. Cheesecake Factories, PF Changs, etc. enter a market and employ dozens and dozens of servers which seriously dilutes the labor pool for everyone.

Now, once again, I'm not exactly sure what amounted to your poor service, but I've certainly learned to lower my expectations in that regard at pretty much every place I eat these days. All I look for now is that they're basically friendly and I get what I ask for in a timely manner. Long gone are the days where I can expect pros anticipating my needs. I know people get pissed because they had to ask for refills, etc but I honestly think they should relax unless they're in the kind of place that charges the kind of money that allows waiters to make enough in tips so the cream of the crop is lured there.

Jujube is at a bit of a crossroads as we've become different things to different people and are going to have to make some choices. Because Josh and I are excited about pushing the envelope with special dinners and such, we've developed a bit of a following for that. There are regulars who joke about why we even bother having a regular menu because they always get specials. At the same time, we have a set of people who come in for the same thing over and over (like the mushroom soup I mentioned above). Resolving these two is harder than it might seem.

So, once again, my apologies.

Now it's my turn.

You prefaced your critique by explaining you respected me in the local scene. Why would you not, then, simply bring your concerns to me or at least elaborate to the extent that I could figure out what went wrong and fix it? That would seem to be a noble intent. To inspire local restaurants to keep striving to make their product better. Forgive me, but that is not the tone I am getting.

Edited by detlefchef (log)
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My wife read my post and had exactly the same response as Varmint, BryanZ, and detlechef. Well, actually, she was pissed at ME. And I think detlechef's response speaks for itself. Clearly he brings an honesty and integrity to his work, and I erred in creating this post based on one meal. I can't take it back, but I suppose I'll eat a little crow here in public to minimize the damage.

I edited my initial post -- I will be back. Regarding the service: our server was extremely nice and accommodating, and I have super-high expectations that I agree need to be lowered.

The food was a problem, but I suppose as Varmint insinuated, this can happen with any restaurant. It wasn't bad, just a little sloppy, which suggests it was an anomaly (especially given detlechef's response). The soup with rice would have been much better; I just couldn't handle it by itself.

To take that singular experience and open up a new post was wrong. I have this very informal mindset regarding eG Forums, and I forgot that the post gets splayed up there with "poor" in the title for all to see. My sincere apologies.

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Well, good on both of you.

I have no dog in this hunt as I do not live anywhere near, but I read the initial post with interest and almost responded. I chose not too as I wanted to see how locals who know better than I would handle this.

Very amicably it seems. Should have been at time of service, but that does not always work and many people have a hard time expressing themselves, shall we say.

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I also let this play out locally, but I wanted to respond to this

"we don't accept failure from surgeons and airplane pilots, why restaurants?"

That's simply not true. Surgeons and pilots make mistakes everyday. It doesn't mean they're crashing planes and killing people, but neither do we typically have a dining experience that is akin to death. Just as I expect my scar to be a bit long, or my landing to jiggle me in my seat, I also am not disappointed just because I waited an extra minute for my check or my water glass had lipstick on it.

I'm glad perspective was found on this meal.

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I also let this play out locally, but I wanted to respond to this
"we don't accept failure from surgeons and airplane pilots, why restaurants?"

That's simply not true. Surgeons and pilots make mistakes everyday. It doesn't mean they're crashing planes and killing people, but neither do we typically have a dining experience that is akin to death. Just as I expect my scar to be a bit long, or my landing to jiggle me in my seat, I also am not disappointed just because I waited an extra minute for my check or my water glass had lipstick on it.

I'm glad perspective was found on this meal.

Short of fugu, right? :cool:

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Go try their Tuesday tasting menu, which at $60 for a 20 course meal, is the single best bargain in the area. And then splurge on some good wine.

By the way, did you eat anything else that night that you liked?

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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Go try their Tuesday tasting menu, which at $60 for a 20 course meal, is the single best bargain in the area.  And then splurge on some good wine.

:shock: You have to be kidding me?? I will be in Topsail this summer.

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