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Houston Chronicle's Whine and Dine


FoodMan
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Many comments in the Chronicle’s (Houston) weekly feature “Whine and Dine” are very irritating (I guess this is partly the point). Stuff like, “Oh, I cannot believe restaurants are still serving pasta and bread” or drivel like “I want to go to a restaurant on my B-Day so I can get a free meal” or one of the worst “I went to Pappasitos and it was noisy” just to name a few. I propose we start discussing (or debating) this weekly feature in this forum, is anyone else interested?

I will start with today’s Whine and Dine and one of the dumbest comments I’ve read in weeks:

“Maria Zaborek of Houston says she can't believe people are still eating chicken-fried steak. "Ever since I moved here from Chicago in 1978, I knew that CFS is 'heart attack on a plate.' There are far more interesting and healthful things to do with round steak than CFS. Frying, including batter-covered okra, is the sign of a bad cook. Okra is now considered a fiber-healthy food. So, I don't fry it; I simmer it with onions and lycopene-enriched tomatoes!"

WOW!!! Was Maria a visionary or what back in 1978??? She always “knew” that the great delicacy is a heart attack on a plate.

Elie

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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heh heh heh...

I am really kind of glad you started this, Elie. I always read it and I almost always cringe. I haven't brought it up in The Digest because... well... Because it is just too embarrassing. :laugh:

A couple of years ago I wrote in that Houston just doesn't "get" the muffaletta. Or, at least it hasn't since Crumly Cogwheels closed years ago. I went into the bad bread with no sesame seeds, olive salad either unchopped or turned to mush, and big wads of MEAT. They don't get that the meat and cheese is a condiment and it is all about the bread. Well, the next week there were replies like: "Try the muffaletta at xxxx. They really put a lot of meat on it and it is enough for four people." *runs screaming into the night*

I wonder if any of our other Texas institutions of the press have similar, um, glimpses into the local culture?

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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today in W&D:

-Rudi Lechner's rules

-Texans reply back to the CFS basher (I like the first comment best :smile:)

-More about those dumb Quiznos monkeys or rats or whatever they are

-Looking for good thin crust pizza

Elie

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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yeah, those write-ins are hilarious, but the feature definitely has a strong fan base. Some local establishments genuinely fear the slings and arrows of a fickle Houston public that's eager to comment under the protective aegis of W&D's snob-free zone. And if you're going to get a "heart attack on a plate", make sure to get wet fries on the side, or as dad calls 'em, "mitrovalve infarctions with gravy".

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Where in the paper does this run?

It's in the Dining section which has been moved inside the "Preview" section :huh: . It comes out every Thursday.

Elie

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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Snork! I like the Whine & Dine feature. Just too damn funny. The Wichita Eagle has a call-in "Opinion Line" where you can rant to your heart's content and see it in the paper. The nutcases that call in are always good for a chuckle. What I'd like to see, both in the Eagle and now the Chronicle, is a year-end review of all the opinions that were too whacked out to run in the column. That would be hysterical.

Chad

Chad Ward

An Edge in the Kitchen

William Morrow Cookbooks

www.chadwrites.com

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I would love to say `go home, Yankee,' but as I'm a fine, genteel Southern woman, I will holster my six-gun and let her live."

:laugh::laugh::laugh:

*rolling in the floor*

No offense to our fine yankee visitors, but it looks like some of our fair denizens take the "Don't Mess With Texas" slogan seriously.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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I would love to say `go home, Yankee,' but as I'm a fine, genteel Southern woman, I will holster my six-gun and let her live."

:laugh::laugh::laugh:

*rolling in the floor*

No offense to our fine yankee visitors, but it looks like some of our fair denizens take the "Don't Mess With Texas" slogan seriously.

Now, now, fief, as an I-10 commuter within Harris County, you know good 'n well that the mention of only one six-gun is downright neighborly. Hell, that's just your wavin' firearm.

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Today's W&D :

Diner has a takeout problem at Fertitta's Aquarium banquet

Bad experience at Rio Ranch?!

Even Da Marco (another Houston favorite) gets bashed by one of the "Whiners"

Houstonians offer advice on thin crust pizza.

Elie

Edited by FoodMan (log)

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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Today's W&D:

Irma’s gets positive review for service

Vargo’s and Daily Review get bashed …although I’m not sure what is so wrong about adding gratuity on a table of 6 or more. Does anyone here think it’s rude?

Elie

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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  • 2 weeks later...

Reading Whine and Dine is among one of the first things I do online on Thursday AMs - it provides some good insight to some of the American culture and is very entertaining. There wasn't anything that noteworthy today but once again the air of entitlement riddles many comments. People seem to think that if the manager or someone in charge at any restaurant doesn't drop everything to run to meet them and escort them to their seats IMMEDIATELY then they aren't getting the appreciation they deserve for being there.

You know when you are at a restaurant and you see tables of 2 (sometimes 4) where noone is talking to each other and then are just looking at the kitchen door or at the servers with a sort of "where is my food - there's only so much I can talk/think about without you serving me ASAP!" - those are the kind of customers I picture writing into Whine & Dine.

I remember when Hugos first opened and some friends and I mistakenly went there (after many excellent visits) the day after it was favorably reviewed and it was filled with all these people and I commented "the Whine and Diners are here!"

I don't mean to sound elitist. After waiting tables for many years when I was younger I am senstitive to people who aren't out for the whole dining experience and are intolerant of interesting restaurants.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ooopsie... Didn't realize that Elie is off on an adventure. I will catch ya'll up on the W&D dosage.

May 5, 2004 W&D

Only one that wants me to run screaming into the night:

In response to the reader who complained of the Aquarium not allowing a doggie bag at a banquet, M.J. Harmond of Houston says, "This is a reason to carry plastic zipper-type bags in your purse or pocket."

May 12, 2004 W&D

The residents are surprisingly benign this week.

May 19, 2004 W&D

Some notable whining that some diners have to be reminded to tip.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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  • 3 weeks later...

Fifi, thanks for posting the previous month's W&D in my absence. I got back in town on Memorial Day weekend and I've been catching up with some obligations. For now, here is the first W&D for June from last week. Nothing too juicy, the rave about the service at Maggiano's did catch my attention though. It's always nice to hear about a good level of service...too bad their food is a little bland for my taste.

And are waiters really leaving "tip cards" in the customer's check?? That is not cool.

Elie

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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I look forward to the weekly whine and dine and appreciate the links. My favorite from the last few batches:

The salad tasted like a wild plant.

and this ringing endorsement from a satisfied customer:

Just for the record, we have had the crab cake and would describe it as sufficient."

:biggrin:

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For some reason it seems that the Chronicle's website does not have today's issue of W&D. Hopefully they will post it tomorrow.

Elie

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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It's there now ... Linky.

One whine is a person annoyed that last weeks reviews were of the same restaurant in the Chron and Press... Apparently she thinks that the publications coordinate these things in some manner.

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Thanks for posting the link. This whine is a classic...maybe we can talk to Walsh since he frequents our forum so he can double check with Allison Cook every week and make sure he does not review the same establishment.

Elie

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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There was a short run a couple of months ago when this (double reviews) occured several times over a few weeks. In a subsequent review Robb actually mentioned that he ran into Allison at a restaurant he was reviewing. They should have come up with a system. Maybe a tie hanging on the doorknob?

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Today's W&D is fun.

A reader describes a Filet Mignon as “apocalyptic”. I’m assuming that’s good, it sure does not make me want to rush and order one though.

More discussions about tipping and one reader is now seriously depressed and exclaims “customers have to worry whether the waiter will make enough money from their meal and others so that they can make ends meet. Good grief.” Next waiter to serve her table might get a big fat tip, I guess.

A couple of readers are deeply wounded by Alison Cook’s fine –IMHO- review of Mi Cocina. One even claims "Alison Cook is the meanest reviewer ever", and I think she is a little over five years old. For what it’s worth I think Robb Walsh’s review of Mi Cocina is pretty much in sync with Cook’s.

Happy reading

Elie

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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Hope I'm not traipsing through your territory, Man O' Food, but I just read the W&D and thought I'd post the link right here because one of the whines annoyed me (well, two did, but one was a smoking nazi and I prefer to ignore them -- I don't smoke, but someone campaigning about OUTSIDE smokers I think is really taking things too far, though I suppose it's inevitably the next battleground once they've conquered the indoor smoking).

A whiner at Cafe Rabelais complained because the tax was somehow "hidden" in the receipt. Now, that would annoy me because I would at least want the opportunity to make sure it was the correct amount (though double checking the tax calc I admit is something I rarely if ever do). But this person wanted to know how much it was so that she could exclude it when calculating the tip. Do people do this? Make the generally insignificant adjustment downward from the total bill amount and not tip for the amount that represents tax? That's ridiculous.

On a better note, a diner reports some excellent hospitality at Vic and Anthony's.

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