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bigboss

"James" Restaurant

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James deserved better.  Especially from a restaurant professional.

Question: Why did James deserve better, to borrow your melodramatic phrasing? I'm not seeing how they deserve anything simply by virtue of being a new restaurant. It sounds like they served an overpriced mediocre-at-best meal to industry professionals, and friends at that. Now this apparently unfortunate experience is being discussed on an internet forum. Big deal. I doubt too many people will seriously be dissuaded from going to this restaurant simply because of this thread (as was stated by another poster). In short, James will not fail as a restaurant because someone went on a rant on the internet. Rather, the demise of the restaurant will occur if they continue to serve sub-par food at inflated prices.

So, assuming those who run James are intent on it being a fine dining restaurant, this thread should in the long run have a positive effect. That is, they should be checking out these sorts of forums, taking in negative feedback, and improving their restaurant by ensuring that something like what was described at the start of this thread never happens again.

Greetings Noob,

and welcome to eGullet.

I think I have explained why I believe any new restaurant deserves a break for the first few weeks.

But let me take James and bigboss out of the equation and try another approach from the point of view of someone who reviewed restaurants for a few years.

It is an unwritten rule for most restaurant reviewers that they will not lambaste a restaurant during its first few weeks of operation. A couple of reasons. First it is unfair to the restaurant just getting started. Second, it can be unfair to the reader - the review may or may not represent the experience the reader would receive a month or so down the road.

A post on a respected and broadly read web site such as the eGullet forums can have significant impact on a restaurant. However, as long as a member posts within the scope of the Membership Agreement they can offer opinions about a restaurant without observing the traditional guidelines of newspaper restaurant reviewing and without any editorial influence.

This can create great content. And there is a balance because others have equal access and can offer opposing points of view. That balance possibly makes the eGullet Forums fairer to a restaurant than other forms of media.

The drawback is that established conventions of restaurant reviewing fall by the wayside. Sometimes that is trivial. Other times it can impact the success of a new restaurant. If positive, cool. If negative, it is a serious responsibility. As this thread evidences, people may reconsider their decision to try a new restaurant. Word of mouth is generated. Most Philadelphia food writers and restaurant reviewers read eGullet and may be at least a bit influenced.

A post like the one that initiated this thread will not put a new restaurant out of business. And yes, a smart restaurateur will react to customer concerns and learn. But such a post makes it tough for a new restaurant - scares away some badly needed customers, distracts and possibly demoralizes the restaurant staff when they should be concentrating on understanding and perfecting their new business. Most newspapers of note, out of fairness, would not publish such a review about a restaurant that has been open for less than a month.

There is a responsibility to be fair that comes with writing about a restaurant whether that writer is a paid restaurant reviewer or a poster to a web site such as the eGullet Forums. And publicly blasting a new restaurant in its first month is simply not fair.


Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

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Most newspapers of note, out of fairness, would not publish such a review about a restaurant that has been open for less than a month.

There is a responsibility to be fair that comes with writing about a restaurant whether that writer is a paid restaurant reviewer or a poster to a web site such as the eGullet Forums. And publicly blasting a new restaurant in its first month is simply not fair.

I am inclined to agree with you on that Holly but that is exactly what Frank Bruni's first look/Blog in the New York Times does quite often under the guise of "initial impressions".

Edited to add: Specifically regarding GILT 50th/Madison for example.


Edited by Vadouvan (log)

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Most newspapers of note*, out of fairness, would not publish such a review about a restaurant that has been open for less than a month.

There is a responsibility to be fair that comes with writing about a restaurant whether that writer is a paid restaurant reviewer or a poster to a web site such as the eGullet Forums. And publicly blasting a new restaurant in its first month is simply not fair.

I am inclined to agree with you on that Holly but that is exactly what Frank Bruni's first look/Blog in the New York Times does quite often under the guise of "initial impressions".

Edited to add: Specifically regarding GILT 50th/Madison for example.

Edit:

* Except, of course, for Frank Bruni of the New York Times.

:wacko:


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

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I have been following this thread with interest. If one believes the old maxim that "there is no such thing as bad publicity" and one assumes that the eGullet Forums are indeed influential, this whole discussion may actually wind up spurring business at James by piquing people's curiosity! :wink::wacko::laugh:


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

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- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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'Unwritten rules in the restaurant industry.' Slippery slope Holly. As I stated WAY up-post an 'unwritten rule' of the industry applies to the sentence 'we'd like to cook for you.' It means, 'we're going to give you the soigne treatment and you aren't going to pay full price for it.' As soon as they take choice out of your hands with no mention to price there are certain reasonable expectations on the part of the diner. What happened at James consitutes a grave violation of this rule.

It's true that a new restaurant deserves a little slack, but as soon as you start charging huge prices you kind of become fair game. Just because I pay x dollars now and not three months from now does not mean that I am not entitled to a quality meal.

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It is an unwritten rule for most restaurant reviewers

Not the restaurant industry. Again, I am speaking specifically about a public restaurant review, whomever writes it.

Beyond that I still maintain there had to be a lot of misunderstanding / miscommunication / opposing expectations concerning the words "cook for you."

I totally agree that $90 is a lot to pay for a disappointing meal. There is no margin for error at that price point. But the constructive and positive way to communicate this to a just-open restaurant is one-to-one feedback.


Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

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Holly, I'll agree that the ideal situation for a formal review of a restaurant is to let the place settle-in a bit, and of course visit multiple times, and sample as much of the menu as possible. Most traditional print media reviewers will do this.

But there are a few important distinctions. Immediacy and interaction are inherent to this wild new blogospherical world. Blogs and internet forums are going 24 hours a day, and whether it's politics, entertainment or food, immediate unfiltered impressions are the coin of the realm. Bloggers are out in front of even daily papers in many cases, with no physical or editorial infrastructure to slow them down.

As Vadouvan points out, many in the conventional media are opting to join the fray, and Bruni's blog and LaBan's online chats are just two of many examples of impressions, if not full reviews, communicated from the more traditional journalistic world, and these observations are often made in the early days of a restaurant's life.

Additionally that fast pace of the online world, as well as just the general mania for food info, has put pressure on some of the print journalists too. Magazine writers faced with long lead-times are feeling the need to get into places earlier so that their reviews don't feel like old news.

But more importantly, what we're seeing here are not formal reviews. One could argue that it's not "fair" to say anything at all, good or bad, after one visit to a restaurant. They could be having a bad day, or an unusually good one. I'd certainly agree that one meal is not an adequate foundation for a serious final word on a place (although it appears that reviews in the weeklies and other small publications are often based on one visit.)

But it would be a shame if the people posting here felt that they shouldn't say anything until they'd made three visits, under assumed names, twice with wigs and prosthetic noses.

But that's not what posts here are, they're not "fair," edited, fact-checked, scrupulously researched works of journalism. They're personal, opinionated, rough-edged impressions. Any one post may not represent the same sample size or depth of expertise that a professional reviewer can bring to a review, but in aggregate, between all of us, we're a pretty deep resource!

Personally, I haven't formed any final opinions about James, it is indeed early days in the restaurant's life, and I hope it's early in the series of opinions we'll see here. God or bad, first day open or well-oiled machine, I want to hear about it.

Not to beat a dead horse, but I'd say it's bad form to publicly criticize a place if it's officially still in pre-opening. But if they're open for business, and charging money, I want to hear what customers think. Do we need to hold-off commenting if they change chefs? If one of the waitstaff is sick? If the manager is going through a personal crisis? Should we check with the hostess on the way out, to make sure everything was OK, to verify that it would be "fair" to comment on our experience?

Readers should take these posts for what they are: one person's opinion of one visit. With enough discussion, and enough reports from different people, hopefully we can approach a "fair" picture of a place.

So I say, the answer to this problem is more reports, not fewer.


"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

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I really do not know how to respond to... or to answer back to posts such as these.

I agree that a restaurant being young, needs time to adjust and needs time to find it's way. I also agree that someone in the restaurant business, reviewers as well have an unwritten code. To at least wait.

But in saying that. I wonder if the post came from someone else.Whether it be part of the foodaphiles group on egullet, or a regular Joe. Would this post be so scrutinized? I wonder, because it came from a food service professional.

I believe that BB, no matter what his professional standing in the business has a right to comment as a "consumer, and a customer".

I also believe that Holly is correct. I do think a lot, whether they like to admit to it or not, critics and food writers look to the gullet for some bench mark of information. It may or may not influence their judgments on a place to review more quickly or wait awhile. But it is very influental

I think sometimes a post on egullet may actually "bite them in the ass", except for V :laugh::laugh::laugh: (kiss the napkin ring) (as it did me. I am willing to live with that, and make no apologies for it.)

Any who.

When Lacroix and I first came to the Rittenhouse. It was a disaster for us. The Condo residence hated us and the staff hated us. We had waitstaff soliciting guests to write to the owners expediting our removal . Letters were written, tons of hate mail. These letters although not public forum could have altered our standing at the Rittenhouse , They were written by very very public people. Critics wanted to review us in the first month we were at the Rittenhouse. We were still Tree tops.

An article was posted in the Inky saying that Jean Marie was at the Rittenhouse, before we even arrived. People flocked to eat the Four Seasons food, and were very disappointed when they did not get what they expected, believe me they were very public in slamming us.

It was only when chef stepped in and used his influence to delay the review for a year, or until his name actually appeared on the door. So that just gave everybody time to sharpen the claws.

Fast forward one year,

We opened the doors, it took less than 4 weeks before the first review. New restauarant, Double the staff, double the kitchen size, and a new menu concept that had not been tried. The menu has 3 different plates 3 course $45, 4 course $55 and 5 course $65, with dessert included, or an option of the cheese cart instead included.

After all of this What did the review say. "eewww Sweet breads". It also stated we were expensive.????????????

Does anyone think that review and the "expensive tone" did not effect business for a long time. ?

Although my story was long, my point is this. I too opened a restaurant, with extremely high expectations. I realized that if we priced ourselves to high in the beginning we would be screwed. 90 dollars is a lot of money for a tasting in a BYOB. Expectations are always high, and there is always some one to comment good or bad. Take it and learn or ignore it and be foolish.

Criticism stings, it did to me. But one needs a thick skin for this business. Especially in Philadelphia with this group. I believe that James will be fine. Everyone should try for themselves. Knowing BB I am sure he will give it another go. I know he had no intentions of hating the place. (that's my role :cool::laugh: ) They may have made an error in judgment. Unfortunately the error went to people in the business that they "said lets cook for."

side bar: I write how I think. Never in a straightline, but some how we get there.

JML acutally closed the door BB.to yell at you? It was usually head to head with him and I, in the kitchen, in the dining room ,in the pdr, in the bathroom, at the hospital, in the car............. :laugh::laugh::laugh::biggrin:

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I, too, have followed this tread with interest, and I appreciate the honesty and unexpected outcome in the OP.

I cannot say whether there is or is not a "code" within the industry, whether the OP is covered by such a code, or whether there is a proper/improper way to communicate such an event. The fact is, whatever unwritten code may have been created, it was not likely created when blogs such as this were in place.

Personally, I was shocked when the OP ended with a $90 pp bill. If I follow correctly, the OP dined with friends. One friend knoew the sous chef and pastry chef there from a previous job. One of the other friends knew the owner’s wife from a previous job. This is a "friend-of-a-friend' situation and whether or not BigBoss is /has been in the industry, the owners of James are not his personal friends. To complicate things, the owner’s wife greets them and says "they’d like to cook for us." Now, we have a one-to-one contact from friend-to-friend, and BigBoss is along for the ride.

If I were in this situation, I would be expecting some really good food and some "special arrangement" with regard to payment. If I were with other folks in the industry, I would be expecting some REALLY good food and a "REALLY SPECIAL" arrangment with respect to payment.

It seems to me that the honus is on the owner and his wife to make this a very special meal, and to avoid any misrepresentation, confusion, or any walk-away bad feeling/impression, ESPECIALLY when the guests are friends, are in the industry, and sites like eGullet are out there to discuss such outcomes/issues in the immediate future.

Bravo to BigBoss for starting what has ben a controversial but really interesting and informative discussion. I hope there is no negative effect on James as a business, but that they learn from this... I know I have.


Edited by phungi (log)

I belch, therefore, I ate...

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I hope there is no negative effect on James as a business

It wont, the only thing worse than being talked about is NOT being talked about.

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I do agree that getting talked about on here is doing them some good. I'd not heard of them before this, and because of this thread they're on my radar. Now they do have an obligation placed upon them, to get a few people saying nice things about them before I'd think about having dinner there, and they'd need a lot of nice things said before I'd think about dropping $90 on a tasting menu... but they're on my radar no less.

I hope they get themselves straightened out and start turning out food that tastes as good as it reads on their menu.


Edited by cdh (log)

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

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The guy "Jim Burke" is definitely a good chef, he worked with Mark Vetri, he was the chef at Angelina when it was good, I remember a solid gnocchi dish I had there.....

The Gnocchi wasnt solid, the whole dish was solid.

Gnocchi were quite sublime and tender.

You know what I mean..... :smile:

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Would this 48hr moratorium apply equally to heaping praise on mediocre restaurants,

Yeah...

discussions of pizza or cheesesteaks

Absolutely not. Those are fast foods (relatively speaking) and should be able to stand up to fast comment.

(Speaking of pizza, I need to arrange another Review Tour stop. There's part of Center City not yet covered, a few more places in South Philly ditto, and we haven't hit the 'burbs at all.)

and lauding the Chairman’s Selections???

Those are going to get worse from here out anyway, so why bother with this? :laugh::raz:

So I say, the answer to this problem is more reports, not fewer.

We are in complete agreement here.

side bar: I write how I think.  Never in a straightline, but some how we get there.

As I said before, you really don't need to apologize for your writing. You get paid to cook. I get paid to write. We both do what we get paid to do well. (Seen Postscript yet?) I wouldn't presume to open a fine dining restaurant; I know neither the technique nor the business. And besides, this is a conversation, not a newspaper or magazine; the sort of "editing" that goes on here is not for style or tone, and 'Net conventions frown on that stuff anyway on discussion boards.

Not to mention that stream-of-consciousness writing is a literary genre all its own. :wink:


Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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Bravo to BigBoss for starting what has ben a controversial but really interesting and informative discussion

Phungi great point.

I think the best thing to come out of this thread is more activity on the board, lately the E-gullet PA board has been like watching a game of Bocce Ball at Shady Pines Retirement home... :laugh:

Also the Dagordon/Sandy Smith smackdown..... :smile:


Edited by Vadouvan (log)

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Also the Dagordon/Sandy Smith/MRBIGJAS smackdown..... :smile:

There... happy now? :raz:

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"I think the best thing to come out of this thread is more activity on the board, lately the E-gullet PA board has been like watching a game of Bocce Ball at Shady Pines Retirement home... "

could be worse, have you visited the dc board? dead. :shock::sad:

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I have an extremely hard time believing that what the OP did was inappropriate in any way.

The issue of proper eGullet etiquette w/r/t restaurant write-ups is completely independent of the issue of proper restaurant review etiquette in other media.

It's generally accepted that you don't publish a restaurant review after only going to a place once. But obviously it's perfectly acceptable to post about a meal that you had at a place for the first time, postive or negative.

I don't think that the OPs post, or most people's postings about restaurants, are "reviews" in the relevant sense. They simply don't purport to be giving anything like an accurate assessment of what the average diner can expect at the restaurant. They're just descriptions of people's meals.

The evidential value of these descriptions is up to the reader to determine for himself. There should be no expectation among anyone reading these boards that when a person posts about a meal, it is anything more than (hopefully) an accurate, honest description of what happened on one particular occasion.

And I don't think there is this expectation. I find it really hard to believe that someone reading these boards would regard a person's post in the same way that they would regard a published review, unless the poster's name is "Frank Bruni". And those who are familiar enough with the OP's name to know that he is in the industry are not the people who are going to be mislead into thinking that his post was anything more than what it was.

People know that, for virtually any proposition p, no matter how crazy, you can find someone on the internet who has posted to a forum in support of p. That is, I think that people have realistic expectations about what it means when someone posts a message on an online board.


Edited by dagordon (log)

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A few responses to some recent posts.

1. For reasons stated earlier, I did react more intensely because the poster is a restaurant professional - though I do not know his name nor if we have ever met. But I would react strongly to such a post, no matter the writer's background.

2. The eGullet Forums are media. They likely have more impact than many other forms of food and restaurant focused media. eGullet and similar discussion forums are unique in that their content is not generated by editorially supervised writers. As a result guidelines, other than those in a forum's membership agreement, have not been developed or adopted. Not sure they ever can be. Which calls for self responsibility - a self-imposed sense of fairness. To paraphrase Cornell University's motto, "with freedom comes responsibility."

3. The velocity and immediacy of the internet does not take away one's duty to be fair and responsible. Such obligation should not change just because it takes minutes not days to publish.

4. If it looks like a review and talks like a review, it is a review. Doesn't matter if it is written by a professional reviewer or an eGullet poster. A lengthly bite-by-bite recap of a meal that is summed up as "the most underwhelming meal I’ve had in this city in ten years," is a review.

5. The right to rant: I like V's equivalent of counting to 10 - waiting a couple of days before pounding the keyboard. Beyond that, consider the impact of the rant on the subject of the rant.

6. As V. has pointed out the chef/owner of James has respectable credentials and proven skills. That being the case, the meal bigboss endured was either an abnormality or typical of a very new kitchen. If the former, it could have been because the chef was cooking for friends who were also restaurant kitchen professionals. Again, going back to my reviewing days, some unexpectedly poor meals came from very good restaurants who recognized me and tried too hard because they were cooking for a reviewer.


Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

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my only problem with this thread has been the restaurant's name. it's so distracting reading all this.

(does anyone here not know my name is james? i don't think so.)

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my only problem with this thread has been the restaurant's name.  it's so distracting reading all this.

(does anyone here not know my name is james?  i don't think so.)

Actually, not having met most of you, I really have no evidence that you're real people, as opposed to online personalities created by one person with a lot of free time. Wouldn't it be funny if "Holly Moore" and "bigboss" were actually the same person?

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"Actually, not having met most of you, I really have no evidence that you're real people, as opposed to online personalities created by one person with a lot of free time. Wouldn't it be funny if "Holly Moore" and "bigboss" were actually the same person? "

i believe there is medication for this condition. :raz:

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side bar: I write how I think.  Never in a straightline, but some how we get there.

              JML acutally closed the door BB.to yell at you?  It was usually head to head with him and I, in the kitchen, in the dining room ,in the pdr, in the bathroom, at the hospital, in the car............. :laugh:  :laugh:  :laugh:  :biggrin:

No, Matt, I just said “in the office” for brevity, and people are taking that quite literally. You and I both know the whole damn kitchen was his office and he had no compunction about where and when we got routed.

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We aren't going to agree on this one. 

Had James been open longer I would have no issues at all with the post.   But we're talking about a small husband/wife restaurant, just opening their first proprietorship, perhaps a life's savings invested.   James or any similar restaurant deserves to be cut a break at the start.  They have enough hurdles the first few weeks without some major bad publicity.

When someone has serious kitchen experience I guess I'm expecting more empathy for and support of a new restaurant, even one that disappoints.  That community thing I was talking about before.

Question - did your friends or you mention those problems to the hostess or the chef that evening?   It sounds like the dining experience was sufficiently spoiled that some honest confrontation would have benefited both sides.  Of course you have no obligation to do so, especially since you were paying guests and not comps.  But some on-the-spot candor would have been doing them a favor.

I may have been overly dramatic in "they deserve better."  I admit I'm hypersensitive about giving new restaurants the benefit of the doubt.  It is one of those few buttons that, when pushed, gets me going.  Probably because I have been through opening my own restaurant and because I have seen a lot of others go through it and many not making it.

Sidebar:  It's my experience that the odds of getting a poor meal and poor service are greater in a slow, uncrowded restaurant than one that is buzzing along.  Not logical, but all too often the case.

Holly, it appears to me that you operate with this idealistic image of a struggling husband and wife team pouring every ounce of their energy and money into fulfilling their dream of operating a restaurant. I imagine this scene painted by J.F. Millet with a soundtrack by Bon Jovi ca. 1988. C’mon dude, business is business. Let me propose this to you: would you have had such a visceral reaction to my opinion if it had been about a corporate entity like Oceanaire Seafood Room within its first month of opening? Or would you have just shrugged it off or even possibly smirked? I understand where you’re coming from, but I think you have too much emotion guiding your opinion on the matter. Someday soon I will find myself once again vulnerable to the type of criticism I doled out. When my time comes I’ll have to deal with the criticism, good or bad, constructive or destructive, and use it to make sure my guests are satisfied.

Also, I would like to speak to the issue of responsibility in posting on the internet that keeps coming up. I think that by continuing to discuss the matter beyond the initial rant and within the context of a group discussion with varying opinions, I have been “fair.” Unfair would have been to post and run; I have continued to argue my viewpoint as articulately as I can (for being just a cook) and tried to bring the discussion towards some sort of synthesis. Honestly, if the restaurant fails it fails through its own shortcomings, not because of a strongly opinionated but very valid critique on the web.

If it makes you feel better, Holly, I did send the restaurant an email alerting them that I’m the one who started this thread and that they should read it.

Sidebar: Slow is no excuse. Trying too hard is no excuse.


Edited by bigboss (log)

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I've been following this thread with interest. It seems that an expectation has been placed upon BB simply because he IS an industry professional. It is my opinion (humble or not) that

This is going to be a rant, ...

as the begining words of the post tells the reader that this is not a review of the restaurant but a rant about his feelings regarding one meal and what it did for his perception of the restaurant based upon 2 issues. 1) Serious lack of commuincation regarding the cost of the meal. 2) The expected quality of the food just wasn't there. At no point does he tell others to partonize or avoid the restaurant. He just fullfills the promise of the opening words of his post

This is going to be a rant, ...

A note to Holly: With no disrespect meant, please don't forget the motto of this forum: read - chew - discuss. I think that is exactly what BB did. Again, no offense intended, just my POV.

As a consumer rather than an industry professional I would not choose to stay away from this restaurant based upon what happened to one person having a meal that was not the standard fare ordered from the menu.

BB, I accept your rant for its face value. Rant on when you need too.

Edited to fix a typo.


Edited by Porthos (log)

Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

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Not sure if it is from the Godfather or Goodfellas, or something else, but, "I keep trying to get out of this and youse keep dragging me back in."

Between opening my own forty some seat restaurant in the early 80's, working with franchisees for ten years before that, teaching a couple of years at the Restaurant School and writing a newspaper column on food and restaurants, I have experienced a lot of people opening their first restaurants. Other than the franchisees, the restaurants have usually been small, under financed, and a life's dream come true. My image is not idealistic. It is representative of many if not most who open their first small restaurant. But yes, I am emotionally invested in seeing any small, independent, first time restaurant succeed.

There is business and there is business. It is not all the same. Most people who open their first small restaurant, or any small business, do so with an entrepreneurial passion and drive that deserves more than a simplistic "business is business" mentality. Anyone who has the balls to put it on the line and follow their dream should be given the benefit of the doubt, especially for the first two or three months. We all know that the odds don't favor any such restaurant's long term success. Give them some time to get on their feet.

I am not all that concerned if a corporate restaurant like Oceanaire or even one of Starr's places gets kicked around. They have the staying power that most small, new businesses lack. I won't smirk, except perhaps in the case of a Olive Garden or Red Lobster, but you're right, I am not going to have the same feelings I have for a small, first time restaurant.

Bigboss - I have graded essays written by chefs training students, I assure you that, for a "cook," you are way above average, articulation-wise. :smile: I have not meant to give the impression that I think you are unfair by nature - just that I believe a specific post to be unfair.


Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

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      I'm trying to make a Roasted Poblano and Black Bean Enchilada recipe and I don't know if the tomatillo cream sauce will be freezer-friendly.     Basically I process the following ingredients in a food processor to make the cream sauce.  I plan on freezing the sauce in ice-cube trays for individual servings.  The sauce will then be thawed and spread on a baking dish and also used to top the enchiladas and cook in a 400 degree oven.   Thanks!   INGREDIENTS:   -26 ounces canned tomatillos, drained -1 onion -1/2 cup cilantro leaves -1/3 cup vegetable broth -1/4 cup heavy cream -1 tbsp vegetable oil -3 garlic cloves -1 tbsp lime juice -1 tsp sugar -1 tsp salt
    • By markovitch
      A while ago, to learn the ins and outs of Horseradish, I began making my own mustard. I have managed some really really good varieties, (one with black mustard seeds, rice-wine vinegar, horseradish and Kabocha squash) and some really god awful ones too. I recall that my grandmother used to make her own ketchup too. it wasn't all that good.
      has anyone made their own condiments before?
      care to share experiences?
    • By Lisa Shock
      The basic formula for these cakes was developed by the wife of a mayonnaise salesman in an effort to help him out. I did a bit of research, and have found many variations. Early variants generally involve using less cocoa, which I cannot recommend. Later variants involve using cold water instead of boiling, adding salt, and additional leaveners. I personally do not feel that any additional salt is needed, as mayonnaise and that famous, tangy brand of salad dressing (sometimes the label just says 'Dressing') both contain a fair amount of salt. If you are using homemade mayonnaise or a low sodium product, an eighth teaspoon of salt may boost the flavor a bit. And, of course, somewhere along the way fans who prefer a certain salad dressing over mayonnaise started using it to make this cake. Nowadays, the Hellman's website has a different formula -one with added eggs and baking powder. I have not tried this newer formulation.
       
      Some versions of this recipe specify sifted cake flour. This will result in a very light cake with virtually no structural integrity, due to the paucity of eggs in this recipe compared to a regular cake. Cupcakes made this way give beautifully light results. However, every time I try to make a traditional 8" double layer cake with cake flour, I experience collapse. I recommend AP flour or at least a mix of cake and pastry flour.
       
      I have never made this with a gluten-free flour replacer. This recipe does not have very much structural integrity and as such does not make a good candidate for a gluten-free cake.
       
      I have made this cake many times, the type of sandwich spread you choose will affect the outcome. Made with mayonnaise, the cake has a good chocolate flavor and moistness. Made with that famous, tangy, off-white salad dressing that gets used as a sandwich spread, the cake has a subtle bit of extra brightness to the flavor. If one chooses to use a vegan mayonnaise, the result is tasty but lacking a little in structure; I would bake this in a square pan and frost and serve from the pan.
       
      The cocoa you use will also affect the flavor.  For a classic, homey flavor use a supermarket brand of cocoa. To add a little sophistication, use better, artisan type cocoa and use chocolate extract instead of the vanilla extract.
       
      Supposedly, the traditional frosting for this cake should have a caramel flavor. Look for one where you actually caramelize some sugar first. Modern recipes for the icing seem like weak imitations to me; using brown sugar as the main flavor instead of true caramel.
       
      Chocolate Mayonnaise or Salad Dressing Cake
      makes enough for two 8" round pans, or a 9" square (about 7 cups of batter)
       
      2 ounces/56g unsweetened, non-alkalized cocoa
      1 cup/236g boiling water
      1 teaspoon/4g regular strength vanilla extract
      3/4 cup/162g mayonnaise, vegan mayonnaise, or salad dressing (the tangy, off-white, sandwich spread type dressing)
      10.5ounces/300g all-purpose flour
      7 ounces/200g sugar
      0.35ounce/10g baking soda
       
      Preheat your oven to 350°.
      Grease or spray two 8" round pans or an equivalent volume square or rectangle.
      Place the cocoa in a medium (4-5 cup) bowl. Add the hot water and stir with a fork to break up any clumps. Allow to cool down a little,  then add the vanilla extract and the mayonnaise or salad dressing spread. Beat well to eliminate lumps. In the bowl of an electric mixer or larger regular bowl if making by hand, sift in the flour and add the sugar and baking soda. Mix the dry ingredients to distribute evenly. Slowly beat in the cocoa mixture. Mix until the batter has an even color. Pour immediately into the pans. If making two 8" rounds, weigh them to ensure they contain equal amounts.
      Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until the center of the top springs back when touched lightly. (The toothpick test does NOT work well on this moist cake!) Allow the cake to cool a little and shrink from the sides of the pan before removing. Removal is easier while still a little warm.
      Good with or without frosting.
      Good beginner cake for kids to make.
       
       
       
    • By Sheel
      Prawn Balchao is a very famous Goan pickle that has a sweet, spicy and tangy flavor to it. 
      For the balchao paste you will need:
      > 8-10 kashmiri red chillies
      > 4-5 Byadagi red chillies
      > 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
      > 1/2 tsk turmeric powder 
      > 1 tsp peppercorn
      > 6 garlic cloves
      > 1/2 tsp cloves
      > 1 inch cinnamon stick
      > Vinegar 
      First you will need to marinate about 250 grams of prawns in some turmeric powder and salt. After 15 minutes deep fry them in oil till them become golden n crisp. Set them aside and add tsp vinegar to them and let it sit for 1 hour. Now, make a paste of all the ingredients mentioned under the balchao paste and make sure not to add any water. In the same pan used for fryin the prawns, add in some chopped garlic and ginger. Lightly fry them and immediately add one whole chopped onion. Next, add the balchao paste amd let it cook for 2-3 minutes. Add in the prawns and cook until the gravy thickens. Finally add 1 tsp sugar and salt according to your taste. Allow it to cool. This can be stored in a glass jar. Let this mature for 1-3 weeks before its use. Make sure never to use water at any stage. This can be enjoyed with a simple lentil curry and rice.
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