KO at OT

Bucket list. Finally made it to The Office Tavern with AB and McGuzzles. (You know who you are). And what a sight it was. I definitely felt like I was in Carolina Beach at Loretta’s, or the Surfside Bar as it’s also called. You know it’s going to be a good day when you walk into a dive bar on a Sunday and the entire staff, as well as every bar fly, know the people you are accompanying. Not sure what it says about me. Or the company I keep. Anyway, the OT is priceless. Neon signs. Elvis lamps. Pool tables. Fish tank. Cash only. No liquor. Cheap beer. Friendly bartenders. $2 Bud Light aluminum cans on a Sunday. Half way through the day, and quite a few aluminum cans later, a fight happened to break out in the parking lot. A fist fight fight between two older gentlemen, who were also brothers. And one of them happened to be carrying a crutch. And well, he used that crutch to his advantage. It was like the Jerry Springer show broke out on Glenwood South. We had a front row seat to two rednecks beating each other up with fists and crutches flailing. Highly entertaining. Bloody faces ensued. Good thing I was 5 or 6 deep in the metal cans. Cue the jukebox. Anything to calm the situation. Red Solo Cup? Yes. Alabama? Yes. Drive By Truckers? Totally. Even after all the tomfoolery, it still felt like your neighborhood dive bar, just add the assault. I’ll be back to the OT, with their cheap beer (they have the Champagne for 2 dollaz) and for their scenery. The bartenders were salt of the earth, as well as all the regulars. Definitely welcomed with open arms. Great hardworking people who need a place to relax, blow off some steam, and talk about golf and politics. All within dark confines and comfortable bar stools. Don’t we all need that?

I gave Mash and Lauter (and Busy Bee) a second? third? chance. What a mistake that was. How can you be out of half of your entire menu? No mussels? Check. No charcuterie? Check. No bread plate? Check. The tiniest cheese plate ever? Check. Terrible. It’s not like it was late either. It’s half your menu bro.  Last time we went to Busy Bee we walked out after 10 minutes. Why you ask? Service. Always service. We’re here to spend money. Please pay attention to me. Your loss. Gave you plenty of chances. Enough ranting for one night. On a side note, congrats to Gallo Pelón. Best bar in downtown. Check it out. Britt and Marshall are amazing. Cheers foodies!

 

 

 

 

 

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Dining 101

Do’s and Don’ts of Restaurant Dining:

Leave the kitchen a tip, a $20 bill goes a long way for the people who have been hustling all night cooking your food.  When you tip your server the kitchen doesn’t see a dime of it. It’s a nice little reward at the end of the night to come out to a beer or two waiting for you.

Something that has always bothered me is the people who come in late with incomplete parties. I know you’re closing in half in hour, but we’ve got a party of ten; however only three of us are here. So you’re gonna camp out and inconvenience the kitchen and the FOH just to hold a table and keep everyone late. Real nice. Just because you have nowhere to be doesn’t mean that I don’t have plans after work. I’m tired, I want to sit down and catch my breath finally.

And another thing, please call ahead or check the website for the hours. I make it a point not to show up less than an hour before they close, unless it’s Cookout or Waffle House. Heck, I don’t even order food from my favorite dive bar if it’s 1:30 in the morning. Just because a restaurant is technically open until 11 it’s not polite to show up five minutes before they close. They wanna go home too. t’s not fair to keep an entire restaurant in limbo simply because you are hungry. Shanghai Express delivers until 3 AM I hear…

If you use a coupon, tip on the original price. Two entrees for only $20! We only gotta tip $4 right? NOOOO. You may be getting a good deal on your food, but your server isn’t. Good karma always comes back to you. So does bad karma to that effect.

And other thing that grinds my gears…don’t send back food after you ate the entire plate. You know after one bite that you either like or don’t like something. We were out watching football at a local establishment the other day and ordered a couple of burgers, MR of course. Well, they came out like charcoal. I mean cooked to death. No pink. Gray city. I had a bite or two, that’s all I could stomach. Anyway, we didn’t make a big deal out it, just told our server that they were both wayyyy overcooked and we didn’t want anything else. She was nice enough to take them both off our bill. Easy as that. Just be honest with your server and don’t try to get something free out it. Karma I tell you.

And if you have an allergy, tell the server when you see them the first time. I don’t know how many times that food has been sent back to the kitchen because no one knew they had an allergy. You figure if it was serious enough that they would want to notify someone right? I’m no crystal ball. Again, just be upfront with your server at all times. The more your server knows the better they can make your dining experience. If you’re a vegan I’m not gonna recommend the steak.

Don’t make your server run a marathon for you. Ask for a refill of Pepsi, a side of ranch, and another fork all at the same time. They don’t get tipped on the number of steps they walked for your table. And you’re not the only table they are waiting on either. Foodies.

I’m sure they are plenty of more faux pas or gear grinders, if you will, but I think that’s enough for today. Dine out, support local, use your manners, and more importantly, use common sense. Cheers foodies!

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I Did Not Eat Olive It

So I did it foodies, made it to Olive Garden for a Taste of Italy. I figured out of all the shitty chain Italian places it was probably the best right? Lord help me. Getting there around 8 on a Wednesday it was a ghost town, besides the lovely sound of screaming kids. Another drawback of chains, they are very family friendly. When I go out to eat, I don’t want to hear them; hence why I don’t go to chains. Plus the food is shitty.  Anyway, as at Applebee’s, the tabletop tablet has arrived at Olive Garden. Who needs a server anyway, I can order an entire meal, drinks and all, through the tablet. Got an allergy? You can also alert the kitchen of any dietary or allergy restrictions as well. Who knew? So to start we got the lasagna fritta. Fancy mozzarella sticks in other words. Hard to mess up fried things. Not gonna lie, paired with my Lemoncello LIT, pretty tasty.  Although it felt like I was drinking lemonade. One thing I have learned through my chain experiences is all the specialty cocktails tend to be either super sweet or super acidic. And I’ve gotten a Long Island two out of the three times so far. Is there a theme going? Time for a bottle of red, we are in Italy. Coppola Diamond Collection it is. Nothing but the best right? So of course we obviously had to get the endless salad and breadsticks. Obviously. When in Rome. It was as I remembered the last time I was at the Garden.Yummy iceberg deliciousness. So for entrees I was really tempted to get the Taste of Italy. I mean what trip to Italy is complete without authentic Alfredo sauce, spaghetti with meat sauce, and chicken parmigiana? Instead I got the sausage stuffed rigatoni. Not the wisest of choices. Should have gone with my gut and pigged out on pasta and red sauce. The better half got the stuffed chicken Marsala with mashed potatoes. Kudos to Olive Garden for the mashed potatoes, seasoned alright and they were not actually gluey, somewhat fluffy. The chicken, eh. Not great, not bad. The bottom piece was dry as a bone. Keep the Coppola coming. As tempted as we were to get tiramisu or zeppoli, we passed on dessert. I was surprised to see zeppoli though, good for the Garden. Instead we used the handy tablet to swipe my card and we were done. Completely stuffed with chain Italian goodness. So Olive Garden wins the shitty chain challenge by a mile. Applebee’s and O’Charley’s are tied in a distant third place. So next time you need a chain fix, get something fried, stay away from the specialty cocktails, and never order a steak, unless you’re at Outback. Cheers foodies!

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Serve Notice

You know what really grinds my gears??? In my many years of being a line cook and chef, I have noticed that most servers fit into four categories. Those categories you ask? Apparently I like lists now. They are as follows:

  • The Modifier: For the modifier, it is physically impossible to ring in any food without a paragraph on each ticket. No onions, no garlic, SOS, gluten free, shellfish allergy, mammal allergy, blah blah. Can it be split? Blah blah. Rather than spend a half an hour typing in a hundred modifiers, just type see server. But once I have decoded whatever changes they have made to the menu, it takes 10 minutes for them to come back to the kitchen to ask me if that was okay. Better late than never right? It always makes me thrilled when a server comes back and asks me ahead of time rather than ringing it in with no questions asked; makes it so much easier for both sides. We’re all on the same team right?
  • The Question Asker: The question asker always is similar to the modifier, but always wants to know “Can we do this…insert whatever change to the menu.” Can the guest get the chicken, but over the flounder set up, and the sauce from the gnocchi? Sure, you can do whatever you want. No matter what dish is on the menu, even it has been on there for 10 years, the question asker is still unsure about what ingredients are in it. Are there tomatoes in the marinara? Is there gluten in the pizza dough? Can the Bolognese be vegan? You get the idea.
  • The Who Gives a Fuck: They are the longest tenured server. They have been there forever, know all there is to know about the menu, the restaurant, the cooks, etc. They are chill and arrogant, and all the guests love him/her. This is the server that all the regulars ask for. This is also the server who will say no to guests who are first timers or amateurs, but will bend the rules for regulars. The who gives a fuck is so popular with the guest that they can pretty much do whatever they want, like never run food. Sometimes I’ll see a server and have no idea they have been working because they haven’t been in the kitchen all night. Where have they been? I know they haven’t been doing side work. Duh.
  • Weeded City: No one likes being in the weeds. It sucks. As a chef it feels like you are drowning and there is no light at the end of the tunnel. But once you finally get out there is no better feeling in the world. Well, maybe sitting down after you shift for a beverage. Anyway, there is always one server who is always in the weeds. The phrase “on the fly” is commonly associated with this server. You forgot to ring in the entrees? On the fly. The guest ordered the steak, not the salmon? On the fly. Can you run food? Nope, have to reset the table because the entrees are dying in the window. This is the same person who forgot the guest had an allergy as we are plating up their entrees. You guessed it, on the fly.

Enough gear grinding, the horse is already dead. I do appreciate all the shit servers have to deal with. It’s a tough job and I couldn’t do my job without them and their hard work. I’m sure there are million things that grind their gears about the kitchen; cooks who have blogs for one obviously. Tip your servers! Cheers foodies!

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Allergic to Allergies

For my first ever blog post, I thought I would discuss something that really grinds my gears as a chef. Food allergies versus an intolerance to certain foods. Yes, I said grind my gears, and it will probably not be the last time I say it either. It seems that I cannot go a day without having to work around some sort of dietary restriction or allergy. Gluten, dairy, soy, peanut, onion/garlic, tomatoes, you name it, I’ve seen it. There is also the absurd as well, such as an allergy to sourdough bread, as well as the meat of mammals. Or I’m allergic to tomatoes but ketchup is fine. That’s right, mammals. I actually did some research, and it does exist. When I have a server come talk to me and say a guest has an aversion to garlic, a million questions pop up upstairs. Are they allergic? Can they have onions? Do they just not like garlic? Nine times out of ten they just don’t like it. However, it’s that ten percent as a chef I have to really worry about. Certain dishes are a lot more friendly to modifications because of allergies. Don’t order a bloomin’ onion if you are allergic to onions. I know that’s extreme, but there is a reason why ingredients are in dishes. Once you remove one or two ingredients, a dish takes on a whole new flavor and is generally not as good. If I’m working in an Italian restaurant and someone with an onion/garlic allergy comes in, they are better off walking back out the door and cooking at home. Not really, but you get my point. I may bitch and moan sometimes because I have to bend over backwards for someone’s dietary restrictions. On the other hand, if it’s a serious allergy, I completely understand and will do everything I can to ensure they have a safe and enjoyable dining experience. However, it’s gotten to the point now it’s hard to work around everyone’s restrictions. There are vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians, and celiacs, on top of the other million allergies that exist now. I don’t think Julia Child would know what to do with all these restrictions. Just be honest with your server. If you really just have an aversion to garlic or onions, we can work around it. Don’t use “I have a severe allergy to onions, but garlic is fine excuse.” That’s enough for today, I think I have rambled on too much anyway.

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