Last weekend I was dining in a nice, popular restaurant in Grapevine. My companions and I were enjoying our meal, and I was in the midst of telling another of my famously captivating anecdotes when my wife dared to interrupt me to point out there was a (non-human) animal crawling around the floor just behind my chair.
It was a small mouse. (I realize mice are generally small, and I’m no expert on their physiology, but this specimen seemed tinier than average.) I stood and, without another thought to my own safety, corralled the creature with my foot towards the outer wall and out the door. I turned towards the rest of the packed dining room to acknowledge their praise of my quick thinking and fearlessness in the face of adversity, but I’d apparently made such quick work of the rodent that no other tables had taken notice.
Having had a lovely day, and being in a relaxed mood, I wasn’t terribly put out by what had happened. I returned to telling my story and partaking of the restaurant’s fare. When our waiter finally came back to our table a few minutes later, I decided to alert him to the presence of the creature and point out how the crack beneath the door could provide an easy route back inside.
I was certain he’d want to know. I was wrong.25 Comments »
John Tesar is having the best week of his life. Wednesday, he rocked Tom Colicchio’s kitchen on the first episode of Top Chef: Seattle; and yesterday, he softly opened his new seafood concept, Spoon Kitchen + Bar in Preston Center. It’s right across Westchester Drive from Hopdoddy and Texas Family Fitness, which makes dinner more fun if you’re sitting at the table closest by the door. Staring at people exercising as you dig into the uni appetizer feels so wrong, but so good at the same time. While Desiree and I sat down as Tesar’s guests last night, he was busy sweating in his shiny new open kitchen. Guess who was back there with him? Only our favorite tweet-every-hour baker, Joe the Baker, in the pastry weeds. No wonder he’s been so relatively silent on Twitter recently. Only three tweets on November 7. That day, I almost sent Joe a DM asking if he was still alive.
Jump for more of Desiree’s photos.
The great Glenn Mitchell, host of KERA’s The Glenn Mitchell Show, once asked me if people who make a living waiting on tables prefer to be called waiters/waitresses or servers. I replied servers. I was a guest on his show at the time and the phone lines lit up with servers who demanded to be referred to as waiters/waitresses and vice versa. At the end of the hour, we tallied the votes and it was dead even.
That was 2004. I’m curious to hear from the masses now: What shall we call you?
BTW, I’ve come up with a new term for obnoxious foodies: Dishbags. Like it?6 Comments »
You’d be surprised to learn how hard it can be for dining critics to find volunteers to join them on a review. So imagine my joy when, after inviting friends and family to join me at Kenny’s Italian Kitchen, I was flooded with gushing replies. “Oh, please,” my sister-in-law said. “I’m dying to go there.” We sashayed up to the hostess stand on a stormy Monday night around 6:30 and were placed on a 30-minute waitlist. The bar was three deep, and the dining room was jammed. Two hours later, I left confused. There is nothing special about the food at Kenny’s. It’s basically enormous portions of familiar red-sauce-Italian fare served in a Godfather-meets-Sopranos setting complete with stereotypical red-and-white checkered tablecloths anchored with straw-wrapped Chianti bottles.18 Comments »
Oh, shoot. Teresa Gubbins has word that Social 121 in Plano discharged its kitchen staff, including recent hire Christopher Short, manager Abe Aguirre, and chef Jason Skinner. The staff was dismissed in early March, shortly after our contributor Andrew Chalk revisited the bar/restaurant for a second tasting and declared, “Almost one year after its opening, I can report: it’s solid, man.”
Apparently, not as solid as he’d thought. Teresa writes:
Aguirre said that the restaurant side of Social 121 had been struggling. “The bar side took over the restaurant side,” he said.
Now the restaurant is operating as a bar with a “lounge menu.”
In the October issue of D Magazine, Teresa Gubbins tells us what she thinks about The Commissary.
In a profession loaded with bad boys, chef John Tesar stands out. Mercurial, dismissive, he’s a hyperactive hothead with a self-destructive streak so legendary that his old pal Anthony Bourdain has written about it. Tesar is so good at embodying the tantrum-throwing temperamental-chef stereotype that D Magazine made him the subject of the September cover story, titled “The Most Hated Chef in Dallas.”
But there is the man, and then there is what he puts on the plate. From his early days at a French restaurant called Pierre’s in Westhampton to his stint at RM Seafood in Las Vegas, he has impressed discriminating palates, including the folks who hired him in 2006 to be executive chef at the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, where he took on the intimidating task of replacing longtime fixture Dean Fearing.
[Ed. note: George poses this, in my opinion, stupid question. I am challenging him with, in my opinion, a smarter one.]
George: A couple of weeks ago, a Zagat survey reported that 60% of dinners in New York supported a time limit which allows the restaurant to boot you from your table so they can seat another party. But we’re not New York. So let’s ask the question to Dishers. Would you mind a time limit?
Nancy: George, you ignorant cluck. You are right on one point: we are not New York. I hate rushed service. Take MiCocina (beat, beat). Those waiters aren’t servers they’re animal trainers. They can turn a table of six in 40 minutes. It drives me nuts. I get the same vibe at Houston’s. Every time you sit down you can feel the beat: water, menus, drinks, order, eat, dessert, BOOM. Maybe, just maybe, we are eating out to have a conversation that doesn’t fit into the restaurant’s time frame. I think no time limit is best for the customer.
George: You can’t have a conversation in under 2 hours? Are you sitting with your fork in one hand and Blackberry in the other? Talk, talk, tap, tap. Assuming your waiter greets you in a timely manner, takes your order, and serves you your drinks and food, you really can’t finish in 2 hours? If not, move to the bar. I think it’s good for business.
Who is right?46 Comments »
Last night, after yet another painful waiter experience that started with, “Hello, beautiful lady,” and ended with “Would the lovely ladies like dessert?” I have decided that it’s time to say enough! Enough with the obsequiousness. Enough with the platitudes. Enough! Nancy called attention to the issue of false fawning in her recent review of Marquee, so perhaps we’re all more sensitive to it now. But no one likes to be shined-on. Do they?
Here are the facts: I am neither beautiful nor a lady. Don’t really aspire to be. So why lay it on so thick? (My late-grandmother, by the way, once threw a fork at a waiter who called her “young lady.” She was 92 at the time.)
I can tolerate waiter-interruptus, and I understand that service comes with a fair dose of insincerity, but it’s the bald-faced “lovely lady” lie that’s so grating. Give me a pro, a server I can admire for his gentility. Give me a server who knows his food, who’s willing to give an opinion and make a joke. But leave the buttering-up in the kitchen.
Is it just me? Or do other people long for a end of the pandering, too?21 Comments »
Thanks to all who took the time to recognize their server this week during KRLD Restaurant Week. This week I’m happy to see Connie Frances Forbin rise to the top. No surprise, Connie has been at The French Room for at least 20 years. She is charming, warm, and professional. Connie received several votes but Bethany took a picture and sends this note:
Nancy, I’d like to introduce you to the best restaurant week server I have ever had – Connie at The French Room. She was kind, courteous, full of smiles, knowledgeable, and made the most wonderful recommendations. We appreciated her service so much that we made a reservation to be at her table next week for a non-restaurant week meal. I know now why the French Room is so highly rated – not only is the room beautiful, but the service is among the best I have had in Dallas.
Cue standing ovation. Other shout-outs go to Collin at Bolla in the Stoneleigh (from Jack), Robert at Abacus (from Meredith), and Joel Mendoza at Perry’s Steakhouse (from Jack).
Jump for reader reviews of their servers. Thank you all.4 Comments »
Last night I received Hector Garcia’s weekly newsletter. In it was this little gem of a story. I thought I’d share.
“We are foodies!” These words scare most waiters, but not because they are afraid of foodies. People who ARE foodies, show themselves by what they order, what they drink, and how they act in a restaurant. Not by proclaiming it.
So when a table of four in the patio (one woman, three men) announced to James that “we are foodies!”, he soldiered on. As he walked away from the table he heard the lady say, “I thought we were coming to a Five Star restaurant.” Continue reading "Table Tales: Hector Garcia Reports Customers From Hell"
I was all prepared to use bb641′s app, You Owe, at dinner Friday night. But I didn’t have to. Wanna know why? Because the server at Komali read my mind and split up my group’s check without even being asked. That, my friends, is service. (I was so excited, I sent the photo to several people who have complained with me about this issue.)
When La Fiorentina Tuscan Steakhouse opened its doors to the public on Dec. 1, we were first in line. Follow the link for some awesome pictures and to find out what Alberto Lombardi has up his sleeve with his new Tuscan steakhouse.6 Comments »
We asked you to pay attention to servers who went above and beyond the call of duty to make your KRLD Restaurant Week memorable. Last week, Amber Zuniga and Johan Mand of Charlie Palmer shared the honor as Best Servers of KRLD Restaurant Week Number One.
The winner for week number two is Brandon Smoot from Dish. (Last week Dish server Ira Steck was a runner-up.) Obviously Dish is providing great service during the hectic time of Restaurant Week. Way to go Brandon! Your public has spoken.
Below you will find other servers who captured your attention during the second KRLD Restaurant Week. Thanks to all who took the time to nominate your server. And thanks to the many servers who work hard to represent the Dallas restaurant business. We appreciate you both. Go. Eat. Nominate. (firstname.lastname@example.org) Continue reading "Best Server of KRLD Restaurant Week Number Two: Brandon Smoot, Come on Down!"5 Comments »
Congrats to the winners of last week’s contest. Now, let’s get busy and vote for the server who will take honors next Monday. If you have a server who goes above and beyond the call of RW duty, take a picture and get their name. E-mail details to me (email@example.com)1 Comment »
Folks, just a reminder to send in your nominations (complete name with a photo if you can) of a server who performed above the call of duty. E-mail details of your experience to me (firstname.lastname@example.org. Winner of Best Server of Restaurant Week Number One will be announced on Monday morning. Go. Eat. Report.2 Comments »
Yesterday I asked RW diners to send in the names of servers who performed above the call of duty. Now I’m getting emails from servers who would like a forum to discuss their customers. So, here is your own mini-Bitterwaitress space, dear server. Go. The audience is listening. If you’re really good, I’ll start a weekly post for you. Oh, and name your restaurant or I will delete you.9 Comments »
Dang, I probably picked the worst week to start our new feature, Food Feedback Friday. It’s hot, nobody’s hungry, and KRLD Restaurant year month week(s) kicks off this weekend with preview dinners and continues its run through September 5 . I’m sure many of you who have made multiple restaurant reservations probably stayed home this week. (I did not and it was a scary to witness so many empty dining rooms.) Anywhoo, if you have a recent dining experience or complaint you’d like to report, do so below. The audience is listening.27 Comments »
A few weeks ago I was having breakfast at Craft Dallas. There were only three customers in the restaurant which makes me nervous since I’d hate to see Dallas lose this place—the food is really special. However here is the transcript of a conversation I had with my waiter. I pretended to be from out of town.
Jump for the story.45 Comments »