Monday, July 29, 2019

2108 Downscale Restaurants

You know the kind.  They’re not part of a chain. They don’t advertise on national TV.  They’re not cutsie small townish places in big cities … that never works.  Neither do “Fancy Big City” restaurants in small towns.

Talking here about places that are not quite dirty enough to be called a dive.  But dirty enough so that they’re just beyond “well broken in” and haven’t yet reached “held together by willpower.”

Places where they don’t look at you funny because you’re black, white, Hispanic, gay, straight, tall, short, fat or thin but because you’re wearing a tie. And it’s tied right. And doesn’t have a stain.  

Most of all, they are places where the food is good and covers most of the plate, where shot glasses are for people who ask for shots, not for measuring overpriced booze to make sure you’re not getting a fraction of a fraction of an ounce more than you’re paying for.

Oh, and that food?  Not prepared from an Old Family Recipe, not prepared by something from page 345 of the Official Manual of MegaChain Delight operations. And something prepared by the cook, not the Executive Chef with a Culinary Institute degree on the wall for all to see.

No farm-to-table.  No organic.  Nothing gluten free or Keto Diet friendly.  

Just well cooked food and plenty of it.  Is that too much to ask?  If it is, it shouldn’t be.

Far too many places act as if the big plate is a large white canvas on which a small amount of unidentified but evidently edible stuff occupies a tiny spot, and seems to preen before your very eyes.

Cloth napkins optional.

So are waitstaffers who say “Hi, I’m Chloe.  I’ll be helping you tonight.”  In some places, this turn of phrase invites the reply “Sure, Chloe.  I’m Vaclav. How are you planning to help?”  followed by a leer. 

Just come over to the table holding an order pad and tell us your name if it’s not embroidered on your uniform shirt.

EMS people, guidance counselors, cops, firefighters and lifeguards help.  Waiters (yes, waiters, not “servers” of any of today’s myriad of real, fluid and imagined genders) take your food order, make recommendations, answer questions about the menu and bring or cause someone else to bring what you order to your table.

And they don’t ask you 30 seconds into the meal “how is everything?” Maybe wait a full two minutes for that.  After all, it’s hot when they bring it.  Or it should be.

Can someone please advise waiters to mention a couple of the recommended deserts instead of asking “Got room for dessert?” The answer to that question should be either “No, thank you, I’m full” because you should be or “Oh, that massive slice of red-berry cheesecake I just saw someone carry looks delicious. May I try that?”

One more thing.  Almost every wait-person who wants to take plates away will ask thus: Can I take these out of your way?  (Some ask “may I.”) Suggested answer: “Yes, please do. We need room to string the ping pong net.  The game starts in ten minutes. Please also take the glasses and cups.”

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2019

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