Been a bit since I’ve done a rant, and this isn’t really an all out rant such as might be warranted to that little buzzing Honda that passed me on the right (in the right turn only lane), blew through the intersection and then cut back in front of me narrowly avoiding scraping my bumper, dive two lanes left before oh..…. Sorry.
No, this is more an observation that continued to bug me over the weekend, so i have to get it off my chest. I have been (probably correctly) accused of “hiding behind my keyboard” and yes, guilty your honor. But my good friend, I DID send an email to the publication that caused my angst. Last Thursday’s County Times (with the venerable Bailey’s on the cover) ran a piece on page 23 highlighting Elements, the new occupant of the “old” (and soon forgotten) Tides. Under the experienced hands of Rob Plant and his team, it has continued to gain popularity. As much as is practical, they use locally sourced items of meat and produce to create an interesting menu. Good stuff - try the cheese plate. That was kind of the main thrust of the article, well deserved credit. But, like the Honda, that isn’t what got me started.
The piece led off with the statement: “If you find yourself bored of going to the same old restaurants and bars in St. Mary’s County, here’s some good news.”; and then off to the races. I can buy that statement if the word “chain” would have been inserted between “old” and “restaurants”. Elements, like most other independent places around here usually has off the menu “specials” reflecting what is in season, local, fresh, and available. If you get bored going to Courtney’s, The Front Porch, the Ruddy Ale House, Café Des Artistes, Morris Point, Chiefs (and many other independent places), it is NOT their fault my friend, it’s YOURS!
And, up your oversize, buzzing, stupid tailpipe, Honda.
Being a famous food blogger with hundreds of readers nationwide (yes, delusional), occasionally I get sent stuff I have no idea where comes from. For instance the other day I got a little magazine called "Restaurant Hospitality"
Featuring an insanely happy chef, Michelle Bernstein on the cover. I shouldn’t laugh, however because she has a James Beard and I don’t. She recently opened a new restaurant in Miami beach called “Seagrape”. Anyway, like the Honda, that’s not my point. The magazine itself is aimed toward restaurateurs and how to better run their business. It contains some interesting “inside stuff” at least to me.
For instance, in the editorial, Mr. Sanson reports that a second version of his favorite taqueria, opened closer to his home. He said the original version has “a good lineup of top shelf tequilas, and affordable margaritas with pretty “damn good food for a fair price”. He goes on to report that visiting dash two, he found the quality of the food and drink were not up to the standards of the original. And here’s the point. He thinks it was a conscious decision to drop the quality in order to increase profits. And, it works. The place is packed. And not only the food, the service also suffered: “Two clueless blockheads have been installed as bartenders, and they have little or no charm. I’m not sure why any owner would put two slobs behind a bar who seemingly have no concept of service”. He says he would guarantee “you wouldn’t hire these two to haul garbage out of the back door of your restaurant”. And then he reiterates the place is “crazy busy”. He concludes by posing the question: “Is this owner’s approach to expansion a sound business strategy?” He’d say no, but the place was so busy. He won’t go back. Good question. Nobody cares. Sound familiar?
Another article entitled “No Feedback is Worse than Bad Feedback’. Starts out by recounting a friend’s visit to a restaurant where they had good food and service before, but on this occasion it was awful. The author knew the owner and asked his friend, well, did you bring it up to George? "No, my friends were too embarrassed and didn’t want to make a scene”. None said they would go back. Here’s one for you that might ring home: "We’re all guilty. The food isn’t up to par, is lacking yet when the server asks “how is everything?.. we say “Fine” or nod our heads, and probably never go back.” Sound familiar?
The rest of the article is devoted to ways to monitor when things are going good and bad, which we won’t recount here. Things like make sure a manager is always on the floor. One thing that kind of caught my eye was that the servers should not scrape plates before they get to the BOH. The chef should see the plates to note what is being “devoured and what items are barely touched”. Or, at a minimum look at a certain percentage or any plate that is more than half full.
And I thought it was interesting to see the ads in the magazine. One caught my eye
An ad for
(The freshest frozen burger ever made)
The stuff you probably can’t read in the upper photo goes on about “looks and tastes handmade’.. It's all about the money. Beware out there.. Interesting in this age of “home grown, locally sourced” and so on. Direct from the freezer to your plate.
I love this stuff.
Okay, gotta go get