Restaurants are not all they're claimed to be.
Here's my review of all restaurants, my Top 5 gripes. How many of these have happened to you? We gotta spread the blame:
1. WAIT STAFF CRITICS
I heard the waitress say to the next table, "I just had some of that. Loved it, awesome."
I asked her about the mussels in vodka sauce. "I just had some of that. Loved it, awesome."
You hear that all over. If the wait staff ate everything it says it does, they wouldn't fit between the tables. Nobody believes they just ate a $40 lobster for lunch.
2. INSTANT FOCUS GROUP
Every so often, someone looking like the boss runs out of the kitchen. He stops at each table, "Everything OK?" I swallow, look up and open my mouth. He's gone to the next table.
3. BIG GETS BIGGER
My wife ordered a pasta primavera.
"It's great, a big serving," the waiter said. "Really big."
This seems to be rather common around here, culinary excellence based on size. I've noticed portion creep at many places. It started with the old Hilton downtown serving a chef salad in a bowl large enough for a basketball team. It's now commonplace, fries for three on one plate.
OK, so we ask for a doggie bag. Our plates then go back to the kitchen empty. The chef figures huge servings are a hit and adds a little more next time. It's a vicious circle.
I asked a restaurant-owner friend of mine why he doesn't reduce his pig-out portions — and the price.
"Wouldn't make any difference," he said. "Food is cheap. Labor and overhead would be the same. We make our money on the liquor."
4. TABLE FOR NONE
Why are fewer restaurants taking reservations? What a joy to give your name and get a table immediately. It's disappearing, almost extinct in Belden Village. I'm told reservations are a one-way contract tying up tables. Abusers come late or not at all. Some make reservations at two or three places to be safe. Profits fall. Let the cattle stand in line out to the parking lot.
Spinoff: You tend to eat faster when the starving are in line looking like they're going to riot over your plate of veal piccante.
5. BLUE-PLATE FREEBIE
These misfires remind me of a little restaurant in West Virginia. Their door slate listed a blue-plate dinner with a free slice of apple pie. The waitress told me, "Blue plate without free pie is $1.50 less." I almost called the attorney general, but the best-ever pie won me over. That's why we put up with the restaurant circus.