Jay Fox's Dining Guide

FOX: ON STUFF I DON’T LIKE IN RESTAURANTS

“There is a difference between dining and eating. Dining is an art. When you eat to get the most out of your meal, to please the palate, just as well as to satiate the appetite. That, my friend, is dining.” —Yuan Mei (1936)<?em>

THERE ARE LOTSA THINGS THAT ANNOY ME while dining, particularly in nice restaurants. First and foremost, kids crying, or running wild. It’s very simple, folks. Don’t bring your kids who are likely to toss a temper tantrum to a restaurant. They don’t belong there. Nor do they belong in a theater where I paid $150 or more to be distracted by your child who’s either too young to know better or who you haven’t trained properly. Either way, I don’t want to hear their screams, or even their sweet cuddly voices. Nor do I want to watch them race around a restaurant even tho you think they’re cute. They’re NOT cute; they’re in the way of customers and staff. If you can’t afford a babysitter, stay home. Have pizza delivered. I don’t care how you deal with it. Just don’t eat where I’m eating.

CELL PHONES. Some restaurants think its fine, and others don’t. I don’t object so much to the cell phone in the restaurant. I object to people who don’t know how to talk on a phone. THEY HAVE TO YELL CUZ THEY THINK THE PERSON on the other end of the line is deaf. I’m often tempted to walk over and grab the phone outta their hands and drop it in their soup bowl. One of these days…

WAITSTAFF. I get upset at bussers and waiters that want to grab your plate before you’ve finished eating. Almost as bad are the staff that want to grab the plates as soon as anyone at your table is finished eating. I was taught that the Rule of Four sez that if there are four or less dining, then you wait until all four are done. If there are more than four, then its banquet rules and the busser should ask if the diner wants his or her plate removed when they’re done eating.

Then there’s the W that don’t know what the kitchen will do with my order. I order a burger cooked rare. The W brings it out and it’s well done. I send it back. The W then comes out and sez they won’t cook it anyway except well-done cuz you might die from eating a rare burger. So why didn’t the W tell me that in the first place? Cuz he didn’t know. He’s only been there four years. And he owns the restaurant.

SMOKING. Folks smoking right outside the door, ignoring the “so many feet” rules. There are laws regarding smoking in public places, but no one seems to be enforcing those laws. My pet peeve is in Black Hawk at the Ameristar Casino. They not only allow folks to smoke in the valet lobby area, but they encourage it by providing butt cans at the door so folks can stand at the door smoking. There are no signs posted prohibiting smoking. Then the smokers walk across the driveway to wait for their car and smoke again, dropping their disgusting butts everywhere. Gag gag.

KITCHEN STAFF. There are those that can’t or don’t read the tickets. It encompasses everything from the burger I ordered rare but comes outta the kitchen well-done. Duh? Didn’t read the ticket. I ordered corn instead of mashed potatoes. Duh? Didn’t read the ticket.

DIRTY RESTROOMS. Not too difficult to figure out. If the restrooms are dirty, waddaya think the kitchens are like? I don’t want to know, cuz I’m out the door.

GRUMPY. Why is this person waiting tables if they’re grumps? I can be grumpy cuz I’m the customer, but the restaurant staff need to be at least pleasant and professional. I’m not talking about the local diner, I’m talking about a first-class fine dining restaurant. I’ve been known to tell the W to get a job at the local Conoco station. I’ve even, on very rare occasion, asked the manager to change my W. Probably not often enuf.

THE CRITICS LOVE THE PLACE. I worry about restaurants after the critics have dined there. I recently read comments about a famous restaurant in Washington D.C. When the not-to-be-named-but-you-know-him celebrity chef opened the restaurant everything was super good. The food was great, service was fantastic. Some six years later, the restaurant is still there, but the newness has worn off, the celebrity chef has moved on to open other restaurants, and the food is not of the same quality. This happens more often than you realize. Not only do chefs change, but owners cut back on quality cuz the profits aren’t what they expected. Of course there are many exceptions, but that’s why I go back to restaurants after I write a good review. And every year or so after that.

I was recently criticized for being too positive. Need to stick to my real identity — No More Mr. Nice Guy. Every eatery needs a bit of bashing now and then. Keeps them on their toes. Waddaya think? Write me.

Cya.

The Fox has certainly earned his moniker as No More Mr. Nice Guy this week. Tell him what you think: jay@jayfoxcpa.com