Emergency Guest Post! Don't Eat the Sprouts!
However, I just got an emergency phone call from him: "Do you have the blog open?"
I thought "Oh, shit. What did I say now?"
"No, dude.......we just ate at The Volcano Grill and it sucks ASS! The worst meal I have had anywhere in ten years.....and I used to eat in bars in Prague!" Matt spent 13 years eating in the Czech Republic.
Brendan and his friend Matt from Prague thought: "What the heck? They have been open a couple of weeks.....and we can run fast enough to not get killed while parking on Carmel Valley Road....."
It was hard to get a clear understanding of the many and varied horrors Bren and Matt endured.....they were both shouting down the phone.
The sprouts in the sprout salad were actually rotting.....as in the leaves were black and slimy. They sent it back. The nachos had a sour sour cream sauce.....as in putrid. They sent it back. The calamare was like pencil erasers, and inedible. The sweet potato fries were cooked in cold oil, and soggy and limp. The Parmesan aioli tasted like ass. The corn on the cob had been frozen, cooked, chilled, re-cooked, etc until the kernels shrivelled back into the aged brown cob. Since when is there corn on the cob in March anyway? The ribs were cooked to death.....literally. The meat was stuck to the bones and had to be pried off.
They ate no bites of one course, one bite of two courses and sent everything back. The bill for two beers, two apps and an entree was $60. Plus tip.
The waitress used to work for us....until she failed to show up for work a few key times in a row..... and the waiter was one of my soccer guys who applied for a job with us.....and never called back when we hired him. They comped nothing.
Chefs are always wary about dissing another place....anyone can have a bad day. When the food comes back to the kitchen in a normal place, there is consternation. Sometimes it is because the diner is an insane person ("The seared ahi dish is not cooked!" or "The rare roast of venison is rare!") who needs to be killed, or thrown out in the street. "A Carrer!" as Rosa from Rafa's is proud to say.....as she pulls out her red card and prepares to hook over the jab.
Most often, it is the waitress or chef who fucks up. In this case, the diner does no one a service by dummying up. We want you to be happy, and want to fix any mistakes, however small. Under cooked or overcooked steak? We make a new one. Wrong order and you have to wait.....no charge, or we can at least buy you a glass of wine or a dessert. At Arzak, we got a private tour of the secret laboratory......though the look of humiliation on the headwaiter's face was compensation enough.
At The Store we served a completely tasteless Momie's (my godmother) Caesar salad for God knows how long..... until my chef friend Frank visited and spoke up. It LOOKED perfect, and I have been making that dressing for 30 years, so I hadn't checked on the salad girl in weeks. Turns out she had no sense of taste. Fuck my boot!
Nice girl....she now manages the Corkscrew. And does a fine job. And God bless her.
Sometimes, though.......there is institutional incompetence on a grand and potentially dangerous scale. (Monday Night Dinner at The Store was started after I sent back a steak in a steak house as being inedibly rare (as in not cooked) and got the same cut up steak back.....microwaved to jerky, and probably stepped on. And no comp. And Rykoff Caesar dressing on bagged iceberg lettuce.....for $100. Thank you, Will's Fargo). Incompetence is one thing.....the dangerous part is with things like the rotting sprouts: famous locales for listeria and salmonella. Wanna REALLY freak out? Check out a recent study about lemon wedges in places like Volcano Grill
Or the old Ryan Ranch Rotisserie, where....as a known food writer....I got a calamari steak still frozen solid in the middle, although nicely browned on the outside. I got fired from my reviewing job for the memorable opening line: "Watching the cooks and servers in action at the Ryan Ranch Rotisserie is like watching a monkey try to fuck a football....."
There may be a well-fucked football rolling around the Volcano Grill. Assuming they can even manage that trick.....
The boys just called back in. They were on their way down to Jane's house in the Village.
Puking was mentioned.