Thursday, August 2, 2007

Rules of Engagement / The criteria of a review

I am reformulating my "rules' after a conversation with my son on what constitutes a good peach. This subject came up because he had just purchased, at Fiesta on 8th St, the best he had ever had. Fiesta, by the way, for anyone who likes to cook Mexican or Southwestern, is a great place to shop.

Here are the revised rules:

  1. Taste is King. If it tastes bad I don’t care how well presented, how cheap it is, or what a nice view I have. I’m not going back. Taste must include the following:
    1. Cold food must be served on a cool dish and not on one that just came out of a 180 degree dishwasher.
    2. Hot food must be served hot, not warm, hot. Soup should be "I could sue you" hot.
    3. Texture should be as Providence designed, i.e., the perfect peach is ripe, firm but not hard, sweet, cool, and slighly chewable, not mushy. Taste is first aroma, then texture, then taste. Remember that.
    4. Pasta should be al dente. That's "dente" for teeth, not "dante" for Divine Comedy
    5. Coffee must be fresh and burn-lips hot
    6. Vegetables should be al dente. Except peas, but I hate peas.
    7. Butter should be butter, not yellow fat.
    8. Bread must be baked daily and served fresh.
    9. Toasted sandwiches should have toasted bread not grilled.
    10. Tomatoes should only be served in season, as with most fruits and vegetables.
    11. Do not use the word "veggies" for vegetables anywhere on the menu.
    12. Rice is not to be served as glued white grain.
    13. Italian marinara sauce is not just tomato sauce with oregano.
    14. The inherent taste of things can be enhanced by spices, salts and dressings but not molested by them, i.e., a good steak is not a better steak when it's covered with steak sauce.
  2. Does the price match the experience? $100 tabs have their place, as do 99c chili cups. But the $100 dinner should have better food, a friendly staff, and no one in shorts and flip flops (unless you are sitting outside with an ocean-view table).
  3. Almost no buffet is good. Marriott Easter brunch is an exception, but that was about $40 a plate last time I went, not 5.99. Why are people surprised when they pay $6 for the all you can eat buffet, and all you can stomach is the chocolate pudding with the little cookies pushed in the top?
  4. A large menu is a bad sign. No one can have that many items that taste good. For instance, any restaurant that serves both enchiladas and egg rolls will never be frequented by this reviewer.
  5. I love children, but children and restaurants are a volatile combination, on the other hand, I don't complain about the noise if I go to Chuck E. Cheese.
  6. I’m paying for my dinner, so if I politely request a different table than the one the host suggests, please don’t act offended.
  7. Waiters: do not write your name on the paper tablecloth; be friendly; bring the meals while they are hot.
  8. $12 Mojitos are okay for the hip crowd but $12 for a glass of cheap wine? No.
  9. Seating: I don’t want to work at not listening to the conversation of the couple next to me. Aisles are for waiters not tables.
  10. Do not try to upsell me every chance you get. Once an evening is enough. If I am a regular, only when something is especially good.

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