Monday, January 12, 2009

THE j3 GUIDE TO THE FINER POINTS OF FINE DINING...FINALLY.

So, over Christmas, my lovely wife was given a gift certificate to one of the finer (or just more expensive) restaurants in the Yellow, which provided, is not that expensive, but it ain't Arby's either. So, Saturday night, we get a wild hair and decide to go ahead and spend that certificate and stuff ourselves with all of the sugarless delights that we can. Now, the gift certificate covered only a portion of the lowest priced steak on their menu so, even with the gift certificate, we're gonna drop some cash money. I told my lovely wife at the house that my plans were to wear a t-shirt and khakis...standard apparel. She convinced me to wear a sweater because we were heading to a nicer establishment.

She won.

On the way, I make a remark of, "If I see one cowboy hat there, I'm overdressed." No threats, just making my opinion clear. I've said similiar things before so it came of no surprise to my lovely wife, but the root of the comment are my unwritten and, normally, unspoken rules to fine dining. Since I am, by nature, painfully frugal and shamelessly honest, I tend to be overly speculative of these expenditures. So, to help me keep my ground and remain anchored during the experience, I present to you, my FIVE RULES TO FINE DINING. Oh yeah, if you're wondering, I had the shrimp with spicy cream cheese wrapped in bacon, two sirloin medallions, on a bed of spicy risotto and sauteed veggies. As opposed to the picture above, mine didn't look like some animal threw it up on the plate. It was presented quite esquisitely.

IF I SEE A COWBOY HAT, I'M OVERDRESSED

This applies more to the Yellow than to most regions. In fact, you go to Santa Fe or Taos, eclectic mountain folk find a way to make a cowboy hat look sexy and vogue. Not around here though. The cowboy hat is usually covered in dust and manure particles. And the sweat in the bands of those things can be smelled from over twenty feet away. Cowfolk, ranch hands or grits that just wear the cowboy hat like part of a costume feel a weird and evident sense of entitlement to wearing their hats. Their hats are like dreads to a Rastafarian and they take incredible pride in their hats. You've seen them worn in weddings (which is such a silly look...dude, stop, f'real), funerals, church and, yes, in fine restaurants. The cowboy hat, though, is a definitively casual look and any establishment that permits someone to wear their sweaty somebrero can not expect me to adhere to any sort of dress code or standard. Not that I will show up in a Red Sox ballcap and shorts, but I can.

SALT AND PEPPER AS YOU PLEASE

Look, not every plate is the greatest plate ever made. I know most fine restaurants put these miniature shakers on the table the size of thimbles as a not-so-subtle way of saying, "We don't make a bad entree so you shouldn't need alot of salt and pepper," like the salt and pepper represent a the red and green grading pens of a third grade teacher. Go to the barbecue joint across the streets and they put a freaking half-gallon of salt and pepper on the table. There's a correlation there. The more you spend, the smaller the salt and pepper shakers. Look, I'm the one paying through the nose for my meal so, if you don't mind, I'm going to salt and pepper it to my likeness. I don't care whose feelings I hurt. I don't mind if someone gets a complex watching me put the pepper on like a dry rub, I pay you for the meat and, if you don't get it just right, then I pepper it as I like. It's nothing personal.

PASS THE HEINZ 57, BRO

If there's anything more insulting to a chef than the liberal use of salt and pepper, it's drowning your meat in some saucy Heinz product. My preference is ol' 57 or, for fries, ketchup. Now, I don't drown it, but I'll use it as I see fit. I like my sauces. I like my salsas. I like flavor and while some meats taste "gamey," they still need a little help above just blackening the crap out of it. Bottoms up on the A1 or the Heinz! I love asking for it after the waiter/waitress asks if everything's alright like, "Yep, everything's great, but I need some A1." Then he looks at you like you just slammed on his moms. It's customary, homie. I do this at every meal. Of course, ketchup has sugar in it so no red stuff for me until February.

IF THE STEAK IS UNDERCOOKED, LET IT SLIDE

It ain't gonna kill you, but sending stuff back to the kitchen is more of a chore than it's worth and it tends to ruffle more feathers here than at most restaurants. I saw a lady the other night that, not only sent it back, but broadcasted her displeasure by throwing her hands in front of her, pushing the plate away and waving her hands saying, "No, no, no, no, no!" Lay off the wine, woman. Suck it up and put it back. It's not that bad. The danger you risk here is not the same as Taco Bell where they're gonna lace it with saliva, but it's a sacrifice in service. This is my payback for the free-will request on seasoning and sauce--I won't complain about the entree itself. I know it seems backwards, but look, unless it's making an attempt to crawl off the plate, there's nothing that a little salt and pepper can't help push down. Your experience altogether will be much more fulfilling. The governor can get away with it. Common man will pay for it with diminishing returns in service and still be expected to pay up come tip time because of the nature of the establishment. Just eat, homegrown.

IF I HEAR ONE OF CARLIN'S SEVEN WORDS, I CAN DO ANYTHING I WANT

You know, the dignified and the rich are weird folk. They try the damnedest to be so pure and wholesome, but within the first two minutes of sitting down, I had to throw a penalty flag on the table next to me for this woman's flagrant language. She's tanked and carrying on about God knows what and then just starts spewing obscenities. Not that I'm especially sensitive to such language, but that's like climbing to the top of the mountains for the view and then a moose taking a dump right in front of you. And, the first violation, means that I'm licensed to do whatever I please. Again, not that I would, but I can. If I wanted, I could take off my shirt and lay belly down on the table. If I wanted I could stand up, fart and yell, "Now that's how you get er done!" I won't be the first, but won't be the last either.

I'm at home sick this morning. I blame my lovely wife who is a petri dish for colds and flus being that she works around kids. I'm careful and have an immune system of steel. Whatever this garbage is, slid in through the smallest crack in my immune system. Can't breathe my nose without making little snot bubbles. Guess that's what I'll spend my day doing.

4 comments:

Robin said...

So, how was the shrimp? Hope you feel better, soon.

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