I’ve been writing “Dishing It Out” for over four years now, and while I’ve had some critiques of places, I’ve never said outright negative things about any of the places I’ve eaten at. I tell myself it’s because I know how hard it is to be in the restaurant business and how hurtful negative comments or opinions can be to a small business. Also, at the end of the day, its really just my opinion. Just because I didn’t like something or had a bad experience doesn’t mean I should just unload on a place.
Well, the last few dining experiences I’ve had have not gone so well. As a result, I don’t have any new restaurants to talk to you about.
Now, as a consumer, what I am seeing is that several local spots that have been very successful over the years have become complacent, and the quality of their product has shown the effects of that. I still won’t single them out by name. Nor will I give you enough info to figure out who they are. But I will tell you about the food.
The first location is a very nice restaurant and is known for having a very nice menu with some high-end items. I was here for a meeting, and decided to try the burger, which on the menu read like the right choice. But boy, did I read this wrong. One of my first rules about burgers is that while I don’t mind blood on a steak, anything with a bun should never have blood in it. One reason is the wet bun is a turn-off. The temperature of the meat was correct. But the burger was so greasy that my hands looked like I was eating baby oil. I had to wipe my hands after every bite. I’m not exaggerating.
The meat was so charred that I couldn’t taste anything but the char. And the bun felt like a wet sponge in my mouth.
The kicker is that I shook a gentleman’s hand afterwards, and he commented about how soft and smooth my hands felt. Trust me, they’re a lot rougher than that comment would indicate.
Another unfortunate dining experience took place on the night before I wrote this column. I hadn’t eaten at this location for a very long time, and was kind of looking forward to it. But again, I was left feeling disappointed. The young man behind the counter was nice enough, but didn’t really have the personality to be one’s first contact in the restaurant. But he wasn’t rude, so that was a plus.
The pork I was served had little to no flavor, and the fries were on the cold side. The place only had two people eating in it, so it wasn’t busy enough for us to be getting cold fries. But somehow, we did.
The last experience I’ll recount took place when I was getting tacos. There are at least a dozen spots in town to get tacos. We had opted to settle for convenience rather that go with a proven spot. The barbacoa was actually exceptional, but that was the only thing that was right about our order. We received tacos we didn’t order. This venue was out of key items — for example, chips, salsa — at 10:45 am. And there was a God-awful bell that kept going off over and over again.
Here are the reasons for this rant: There are little spots in town that have fine customer service and a great food product. But they continue to have to really work for their customers. Meanwhile, the ones that are popular continue to thrive without putting in the same effort that got them their success to begin with.
Kristi from Weennie Dogs is a prime example of an amazingly sweet lady who would bend over backwards for her customers and has some bomb.com grub. But here, hustle is constant, because people continue to go to places they’re comfortable with instead of getting outside the box and trying something new.
My rant is over, and I’m sorry I even had to have one. I hope before my next article comes out, I can find a new place to talk about.
BTW, get out to Hebert’s Specialty Meats on Country Club. I put together a care package for my best friend JT in California, and I was beyond impressed by the selection and quality of the food there. You must try the crawfish pie for sure. Also, Tasterite Jamaican will be opening a new location on Kirkman Street very soon. It will be a sit-down location. Running it will be some of those hardworking, friendly restaurant owners I’m talking about. I hope Damon and Heather’s new spot blows up and they are super successful.