Thursday, April 19, 2012

Want A Good Restaurant Review in the NYT? More Wonder Bread Please.

Full disclosure: I am not a real foodie. Another disclosure: I actually serve a Velveeta dish at least once year.  So granted I'm probably not one to go out there to places like Red Light, Micheal's Genuine and Sra. Martinez and tell you that this is the epicurean ideal. Who am I to challenge what a New Yorker might say about the eating establishments in my home town?

Those who know me well, know my favorite restaurant is Hooters for three reasons: 1. I really love chicken wings, 2. It's actually a true Florida establishment. 3. I'm waiting for the day that nylon shorts over pantyhose come back into style for all.

That being said I'd like to say I've been to the restaurants that were being critiqued in the travel section of the New York Times and I can say with all honesty that the food tasted good. I mean not awesome, but as good as anything you might eat at Shuckers(,) but served by and prepared by people who don't seem "local".

The first restaurant reviewed was Michael's Genuine, now I've been there three times and the clientele is decidedly, to coin an 80's term: "Yuppie".  Yuppie in it's worst forms, lawyerly, pretentious, what have you...obviously people there to be seen. Fine, I'm there too.  So this cute "ginger" girl server comes up to the table: "Hi I'm Sue from Portland, I'm your server." she rattles off the specials and goes into excessive detail about the wholesome ingredients, and the free range chicken, etc. etc.....  Don't you think it's ironic that somebody would care about free range chickens, but not about the fact that their iPhones were made in Chinese sweatshops where people kill themselves?  Truthfully, I the few times I ate there, I was not that impressed....but as a former yuppie myself, should I be?

Red light, food was was not memorable, but the lousy service was. Been there twice, never again. I did like the location on the Little River was cool. Served by Bill from St. Louis. 

Okay what did I think these restaurants had in common?  White people.  Yeah, the front of the house in these restaurants are full of young, attractive white people, who are feeling empowered to talk, and engage.  I mean I love it when a Hooter's girl just plops down in the chair, flirts and takes your order.  But the whole, "Hi I'm Stan, I'm in college and I'll be your server tonight" thing to me, is very Bennigan's circa 1987.  You know "I don't care Stan, because I'm about to drop $100 on this meal, and I'm here to share it with my husband, not with you. Now please bring me something with Velveeta melted on it." Yeah, I find the whole white folks in front, brown ones in the back kind of annoying. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe the pretty blond was an Argentinian or Mexican who had managed to pay for accent reduction classes.  Or the surly blue eyed bartender was lying when he said he was from Hoboken, he could actually be from Holguin.

Yeah, when I eat at the restaurants mentioned in the NYT article, I feel like I'm in New York, or Seattle or Portland or Kansas.  Faux friendly staff with who want to "share".  All that's missing is the right amount of "flair" on suspenders.  I guess that's fine for some folks, but I'll take a surly South Beach model named Jorge as my server any day.