Friday, February 29, 2008

Doughnuts & Donuts Commercials

Last weekend, we made a family event out of making homemade doughnuts. I made the dough; the kids and I rolled and cut them; the husband fried them; then the kids and I glazed and/or sugared them. It was fun and tasty.

I have not purchased a doughnut for years. I think they are “OK” but I am not a huge fan and worry about them being filled with unhealthy fat and sugar. I just looked up the nutrition info for a Dunkin' Donuts cake doughnut and was surprised to see it did not list any trans fat in the nutrition facts.
(Although it did list Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil and Partially Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil in the ingredients.)

Some Dunkin' Donuts commercials have caught my eye (ear) recently. My husband really likes “Doing Things Is What I Like To Do”.

I have just started seeing this fairly recently, but this commercial was apparently part of a 2006 ad campaign featuring the band, They Might Be Giants. I really like TMBG, but that commercial annoys me because of the line, “I'm slightly more productive now than previous because I'm slightly more efficient than I previously was". It just doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t know if it is grammatically incorrect, and realize that music does not have to be grammatically correct, but that line just bugs me.

I really like this commercial.

I identify with that frustration. When I go to a bar, and want a big drink, I order a “tall”. When I go to Starbucks and want a big drink, I have several times ordered a “tall” and gotten the smallest drink they serve. At Starbucks “tall” means small. What I need to order is a Venti Latte. OK. So this commercial is kind of funny too. Another They Might Be Giants.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Good Wine, Depressing Pens, and Ethics

Last week, Owner 1 came to eat with some friends. He brought with him a large bottle of Opus One. The bottle size is either called a Methusalem or Imperial; I think one refers to wine, and one to champagne, but maybe they are interchangeable terms, I don’t know. It held the equivalent of eight standard bottles of wine and I think I will call it a Methusalem, because I think that is accurate and I like that word better.

I like O1 (Owner 1; I do like the wine, Opus One too, though). Waiting on him can be a gamble. Sometimes, he has a temper and is very particular. Sometimes he can be very fun to serve and has left me the most generous tips I have ever received. Sometimes he has left without tipping me at all. So, it is really hard to know what to expect.

On this night, the party of six had a few cocktails before dinner and started to work on the Methusalem with dinner. There was wine flowing aplenty. O1 generously offered Bread Boy and me each a glass, and we graciously accepted. After several hours of wining and dining, the Methusalem was emptied. One of the guests offered pay the dinner tab if O1 left the tip. Another vomited red wine all over the bathroom floor. Everyone (well, except for Bread Boy and me) was very intoxicated.

I have worked for O1 (in other establishments) for almost eight years. As unpredictable as he is, I know his “unhappy intoxicated glare”. When I saw this dazed look on his face, I whispered to Bread Boy that I was not feeling hopeful about the tip situation. Bread Boy said he thinks O1 heard me because when I was in the kitchen, he threw money on the bar and left. My husband thinks maybe he thought the (expensive) glass of wine should have been considered a tip. I don’t think he heard me, and I think he was just being generous and wanted us to try his wine. Yes, that is probably it.

The next night, there were two reservations at the same time. One was a pharmaceutical rep and his clients. The other was a medical equipment supply rep and his clients. I took the pharm party and Bread Boy took the equipment party. My table turned out to be a Pfizer rep, talking about Alzheimer’s, which was kind of depressing for me. I decided, though, it was better than having to listen to the conversation at Bread Boy’s table, a group of colorectal surgeons discussing exactly what features they look for in instruments to perforate and clamp the bowel (WHILE EATING DINNER).

There were seven people at my table. The Restaurant allows us to add an automatic gratuity to parties of six or more. I prefer not to do this. It seems pretentious to assume that I deserve a certain tip based solely on the number of people at the table. So I did not add the gratuity. The gentleman pulled out his calculator to figure the tip, which was lower than what the autograt would have been. This was fine; it was my choice to take that chance and I understand that many companies only allow their employees to tip a certain amount. He seemed to think he was tipping me very generously though. He asked if I got to keep the full tip amount and told me I had “a good gig going”. He also left an Aricept (Alzheimer’s medicine) pen with the check. I tried to return it to him, but he told me it was a gift, for my good service.

I am not sure what to do in the future about the auto gratuity situation. I am not very comfortable doing it. But maybe for company-sponsored dinners it would be accepted and advantageous to me? I also worry about inconsistencies; if I don’t do it, but another server does in the future, the customer may not appreciate it and think “well, they didn’t add a gratuity last time”. I really want to do what is best for the customer, the restaurant, and myself, not just financially, but supporting my sense of integrity.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Feel compelled to post even though it is boring syndrome

Valentine’s Day was anti-climactic. I am talking about my evening at work. I remembered that the owners had some fondue set-ups from a previous establishment, so I suggested a chocolate fondue dessert. Being pretty busy and not even making any treats for my own family, I decided that was enough of a contribution to the dessert effort, (coming up with the idea), and decided not to make something myself. Bread boy made champagne poached pears, which looked pretty and smelled wonderful. Another server made a heart shaped napoleon. Our cook, M, decided to make a cake, even though he had never made one before, because “apparently there is some sort of dessert competition going on that no one told me about”. He broke it getting it out of the pan, but some of it was salvageable. With the two store-bought cheesecakes we had in stock, we had an actual dessert menu.

I wasn’t feeling well when I went in to work, with pain in my back and ribs and difficulty breathing. By the end of the evening, I was sent home and I went to the doctor the next day. He diagnosed me with a condition called costochondritis and said it was probably caused by a virus (but not contagious). I looked it up online and learned it can also be called Tietze Syndorme, or Slipped Rib Syndrome, or according to one site, " ‘fall asleep in the back seat of a crowded car syndrome.’ A person falls asleep in a crowded car with the door handle jutting into a rib. The rib slips out of place and the problem begins”, which I thought was oddly specific.

It was very painful for a few days, but now seems to be completely gone so I am relieved. My grandma has a bad cold and a constant cough. When she gets a cold, it usually turns into a month long illness. I am sitting here cringing each time she coughs. Any healing thoughts sent this way are welcome and appreciated.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Super Server and Bread Boy and the Dessert Dilemma

One night, at work, I had a customer complain about his meal. He prefaced the complaint with “You and your bread boy did a really good job, but…” (My coworker, R, had brought bread out to the table for me while I was making drinks.) I got a kick out of the term “bread boy” and have been using it as a nickname. To me, it sounds like a superhero sidekick. I told him we could be the dynamic duo of Super Server and Bread Boy.

When I started this blog, I pictured a lot of it being about my work life and the exhilarating world of food and behind the scenes restaurant drama. I know I haven’t been a frequent poster in general, but I really have had NOTHING to write about regarding The Restaurant because nothing happens there. Quite literally, some days I go in, set up the bar, clean the dining room and watch the door ‘til closing without a single customer. (I really should get a laptop and I could get some blogging done.)

Since I last posted, we have gone through several more chefs and a couple managers. The menu has been changed to very simple steaks, seafood, and pasta, and now The Restaurant doesn’t want to hire a new “chef”, just “good cooks”. So we have been through several good cooks. I think we have two cooks right now. We have had about twenty come and go.

One of the areas that is suffering most from our rotating cooks, or overworked cooks, is our dessert selection. I have never been happy with our dessert selection. I am learning that while “cooks” can cook steaks and seafood, even if they are not trained chefs, apparently no one can make a dessert unless he is a “pastry chef”. Almost everyone we have had in that kitchen, when asked to make desserts, has replied, “I’m not a pastry chef”. It is really embarrassing when someone asks to see the dessert tray, to have to say we have only one type of (store-bought) cheesecake. I think this will be especially disastrous on Valentine’s Day. So I have been trying to think of romantic desserts. The other night, Bread Boy called me and told me he was working on making a Chambord mousse, so he was thinking the same thing about V-day desserts. Last night, a bartender/ manager was printing off dessert recipes and said next Wednesday night he could make some desserts.

It is a week before Valentine’s Day, and we actually do have a lot of reservations for that night, and we have two servers and a bartender taking the initiative to plan and create a dessert menu. I will post what we come up with, but be forewarned, we are not pastry chefs.